Kinsale seeks reboot with 'bold decisions'

It's been lashed and battered by many storms over the years. Now the scenic harbour town of Kinsale on the south coast of Cork, heavily reliant on the tourism, food and leisure sectors, has charted a course to recovery as the Covid-19 storm abates.
Kinsale seeks reboot with 'bold decisions'
The street pod proposal in Kinsale could see diners sitting outdoors in enclosed pods. Picture: F22 Photography.
The street pod proposal in Kinsale could see diners sitting outdoors in enclosed pods. Picture: F22 Photography.

It's been lashed and battered by many storms over the years. Now the scenic harbour town of Kinsale on the south coast of Cork, heavily reliant on the tourism, food and leisure sectors, has charted a course to recovery as the Covid-19 storm abates.

Bold, brave decisions will be required to help get Ireland's culinary capital back on its feet, the team charged with leading the local recovery was told yesterday.

A number of streets are being considered for pedestrianisation and a novel street pod concept, which could see diners sitting outdoors in enclosed pods, is on the cards.

Part of the Kinsale street pod proposal. Picture: F22 Photography.
Part of the Kinsale street pod proposal. Picture: F22 Photography.

And the Irish domestic market will be the focus of the town's tourism marketing activity following the virtual wipe-out of its international visitor trade.

These were among the items discussed by Kinsale's new Town Team yesterday which has been set up as part of a massive Cork County Council Covid-19 recovery strategy for its 23 large county towns.

The council has established a €6m fund to help local communities and businesses recover, and it has activated 23 Town Teams to work on the delivery of recovery plans in their own towns.

The Kinsale Town Team met yesterday, already armed with a blueprint for recovery, the Kinsale Comeback Campaign.

Ciaran Fitzgerald, who played a key role drafting the strategy, also attended the Town Team meeting and said "bold decisions" will be required.

Part of the Kinsale street pod proposal.  Picture: F22 Photography.
Part of the Kinsale street pod proposal.  Picture: F22 Photography.

He said work on the campaign began early in the outbreak when the scale of the challenge facing a town so heavily reliant on tourism and hospitality became starkly clear.

It's been kickstarted by the Chamber of Tourism and Business with funding won last year from Bank of Ireland's Enterprise Towns Awards, which it's hoped will give small local businesses and employers a marketing boost.

Daniel Murphy from the Cottage Garden at the Farmers Market in Kinsale which opened up again on Wednesday. Picture Dan Linehan
Daniel Murphy from the Cottage Garden at the Farmers Market in Kinsale which opened up again on Wednesday. Picture Dan Linehan

The reallocation of street space and pedestrianisation to facilitate physical distancing, and to facilitate restaurants, cafes and pubs seeking to use outdoor space, will play a key role in the town's recovery.

Mr Fitzgerald said that will require bold and brave decisions.

"Kinsale was never built for the level of traffic and HGVs we have now," he said.

"We do need deliveries to function, and we are aware that we have to maintain access. But a lot of ideas are on the table. Businesses are depending on these decisions to sustain them and get back on their feet.

"People are approaching this in a positive way. Immediate implementation is the key."

The street pods will play a role in the town's recovery, it is hoped.

Members of the Kinsale Town reactivation team. -l-R- Superintendent Brendan Fogarty, Bandon, Marie O'Sullivan, Charles Henderson, Gillian Coughlan, Cllr. Sean O'Donovan, Cllr. Kevin Murphy, Cllr. Alan Coleman, Sgt. Pat Ryan, Kinsale, Enda O'Halloran, Cathal De Baróid, and Ciaran Fitzgerald. Picture Dan Linehan
Members of the Kinsale Town reactivation team. -l-R- Superintendent Brendan Fogarty, Bandon, Marie O'Sullivan, Charles Henderson, Gillian Coughlan, Cllr. Sean O'Donovan, Cllr. Kevin Murphy, Cllr. Alan Coleman, Sgt. Pat Ryan, Kinsale, Enda O'Halloran, Cathal De Baróid, and Ciaran Fitzgerald. Picture Dan Linehan

Doctor of architecture Marc Ó'Riain, who designed them and who is a member of the Green Party, said several town streets are ideal for pedestrianisation.

"The pods are shaped like a small house to give a sense of intimacy, to remind people of the small spaces in which they can chat and meet together," he said.

"They're aimed at families and intimate groups, so that we can share meals, break bread again, but in a safe place.

"They will give you peace of mind and will address the significant psychological issue that we will face now."

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