Maritime heritage group Meitheal Mara has set out a plan to create a maritime hub in Cork harbour involving the establishment of an expanded €500,000 base from where it can carry out its boat-building and on-water activities.
The Meitheal Mara Strategic Plan 2017-2022 was launched at the weekend by Minister for Local Government Simon Coveney, who said it offered huge potential benefits not just to Meitheal Mara but also to Cork city and harbour.
Meitheal Mara general manager Cathy Buchanan said the plan was multi-phased and could cost up to €2 million to implement, a quarter of which would go on the establishment of the new base.
Ms Buchanan said Meitheal Mara envisaged opening the new hub on a 5,000sq m site – more than twice the size of its existing base – at Crosses Green on the south channel of the river Lee.
The organisation, which teaches boat-building to around 250 young people from community and youth groups annually as well as organising An Rás Mor Ocean to City Race, faces disruption in 2020 when the OPW plans to carry out major work at Crosses Green under a flood relief scheme.
“Ideally it would be downstream of the city bridges in either the north docklands or the south docklands – there are some space designations in the Cork City Council marina park master plan for rowing activity so the marina in would be one option,” Ms Buchanan said.
She said such a base could also accommodate two other maritime groups, Cork Dragons and Naomhoga Chorcai, with whom Meitheal Mara works closely while it could also be included in a marine leisure route or Blue Trail mooted by LEADER group, South and East Cork Area Development.
“SECAD drew up proposals for a Blue Trail in Cork Harbour where we believe there are several places you could explore in a small boat or a canoe with huts or bothys to stay overnight – Spike Island for example would be ideal for a bothy and we could be a hub for the Blue Trail to come up into the city.”