New owners for Elizabeth Fort in Cork City

One of Cork City‘s most historic site’s has finally been handed over by the Irish state’s Office of Public Works (OPW) in to the possession of Cork City Council. The historic Elizabeth Fort dates back to the 17th century fort and Cork City Council plan to transform it into one of the country’s top tourist attractions.  

The Irish Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW), Brian Hayes, will transfer ownership of Elizabeth Fort. The Fort which was originally built in 1603 in the heart of Cork City, to the City Council, which aims to have its ramparts open to the public by the end of February 2014.

It is hoped the fort on Barrack Street, one of the finest existing examples of a 17th century star fort, will host public, theatrical and musical performances.  The possibility of developing a periodic medieval market in its courtyard is also being explored.

The council’s dedicated tourism unit, Team, is working in conjunction with Fáilte Ireland on a three-year strategy to develop an interpretive centre on the site for tourists a vacation in Ireland over the coming months and years.

The Fort has acted as a police station a Garda education centre for the past couple of decades. The transfer of ownership marks the end of a lengthy campaign by the city authorities to acquire the site in order to maximise its tourist value to Cork.

Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. Catherine Clancy, said the development of the fort is a key part of the council’s tourism strategy to 2015.

 Elizabeth Fort history

Elizabeth Fort was built in 1601 on a limestone outcrop overlooking the medieval, walled city of Cork by George Carew, the president of Munster during the reign of Elizabeth I.

The star fort, one of three built by Carew alongside James Fort in Kinsale and the third on Haulbowline, was used as an army base to protect the city, but was demolished by the citizens in 1603, who were then compelled to rebuild it at their own expense. It was replaced in 1624 by a stronger fort which had the same basic outline as what survives today.

The Fort was used in 1690 by Williamite forces besieging the city. A cannonball fired from the fort at the old tower of St Fin Barre’s Cathedral was found during the 19th century rebuilding of the cathedral by its architect, William Burges.

The fort is entered from Reeds Place, off Barrack St, through the east wall, which has an arched opening with a square limestone surround. The east wall’s limestone ramparts and corner bastions survive much as they were built in the early 17th century. In 1835 the fort was used as a female prison, then as a military base, and finally as a police barracks.

In August 1922, during the Irish Civil War, the barracks were destroyed by fire and rebuilt in the present form.

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