The Haulbowline Island Recreational Amenity in the heart of Cork Harbour was officially opened today, Saturday 17th July, by Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Gillian Coughlan, Minister for Defence Simon Coveney and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath.
In the largest project of its kind to date in Ireland, the Haulbowline Remediation by Cork County Council has transformed the former East Tip site into a 22-acre People’s Park in the middle of Cork Harbour.
Haulbowline, home to the headquarters of the Irish Naval Service, was also formerly the location of Ireland’s only steelworks from 1939 until its closure in 2001. 650,000 cubic metres of by-products from the steel production was deposited here over a 40-year period.
The extensive remediation of the site saw the delivery onto the island of over 15,000 HGV loads of material, 47,000 tonnes of rock armour material to protect the shoreline, 180,000 tonnes of subsoil and 37,000 tonnes of topsoil, transforming the site into the scenic landscaped recreational amenity it is today.
Complete with 4kms of fully accessible pathways, a 1 km jogging circuit, playing pitches and seating areas that lend themselves to remarkable views of the harbour and wildlife observation, the island has hundreds of native tree mixes and plants to promote biodiversity.
Speaking at the opening Taoiseach Micheál Martin said, “The People’s Park Haulbowline is a pearl among a string of initiatives which do justice to the second-largest harbour in the world.”
The Taoiseach added, “The development of the harbour as a tourist amenity will provide immense dividends, in terms of employment and leisure, to both the local community and visitors from far and wide.”
Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Gillian Coughlan, congratulated the project team, saying, “The remediation of the East Tip was always going to be challenging. Cork County Council, with funding from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and in collaboration with a range of stakeholders, including local residents, have risen to that challenge with phenomenal success. The multi-award-winning project is widely regarded as a model of best practice, and the result today is a great amenity for local communities and a valuable asset for the entire Cork Harbour region.”
Minister for Defence Simon Coveney added that “Today, marks a real turning point in the story of the Island's remediation to an area of real civic worth to the Community and also as a suitable home to our Naval service.”
Minister Coveney concluded by thanking in particular the officials of Cork County Council and the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine for their successful stewardship of this development developed at a cost of some €25m.
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath said, “The opening today has been a long time in the making and I want to acknowledge all the hard work involved in delivering this valuable amenity which has already proven to be so popular since it opened to the public. This Park is another step towards the fulfilment of the immense potential of the harbour area as a tourist and amenity hub, and will complement the tourist attractions such as Spike Island and at Camden Fort Meagher.”
Chief Executive of Cork County Council, Tim Lucey, commented, “A huge undertaking, this remediation project is of national and international importance. Its remarkable success clearly demonstrates the importance of collaboration and public engagement. Cork County Council has received great support throughout the project from stakeholders and residents and with that Haulbowline East Tip has been completely transformed from a disused wasteland into a remarkable asset for the Cork Harbour Economy.”