Bidding To Open Museum In Passage West This Summer
Writes Leo McMahon
It’s all systems go for the Passage West Maritime Museum project with the board and voluntary committee aiming to have what will be a most welcome addition to heritage tourism in Lower Cork Harbour open to the public for free in time for the weekend of July 7-8, when the town hosts the Cork County Coastal Rowing Championship.
It has been boosted by a grant of almost €100,000 under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme (TVRS) operated by the Department of Heritage and with the assistance of Cork County Council, plus several businesses, community groups and individuals.
The County Council, as owner, has made available on a ten year lease with a nominal annual rent, the former Passage West Town Council offices, (and before that part of the Vocational School).
Many will be aware of the rich history of ‘the original Port of Cork’. It includes being the birthplace of the first Irish steamship City of Cork in 1815; the port from where Sirius the first steamship crossed the Atlantic Ocean to America in 1838 captained by local man Richard Roberts; the Royal Victoria Dockyard and an important stop along the former Cork, Blackrock and Passage Railway, marked by a popular walking and cycling trail to the city.
Many in the local community, mainly through the maritime festival committee and history society, have kept the rich heritage of the locality alive through various activities but the need to find a permanent home to store the wide variety of rare artefacts and archival material has become increasingly obvious in recent years and there is great support for this in Passage West, Glenbrook, Monkstown and beyond.
The concept of a museum is strongly supported in the County Development Plan while the new pontoon at nearby Steampacket Quay presents the opportunity to make it a visitor stop by land or water in a harbour which already boasts Spike Island, Fort Meagher (Camden), Crosshaven and attractions in the cruise liner port Cobh.
The committee says the museum will help re-invigorate the town centre, promote economic activity and further develop pride of place.
A committee was formed last year, and Angela Murphy and Andrew Wood, on its behalf, successfully applied for a TVRS grant of €98,350. There was regular contact with the council and consultation with many stakeholders including local schools who came up with the name of the museum while some committee members attended a museum basics course.
A huge amount of work has been carried out and several meetings held. An update was outlined by chairperson Angela Murphy, Sile Hunt and secretary Jim Murphy on January 30th at the first full committee meeting in Passage West Men’s Shed room at Fr. Collins Community Centre.
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The board of Passage West Museum.