Cllrs ‘getting it in the neck’ over closed Camden Fort

May 25th, 2023 5:45 PM

By Kieran O'Mahony

Camden Fort Meagher in Crosshaven: there is disappointment that it looks unlikely to open this summer.

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THERE are very real concerns that one of Cork’s most spectacular locations – the Cork County Council-run Camden Fort Meagher in Crosshaven – which has been described as the ‘jewel in Cork Harbour’, will not reopen this summer.

Issues relating to staffing, coupled with ‘some very unsafe operational practices’ and necessary structural works have led to its closure, a meeting of the local authority heard recently.

The plight of the fort, which was also the star of several TV series of Ultimate Hell Week, was highlighted by local Cllr Audrey Buckley (FF).

‘I’m getting a lot of contact from the media and from abroad enquiring about this,’ she told the meeting. ‘I was told that a new manager is in situ and also a feasibility health and safety study has been done,’ said Cllr Buckley.

‘Now I’m hearing a film crew are going to be there for the summer, so I’m very frustrated for the volunteers who have brought Fort Camden to where it is today – the jewel in Cork harbour,’ said Cllr Buckley.

‘They are very frustrated with the lack of communication and we just want to know what is happening, as it’s been over a year-and-a-half.’

Cllr Buckley said she can’t see it being opened for the summer as the volunteers haven’t yet been contacted about staffing it.

Cllr Seamus McGrath (FF) said Camden Fort Meagher has been a big success and gave credit to Cork County Council for backing it many years ago, and putting a lot of investment in it.

The Council came on board after local volunteers pointed out its potential and set to work clearing it and renovating it in their spare time.

It has been a big hit with visitors and its sea-view tea rooms are in undoubtedly one of the most spectacular settings in Ireland – with a spectacular vista from Roches Point past Cobh and into the city.

The Garrison Model Club host a model makers’ day every August at the venue, which attracts hundreds of military and modelling enthusiasts, and they have been given a designated room in the facility to show their extensive displays of model trains, ships, planes and dioramas to the public.

‘The concern now is that with the current impasse, that some of that goodwill is going to be impacted and damaged into the future,’ said Cllr McGrath, who added that all the local councillors are getting it ‘in the neck’ about the closure.

Cllr Paul Murtagh (FG) said the volunteers have done incredible work with Cork County Council to bring it to where it is.

Cllr Maria D’Alton (Ind) said that the elected members should be informed with any developments so they can inform the public.

Council chief executive Tim Lucey gave a written update to a meeting this week.

‘The directors of this company have done a superb job there and uncovered some very unsafe operational practices there, as well as structural issues which led to its closure last autumn. Those issues are being worked through,’ said Mr Lucey at the Council meeting.

He said that they are currently trying to source a manager for the Fort, as well as recruiting seasonal staff with a view to having it opened. He said the volunteer structure is an integral part of the operation.

‘Significant works were undertaken during this closure, including conservation works in terms of the water-proofing of three of the 14 rooms, while other works were carried out on the zig-zag walkways.’ 

Mr Lucey said that the company running Fort Camden Meagher will eventually be stood down and it will be brought under the directorate of the Carrigaline Municipal District.

In his written reply, he said that, following appointment of a manager and staff, volunteers who wish to continue their work at the Fort will have a defined set of tasks, hours and reporting relationships, which safeguards their interest in and presence at the Fort into the future. 

‘It should be noted, however,’ he continued, ‘that the issues are significant in terms of challenge and scale, and resolution will take time. Staffing and safety aspects in particular must be addressed in accordance with the required standards.’

Conservation work and a plan to make three of the fourteen rooms in the ‘Casemated’ building waterproof will cost €330,000 excluding vat, he added. The decking at the rear of the tea rooms and the moat bridge entrance must be assessed for safety, Mr Lucey said.


The tea rooms at Camden Fort Meagher have some of the most stunning vistas in Ireland, but are currently closed.


‘I am aware that there is speculation at present as to the possible interest of a film production company in using the Fort in the near future. However, there is no confirmation as yet that this will happen,’ the ceo said.

‘The potential of the Fort to become a fully operational, major attraction and venue is limitless. The fact that a fully operational restaurant café is located on site presents significant opportunity for the fort to become an integral part of the community, tourism and food tourism offering. The Council is now working towards realising that potential in an ambitious, safe and sustainable manner.’

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