TOURISTS hoping to visit the Béal na Bláth monument site, where Michael Collins was shot almost 100 years ago, have been left disappointed to see the whole spot closed off to the public due to ongoing works.
The site has been closed off to facilitate a major upgrade as part of the Michael Collins Centenary Project, which includes resurfacing and additional parking spaces, ahead of the centenary commemoration next month.
However, some have criticised the timing of the works, right in the middle of the busy summer season, as it is always a popular site to visit by both Irish and international tourists.
One local told The Southern Star, that when the fencing was initially erected, he observed cars stopping and people attempting to enter the site to see the monument.
However, since then it has become a busy construction site with a traffic light system in place, which is expected to continue right through the summer.
Tourists who are more than likely following the Michael Collins Trail are ending up only catching a glimpse of the monument as they drive by.
Chairperson of the Michael Collins commemoration committee, Garret Kelleher said that he understands why visitors are left disappointed.
‘But I am very confident that when the works are completed at the end of July, visitors from August onwards will come to see a more accessible and tourist friendly monument befitting of the memory of one of Cork’s greatest sons,’ said Garret. Minister for Defence, Simon Coveney recently visited the site to see the works which have taken place in a project partnership between Cork County Council and the Department of An Taoiseach, Department of Defence and Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.
The project was designed and developed by key experts in archaeological historic landscapes and memorial historic landscapes.
Next month’s centenary commemoration will be unique by the fact that both Taoiseach Micheál Martin TD and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar TD have been invited, making it the first time that leaders of both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael will speak at the ceremony.