PLANS are already in place to enhance the monument site at Béal na Bláth to make it more ‘visitor friendly’ as West Cork prepares to commemorate the centenary death of its most famous and loved political figure, Michael Collins, next year.
Cork County Council heritage officer, Conor Nelligan said the plan is about making the site a ‘more pleasant experience to visit’ that will see road and parking improvements as well as the decluttering of the site.
The road adjacent to the monument has in recent years become a magnet for boy racers carrying out ‘donuts’ and the sight of tyre marks has blemished this important historical site.
Conor said that a multi-disciplinary approach is being taken on this project involving numerous stakeholders including the Michael Collins commemoration committee along with Council officials and the Macroom Municipal District.
‘When you’re dealing with a site of national and international importance and with significant heritage value as well you have to make sure one has a key understanding of what happened at the site. We spent a considerable time looking at the historical record of the site too in coming up with a design,’ said Conor.
‘With the centenary coming up next year it was only fitting that something should be done but it’s not just being done for next year alone and the site will benefit in further years. The site will be enhanced from a visual perspective and visitors will get a wider context of the events which will give them a better understanding of the site.’
Their key aim is to return the site to what it originally was and that includes narrowing the road, reducing the speed limit while also installing parking to make it a safer and enhanced experience for visitors.
‘The overall approach is being guided by good heritage principles and we will be developing interpretation boards there early in the new year.’
It is expected that the works – which will include the removal of the railings which were not original to the site – will be completed by early summer just in time for the centenary commemoration of Collins’s shooting.