Southern Star Ltd. logo
Premium Exclusives

Masterplan for Skibbereen unveiled

May 6th, 2024 11:26 AM

By Siobhan Cronin

Masterplan for Skibbereen unveiled Image
Valerie O’Sullivan, chief executive, Cork County Council and Cllr Joe Carroll, chairperson of the West Cork Municipal District launching the plan. (Photo: John Allen)

Share this article

Two new bridges, biodiversity parks and riverside cafés are envisaged by County Council

A public space at Levis’ Quay is part of Cork County Council’s plan.


SKIBBEREEN is to get an ecology park on the Marsh Road, a public space at Levis’ Quay, a developed riverside walk and the long-awaited pedestrian bridge from the bypass to the town centre, as part of ambitious plans unveiled this week.

Cork County Council launched its Town Centre First (TCF) regeneration plan for the town – the culmination of a public consultation which was part of the national policy initiative.

Skibbereen, with a population of just under 3,000, is the first town in the county to get its plan published and it runs to 82 pages of potential under the headings of ‘movement and connections’, ‘nature, landscape and environment’, ‘land use, economy and tourism’, ‘social, community and culture’, and ‘built form and heritage’.

The public consultation began last July and 930 submissions were received from the community after which a team of eight ‘community representatives’ worked with the Council to shape the plan.

The final report contains 36 specific objectives, projects, and principles, which were welcomed this week by local Cllr Joe Carroll, chair of the West Cork Municipal District.

‘This plan for Skibbereen strikes a balance between what is bravely ambitious and realistically achievable,’ he said. Council chief executive

Valerie O’Sullivan said the Skibbereen plan will be used as a resource for all stakeholders and to support funding applications for the projects and objectives that have been identified.

While there are no specific costings for the works, Town Team member Brendan McCarthy said that the Council had already applied for some initial funding and it was ‘confident’ of getting it, to complete public realm works in the town centre. He said the report, which cost €100,000, was a ‘blueprint’ for future funding applications, under various town regeneration and renewal schemes.

Among the major ambitions in the plan are the development of the Rock scenic area which overlooks the town, and the development of a biodiversity area on Marsh Road with an ecology park and walk, with trails, bird hides and more.

The Council will also examine the potential for installing EV charging points, new street signage, and the potential of a second pedestrian bridge across the Ilen, from a new N71 car park to the library. The existing blueway for kayakers on the Ilen is to get better promotion and the town is to get its own ‘unique identity’ and ‘brand’.

The Council says it wants to focus on the riverfront for commercial development and will address vacancy and dereliction in the town. It would also like to see cafés and restaurants looking onto the river, and further development of the Ilen’s tourism potential. There will also be discussions on a shopfront improvement scheme and the promotion and conservation of existing heritage assets.

The former Steam Mill on Ilen Street is to be regenerated by Cork County Council and living above shops in the town centre is to be promoted and encouraged. The report describes as ‘very poor quality’ the existing public realm areas and notes that streetscape improvements have only been implemented on a section of Main Street.

Sustainable solutions need focus as a result of climate change, it adds, and this was raised during the public consultation process. But it notes a shortage of green spaces, which the plan aims to address.

Under a heading of ‘challenges’, the report notes the lack of hotels and bed nights for tourists and also the ‘poorly designed flood risk defence walls’ which ‘prevent permeability where desirable’.

The authors of the report have compared the plan to ‘good practice examples’ in Rhine Terrace, Switzerland; Aabenraa city centre in Denmark and Bad Salzdetfurth in Germany, among others. But a comment which may raise eyebrows among business owners and shoppers is the inclusion of ‘a proliferation of on-street parking’ under the ‘challenges’ heading and a reference to ‘strong car-dependency from the hinterland’ and ‘a resistance to changing mobility habits’.

One of the mainstays of the plan is to finally enable pedestrian access from the N71 to the town centre.

The report says: ‘At the time of writing this report, there is an unresolved legal dispute between Cork County Council and the developer of the bridge. Cork County Council are committed to finding resolution and realising this connection.’

There are also major plans for the Rock area, to incorporate landscaped terraces, a destination hilltop ‘lookout’, and seating areas. The plan also looks to future-proof the town from climate episodes like flooding, with solutions for river erosion, and the reuse of groundwater, and strategic planting.

Copies of the plan are available in Skibbereen Library and online at and 

Share this article

Related content