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Battle re-enactments and more at Fort Camden, Cork

The outer wall at Camden Fort  Meagher

The outer wall at Fort Camden

I had a wonderful day out with the family at Fort Camden just outside the town of Crosshaven in Cork, this past weekend. It was my first visit to this relatively new tourist attraction, but I had heard many great things about it, so my expectations were fairly high.

The day started off a little dull, but brightened up as the hours ticked by. Weather like that is quite common in Ireland this time of year. Beautiful bright sunny mornings can turn a little dull and dreary, or vice versa, but once it’s dry, it’s great to be out and about anywhere on Ireland’s southern coastline.

The fort just recently opened (in the summer of 2013 from what I recall), and it’s evident that a huge amount of work and restoration has gone into the attraction. This work was done almost entirely by volunteers! At various points throughout the grounds there are ‘before and after’ pictures showing the past state of the site. It’s remarkable how well it looks now, and how much of the fort is accessible. Thanks volunteers!

Some of the highlights from my visit to Fort Camden
I couldn’t say there was anything about the fort that I didn’t like, but there were some things that really stood out that I thoroughly enjoyed. Here’s a quick list of those:

1. We were lucky enough to go to Fort Camden on a day when there was a battle re-enactment. Although short and sweet, it was well done, the props were great and the kids loved it! Check out my video of the re-enactment below.

2. The volunteer staff we talked to were all super friendly, very helpful and they really knew a lot about the history of the fort. They take turns giving small impromptu tours (as people show up it seems), and I could not praise them highly enough.

3. The underground tunnels were a huge hit with the kids! You go down underneath the surface into the Magazine room and come out the other side via a spiral staircase. Very cool! Be sure to catch (or ask for) a tour of this area. It is very interesting.

4. The coastal views! Even though the day started out a little dull, it cleared up nicely. The view out to Roches Point, and across to Spike Island and over to Cobh were really special. I just wish I had a better camera to show you how nice it is from that vantage point. If you want to get the best view of the surrounding area my advice is head up to what they call the ‘Titanic View’ area or go inside the tea room, and out on to the patio there. Stunning!

Coastal views at Fort Camden

Coastal views – come out sun!

5. September 11th is just around the corner, so it was a nice, although somber surprise, to stumble upon the resident 9/11 photographic memorial in one of the fort’s rooms (Ground Zero 360 – A Photographic Retrospective). With my strong American ties, I was very interested in this part of the experience, and spent quite a bit of time reading and looking at the various pieces of memorabilia on display. You can support the Ground Zero 360 organization by buying the photo book either here on their website or here on Amazon.com.

9/11 tribute at fort camden

Flag of honor – 9/11 tribute. The note indicates that the flag was created with a door rescued from Fort Camden and steel from the World Trade Center and Freedom Tower. The 3 stars represent the emergency workers who gave their lives on September 11 2001.

6. What else? Oh, the various bits and pieces of memorabilia – guns, swords, heavy artilery equipment etc. There’s plenty of it there, so explore it all. I have some more photos of those here.

One of the downsides of Camden Fort Meagher (that’s its current name, after Thomas Francis Meagher, a 19th century Irish nationalist and leader of the Young Irelanders in the Rebellion of 1848) is that it has limited opening hours. Confirm by calling, or at the link above, but I think it’s only open at weekends and not all year round.

If you’re looking for a history of the fort check out the official website, or the Wikipedia page. Just some quick dates for you though: The fort was originally built in the 16th century, however the current structures date to the 1860’s.

My photos probably don’t do this very unique attraction much justice, so if you get a chance, I hope you go see it for yourself. I put loads more photos of Camden Fort Meagher on another page to allow this one to load quicker. If you like you can see those at that link. Enjoy!

One comment

  1. I’m just adding a quick note that I received from Paul Brierley, Project Coordinator at Camden Fort Meagher. He wanted to provide some more accurate background information about the ‘Rescue Camden’ project, and what’s currently going on down there at the site.

    “The project “Rescue Camden” started in Feb 2010, work in earnest in July of that year and we initially opened 2 rooms and a walk through the forest that was the Parade Square for four Saturdays & Sundays in September 2010 where we estimated close to 8000 people visited in only four short weekends. This allowed the Community of Crosshaven to push on with project partner Cork County Council and also with support from FAS, who had initially committed 6 Community Employment (CE) workers and quickly followed up with Apprentices in Carpentry and Masonry from the Redundant Apprentice Scheme (RAPS) whereby young apprentices were given the opportunity to complete their trades. A great win-win for all involved allowing us to expedite recovery and creation of a “product”. Restoration works continue 5 days a week and at present we have over 25 staff, 22 on schemes including TUS, CE and Gateway. Our next big project is the restoration of roofs through Cork County Councils support and that of the Cork Education and Training Board who will train students on roof restoration at the fort, in the coming months.

    Cork County Council are an incredible project partner and since project inception in 2010 have invested over €1.6 million in direct spend but also contribute hugely to logistical support on a daily basis. Last year on top of the annual budget a further €400k was spent on a sewerage and vital infrastructure installation. We also have a core group of 30 amazing volunteers who give up most of their summers to facilitate public opening, this year we opened from the June weekend right through to Sept 21st. At present we could not open without this support but we do hope to create jobs and evolve as we progress so as not to over burden this exceptional commitment. In the off season volunteers contribute to and consolidate some of the continued progressive works on site.

    It really is a National template of Local Authority, Community, employment schemes and training bodies working together to create what will be, a must see, National tourist attraction.”

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