The restoration of Corks Custom House and bonded warehouse buildings are to be restored and converted into a major museum that will tell the story of Irelands emigration. It is part of a major cork bid, backed by Michael Flatley who lovingly restored Castlehide into a family home in Fermoy Co Cork. If successful the City Centre location on the east tip of the island will become home to Irelands National Diaspora Centre, tying it in with heritage attractions Cobh and Spike Island.
Cork will be hoping its history as the traditional embarking point for emigrants will make it the natural choice for such a Centre. More people emigrated from Corks city keys than anywhere else in the country.
Long term plans also include a new pedestrian bridge from the tip of the island over to Horgan’s quay to the new entrance to Kent Railway Station which is also due to under go refurbishment and restoration of this historic building.
The Cork Customs House was built in 1818 and was designed by the architect Abraham Hargrave. The Custom House is a two storied three-bayed building over vaults. In 1880 it became the headquarters of the Cork Harbour Commissioners. Its elegant Board Room, where the meetings of the members of the company were held was constructed in 1906. The cork coat of arms was added in 1957 and replaced the coat of arms of the British royal family it is carved out of Kilkenny limestone and is 23ft long and 13ft high in the centre. The quality of the craftsmanship is of the highest standard. The front of the building is constructed using cork grey limestone. The top two thirds are of dressed ashlar limestone and the lower part is rusticated. There are three recessed arcades at street level with round arch’s. The upper two thirds also have three tall-segmented windows with round arch’s 20ft high and 9ft wide. The windows are set back in rectangular recesses. The cornice and frieze of the pediment are plain with the already described coat of arms the centerpiece. Ashlar consists of finely dressed stones and having the same height in each course it was used in the construction of more formal buildings such as civic buildings, churches and country houses. Ashar joints are often quite fine, which makes repointing difficult when restoring historic buildings.
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