News » Archived News 2006

Restored Blackrock Castle Opened and Cosmos at the Castle Launched

Official Opening on Friday, 2nd June 2006 @ 3.30 p.m. by the Lord Mayor, Cllr. Deirdre Clune

On Friday 2, June, 2006 the Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. Deirdre Clune opened the recently restored Blackrock Castle. The Castle, one of Cork’s most iconic landmarks, was acquired by Cork City Council in 2004 and has undergone a complete restoration over the past two years. The Castle will be home to a new Visitor Exhibition based around the theme of astronomy and CIT’s department of Applied Physics has already established a state of the art astronomical research facility in the Castle. Both the Visitor Exhibition and the Research Facility, to be known collectively as Cosmos at the Castle, were Opened at Friday’s ceremony.

Damien O'Mahony, City Manager Joe Gavin ,Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. Deirdre Clune and Leo Enright, Chairman of Discover Science and   Engineering at the Official Opening of Blackrock Castle Restoration  and  Launch of Cosmos at the Castle

Damien O'Mahony, City Manager Joe Gavin ,Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. Deirdre Clune and Leo Enright, Chairman of Discover Science and Engineering at the Official Opening of Blackrock Castle Restoration and Launch of Cosmos at the Castle

The creation of CIT’s Research Facility involves the establishment of a Robotic Observatory at the Castle. A number of telescopes have now been installed in the Castle. An optical telescope with dome has been placed on the larger of the two towers and a second 10” optical telescope is due to be installed this week. Radio telescopes will be placed on the flat roof over the gallery room. A fully fitted out operations room to download and interpret the data obtained from the telescopes is also under fit-out together with ancillary administration offices.

It is intended to make the observatory a centre of excellence both in the educational field and in the scientific research that will be carried out there. Using a combination of the latest in technologies both in the optical and in the radio wave observable sciences will allow the facility to be used all year round.

It is intended that the centre will be connected electronically to many other observatories around the world and have the ability to share data and share in the ongoing research in several of the cutting edge sciences such as the study of NEOs (near earth objects), the search for new planets around other stars, gamma burst radiation and the continuing search for information about our own solar system. The Cork Institute of Technology will occupy the educational and research element of the facility. They have agreed to take charge of the educational aspects of the project with Dr. Neil Smith (Astrophysicist), and a number of other professors and PhD students rounding out the core team. CIT will liaise with University College Cork who will also be facilitated in running programmes at the site.

This facility will have the ability via the internet to connect to every school in the country and be able to share the images downloaded from its telescopes. Schools will also have the facility of requesting that certain objects be photographed for their own research. In the interests of fostering an increased awareness of what science careers have to offer, first and second level students throughout the country will be encouraged to visit the observatory on day school trips and to work on special projects. Astronomy is not only a complete science in its own right but also a gateway into other sciences and technologies such as biochemistry, geology, meteorology, the science of light to mention but a few. By generating an interest in these areas amongst first and second level students, this proposal may contribute to addressing the worrying fall-off in the uptake of science courses at third level.

Members Of the Public at the Official Opening of Blackrock Castle Restoration  and  Launch of Cosmos at the Castle

Members Of the Public at the Official Opening of Blackrock Castle Restoration and Launch of Cosmos at the Castle

The general public and visitors to the city alike will continue to have access to the Castle both as a scientific and visitor centre and a place of architectural and historical heritage. It is proposed to establish an astronomical exhibition in the Castle which will compliment the scientific research which will be on-going there.

The exhibition will contain sections on: -

  • The origins of life and the search for life in our galaxy
  • The history of astronomy and Ireland’s contribution to advances in that science.
  • Current challenges in astronomy e.g. the investigation of black holes, quasars, birth of galaxies etc.
  • The future of manned and unmanned space exploration.

An Audio Visual presentation will also be a feature.

Martello Media have been awarded the contract to design and install the Visitor Exhibition which should be open to the public at the beginning of 2007.

The Castle will also be available for lectures, presentations and civic or corporate events.

As part of the overall project the lodge at the entrance to the castle, (which retains a bar licence), has been restored, and an architecturally designed new restaurant building has been constructed adjacent to the lodge. The restaurant will house information on the history of the Castle itself.

City Manager, Joe Gavin said, “This collaboration between Cork City Council and the Cork Institute of Technology is a fitting joint venture for this beautiful building. The exciting use to which the Castle will now be put, add's another must see to Cork’s growing list of attractions. We hope that visitors and schools will make full use of this wonderful insight into the world of science. The Research Facility, the visitor Centre and the restaurant and bar will ensure that Blackrock Castle will continue to make an important impact on Cork life well into the future. I’d also like to pay tribute to the elected members of the Council who wholeheartedly supported these proposals from the very outset. Today’s launch will be augmented by the extension of the Lough Mahon walk to meet with the marina at Blackrock Village and as such forms an important part of the Council’s overall plans for the rejuvenation of Blackrock Village”

The restoration was carried out by O’Sheas Builders Cork and was supervised by Murray Ó Laoire, Architects.

The Lord Mayor, Cllr. Deirdre Clune said, “The hi-tech function in an historical landmark setting is a most appropriate use for this resource. This proposal provides Cork with the opportunity to offer a unique experience to our own citizens and visitors to the city alike.”

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