Thursday 18 December 2008

Heritage group to lead campaign for Beamish site

The National Conservation and Heritage Group, which helped persuade brewing giants Diageo to develop the Guinness Storehouse as a tourist attraction, has confirmed it will mount a similar campaign to save Cork’s historic South Gate brewery site.

The group’s chairman, Dublin-based Damien Cassidy, said the site, in the heart of Cork’s historic core and with its striking mock-Tudor frontage, has huge tourism potential. The brewery, founded in Cork in 1792, is to close next March with the loss of 120 jobs.

The decision was announced last month after months of speculation about its future following the Competition Authority’s green light for its takeover by Heineken Ireland.

Heineken Ireland said it decided to close Beamish after a “a review of both individual brewing operations with particular focus on capacity, expansion capability and future investment”.

Mr Cassidy, who led a campaign to save Kilmainham Gaol, said he is hoping to form and then lead an apolitical delegation that would seek a meeting with senior Heineken executives in the coming weeks to discuss the Beamish project.

The group held similar meetings with Diageo when the Guinness brewing site in St James’s Gate, Dublin, was facing sale and possible development. The Guinness Storehouse is now Ireland’s top visitor attraction and the world’s third biggest “brand experience”. Last month, it welcomed its millionth visitor since opening in 2000.

Mr Cassidy said he will stress the success of the Storehouse when the delegation meets Heineken executives in coming weeks.

“We will put the case to Heineken to maintain some brewing on the site and save the buildings on cultural and heritage grounds, but most importantly on tourism grounds,” he said.

He said the site is perfectly positioned in a historic part of the city, close to South Gate Bridge and St Fin Barre’s Cathedral.

* The group has invited the public to attend an open meeting at the Flying Enterprise Bar, near the brewery, at 7pm on Saturday.

Irish Examiner

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