The long-anticipated re-opening of the hospitality sector has finally arrived, and many County Cork towns have been embracing the opportunity to re-imagine town centres and adapt public spaces as unique outdoor dining experiences. Under Cork County Council’s ambitious suite of measures to stimulate local economies, Project ACT 2021, a continuation of last year’s hugely successful initiative designed to activate county towns, spaces are being transformed across the county.

Pictured (L-R) Cllr. Mary Linehan Foley Mayor of the County of Cork, Rory Buckley The Castle Hotel Macroom and Tim Lucey Chief Executive of Cork County Council. Image: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

This Summer, Macroom’s unique streetscape, with its two squares, will be complemented with an outdoor social area at Middle Square that offers covered and uncovered dining, a space independent of Ireland’s changeable weather. An appealing location for people to socialise in a safe manner, it also showcases Macroom and all that the beautiful town has to offer. Signage at entry points to Macroom will direct visitors to the new amenities.

Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Mary Linehan Foley, notes,

Macroom Bypass, one of the largest capital roads projects in Ireland at the moment, will give Macroom a real opportunity to assert its unique identity as a thriving market town, to create a sense of place for its residents and visitors alike, and to develop Macroom’s potential as an attractive destination town. Cork County Council’s Project ACT 2021 is supporting this innovative local vision for the town and Macroom is proving to be a great example of how creative communities can capitalise on the opportunities that arise out of crises.

Chief Executive of Cork County Council, Tim Lucey, added,

Cork County Council’s response to the economic impact of Covid-19 has been grounded from the beginning in a collaborative approach, with local groups and stakeholders working together to re- build confidence within the business community. Working in collaboration with local groups allows us to identify specific needs, local concerns and unique opportunities that arise. In Macroom, the local town team, made up of representatives from key pillars within the community, are maximising the potential of the town centre with projects from canopied seating areas for safe outdoor dining, to longer term capital infrastructure projects. Cork County Council through Project ACT 2021 is facilitating plans like these with pedestrianisation measures and the provision of marquees, canopies and outdoor dining areas across our county towns, issuing in excess of a hundred Section 254 licences to date.

Chairman of the Lee Valley Enterprise Board Pat O’Connell, commented,

When Macroom Municipal District contacted the Board for the use of the marquee, which is used annually each September for the Macroom Food Festival, we saw it as an opportunity to provide a covered space for our members involved in the hospitality business and also the food traders in the Town Square on Tuesdays, as we are trying to promote Macroom as a place to enjoy good locally produced food.  I’m aware that car spaces are being removed but Macroom GAA Club are allowing free car parking in their carpark in the Castle Grounds which is only 200m from the town centre.

Local hotelier Rory Buckley, who runs the 70-year-old Castle Hotel, points to a growing sense of optimism among local businesses:

The support of the Council has been fantastic by enabling us to develop outdoor dining, and they could not be more helpful with applications and grants, he said.

There is a good buzz and great excitement in the town now as we are ramping up to re-open again.

Pictured (L-R) Rory Buckley The Castle Hotel Macroom, Tim Lucey Chief Executive of Cork County Council and Brendan Hedley Burrito Addict. Image: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

Launching Saturday, June 12th from 12 noon, members of the public are encouraged to savour a coffee or lunch from one of the many local cafes and eateries, all the while enjoying the unique bustling atmosphere of Macroom town in a safe outdoor space.

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