Crosshaven’s Fort Camden, open every Saturday and Sunday (12 noon) ‘til the end of September, is well worth a visit and the paltry three euro admission charge. There is a lot to see here, even though the restoration efforts by Rescue Camden Committee in conjunction with the County Council and FAS have still some way to go.
The highlight for me was the Bright Tunnel that takes you from the parade ground down to the shore. Don’t worry; it is quite a wide tunnel. There are loads of steps but lots of landings as well to take a breather.
You may also see the engine room for the Brennan Torpedo, regarded as the world’s first practical guided torpedo and you can get much information on this well preserved classical coastal artillery site at http://www.rescuecamden.ie
There is a lovely atmosphere here, thanks largely to the volunteers that staff the site. They are properly proud of their place and are very willing to share their knowledge and help in any way. If you need to take a break, you can have tea and coffee and pick from a selection of cakes and scones. The prices are very reasonable. Last Saturday, a cup of tea and a scone cost me €2.50.
The cafe, now on the parade ground, may well move to a more scenic position, with a great view out over the harbour, towards Cobh and Fort Carlisle, next season. And it is also on the cards, that another, even larger tunnel, with a spiral staircase, will also be open to the public.
Some rooms have been restored and a few are being used for exhibitions. Last weekend was the first of two weekends for the brand new exhibition in the Gallery with local artist June Fitzgerald and friends. This features paintings of some well known local scenes.
The Camden Art Commission is also open and will run until the end of September. Five incredibly talented artists display their interpretation of the Fort in different mediums including Visual art, Poetry, Water, Metal and Naval architecture.
My favourite (hidden behind black curtains) is perhaps the Inner Sea by Julia Pallone), a water installation that reflects the history of the place, not to mention the windows of the room in which it stands.
No shortage of variety here and it will only get better and in a few short years could well be one of the top attractions in the country. Remember, some sixty per cent of the fort is underground. So this is your chance to get down to Crosshaven and see the work in progress. Very enjoyable and suitable for kids.