Artist Aoife Desmond, co-creator of Test Site, captures the project on Kyrl’s Quay on 16mm film. Photo: Peter Martin

Truly a site to behold

A project transforming a derelict riverside timber yard into a leafy haven for summer events is now underway in the city.

The combined brainchild of artist Aoife Desmond and architect Ailbhe Cunningham, Test Site invites the public to explore a city space that has long been hidden behind high hoarding on Kyrl’s Quay.

At the site, Ailbhe and Aoife have installed a small woodland and a pavilion where they will host a programme of events including talks, live music, walking tours, reading groups, film screenings, and live performances.

The project’s co-creators came together through an art and ecology course created by Aoife which explored research around ecology and artistic practice. Ailbhe and Aoife were attracted to the old timber yard on Kyrl’s Quay largely due to the vegetation and birdlife that had colonised the area. They were also fascinated with the site’s architectural heritage and the impressive Belfast trusses that still stand strong in the dilapidated sawmill.

The pair approached Cork City Council with their idea to temporarily inhabit the site, and with funding from the Arts Council and permission from Cork City Council, Test Site was created.

In partnership with local community boat builders, Meitheal Mara, and with funding from Cork City Arts Office, the pavilion boasts a roof structure built as a modern interpretation of the Belfast Truss.

“We want people to really consider what can become of an empty space in the city, what sits or looks to be sitting idle but is actually full of potential and life,” said Ailbhe.

She added: “Test Site is just a starting point. While we will be here for two months, we really hope this will turn into a long term collaboration and we hope that long term benefits or ideas will grow out of this space.”

The next event to take place at the site is the arboreal music and research project ‘Whose Woods are These’ by Natalia Beylis and Eimear Reidy this coming Saturday.

Then, on 7 August, an urban planning seminar will take place followed by an architectural seminar on 14 August. Aoife’s new-site specific film 'Mná and Sons' will also be premiered on site on 14 August.

“Test Site is an opportunity to work collectively in a tangible, physical way with the fabric of the city. Rather than simply documenting or creating discreet, ephemeral moments, we hope to affect considered repurposing of a vacant site,” said Aoife.

Test Site runs until 14 August and further details can be found at