County Mayor's Diary Cllr Frank O'Flynn

Life has been busy in the council for weeks, and there are some interesting initiatives and events I want to discuss in this week’s column.

Starting with housing, I am pleased to announce that 18 new social homes have been officially launched in Bantry. The former Mercy Convent in the town has been transformed into a combination of 10 one-and two-bed homes. It is great to see such a prominent historical vacant building being brought back into use here in Bantry, and Cork County Council are delighted to collaborate with Clúid in its delivery. These much-needed homes will help to meet social housing needs locally for older members of our community. The development will contribute positively to the vibrant and welcoming community of Bantry and will allow older people to live in their own area and enjoy a quality of life whilst maintaining their established connections within the community.

It was a great weekend for Cork and Ireland as Macroom native Bambie Thug did the country proud by placing 6th in the Eurovision Song Contest. It was heartening to see Macroom’s street party, which live streamed the event, organised within 24 hours by local groups and individuals including Lee Valley Enterprise Board, Macroom Lions Club, Macroom Tidy Towns, Briery Gap, and Macroom Music Fest. The event was a testament to the strong sense of community spirit and pride that thrives in Macroom and throughout the county.

Moving on to roads and transportation, I am inviting members of the public to have their say on early-stage plans for the West Cork Greenway Bandon Sections. In the council, we welcome the chance to meet with community members at the in-person events and ask people to provide feedback through the online questionnaire. Community input is key to ensuring this greenway aligns with the needs of residents and businesses in the area. Our common goal is to develop a greenway that will provide a safe, sustainable, and healthy transport option for local communities. It would support a modal shift away from car use and encourage visitors to come and explore the local heritage and scenic areas of West Cork.

Lastly, we were pleased to welcome the first cruise ship of the 2024 season to our harbours. The expedition cruise ship, Seabourn Venture, made its inaugural call to Schull last week. West Cork is becoming increasingly popular for small ships and expedition cruising. Attracting such prestigious international visitors here is a valuable contributor not just to the local economy but also to the region’s reputation and visibility. We will welcome 11 cruise calls to our harbours in 2024, to Kinsale, Schull and Bere Island. Meanwhile, in Bantry, the cruise season has already begun, and the Port of Cork will receive 22 cruise ships this summer.