Following the takeover of Spike Island by Cork County Council in 2010 the former jail and British military fort received a €6 million investment to turn it into a top tourist attraction; aiming to attract 100,000 visitors by 2020.
Originally the site of a monastic settlement in the 7th century, Spike Island had its first artillery fortification built in the 18th. A series of forts were subsequently built on the 104 acre island in the late 18th and early 19th century.
It was used as a prison in the 19th century when thousands of prisoners were transported from Spike to Australia and was the largest prison in the world in 1850. The island remained under British control following the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 and it was only handed over in 1938 when the last British forces left. Its island location and settlement of families on the prison island has seen it often equated to Alcatraz.
Among the refurbishment works carried out on the island to date have been the installation of a Pontoon to facilitate access for ferry passengers coming from Cobh which has recently been named as one of Europe’s best cruise destinations. In addition, there has also been a refurbishment of the Punishment Block and construction of a new Military Exhibition Yard.
TODAY YOU CAN EXPLORE SEVERAL MUSEUMS, EXHIBITIONS, SCENIC ISLAND WALKS, CHILD FRIENDLY AREAS, A CAFE AND GIFT SHOP. VISIT INCLUDES FERRY, OPTIONAL GUIDED TOUR, FREE MAP AND A DOWNLOADABLE IOS & ANDROID APP.
You can also download the 2020 Visitors Brochure here.