Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan has today launched Spike Island’s new ferry service, appropriately named ‘Spike Island’ in honour of its route. Mayor O’Sullivan performed the ceremonial honour of pouring champagne on the bow on the 81st anniversary of the handover of Spike Island from Britain to Ireland.
The 126 capacity ferry was secured by Doyle Shipping Company who have been servicing Spike Island since the 1950’s and have seen the service change from military to prison to tourism during these years. The ferry will complement the existing service by increasing capacity and allowing visitors a longer stay on the 104 acre island.
Commenting at the launch, Cork County Council Chief Executive Tim Lucey said
“We are delighted to see the new ferry launched which will address any capacity issues the island might face in the coming years. As well as enabling longer stays for day trippers, the extra capacity also opens up the potential for Spike Island to hold large scale events in the near future, offering an even greater economic benefit to Cork County.”
This sentiment was reiterated by Doyle Shipping Director Eoin O’Sullivan who said,
“We take great pride in servicing Spike Island and the wider Cork harbour area, a duty we have carried out for many decades now. The passengers have varied considerably over the years, from army and navy officers to sitting Taoisigh and famous criminals like Martin Cahill to bands and performers. Now it is tourists who make the scenic journey across the world’s 2nd largest natural harbour.”
Following the ferry launch, Mayor O’Sullivan made his way to Spike Island where he launched a new National exhibition titled ‘Independence’. The exhibition tells the story of the Irish road to freedom and the 1,400 Irish freedom fighters held on Spike Island in 1921. Families of the men held on the island were present for the exhibition which is the result of 5 years of research led by the islands assistant manager, and resident historian, Tom O’Neill with support for the team at Spike Island.
‘Independence’ begins in 1914, during the outbreak of World War I, and details how Ireland sought to take advantage of British distraction and the failed rising in 1916. The exhibition includes original footage and artefacts made by the men who stayed on the island, including autograph books and diaries. There is also a genealogy section which allows visitors to search for the details of the 1400 men held here.
Speaking of ‘Independence’, Mayor O’Sullivan highlighted the importance of such an exhibition at this time,
“The ‘Independence’ exhibition will reawaken the courage and valour of these men who were so passionate that they put their lives on the line to achieve Irish freedom. These are the men that fought, died and eventually freed Ireland and it is importance that this story is told, particularly in the manner in which it is presented here. I would encourage everyone to make their way to Spike Island and see this exhibition for themselves.”
The Exhibition is one of several now on offer to visitors to Spike Island Cork, with boats departing daily from Cobh.
For further information including booking details please visit www.spikeislandcork.ie