Once the largest convict prison depot in the world, and now an award-winning tourism and heritage centre, the formidable Spike Island is a must-visit destination in Cork. Located in Cork Harbour, the 2nd largest harbour in the world, the County Council-owned former prison site earned the accolade of ‘Europe’s Leading Tourist Attraction’ in the prestigious World Travel Awards in 2017.
In the last 1300 years Spike island has been home to rioters and redcoats, captains and convicts, monks and monasteries and sinners and saints. Its beautiful 104 acres have housed an Island Monastery, Fortress, Prison and Homes and today the island can be reached by a short and scenic ferry from heritage town Cobh. Once on the island visitors join Ireland's best storytellers for a mesmerising insight into the personal stories of this unique corner of the Ancient East.
Enter the 200 year old Fort Mitchel, the 24 acre star shaped Fortress built to defend an empire that became the largest prison in the world in the 1850’s during the famine years. Tens of thousands of Irish men and women were transported to America and Australia from Spikes prison. The island would be used by both the British and Irish army and navy before becoming a prison again in the 1980’s.
Today visitors can explore the vast Fortress, enter the infamous Punishment block and modern prison cells, see Ireland's largest military gun park, journey through the tunnels to the harbour defence guns, enter the former children's prison and explore the 104 acres of villages, beaches and grasslands.
Take the scenic ferry ride from Kennedy Pier, Cobh, and experience the phenomenal history of the island prison.