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“Great way to spend an afternoon”
Review of Spike Island

Ranked #2 of 149 things to do in Cork
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Spike Island has over 1300 years of Irish history with the Island being used as an Island Monastery, Fortress, Prison and Island home. Today the island can be reached by Ferry from heritage town Cobh, where Irelands best storytellers take visitors on a fully guided tour of the outer island and Fortress. Attractions include the 1850's prison cells from a time when Spike Island was the largest prison in the world, with over 2300 inmates. There are the 1980's prison cells, Ireland's largest artillery gun park and several penal, military and social history museums. With activities for children and families and guided and self guided tours, Spike Island has something for everyone. Groups welcome, audioguides in French, German and English, and tours available specific to the UK, German, Australian, U.S and French visitors by pre-booking.
Useful Information: Activities for older children, Activities for young children, Food available for purchase, Bathroom facilities
Cork, Ireland
Level Contributor
22 reviews
12 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“Great way to spend an afternoon”
Reviewed 20 January 2012

Nice ferry trip from Cobh, great guided tour, relic of troubled times - fabulous sense of history...

Helpful?
4 Thank Pat O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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639 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • Danish first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Norwegian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Any
English first
Mallow, Ireland
Level Contributor
12 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Truly well worth a visit”
Reviewed 13 January 2012

Visited Spike Island on the walking tour with guide Dr Michael Martin. What a gem of a visit. A short but lovely boat trip across the harbour from the picturesque town of Cobh, to land at the pier on Spike Island. The tour was very interesting, and informative with a very knowledgable and easy to listen-to tour guide who highlighted the really interesting parts of the history of Spike Island, up to its use in the 2000s as a prision. The time allowed for free roaming around the fort on the island was very welcome and the views from the room with teh 6 inch gun overlooking the entrance to the harbour was facinating. This is definitely worth a visit or two.

Visited September 2011
Helpful?
3 Thank Niall O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Ireland
Level Contributor
171 reviews
70 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 117 helpful votes
“Great experience”
Reviewed 9 December 2011

Went there as part of a RedFM concert day but wandered around for a look. Its great for anyone who remembers the riots or joyriders in the 80s. The cells are gas with the 2002 posters including holly valance and also the fact everything is just left like the day it closed inclusing the kitchen, the school, the tv in the rooms, the mattresses. Its a great tour and recommend taking it before it gets too polished.
Ferry is very short from Cobh and worth the visit.

Visited September 2011
Helpful?
1 Thank irishtourerIreland
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
County Cork, Ireland
Level Contributor
128 reviews
45 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 319 helpful votes
“Spike Island just oozes with potential”
Reviewed 24 September 2011

Spike Island is an island in the middle of Cork Harbour. It is only accessible by ferry from the town of Cobh. The island is marketed as Ireland's Alcatraz which is a tilt to the fact that at a time it was a transit prison for those unfortunates that were sentenced to deportation to Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) and Bothany Bay for such serious offences a stealing food.
At the core of the island stands Fort Mitchell (formerly) Fort Westmorland, a word one could dissect into three words and it might tell its own story.
The island in more recent years was a Irish army barracks having been handed back to Ireland in 1938 by the departing British Forces. After the Irish army vacated the Irish Navy took possession for a time until, in answer to a spike in car thefts (pardon the pun) it was turned into a prison again. The deterrent of prison did not solve the car theft problem but the addition of a chip on your car keys did ! The prison was closed and the island began a slow descend into dereliction.
Only recently has it been opened to the public. Once you get over the shock of the dereliction and the walk up the hill you enter the Fort and see what I meant when I said it is at the core of the island. There is a large square which I am sure was pounded by several thousand pairs of army boots and some barefooted mis-fortunates also I am sure. It is surrounded by buildings in various stages of dereliction and misguided renovation by a disinterested prison service. But all that does not take away from the mystique that surrounds the place.
The local county council now own the place and are striving valiantly to give life back to the island. A local tour guide conducts a fabulously interesting walk around the island and its fort for those that are interested. Expect few creature comforts but be prepared to be intrigued if not moved. The boat trips are at noon, two and four but be aware that if there are not a minimum of fourteen passengers the boat will not travel at that prescribed time.
I was there for the Island's first endeavour to host a Picnic/Music event. It was a lovely experience to sit on the grass and be entertained. More and better is promised for 2012.

Visited September 2011
Helpful?
13 Thank SirNorman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Good place to go and find the history of ireland”
Reviewed 18 September 2011

I like it must place to go. The guide over there has done 15 yrs of research on this island

Helpful?
1 Thank VikramDeepSingh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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