24th October 2013, Tuesday
By Bryan T. Smyth
Cork County Mayor, Cllr Noel O’Connor (FG), today welcomed the announcement of €2.5m
grant funding from Fáilte Ireland towards the development of Spike Island as a unique
tourism attraction in Cork Harbour.
Co-funding by Cork County Council of €1.5m will bring to €4m the total investment in the
development of Fortress Spike Island which is expected to be completed and opened for
the 2015 season.
Since the handover of the island to the Council in 2010, the Council has invested almost
€1m and visitor numbers are expected to reach 20,000 this year. The development of
the island has been overseen by a Steering Committee comprising of a wide range of
agencies chaired by Mr. Brendan Tuohy.
Fortress Spike Island will tell the military, penal and transportation stories of the island.
Visitor numbers are targeted to reach 70,000 in its first year of operation and generate
visitor spending in the local economy of €5m.
The success of Spike Island reflects the commitment of a wide range of agencies who
collectively have contributed to the island’s development since 2010.
“This announcement is an important milestone in the development of tourism potential
in the Harbour. Following the recent Rebel Cork Week and the maritime festival, the
potential to tap into tourism to generate economic growth can be seen. Our priority now
is to have this new attraction ready for the 2015 season” stated Mayor O’Connor.
The extraordinary tales of Spike’s 19th
original prison building now named after John Mitchell of the Young Islanders, who
occupied a cell there prior to his transportation. The modern prison history will be told in
the actual cells established in the ramparts of the fort.
Exhibition of Military Equipment;
The Defence Forces have agreed to lend a large collection of relevant historic military
equipment to Spike Island and to support Spike’s designation as a repository for
decommissioned weapons. A former exercise yard, adjacent to the Mitchell Block prison
building, will be roofed over to create a weather protected space to house larger items of
military equipment. The collection includes coastal defence artillery, field artillery, anti-
aircraft guns, armoured vehicles and a larger collection of coastal defence equipment
and other military memorabilia.
The fascinating story of Spike’s military history as the defender of Cork Harbour will be
told through an interpretative exhibition in the Governor’s Building complemented by
displays at key features, such as the 6” guns. An exciting addition is the 4-gun saluting
battery which is fully operational and was demonstrated during the Taoiseach’s recent
visit to the Fort.
The hitherto untold and cruel story of transportation, in which Spike played a crucial role,
is a very painful part of the overall diaspora story and will be the subject of a separate
exhibition in the former shell store.