6 November 2019
By Elaine Murphy
Spike Island has been named “Best Attraction” at the prestigious “International Travel and Tourism Awards” 2019, the ITTAs hosted at The Magazine in London yesterday evening. This recognition of the achievements of Cork County Council in the development of the former prison site into a world class visitor attraction has today been welcomed by Council officials with the people of Cork also praised for their help in making Spike Island a phenomenal international success.
Spike overcame formidable competition from The Dark Sky Reserve at Alqueva Portugal, Disney’s Les Villages Nature in Paris, the UNESCO world heritage site Shoko Shuseikan Museum in Japan, Harry Potter at Warner Bros Studios London and the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare to claim the ‘Best Attraction’ Award.
Ireland was the only country to have two separate sites featured with Cork County Council’s Spike Island and the Cliffs of Moher both making it into the final shortlist of six international sites.
Cork County Council’s Spike Island manager John Crotty and company director, Sean O’ Callaghan, collected the prestigious award at the ceremony in London.
The island attraction opened to the public in June 2016 following a €6.5 million investment by Cork County Council and Fáilte Ireland. Several areas were opened to the public, including the original 1840s famine era prison and the modern cells which were in use until 2004. Since then the Council have reopened new areas each year with 2019 seeing a major exhibition on the 1921 period, when 1400 War of Independence prisoner were held on the island.
Chief Executive of Cork County Council, Tim Lucey, welcomed the news, “This prestigious award is a welcome recognition of the remarkable success story that is Spike Island. The council-owned attraction opened to the public in June 2016 with a €6.5 million investment by Cork County Council and Fáilte Ireland. The addition of new walking trails and the second ferry facilitates continued growth for the Island with visitor numbers swelling from 27000 in 2016 to over 81,000 in 2019 and well on course to hit the 100,000, making the attraction completely self sustaining. The ITTAs Best Attraction Award will further the brand internationally and adds to the growing accolades for Spike Island including the 2017 World Travel Awards as ‘Europe’s Leading Tourist Attraction’. It is a testament to the hard work and dedication of Cork County Council management and staff and the participation and assistance of the people of Cork.”
Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Christopher O Sullivan commented, “Spike Island is a truly unique experience, enjoyed by locals and international visitors alike. It combines a ferry ride, scenic walking trails through over 100 acres and many fascinating historical exhibitions detailing the rich authentic history on Spike Island. Every visitor can find something to connect with here but crucially it is the staff and tour guides who are passionate about delivering and sharing that story that makes it work so well. This impressive achievement reflects the commitment of our council staff to quality storytelling and the immersive nature of a visit to Spike Island.”