Spike Island – 24/5/14

Kevin Day-10

ECCG members with Spike Island staff member, Finbarr Cole

Spike Island, one time monastic settlement, military barracks, prison and now visitor centre was our destination on 24/5/14.

Taking the boat from Kennedy pier in Cobh, the trip to Spike, which occupies the centre of lower Cork Harbour, only took about ten minutes and, following a health and safety briefing on arrival from staff member, Finbarr Cole, the island was ours to see.

We were accompanied on the trip by Mrs. Mary Curtin, who was reared on Spike and lived there until she was fourteen years old. Mary shared some memories with us of her happy childhood there and brought  a new dimension to the derelict houses scattered about the island.

John Tait-2

Entrance gate to Fort Mitchell - Kevin Day

The major attraction of the island is, of course, Fort Mitchell. Built originally by the Royal Navy to strengthen the harbour's defences, the foundation stone was laid on the 6th of June 1804 and it was completed in 1860. It's name then was Fort Westmoreland.

It consisted of six bastions connected by ramparts and surrounded by a dry moat. Within the fort were fixed gun positions, four barrack blocks, casemates (ie. shell proof barracks with vaulted roofs built against the ramparts), magazines, stores, a church and a hospital. The cannons were replaced by two six-inch guns in 1903 and these were mounted on No 3 Bastion.

The fort was handed over to the Irish State in 1938, was renamed Fort Mitchell and became an Irish military barracks before being used as a prison by the Department of Justice between 1985 and 2004. In July 2010, control of the island was handed over to Cork County Council which now operates it as a visitor centre.

Denis Barry-3

Panoramic view from Spike: Whitegate to the left, Roches Point to right of centre - Denis Barry

We weren't long on the island when we realised that the few hours we had to spend there would not be enough to fully explore the island and capture the history of the place so a return trip is a must. The panoramic views of Cork harbour from all around the island are worth the visit alone not to mind everything else it has to offer.

A big thanks to the ferry crew and the Spike Island staff for their time and help during our trip.

Get all the details of Spike Island here.


Denis Barry-12

Anne McKenna and Vego - Denis Barry

On our return to Kennedy pier, we met Anne McKenna who was 'puppy-walking' a beautiful eight-and-a-half month old Golden Retriever called 'Vego', for the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind. While Vego is possibly the friendliest dog in the world, he was a bit bashful about posing but acquiesced in the end!

Mouse over the image below to see and activate the slideshow and photographers' details. Photography by John Tait, Denis Barry, Kevin Day, Jim Curtin and Joe Keniry. Enjoy.



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