Former penal colony to become tourist attraction

Spike Island, a former penal colony and youth prison, is set to become a major new tourist attraction in Ireland.

Swimmers on Spike Island, Cork

Swimmers on Spike Island, Cork Image by Anthony Patterson / CC BY 2.0

Work on a €2.5m interpretive centre for the island, which is located in the middle of Cork Harbour, is due to begin soon with the aim of being ready for next year’s tourism season.

The Irish Examiner reports that Cork county engineer David Keane believes there is massive potential to attract unprecedented levels of tourists, not just to the island but the harbour in general.

Part of the prison’s old Block B is to be refurbished for the interpretive and visitor centre, while the authority is also erecting new access walkways. A pontoon already in place will have a shelter erected over it .

The interpretive centre will chart the history of the island and aslo host military memorabilia.

In 2014, 26,000 people visit the island but it is hoped to increase that number to 70,000 with the new facilities. The council believe that when the overall project is completed, it could attract some 300,000 tourists annually to Cork Harbour.

The Island was initially inhabited by monks in the 7th century, later it was occupied by military personnel for four centuries and then became a penal colony in Cromwellian times. In the recent times, the island was used as a youth prison.

Related content