The Elizabeth Fort is a star-shaped fortified enclosure built in the heart of Cork. Dating from 1624, it was initially used to protect the city from attack, before being converted successively into military barracks, a prison and then a police station. Today, the site is now a museum accessible to visitors: an interesting way to discover the history of Cork!
The Elizabeth Fort is located on Barrack Street in downtown Cork. A first fort was built in 1601 on this very spot, before it was finally destroyed in 1603. However, the present fort as we know it dates from 1624, and would have been built by the British, during the episode of Oliver Cromwell’s invasions. It was used as a military barracks in 1719, before being used as a women’s prison a few years later.
The fort can only be visited since 2014, after undergoing an extensive restoration programme. Inside, you will discover a superb new museum, entirely dedicated to the history of the building. The overall point on the Williamite War, the various sieges suffered by the Elizabeth Fort, the military past of the building, as well as the life of the prisoners who lived there in the 18th century.
You will also learn that the fort was used as a military base by the Black and Tans during the Irish War of Independence, before being burned by anti-treaty forces in 1922 (This is why some of the fort’s structures had to be rebuilt and restored).
It should be noted that the fort offers many activities, such as reconstructions of sword fights and archery workshops.