Spike Island

Spike Island - © Ire DronePhotography
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Adresse Location:
Cork, (County Cork)

Spike Island is a beautiful island located in Cork Harbour, a few kilometres off the coast of Cork. Originally, the island was home to a 7th century monastic site, but the strategic location of Spike Island eventually led to the construction of a star-shaped defensive fort and a prison, which are now open to the public…

Visit Spike Island

Historic buildings, to be visited from top to bottom!

With its 104 hectares, its monastery, its prison and star-shaped fort, Spike Island offers many activities, all in an exceptional setting! With a rich history dating back more than 1400 years, it must be said that the island has been progressively endowed with :

  • a monastery (built in 635 and then abandoned)
  • of a prison (from 1640 to 1883)
  • a fortress (built in 1770)

The whole place is open to you, and is really nice to discover… Many shuttles leaving Cork will propose you the return trip at interesting rates.

You will thus be able to marvel at the architectural quality of the fort built by the royal engineer Charles Holloway, as well as the prison, very austere, which accommodated during 2 centuries many inmates in terribly precarious conditions. Moreover, it is not for nothing that the prison is nicknamed “The Irish Alcatraz”! Because of its position on the island, the insalubrity of its cells, and the hardness of the guards, this prison was feared by most criminals!

The prison was moreover closed in 1883, but reused during the Irish War of Independence…. Many members of the IRA were detained there during this period, under the assiduous surveillance of the Royal Navy, which occupied the island until July 11, 1938, many years after the Treaty of London…. Spike Island was thus the only Irish island to remain English a few years after the official independence of the Republic of Ireland!

Visits to the different sites are generally made with a guide who will introduce you to the history of each building. Possibility to take a break in a café located in the former prison gymnasium. Don’t forget your camera: if the buildings are exceptional, the natural setting of the island is also to be seen!

Spike Island
Practical information

Address Address:
Spike Island - Cork Habour - Cork

Coordonnées GPSGPS:
51.834889, -8.286250

Web siteWeb site:
Access to the website
Opening hoursOpening hours:


Spike Island : the map