June 22, 2021
By Tom Collins
Spike Island Cork is celebrating five years since it reopened in June 2016. The Cork County Council site has seen more than € 6.5 million in investment, funded by Cork County Council and Failte Ireland, for interpret its rich history. The island was the site of a 7th century monastery, a fortress, several prisons and an island house. Run on a non-profit basis, the island hopes to grow the number of visitors and the economy of Cork Harbor for many years to come.
The 2016 investment saw the construction of traveling pontoons, improvement of the island’s nature trails, island-wide Wi-Fi, and the restoration and interpretation of over a dozen d ‘distinct museum spaces. These include the oldest prison block on the island, the 1858 punishment block, and the creation of areas dedicated to the port of the island of Cork, with a military and criminal past. A cafe and gift shop were also opened to allow visitors a comfortable 3-4 hour visit.
The attraction of the island has continued to grow, welcoming more than 275,000 visitors in its first 5 years. The annual number increased by 300%, from 27,000 in 2016 to 81,000 in 2019. The Covid decimated the number in 2020, reducing annual visits by more than 50%. We hope that the worst of this impact is over. A second ferry secured in 2019 from the south of France by the island ferry operator, Doyle Shipping, has resulted in continued growth in the number of visitors.
The island has gained international fame for its diverse offering, winning Europe’s top tourist attraction in 2017 and reaching number one in Cork on the Tripadvisor review site. The island is number five in Ireland for top rated tourist attractions.
The island has contributed over € 16 million to the economy of Cobh and Cork Port since its reopening, based on Failte Ireland estimates for domestic and foreign visitors. The island has also increased its employment in line with the growing number of visitors, creating dozens of jobs in storytelling, administration, ticketing, events and heritage.
The island attraction runs regular day tours from Cobh and also has a popular night tour feature, allowing adults only to experience the site’s dark history on ‘After Dark’ tours. It is planned to offer other tour options such as ‘behind the scenes’ tours, where visitors can see areas off-limits to the general public, and ‘eco tours’, where visitors can explore the beaches of the region. island and find out how the islanders practiced early. recycling techniques.
The island has also diversified into the events market, organizing concerts, humorous evenings, exhibitions and fireworks. An annual calendar of events supports culture and the arts in the unique setting of Cork Harbor, with a focus on Irish arts and history.
Island Manager John Crotty said: “We are very grateful to everyone who has visited us over the past five years. Every visitor is a part of the history of our island and our extended family, and helps us in our mission to increase employment and share our rich Irish history with the world ”. “We also thank our wonderful staff, who work so hard to provide enjoyable tours, and the hundreds of people involved in making the island safe and enjoyable.” The island is open to visitors every day.