Ireland’s Alcatraz-style visitor attraction unveils its €5m revamp this weekend as the country gets set to bask in bank holiday sunshine.

The Spike Island experience in Cork Harbour will be one of the main attractions as part of the expanded Cork Harbour Festival.

Centre manager Tom O’Neill said the investment has opened new areas of the complex to the public for the first time, and enhanced the overall visitor experience.

To mark the completion of the works, special rates will apply all weekend, with a further reduction on ferry fees, and free guided tours for visitors tomorrow.

It is just one of several events lined up as part of a jam-packed festival programme, which also includes the Ocean to City race today and a day of exploration and adventure as part of Cork Harbour Open Day tomorrow.

Across the harbour, Swell Surf School will offer special rates on surfing and coasteering lessons; Whitegate Rowing Club will host a coastal rowing regatta, and Aghada Eco Adventures will host an afternoon of free kayaking and water trampolining.

Neptune Kayak will offer a special tour of Ireland’s only inter-tidal megalithic tomb at Poulnalibe creek in Rostellan. Crosshaven, Passage West, and Cobh will all host events, with the Irish Navy offering a glimpse into life in the defence forces, with free naval vessel tours in Cobh.

Joe Duggan, Annaghdown, Co Galway, with his dog Alfie who took shelter in the bog while he cut turf
Joe Duggan, Annaghdown, Co Galway, with his dog Alfie who took shelter in the bog while he cut turf

Cork Nature Network will lead a scenic harbour bird-watching walk along Mahon Point, and Cork Singers’ Club will host a rousing evening of sea shanties and folksong at ‘Songs of the Sea’ in the Spailpín Fánach, Cork City.

The fishing village of Ballycotton in East Cork is also hosting its fourth Seafood and Shanties Festival, with TV chef Rachel Allen among the local food heroes who will be staging short cookery demonstrations in the village. Free ice-cream is on offer, as well as drumming workshops, circus performers, a crab derby, and lighthouse tours.

Meanwhile, thousands are expected to watch more than 60 daring amateur drivers careering down Cork’s St Patrick’s Hill in crazy homemade soapbox vehicles during the international Red Bull SoapBox Race from noon tomorrow.

The Earl of Pembroke Tall ship arrives into Dublin Port for Riverfest , which begins tomorrow
The Earl of Pembroke Tall ship arrives into Dublin Port for Riverfest , which begins tomorrow

Traffic diversions will be in place in and around the area from early morning.

Cork is also hosting a new Soul in the City music and food festival in bars and restaurants along MacCurtain St, in the Everyman, and the Metropole Hotel.

The RipTide Movement and Delorentos are among the headline acts performing at Bandon Music Festival, with street entertainment on Main St and in the Riverview Shopping Centre.

The Rory Gallagher International Tribute Festival takes place in Ballyshannon, Co Donegal, with 25 hours of free open-air concerts, exhibitions, workshops, and walks to honour the musician who died 21 years ago.

Sharon O’Keeffe soaks up the scenery ahead of Ireland BikeFest which rumbles into Killarney this weekend
Sharon O’Keeffe soaks up the scenery ahead of Ireland BikeFest which rumbles into Killarney this weekend

Derelict and vacant buildings will be used to house parts of the K-Fest Music and Arts Festival in Killorglin, Co Kerry.

The joys and wonder of seaweed will be explored at the Ballybunion Wild Atlantic Seaweed Weekend, with an opportunity to experience a treatment at Collins’ Seaweed Baths, and lessons on how to forage for seaweed at Black Rocks.

The Festival of the Pirate Queen, honouring Grace O’Malley, takes place in Westport, with a medieval village set-up hosting live music and craft beers, and yawl racing in Clew Bay.

Becky Robinson, Ballyvolane, Emma Healy, Knocknaheeny, and Savannah Herlihy, Ballyvolane, at Lee Fields
Becky Robinson, Ballyvolane, Emma Healy, Knocknaheeny, and Savannah Herlihy, Ballyvolane, at Lee Fields

Gardaí have urged people to exercise caution on the roads, and emergency services have also pleaded with people to be water-safety conscious while engaging in recreation on or near the water.


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