Spike Island tunnels to be opened up as Cork tourist attraction expands

This is likely to include opening up so-far undeveloped areas, including tunnels, on the island which was once the biggest prison in the world
Spike Island tunnels to be opened up as Cork tourist attraction expands

Since 2016, Spike Island has tripled its annual visitor numbers from 27,000 to 81,000, won multiple international awards and contributed more than €16m to the Cork Harbour economy. Picture: Spike Island

A new five-year business strategy is to be developed to attract further visitors to Spike Island.

This is likely to include opening up so-far undeveloped areas, including tunnels, on the island which was once the biggest prison in the world.

Cork County Council, which took over the running of the island a few years ago from the Department of Justice, plans to open up exciting new areas, such as the tunnels buried deep under the forts walls, together with telling the social history of the island’s former residents, who called Spike Island home from the late 1700s until 1985.

It’s also envisaged that more family-friendly visit options will be developed, including child-specific displays, improved island nature trails and play areas.

Meanwhile, new for visitors this year are behind-the-scenes tours, highlighting areas normally off-limits to the public.

Mayor of the County of Cork, Fianna Fáil councillor Gillian Coughlan, said it was very exciting to see the potential next steps to improve what is already a hugely enjoyable and interesting day out on the island.

It will be great to see the other aspects of its history now explored and explained further, in new areas and exhibitions. In particular, the stories of the island residents resonate strongly with us today. 

"They lived a wonderful microcosm of Irish life, away from the mainland, and Cork County Council is delighted to give a voice to their experience,” Ms Coughlan said.

County council chief executive Tim Lucey pointed out that since 2016, Spike Island has tripled its annual visitor numbers from 27,000 to 81,000, won multiple international awards and contributed more than €16m to the Cork Harbour economy.

Those figures are based on Fáilte Ireland estimates for domestic and foreign visitors. The island has also significantly increased its employment in line with visitor number increases.

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