Spike Island has been a part of Irish history for over 1300 years! Dating back to around 635AD, the island served as an Irish monastery, inhabited by monks who farmed the land and fished the waters. Learn how the terrifying Vikings raided the area, forcing the monks to temporarily abandon the settlement in 820AD! Many years later, during the Cromwellian Conquest of Ireland, the Island became a prison and was used as a holding point for the many thousands of Irish that were bound for banishment to a foreign colony. During the American War of Independence, Great Britain was on ‘high alert’ and The Kingdom of Ireland was seen to be a way for American forces to invade the British Isles. Therefore, in 1779 the first fortification on Spike Island was built as a defence for Cork harbour.
In 1845 the Great Famine gripped Ireland, forcing the emigration of over 2 million people and the deaths of 1 million. As a result, the people were forced to make desperate acts, increasing crime rates across Ireland. This, in turn, led to the construction of the worlds largest ever prison of the time, holding up to 2300 prisoners. Learn about all of this and the rest of the story on the island, the incredible tale of this special island is brought to life through guided tours and fantastic displays and exhibits. This is an experience that you cannot pass on if you are visiting County Cork, so add this activity to your Stack today!