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“A boat ride and a whole lot of history!”
Review of Spike Island

Spike Island
Ranked #2 of 165 things to do in Cork
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Discover Ireland's Captains & Convicts, Rebels and Rioters & Sinners and Saints at Spike Island Cork, voted Europe's Leading Tourist Attraction of 2017! The Island is located off the coast of Cobh in Cork harbour & has over 1300 years of Irish history. From an island monastery & fortress to the world's largest prison in the 1850's and centuries of island homes. Your journey starts with a ferry ride before Ireland's best storytellers take you on a guided tour of the outer island and fortress. You can then self explore our prison cells, fortress, beautiful island walks and also use our on-site cafe. Attractions include the 1850's punishment block with its dark cells, the 1980's prison cells and riot exhibition, Ireland's largest artillery gun park and several penal, military and social history museums. With activities for children and families and guided and self-guided tours, Spike Island has something for everyone. Groups welcome, audioguides in French, German and English available.
Useful Information: Bathroom facilities, Stroller parking, Food available for purchase, Activities for older children, Activities for young children
Reviewed May 1, 2013

This was my second trip to Spike Island and on both occasions I wasn't disappointed. The trip begins with a harbor crossing on the Barry J - which if you are lucky may include a run past the Naval base at Haulbowline and some potential seal spotting. We chose to go with a guide on both visits - when I say guide the very amiable gentleman is actually the author of a book on Spike Island (Spike Island, Saints, Felons and Famine - by Dr. Michael Martin). I suggest taking at least one trip with the guide as there is an option later (once you've learned the history) to take the Barry J over to the Island and do your own exploration. In total the guided tour will take some 2 hrs and in my opinion was extremely interesting. The guide has an incredible knowledge and wasn't shy to take any questions of this unique installation. There is an excellent website that will give you all the details of what you can expect so I won't go into that here: www.spikeislandcork.ie What I do want to say is that people may find the guided tour with a family of four expensive but it should be remembered that the continued restoration, preservation and boat journey are all funded from the entry fee. A minority of people fought to have Spike Island retained for the public and there are plans to further develop the site. However in the present economic climate funding is almost non-existent so the Spike Island team are dependent on your support. Currently the boat leaves Cobh Pier at 11:00 and 14:00 on Sundays. I believe in the Summer the frequency of service will be increased. If the weather is good it is an ideal trip to leave at 11:00, take the tour, have a picnic, do some exploration and take the last boat back. There is a Cafe on the Island but 2 x coffees, 2 x Mars Bars plus a packet of crisps came to €8.50 so I advise bringing your own refreshments!

Thank Johneric L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"boat trip"
in 97 reviews
"our tour guide"
in 144 reviews
"dark tour"
in 21 reviews
"naval base"
in 18 reviews
"explore the island"
in 14 reviews
"cork harbour"
in 63 reviews
"interesting trip"
in 13 reviews
"steeped in history"
in 31 reviews
"coffee shop"
in 35 reviews
"three hours"
in 10 reviews
"great trip"
in 22 reviews
"excellent tour"
in 15 reviews
"would highly recommend a visit"
in 10 reviews
"interesting place"
in 13 reviews
"his knowledge"
in 12 reviews
"lovely cafe"
in 11 reviews
"well worth the visit"
in 15 reviews
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1,025 - 1,029 of 1,097 reviews

Reviewed March 9, 2013

An Island full of history explained brilliantly by Michael Martin who explains the history with stories from the past to the present day. Set in the middle of Cork Harbour (2nd biggest natural harbour in the world) the island is surprisingly big and offers breath taking views all round. No wonder a big gun was placed pointing towards the mouth of the harbour.

Thank Michael F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 6, 2013

Spike Island itself as had a long and varied history from monastic settlement, Viking base to Prison, army and naval base. The fort is well worth a visit

Thank seacos_13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 10, 2013

Spike Island is an Island in the centre of Cork Harbour and can be seen from many advantage points within Cork Harbour itself.
My first visit to Spike Island was as a young Military Policeman while performing launch duty in the mid 1960 on the old old stean boats from Cobh to Naval Base, Haulbowline and then to Spike Island with Military and Civilian personnel also rations for those living in the Island.
I recently took a tour of the Island with Dr Michael Martin. I have to say I was astonished.
I have been on that Island for many years, done duty there, played sport there but I have never ever realised the amount of history in the Island. Michael explained the early times through about 15 centuries. Even though I was never a love of history in school, I loved every minute of the tour. Martin has written a book so is well qualifies to speak about it, but it was the interesting and entertaining way that make this tour a ' must do ' .

3  Thank Frank O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed January 24, 2013

An up and coming tourist destination, visited it over a year ago when it forst began walking tours, will be a great place to visit in years to come as the development takes place. Already it is a fantastic destination to go to, to get a taste of the History of the Fort and Cork Harbour and its importance, the guides are passionate about the Island and are very informative, you will learn a great deal about the locality and the life of the people on the Island both the inmates, the workers and their families. and the Boat ride to the Island is great and takes in some of the Harbour and some great photos of the town of Cobh can be got. I would recommend you visit Irelands answer to Alcatraz...go get out there

2  Thank Jamie M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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