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!
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