The island brims with stories of the incredible history of its former occupants from monks and farmers to rioters and murderers.
Founded as a monastic settlement, the fate of Spike Island went very dark indeed. First, as a fortress built to defend the British Empire, then as the gruesome prison whose very name chilled the blood of convicts across the world.
A fifteen-minute ferry ride from Cobh, Spike Island has some fascinating tales to tell. The tour takes 3.5 hours in total including a 45-minute island induction from the trained storytellers and plenty of free time to explore at your own pace, so give yourself at least four hours for this gem. There are two tours available. The family-friendly daytime tours allow you to explore what was once the world’s largest prison, view the tiny cottages that have arguably some of the most beautiful views in Ireland and learn about the fascinating military and penal history of the island.
The not-at-all-child-friendly After Dark Tour shines some light on the harrowing history of the island, including the ghastly murders, mass graves and why its infamous punishment block was referred to as “hell on earth” by all who knew of it.
Tours leave from Kennedy Pier in Cobh a few times a day and the ticket price includes the ferry crossing. The island has a cafe, toilets, and buggy-friendly routes. We highly recommend booking your tickets in advance as they sell out regularly. For more information and to book tickets, visit The Spike Island website.
“A visit to Spike Island prison is arguably one of the most unique things to do in Cork… Spike Island in Cork is a fantastic little spot to escape to when visiting Cork. The history is dark and interesting and the reviews for the Spike Island tours are excellent.” – The Irish Roadtrip