Spike Island: An isolated island where history rests
Spike island is an isolated island located near the coastal town called Cobh, near Ireland’s County Cork. To get to this historical island, one has to get into a ferry from Kennedy Pier.
The island was found by Saint Mochuda in the seventh century in order to establish a monastic settlement. After the Viking attacks and their dominance, this island was also, for a very long time, home for pirates in the area. In the 18th century the British built the star shaped Mitchel fort in 24 acres. Although it was designed for military purposes, it was later used as a place to imprison prisoners
The prisoners of Spike Island were usually the ones who were found stealing food during the greatest famine in the history of Ireland. More than 2000 prisoners were made to suffer in the narrow dark rooms of the prison. Those who reacted against this treatment were sent to the isolated dark rooms. A lot of people committed suicide due to psychosis or killed by the beatings that they were subjected to.
Irish Republican Army soldier Richard Barret, who fought for a free Ireland was also sent here for imprisonment, along with a lot of other revolutionaries, who took part in ‘Easter Rising’ freedom fight.
The jail system inside Spike Island continued to exist even after Ireland secured Independence. In 1985, a rebellion broke out in the prison between the inmates of the prison. As a result, an entire block was destroyed by the fire that broke out and several prisoners escaped from it. The jail arrangements in Spike Island were gradually brought down there after and by 2004, the jail ceased to exist completely.
Mitchel Fort is right in the middle of Spike Island. It’s architectural brilliance and royal get-up is something to be admired.
The prison in Spike Island is one of the largest in the history of Europe. It is also notable that such a jail system did not exist before or after Spike Island. Canons and guns are displayed at various corners of the fort. Descriptions of the 1985 revolt along with its pictures are also on the display.
Today, Spike Island has lots of museums and exhibition centres that provides information about the old monastic settlement and the army’s punishments. The island was bestowed the award of Europe’s most attractive tourist destination in 2017 by World Travel Awards.