Children of all ages can learn about Spike Islands incredible history through our curriculum led, age appropriate school tours which offer an incredible mix of history, sightseeing, archaeology and adventure activities in Ireland’s premier school tour destination.
In the last 1300 years Spike Island has been home to heroes and villains, captains and convicts, red coats and rioters, sinners and saints, and the islands impressive 104 acres have at one time or another hosted an Island monastery, an Island prison, an Island fortress and an Island home.
The tour starts with a short 10/20 minute ferry journey that tells the fascinating story of Cobh and Cork harbour. Once on the island students will learn about island life, nature and geography while walking our beautiful island trails. Then it’s on to the imposing Fortress Spike which at 24 acres is one of the largest star shaped forts in the world!
Spike Island was the largest prison in the known world in the 1850’s with over 2300 inmates during the famine years, and there has never been before or since a larger prison in Britain or Ireland. A tour of our impressive ‘Punishment Block’ shows the dreadful conditions Victorian convicts endured, and in our modern cells visitors can experience daily life for 1980’s prisoners. The tour continues to the mighty 6’’ harbour guns which are the most powerful coastal defence guns in Ireland, and our gun park’s military vehicles and canons showcase coastal warfare.
We break up the tour element with some fantastic adventure activities which can include our obstacle course, an archaeology dig, military dress up and drills or jail break orienteering. Each is age and weather dependent, but we guarantee your group a great experiene. Then on we go to lunch (teacher supervised time) in our purpose built cafe, where packed lunches are welcome or hot food can be pre-ordered. And we even have classroom facilities available if you want your group to get a history lesson from one of our resident archaeologists or historians!.
Finally it’s on to our Transportation room where a recreation of a convict hulk helps us to tell the story of the tens of thousands of Irish men and women transported from Spike Island to all corners of the world. While our media room has a state of the art computer rendering of Cork Harbour where students can take control and pilot a ship or protect Cork harbour from attack!
Our trained guides will also tell the stories of our famous island personalities, from convicts like Jack in the Box, Irish nationalists prisoners like John Mitchell and Austin Stack, to famous dignitaries like Eamonn De Valera and celebrated residents like Little Nellie of Holy God.
From daring escapes and recent riots to famine prisoners and World Wars, no matter what the interest or age group Spike Island has it all. 1300 years of history awaits. Will you escape from Fortress Spike??