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Cork’s Spike Island has been shortlisted in the prestigious Irish architecture awards 2017, following extensive renovation works over the last 18 months. The awards are the ‘Oscars’ of the Irish architecture calendar and there is no higher accolade for a built structure in Ireland. The island is nominated in the people choice category under the restoration/conversation heading, with the public urged to vote for the attraction to cap a marvellous 12 months for the island.

Over 6.5 million was spent turning the former Monastery, Fortress and Prison into a visitor attraction in 2016, after the island had fallen into neglect following the departure of all prisoners in 2004. Rising costs and the complications of the island setting had led to the Irish Prison service departing, with the island being handed back to Cork County Council in 2010.

The island will be represented at the awards ceremony by JCA Architects of Cork, with the ceremony taking place on Friday 23rd June at the Mansion house, Dublin. JCA designed and delivered the project which saw several buildings restored and reinterpreted, including an 1850’s prison, the former prison gymnasium converted to a cafe and a famine era Children’s prison turned into an audio visual centre.

Reached by ferry from Cobh, all visitors to the island are taken on a guided tour across the islands 1300 years of history. The island was home to 6th century monastery before a 3000 capacity star shaped Fortress was built in the early 1800’s, to protect the Southern approaches to Western Europe. That same Fortress became the largest prison in the world in the 1850’s, when its numbers swelled during the famine years to over 2300.
The prison would close in 1883 and the British army would reside there for the next 55 years before a handover to the Irish state in 1938. The Irish army and navy would use the island and fortress over the next 47 years before the island became a prison once again, for the 4th time in 400 years.

Island general manager commented “It is a great honour for the island to be nominated in the very prestigious Irish Architecture Awards. The work done to reinterpret the buildings had to be expertly and sensitively done, as the Fortress is a national monument with very strict rules on its redevelopment. We are urging everyone to vote for us as we feel it would be a well deserved reward for the hard work and creativity that went into a uniquely challenging project”.

Anyone who wants to can vote at

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