Filed under: Local News |

Following a record breaking year which saw the island crowned Europe’s Leading Tourist Attraction, Spike Island is extending its 2018 opening season to include Saturday’s from February 17th and also sailings in November. In previous years the island has reopened on St Patrick’s weekend and closed in October, but ever increasing demand has seen the island respond with increased sailings.

Island Manager John Crotty commented “We have been delighted with the response to the attraction and we can tell from the emails and phone calls coming in that people are anxious to come and see us”. “While the ferry makes for a beautiful crossing it does add logistical complications for an extended season, but we are overcoming those to make sure people can visit us right across the year, with January currently the only month without a scheduled ferry”.

As well as the award from the World Travel Awards in 2017 the island also won a Chambers Ireland award for heritage and built environment, and a Cork Business award. The site also took the top spot for Cork on travel advice website Tripadvisor in late 2016, a position it has held since then, and Cork County Council Divisional Manger and company director Declan Daly has seen the site grow from an abandoned island to one of Cork’s go to destinations. “The feedback had been very positive to date, with visitors enjoying the mix of prison cells, military exhibitions and scenic island walks and ferry journey”. “The challenge now is to continue to deliver the great tours and experiences we have to date, but also further develop the island to meet the growing numbers”.

A funding application for the second phase of works is planned this summer which would see Cork County Council and Failte Ireland co-fund the next round of development, with plans to open the main prison cell block, add a second museum and add a welcome hub on the outer island. Attempts are also being made to increase the ferry capacity by adding more boats, but the layout of Cork harbour is proving problematic. Island Manager John Crotty stated “Cork harbour is a beautiful but harsh mistress, with the bridge from Rocky Island to Haulbowline ruling out a large percentage of the available ferries as they would be too tall to go under the bridge. There are also issues on the direct route, with the water just a few feet deep in places, so a shallow draft is required”. “We will continue to look for solutions to ensure visitors can come and see us, and we have added and highly recommend advance booking for anyone travelling to Cobh to secure their space on the ferry”.