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Spike Island to light up Cork Harbour for 84th Birthday Celebrations and Commemorations.



Spike Island is set to light up Cork Harbour on Sunday 17th July in both a celebration and commemoration of its historic past. The island celebrates its 84th birthday on July 11th, the date on which the island was officially handed from British to Irish control in 1938. Spike Island was so strategically important, it was retained in 1922 as one of the Treaty Ports following the conclusion of the War of Independence. The successful return of the island 17 years later brought 159 years of continuous occupation by the British Military to an end. In the 84 years since the handover, the island has been used as an Irish Army and Navy base, a prison from 1985 to 2004, and finally a visitor attraction which opened in 2016.

Spike Island marks this momentous occasion and celebrates their Independence Day with a fireworks display and family fun night on a suitable evening as close to the date as possible. This year the event will take place Sunday July 17th, with limited tickets on sale.  Restrictions associated with the Covid-19 pandemic put a halt to the annual celebrations over the past two years, however the hugely popular event will return this year with another spectacular fireworks display set to light up Cork Harbour.

Visitors will board the ferry across the world’s second largest natural harbour, enjoy a guided tour on arrival, explore the forts amazing museums and exhibitions and walk the amazing island nature trails. On this special night, there will also be family entertainment, with performances by musicians, face painters and more.

To close the night, a fireworks display will launch 1300 fireworks into the sky over Cork Harbour, one for every inmate who died on the island in its three incarnations as a prison – in the 1800’s, 1921 and from 1985 to 2004. The Victorian era prison in a particular was a harsh regime and at its height, one inmate a day died on the island.  They are remembered now on Ireland’s historic island.  

Island manager John Crotty said the island is excited to welcome visitors for the islands celebratory evening and to see the new additions to the island offering. 

“It has been a long three years since we last marked this momentous occasion in the islands history.  On that day in 1938, Ireland grew just a little a little larger in size, but infinitely larger in stature.  We look forward to celebrating the occasion by lighting up Cork Harbour and sharing our rich history with eager attendees”. 

Tickets for this event are now on sale at and early booking is advised.  

For more info on the historic occasion of the handover, see

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