Spike Island is a small island in Cork Harbour first settled in early Christian times. Due to its defensive location in the harbour it was acquired by the British army in 1779 and Fort Westmoreland was built there to prevent French attack on the trading port of Cork.
Later a prison and convict depot, it was used to house "convicts" prior to penal transportation. It gained a reputation as Ireland's Alcatraz. It remained in use as a garrison and prison through the Irish War of Independence, when IRA prisoners were held there, famously 1921 an Ardmore man Jack Eddy escaped from the island twice.
Following the Anglo-Irish Treaty, the island remained as one of the Treaty Ports, and was only handed back to the Free State in 1938. The island remained the site of a prison and military base (for both the regular Irish Army and the FCÁ) for some time. In the early 1980s it was used as a correctional facility for youth, notoriously in 1985 inmates mutinied and briefly controlled the area and one of the accommodation blocks was burnt.
This facility closed in 2004. In May 2006 Minister for Justice Michael McDowell announced plans to build a new prison on the island; however it was later decided to explore an alternative site.
In 2007 a local task group was set up to re-open Spike as a historical tourist site, and in 2009 is was announced that ownership the island would be transferred to Cork County Council to enable its development as a tourist attraction. Follow the link for more information: