Spike Island Aerial drone video by Skytec Ireland, Cobh, Cork, Ireland.


A fantastic drone video of Spike Island taken by Skytec Ireland. Shot in summer 2016.
Spike island is an island off the coast of Cobh in Cork, Ireland. It was used as a monastery in the 6th century and later an enormous 24 acre Fortress was built on the island in the early 1800's. The video shows the enormous scale of the fort which could garrison over 3000 men.
This same fortress became the largest prison in the world in the 1850's, driven by the rise in crime due to the famine. Over 2300 prisoners were held in often appalling conditions and there has never been before or since a bigger prison in Britain or Ireland. The island was used as a convict depot, holding inmates sentenced to transportation. Thousands were sent to Australia, the Americas and elsewhere, often for crimes committed out of desperation.
The practice ended and eventually the island was handed back to the military once again in the late 1800's.
It held the British army during world war 1 as troops were trained there for the front, and in 1921 it had a brief spell as a prison again as 800 republican prisoners were held there during the Irish War of independence.
The island was handed back from the British to Ireland in 1938 when Eamonn De Valera attended a ceremony, as one of 3 treaty forts retained by the British. The military significance of the island was not lost on Winston Churchill, who in a speech about the loss of the treaty ports described Spike as the ‘sentinel towers of the defenses of Western Europe'.
The Irish army held the fort until 1979 when the Navy took over, and then in 1985 the escalating joyrider problem led to it being made a prison once again that year. This lead to the Spike Island riots in August of that year, when much of the fort was burned to the ground. The danger from holding prisoners and the riots led to civilians having to vacate their homes and as much as a thousand years of social use came to an end. The last of the prisoners left the island in 2004 as mounting costs saw its prison days come to an end.
In 2010 it was handed back to Cork County Council and today the island is used as a tourist attraction, offering an unrivaled journey through the religious, military, penal and social history of Spike and Ireland.
Some famous visitors have included the prisoner Jack in the box, the crew of the gun running ship the Aud, nationalist hero John Mitchel, British soldier and Amazon explorer and adventurer Percy Fawcett, and Little Nellie of Holy God who is the reason all Catholics have their communion at age 7.
Attractions include the 1850's Punishment block, the modern prison cells, 104 acres of island walks and scenery, 24 acre Fort Mitchel, former Childrens prison, John Mitchel museum, Irelands largest military gun park and many museums and exhibitions. Visitors can also use our cafe, hire picnic hampers and see the wider island, with its abandoned villages, beach walks and convict cemetery.
The island can be reached by ferry from heritage town Cobh, advance booking is highly recommended via www.spikeislandcork.ie.


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