Watch: Tales from Cork's Spike Island - Ireland's Alcatraz

In a new weekly column, we share videos by Dario Cascio (The Sicilian Wanderer) about some of Cork's favourite places and people. Here Dario visits Spike Island - which was once the largest prison in the world - and the most feared
Watch: Tales from Cork's Spike Island - Ireland's Alcatraz

Dario Cascio visits Spike Island.

Let me start by clearly stating this: Spike Island was one of the best experiences of my life.

It was a beautiful Sunday morning, and with a nice summer sun up in the sky we made our way to Cobh.

An orderly queue shaped up quite quickly, as the staff helped visitors to embark the ferry in full safety and respecting the necessary distance.

We didn’t know what to expect, but our cameras were ready and the excitement was palpable.


Once we disembarked, we started making our way through the island’s small roads, but there was no prison, no fortress, no cannons to be seen!

As I made my way up the hill Ailbe, our guide, explained to us that the fort was built on top of the hill to become “invisible” to approaching enemy ships, thus making the place easy to defend.

Spike Island aerial view. Picture Credit: Spike Island
Spike Island aerial view. Picture Credit: Spike Island

We’re in now – This place is massive!

It’s actually 10 times bigger than Alcatraz, there is so much to see, so much to learn here.

I decided to start from the outside buildings, guide Ailbe was with me the whole time and talked me through this fascinating yet bitter history lesson.

Life was hard here, between punishment blocks, chains and solitary confinement. And the desperate theme of deportation resurfaced once again, this time stronger than ever.

I’ve tried to capture all the different nuances, secrets and stories of Spike Island, a place that I’ll always remember for the mind-blowing experience.

For more on Spike Island see https://www.spikeislandcork.ie/


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