Visitor numbers to Spike Island are up 25% so far in 2019, with the operation of a new, larger-capacity ferry just one of a number of developments at the Cork Harbour destination.
The new ferry, the 126-seater Spike Island, has been operating since Friday, April 19.
As a result, the busiest day for Easter 2019 was up 50% on Easter 2018, according to a report from the Tourism Directorate of Cork County Council.
“The Spike Island … is more comfortable with a larger capacity that the Bryan J, which was used previously,” the report said.
“The new contract with Doyle Shipping Group provides for the use of both vessels, which will significantly increase capacity to transfer tourists between Cobh and the Island.”
Both vessels are to run as needed between June and August.
The increased visitor numbers are part of a pattern of growth for Spike Island as a tourism destination, which won a World Travel Award in 2017.
Other developments include the Ring of Spike walking trail and the Fairy Fortress trail for children. A free map highlighting the trails is given to all visitors.
Two major exhibitions have also been confirmed in Mitchel Hall on the Island. ‘Deserted schoolhouses of Ireland’ is currently showing and ‘The Trial’ is set to come from Kilmainham Gaol in August.
A curator was appointed to the island in January and the report said the island intends to run a calendar of exhibitions across the year.
There are also plans to improve access to Spike Island. A new ticket office on Kennedy Pier is due to be in place by July and the report also said the Port of Cork are to advise on the date to install a wheelchair accessible pontoon.
Next up for the island is Fortress Fireworks, a family-oriented event with face painters, music and fireworks display, taking place on Saturday July 6.