ALMOST 400 people turned out to Cork’s award-winning tourist attraction Spike Island yesterday to celebrate the 80th anniversary of its historic handover from Britain to Ireland.
Up to 90 members of the Irish Defence Forces took part in the ceremony, providing a full honour guard, A military band, a 21 gun salute and an air corp flypast.
The event marked 80 years to the day that Britain handed Fort Mitchell back to Ireland, 17 years after the treaty of 1921.
Spike Island would become one of three treaty ports which Britain retained as part of the treaty, and it would take almost two decades to secure their return.
“Spike Island has welcomed close to 100,000 visitors and almost doubled its numbers in 2017 to 45,000 visitors annually,” said Chief Executive of Cork County Council, Tim Lucey.
“The island now has over 10 full-time employees and up to 40 seasonal part-time workers, and in 2017 the attraction contributed an estimated €6.5 million to Cobh’s economy.
“We have ambitious plans to increase the ferry capacity, add an international welcome hub on the pier, all with the specific focus of increasing international visitors to the island, making the attraction self-sustainable and a jewel in the crown of Muster tourism,” he added.
The island is now set to apply for a second round of funding to further develop the site in 2019.