Cobh & Spike Island

Spike Island

Although steeped in history going as far back as the  late 6th century when St. Mochuda of Lismore founded a monastery there, Spike Island is largely known for its 24 acre Fortress, the largest convict depot in the world in Victorian times and centuries of Island homes.  The island’s rich history has included monks and monasteries, rioters and redcoats, captains and convicts and sinners and saints which you will learn all about on your guided tour of the Island.

Today the island is dominated by the 200 year old Fort Mitchel named after Jon Mitchel who was incarcerated there in 1848 and it was constructed after the British Government bought the island in 1779. Important to the defence of Cork Harbour, cannons and a variety of large guns where placed there and are still on display on the island. The star shaped Fortress then became a prison holding over 2300 prisoners from the early 19th Century. (WINNER of EUROPE’S LEADING TOURIST ATTRACTION 2017 at the WORLD TRAVEL AWARDS!)

There is also a café and picnic area on site for a lunch option.

Cobh Town

The quaint picturesque town called Cobh (known as the Cove of Cork) was practically unheard of until the early 19th Century.

The rich naval and military history of Cork harbour began with the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (1792-1815), later Cork harbour remained an important base for water and provisions and up until the mid 19th Century visitors would have witnessed many naval and merchant ships in the harbour.  The town was renamed for a short time to Queenstown in honour of Queen Victoria, who visited there in 1849. By the late 19th Century the village had grown into a busy town, also known for its mild climate it became popular as a holiday destination. Cork Harbour’s strategic position in the North Atlantic was recognised and the most famous ship to stop here was the HMS Titanic which made its last port of call at Queenstown/Cobh on the 11th April 1912. Renamed again to Cobh going into 1921 when Ireland was gaining its independence from Britain, Cobh is still today a major port for cruise ships and up to 100,000 passengers arrive here every year.

A variety of pubs, cafes and places for lunch options are plentiful in the town.

Cobh Heritage Center

Situated in Cobh`s Victorian Railway station ( built in 1890) is Cobh Heritage Centre. Between the 1840`s – 1950`s 2.5 million people emigrated from this port of the 6 million that left Ireland for many reasons. Many visitors with Irish family roots are likely to find this was the last site seen by their loved ones that left Ireland! Emigrants that left also include those during times of The Great Famine and convicts sent into forced labour in British Colonies to the North of America and the West Indies or those who simply went in search of a better life in the land of opportunity. For thoseinterested in tracing their ancestors and Irish emigration or learning more about the ill-fated Titanic and the Lusitania, Cobh Heritage Centre is the place to be. Cobh has a rich maritime history and may stories of Cork harbour naval/military past can be discovered here. You can also follow true stories of the many that left and learn what times were like through their journey to a better life.

There is a tea room for a lunch option and gift shop also within the heritage centre.

White Star Line Ticket Office (Titanic)

Built in 1870 and used for the passengers checking onto Titanic the building it self is important to the architectural heritage of Cobh. Retaining its historical features of sash windows and render plaster it has decorative features to its façade. The building was reopened in 2012 to mark the centenary year titanic was launched and today is used to tell the story of the famous White Star Line ship build by the Harland and Wolf ship building company of Belfast Northern Ireland. 123 passengers checked into this office to sail on Titanic and here you can enjoy the Titanic Experience of Cobh.

Saint Colmans Cathedral

The grandeur of this neo-Gothic architectural gem has some of the most impressive features to be found in any Cathedral anywhere in Ireland. Taking 47 years to complete from 1868 it also had a 47 bell carillon installed in 1916 with the largest bell being 200ft above ground level and weighing 3.5 tonnes. Today it boasts a total of 49 bells making it the largest in Ireland. The Cathedral`s organ by Telford and Telford contains 2,468 pipes and is used for recitals by choirs from all parts of the world. Inside you can view the delicate carvings and beautiful arches of this extraordinary building.

The Cathedral over looks Cork Harbour and this is the best photo location to capture some of the islands within the harbour such as Spike Island, the surrounding islands of Haulbowline Island ( Irish naval yard) and Rock Island.