In the last 1300 years Spike Island has been host to a 6th century Monastery, a 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.
Today the island is dominated by the 200 year old Fort Mitchel, the star shaped Fortress which became a prison holding over 2300 prisoners. Take the scenic ferry ride from Kennedy Pier, Cobh, and enjoy a fully guided tour of our island and fortress, and relax in our cafe and picnic areas. Get captured in the history and mystery of this magical heritage island.
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The island was home for many including those whose work required them to live here and for their families. For nearly 200 years there was a vibrant and close-knit island community with many children born and educated on the island.
Children who lived on the island included Nellie Organ who moved here with her family in 1905 when her father, a soldier in the British Royal Artillery, was stationed there. Following her mother’s death Nellie – a devout but sickly child – was sent to live with the Good Shepard Sisters in Cork. Because of her illness, Nellie made her first Communion in December 1907, shortly before her death in February 1908, aged only four years and five months.
She is now remembered as ‘Little Nellie of Holy God’ and is buried at the site of the old convent on the banks of the River Lee in Cork City. Partly as a result of her piousness, in 1910 Pope Pius X released a decree known as Quam Singulari, which lowered the age at which children could make their first Communion.