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6" Guns

The 6 inch guns entered British service at the start of the 20th Century and saw use in naval, coastal and land artillery roles.  Three of these guns were located on Spike Island from around 1902. Two were mounted operationally in open emplacements on Number 3 Bastion and the third for training purposes in a covered building on the north of the island. In 1938, the Irish Army’s Coastal Defence Artillery took over Spike Island’s 6” guns. 

In 1943 the Irish army undertood the enormous task of relocating to their present underground emplacements, deep within the forts walls at the end of long tunnels in bastion 2 and 4 of the fortress.  Spike Island’s 6” guns were manned continuously throughout the ‘Emergency’ period, world war 2.  After the war the role of Coastal Defence declined, with eventual disbandment and the responsibility fell to air defence artillery.


Spike Island’s 6” gun on Bastion 2 saw a new lease of life with the arrival of the Prison Service in 1985, with staff and inmates working on its restoration, a task which was taken up by a team of ex island residents and volunteers in the years after the prison closed.

Today both guns 1 and 2 are open to the public and are kept in a high state of restoration, and continue to impress the visiting public with their striking views out over Cork harbour. The 6” guns are the largest surviving examples of breech loading guns in Ireland.