Events

BEHIND THE SCENES TOUR

ON SALE NOW - Spike Island has an immense history that has played an integral role within the fabric of Ireland’s cultural, social, political, religious and historic past. Scenically stunning, this is a lush, green island of 104 acres breaking from the Celtic sea with a vast history and story to match. 

The island offer quality regular tours to visitors, where they can enjoy a 45 minute guided tour, and time to self explore the fortress and island.  But for those looking for something a bit special, a real deep dive into living, breathing Irish history, we offer you our ‘Behind the Scenes’ tour.  Suited to over 15's only, families with children under this age can contact us for tour times suited to this age group.  

This amazing adventure starts in the company of a local Cork boat crew, departing from the multi-coloured houses of heritage town Cobh. From there, on a brief 12 minute journey, your local ferry Captain weaves the boat across the world’s second largest natural harbour, surrounded on all sides by wildlife and sea life like seals and birds as views of the island draw closer. 

Once on the island, your professional guide will take your group on an adventure into a hidden past.  First you will enjoy 360 degree views of silver-blue waters, open skies and rolling hills on our beautiful outer island.  Hear charming stories of the former island residents, who lived a quiet microcosm of Irish life.  You will learn about this island’s varied past as a monastery, fortress, prison and home, en route to the fort. Once we make the fortress, your real VIP experience begins!  Your guide will walk you through our amazing 1858 Punishment block, a fierce famine era prison, to Ireland’s largest artillery gun park, with cannons, trucks and tanks.  You can then enjoy a break in our cafe, before making for the ‘Spike Island tunnels’, a labyrinth of tunnels buried deep under the forts walls.  Each visitor dons a hard hat and hi-vis vest, and grabs a torch to explore these dark, atmospheric spaces, that have been unused for over a century.  Originally intended to store the forts gunpowder, unbelievably they held prisoners in the 1840’s, in dark, cramped, light-less spaces.  It is an unforgettable journey into Ireland’s penal and military past.

Your tour also includes the ‘Captains bar’, a recreation of the Officers Mess on Spike island from the early 1900’s.  At the end of each week, the Captain of the fort or Governor of the prison would raise a glass with their colleagues to toast one another, and we invite you to follow in this tradition.  This area complete, we head for the return ferry across beautiful Cork harbour, looking out for dolphin, seals and birdlife, or if you are on a late evening visit, enjoying the stunning views of Cobh lit up from the water.  

Visits last approx 3.5 hours from 5pm to 8pm (and 15 mintues on the ferry), with a guided element on arrival, a break, and more guiding.  Cafe open for snacks and drinks.  Join us for this once in a lifetime visit at Ireland’s historic island.  Scheduled boats can be found at https://spikeislandcork.digitickets.co.uk/category/35093

Groups can book a visit priced at €42pp on other dates and times - Minimum spend of €200 - by contacting admin@spikeislandcork.ie or calling 021-2373455. 

Coroporate / large group / trade rates available.  

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - 

Is the content suited to all ages?  This tour is aimed at adults only, over 15's.  Persons with children under this age can contact us for tour times to include younger persons.   but Some visitors may find the stories of prisoner treatment, murders or other parts upsetting.  The tunnels may also be scary for people so inclined. 

Are the tunnels claustrophic?  Yes.  There are always high ceilings in the spaces, but some areas have narrow tunnels, as wide as a typical doorway, which run for a considerable length.  They are colder than outside and dark.  There is no crawling or overly tight spaces.  We cannot offer refunds for anyone not doing this or any other part of the tour.

How long will I be in the tunnels?  The part of the experience lasts approx 20 minutes. 

Is there an age limit?  Yes, for over 15's only.  Persons under this age can email us for info on behind the scenes suited to younger children.  Anyone looking under 21 will not be served a complimentary alcoholic drink in the Captains bar, with soft drink supplement.  

Can you buy alcohol in the Captains bar?  No, this is a dry bar.  You will have a complimetary drink served, but no alcohol can be purchaed before or after.  Our cafe and gift shops are open for a range of teas, coffees, sandwichs, wraps and other items. 

How long is the guided element?  The boat departs at 5pm and a guide will meet you and guide the group for appox 50 mintues, followed by a cafe break, then more guiding to finish.  The cafe is open for the break.  Return boat at 8pm.  

Must I bring anything?  We suggest comfortable shoes for walking, and a jacket or other clothing suited to the weather, as much of the tour takes place outdoors.  You can bring your own torch, or use the light on your phone, for the tunnel experience.