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Island Habitat

Spike Island has a total area of 104 acres which is topped by the 24 acre Fort Mitchel.  The areas surrounding the Fort is known as the Glasis, which is French for slope and its steady climb with no cover made it very difficult for attackers.  This slope is a man made feature with up to 18 convicts at a time pushing heavy carts of soil to create the slope.  

Further out in the island are many houses and even a village with many homes and a church.  The residents lived on the the island right up until 1985 when the riots of that year forced their removal.  ​Before that as far back as the late 1700's military families would have lived on the island, with the families of prison guards at other times.  Some once beautiful homes now dot  the island mostly in debilitated states.  

The perfect short grass of the Glasis and occasional flattened area betray the fact that the Glasis was once used as a golf course, as officers had the convicts build them a 9 hole golf course on the Forts slopes.  And to the South of the Island sits a full size football pitch which was used by the prison guards in the 1980s.  Just past the pitch lies the convict cemetery, where up to 1300 bodies lie in unmarked graves, with only a handful of gravestones stating prisoner numbers.  

To the west of the island is a beach that was often used by locals for swimming, and the North side facing Cobh has many accommodation blocks and the old boat house.  

The residents of Spike Island always shared the island with the many birds and animals that dot the harbour coastline and today the island is part of conservation efforts for troubled species.  The native Irish red squirrel is under threat on the mainland so it is being reintroduced to the island, where it is safe from the grey squirrel.  And the Irish hare which has struggled with Ireland's growing urban environment is set to find a welcome respite.