Spike Island draft master plan published by Cork CoCo

Cork County Council has published a draft master plan for the future development of Spike Island

Compiled by a team of experts, led by Scott Tallon Walker and destination specialists, CHL Consulting, the document plans out  the magnificent opportunity to create a new 100 acre national park on the water, with the 40 acre Mitchel Fort at its centre, renovated and developed as a complex of cultural heritage attractions and museums.

Geared to meet the challenges of current funding, the project calls for the leveraging of the island’s unique historic and geographic characteristics to offer a variety of visitor experiences, from community based projects, to adventure tourism to re-enactments of military and penal life, to  exhibitions, a major aquarium and learning centre dedicated to oceanography and the expansive marine resources of Ireland’s Continental Shelf.  The proposed attractions comprise three separate, but closely related, product groups which can be developed over three main phases. Phase 1 is generally small scale and focused on the Island environment and its history. Phase 2 concentrates on The Fort Experience, living history interpretation, enhanced fort tours, and visitor services etc; Phase 3 will include a major attraction combining a uniquely designed aquarium with demonstrations of the extraordinary marine research being conducted by Cork-based education and research institutions.  The Island management is also expected  to target summertime events and concerts, as a participating venue in the existing city and county festival calendar, growing to independent and national events with capacities of over 6,000 people.

The project promotes the clustering of economic development potential in the lower harbour area through phased investment in quality ferry services and  linkages  between Cobh, Spike, Haulbowline and other waterside villages and attractions.

Over the past four centuries, Spike Island has been both an important military & coastal defence post, and a place of imprisonment. Up to recent times, this fascinating island has not been freely accessible by the public. With the transfer of ownership to Cork County Council, in 2010, Spike Island’s situation changed radically, entering  a new existence as a recreational and tourist destination. Already, it has attracted several thousand visitors, and this most recent plan aims to increase visitor numbers to well over 200,000  per annum.
The estimated overall costs for the redevelopment of Spike Island is €40m, therefore the development will be carried out on a phased basis over a number of years.   This figure excludes the cost of transport requirements. Subject to approval of the Draft Masterplan by the Elected Members, Cork County Council hopes to secure funding from Failte Ireland for Phase 1 and it is hoped to commence works on this phase in 2013.