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.