After fourteen centuries of military and ecclesiastical heritage, 2005 saw the then-Justice Minister Michael McDowell put in place proposals to turn Spike Island into Irelands Alcatraz, through the construction of a 70 million super-prison.
Spike Island, situated proudly in Cobh Harbour, has a long penal history. Cromwell used it as a holding centre for those awaiting transportation to Barbados; their place was to be then taken by those waiting to be shipped to Van Diemens land. Prisoners of the War of Independence were kept there, before the island was finally handed over to the Irish.
In 2007, following extensive campaigning by heritage campaigners, these plans were dropped, replaced by plans for its preservation as a heritage site. The chairman of Cobh Tourism at the time was Michael Martin, the author of this volume, and this is his story of our very own Devils Island.
In July 2009, it was announced that control of Spike Island was being passed to Cork County Council to make the island a tourist and heritage site, Ireland's own Alcatraz.