Sunday, August 31, 2008
The Future of Spike Island
A well attended public seminar took place in the harbour town of Cobh yesterday (30/08/08) to discuss the future of historic Spike Island in Cork Harbour which has at various times over the past 1,500 years served as a monastic settlement, Viking base, military fortification, convict base, emmigrant centre, famine home and graveyard, naval base and juvenile detention centre.
Organised by Cork County Council and Spike Island Heritage Committee to coincide with Heritage Week 2008, the meeting was addressed by a wide variety of speakers dealing with different aspects of the island's past and proposed future. There was also a photographic exhibition of life on Spike Island over the past century or so.
Local historian, heritage tour operator and chairman of the Spike Island Heritage Commmittee Michael Martin spoke on the history of the island since at least the 6th century; archaeologist Dan Noonan spoke on the initial findings of archaelogical inspection of various sites on the island; marine archaeologist Connie Kelleher described her inspection of various marine wrecks in the area and raised the possibility of the island someday housing a national maritime museum of world standards, tourism consultant Frank Donaldson spoke about another of the Irish Treaty ports, the military emplacements at Lonehort on Bere Island in West Cork; John Hennessy of the Great Island Historical Society spoke about island life on Spike in the 1940s and 1950s, Cobh Tourism chairman Hendrik Verwey dealt with future proposals and possibilities for Spike while Edward Buckley of Great Island Historical Society gave an interesting lecture about Ogham writing (Ireland's ancient Celtic alphabet) and the importance of the Irish language to this country. A number of local politicians and public figures also attended and there were several contributions from the floor (including yours truly).
It was encouraging to see a large attendance at the seminar on a Saturday afternoon in August and shows there is huge interest in local history and heritage and people in Cobh and the harbour area are genuinely interested in the future of such places as Spike Island.