| At 8 pm on Saturday 11 th July, the Irish Tricolour will be raised on Spike Island and on the waterfront in Cobh to commemorate the raising for the first time ever of the Irish Flag on Spike Island by Taoiseach Eamon DeValera on 11 th July 1938. This followed the handing over of the Cork Harbour Forts earlier on that day by the British Army to the Irish Army as a part of the Treaty Ports handover.|
This historically significant event has been re-enacted for the past two years by the Spike Island Heritage Committee. This group, chaired by local historian Michael Martin was formed in 2006 when plans were announced to build a super prison on the western side of Spike Island and to link the island to the mainland by a bridge. The committee led a very successful campaign to raise the awareness of the extensive and diverse history of Spike Island and of its immense potential as a tourist attraction similar to Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Port Arthur in Tasmania, Grosse Île in Quebec and Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay. The plans for the prison were shelved in 2007 in favour of a site in North Cork.
Spike Island’s history encompasses a monastic settlement, transportation of convicts to Barbados and Australia, a Penal colony during famine times and use as a military base and more recently as a civilian prison.
The island which extends to over 100 acres has an impressive star shaped fort, water, electricity and a pier, a deserted village and also is the final resting place of over 700 convicts who were buried in unmarked graves.
The 2009 ceremony will take place on Saturday 11 th July. St. Colman’s Pipe Band, a colour Party from the O.N.E. (Organisation of Nation ex-servicemen and women), the Royal Naval Association and the Royal British Legion will parade from Cobh Heritage Centre to the Promenade in Cobh Town Centre at 7.40 pm.
Following ceremonies and musical honours the Irish flag will be raised by the Mayor of Cobh Cllr. Paddy Whitty as the bells of St. Colman’s Cathedral strike eight.
Simultaneously historian Tom O’Neill will raise the flag on Fort Mitchell on Spike Island. The ceremony will conclude with a cannon gun salute.