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Today, Spike Island officially launches its newest exhibition, Entwined History: Revealing Spike Island’s Forts, commemorating the 220th anniversary of Fort Westmoreland’s foundation, now known as Fort Mitchel. The exhibition, running from July 2024, delves into the rich military past of the island, showcasing architectural plans and historical artefacts.

Fort Westmoreland was constructed in the late 18th century, armed with 60 guns to defend Cork Harbour. However, construction halted after Napoleon’s defeat in 1815, leaving many structures unfinished. Spike Island’s strategic importance was further highlighted when it became a convict depot during The Great Famine.

Dorota Gubbins, Spike Island’s Museum Curator, reflected on the significance of the exhibition:

“We are thrilled to present ‘Entwined History,’ which marks the 220th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone for Fort Westmoreland, now known as Fort Mitchel. This exhibition not only highlights Spike Island’s strategic importance within Cork Harbour, shaped by pivotal events such as the American Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, but also showcases invaluable architectural plans, photographs, and rare artefacts offering rich insights into the island’s storied past. We are deeply grateful for the generous contributions from families and supporters, which help us bring this history to life for our visitors.”

Entwined History

offers a unique glimpse into the military history and architectural ingenuity that shaped Spike Island. The exhibition features original architectural plans from the British National Archives, the only known photograph of convicts working on the bastions of the fort in the mid to late 1800s, and rare artefacts including a miniature King James Bible and a porcelain creamer from the Beach Cottages.

Visitors are invited to explore this fascinating exhibition and uncover the architectural and historical journey of one of Ireland’s most significant fortifications.