Niall’s virtual diary archives – Sunday 25th June 2017

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Sunday 25th June 2017: 12.21pm.

Some photos from yesterday at Spike Island, now a very popular tourist attraction after being an island prison and military garrison and fort from about 1800 until 2004. It is rare to find such a continually used and maintained 18th century fortification. That is due to its strategic position guarding entry to Cork harbour which gained particular importance after the American Revolution and subsequent Napoleonic wars with the attempted French naval landings 1796-1798, hence the British being willing to invest in such a huge fortification as Cork harbour was a superb staging port for huge fleets of ships, so had it been lost it would have been very serious. The British continued to use it for their military until 1938 when they were evicted to keep Ireland neutral. The 18th century fort replaced a tower house fort built by the Normans dating from the 12th century and also the ruins of a monestary dating from the 7th century, such was its size and extent that the island shrunk by twenty five feet. It was continually upgraded with the latest artillery technology by the British as threats to supply lines continued to loom from Europe, and it was successful in that nobody ever tried to test it. Indeed the British built sufficient fortifications along the Irish coast that I don't believe any foreign army ever landed after the eighteenth century. Even by 1940 the German invasion plans felt Ireland a harder invasion than England, without large ships to destroy those 16th, 17th and 18th century emplacements they remained quite effective against significant beach landings at anywhere useful.
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