Great Island, Co. Cork

Oileán Mór an Barraigh, Co. Corcaigh

Great Island (Oileán Mór an Barraigh) is the largest of several islands in Cork Harbour near Cork City, Co. Cork. It is situated between the two channels of the River Lee (An Laoi) emptying into Cork Harbour and connected to the mainland by a causeway and rail line. Cork Harbour, one of the largest natural harbours in the world, is a busy port and home to many modern industries especially pharmaceuticals.

The historic town Cobh (an Cóbh) on the south side of Great Island overlooks the harbour and is in close proximity to Haulbowline (Inis Sionnach) and Spike Island (Inis Sionnach). The spire of St. Colman's Cathedral is a prominent local landmark.

Cobh, or Queenstown as it was known until 1922, was a British naval base. Irish emigrants who sailed for America in the 19th century also left from Cobh. In 1912, Cobh was the final port of the RMS Titanic before she sank on her ill-fated maiden voyage. Today the deep water port is still visited by large ocean liners.

Many of the houses and the streets of Cobh are of architectural significance. The town is popular for walking visitors and sightseers. Walkers also make a circuit of Great Island itself along country roads and pathways. On nearby Foto Island (Oileán Fhóta), there is a 70 acre wildlife reserve for exotic species such as cheetahs, antelope, zebra, ostriches, giraffes and kangaroos.

While nearby Haulbowline Island is currently the base of the Irish Naval Service, Spike Island was used as a fortress and prison in the past by the British and until recently by the Irish State. It is refered to as 'Ireland's Alcatraz' because of its similarity to the Alcatraz island prison in San Francisco. There are plans to develop the island as a tourist attraction.

Further information can be found at

View a map  of Great Island, Co. Cork

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