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Research Reveals Spike Island Prison ‘Death Trap’

27th December 2016
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The entrance to Fort Mitchel on Spike Island The entrance to Fort Mitchel on Spike Island Photo: Kondephy/Wikimedia

#SpikeIsland - The burial of a graveyard on Spike Island in the mid-19th century covered up the “death trap” conditions at its Victorian-era prison.

That’s according to new research on the site in Cork Harbour, as The Irish Times reports, that investigates the extraordinary mortality rate at what was once the largest prison in the United Kingdom, but has now been restored as a tourist attraction.

Though blamed on famine conditions in Ireland at large, UCC researcher Dr Barra O’Donnabhain says poor sanitation and malnutrition among the more than 2,300 prison population were more directly to blame.

The result was some 80% of all 1,200 convict deaths recorded for the 36 years of the prison’s existence occurring within a single five-year period, between 1850 and 1854.

“The burial of the graveyard was ostensibly done as part of the completion of the fortifications on the island, it also conveniently hid the evidence,” says Dr O’Donnabhain.

The Irish Times has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Cork Harbour
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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