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A former Cork prison has won an award ahead of the Eiffel Tower, Buckingham Palace and the Colosseum

Over 45,000 visitors were welcomed this year with a target of 100,000 visitors by 2020.

A building inside Fortress Spike Island.
A building inside Fortress Spike Island.
Image: Shutterstock/Riekelt Hakvoort

A FORMER CORK prison has won a major European travel award.

Spike Island has been named Europe’s Leading Tourist Attraction at the 2017 World Travel Awards, seeing off a shortlist which included the Eiffel Tower, Buckingham Palace and the Colosseum.

Spike Island has proven to be a popular tourist success following its takeover by Cork County Council from the Department of Defence in 2010. A number of refurbishment works have been carried out on the island with an investment of €6 million, partly funded by Fáilte Ireland, resulting in the island’s first full year of operation in 2017.

The 104-acre island was a monastic settlement in the 7th century, an artillery fortification built in the 18th century by the British with subsequent forts built in the late 18th and early 19th century and a prison in the 19th century where thousands of prisoners were transported from Spike to Australia. Spike Island remained under British control following the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 and it was only handed over in 1938 when the last British forces left.

Receiving the award, Divisional Manager of Cork County Council and Spike Island Development Company Chairman Declan Daly expressed his delight at the win:

“Earlier this year Fortress Spike became Trip advisor’s number one attraction in County Cork and now the island is Europe’s Leading Tourist Attraction for 2017. This is especially rewarding considering we have so much more planned to ensure the very best experience for both our national and international visitors.”

Spike Island’s success makes it an unprecedented three-in-a-row for Ireland, following victory for Titanic Belfast in 2016 and the Guinness Storehouse in 2015.

Over 45,000 visitors were welcomed this year with a target of 100,000 visitors by 2020.

Fortress Spike Island will now go forward to represent Europe at the Grand World Final, held on 10 December at Phu Quoc, Vietnam.

Read: Meet the colourful tour company ‘high chief’ who has no time for Irish begrudgery

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