Topic ID #30389 - posted 12/17/2013 3:26 PM

Ireland- Spike Island Field School




Dates: June 29 - August 2, 2014

Project Description: This field school is part of a research project that examines the archaeology of the 19th century prison on Spike Island, Ireland’s Alcatraz. Dealing with criminals by means of long-term incarceration is a relatively recent development. In Ireland and Britain, long-term confinement only became the dominant means of punishment and social control in the mid-19th century. The architecture of many of the purpose-built prisons from this period reflects new ideas about the redemptive nature of isolation, discipline and work. The physical isolation of prisoners was not possible on Spike Island which was an early 19th century fortress that was converted to a prison in 1847 at the height of the Great Famine. The prison was tied into the global reach of the British imperial system of power as in the early years of its operation, it was one of the main holding centers for Irish convicts transported to Australia and to Bermuda. In the 2014 season, our principal focus will be on the convict burial ground and the bioarchaeology of the inmates who died at Spike Island. For a short video of this program, click here


Academic Credits: Attending students will be awarded 8 semester credit units (equivalent to 12 quarter units) through Connecticut College.

Total Cost: $ 5,250

Accommodations: Field School accommodation will be in the fort on Spike Island. Spike is a small, uninhabited island in Cork Harbor. While there is no resident population on the island, it is not an isolated place: it is only 500m from land in one direction and 1500m across the harbor from the town of Cobh. From 1985 to 2004, Spike Island housed a modern prison and we will be housed in the administration block of this jail (do a Google maps search for Spike Island, Cork: our accommodation is on the upper floor of the rectangular block in the lower right corner of the fort). The island does not have a resident population so we will be the only people there at night.   

Meals: All meals will be communal events at the project dining area. Meals will be catered to the island from mainland restaurants/caterer. All meals are provided from Monday to Friday and students look after their own meals at weekends. Specialized diets (vegan, kosher, gluten-free, etc.) may be impossible to satisfy in this location.

Travel Information: Students should arrive to the rendezvous point in Cobh by June 29 at 4:00pm. We will meet at the Commodore Hotel which is on the seafront and a five minute walk from the railway station (Commodore Hotel, Westbourne Place, Cobh). Cobh is served by a range of public transportation from Cork and DublinDirections and travel information will be issued to all enrolled students.

If you missed your connection or your flight is delayed, please call, text or email to the project director.  Local cell phone numbers and other emergency contact information will be provided to all enrolled students.

Visa Requirements: US Citizens do not need a visa for tourist or business stays of up to three month in Ireland. Your passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the period of your stay. For more information, please visit the US State Department Travel Advice page.

Health: For specific information regarding travel health issues pertinent to travel in Ireland, consult with the Centers for Disease Control website.

Project Directors and Contact Information: Dr. Barra O’Donnabhain, University College Cork, Ireland


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