6” MK VII Breech Loading Gun
The 6 inch guns entered British service at the start of the 20th Century and saw use in naval, coastal and land artillery roles. Three of these guns were located on Spike Island from circa 1902. Two mounted operationally in open emplacements on Number 3 Bastion and the third for training purposes in the Drill Shed. In 1938, the Irish Army’s Coastal Defence Artillery took over Spike Island’s 6” guns.
In 1943 the two guns were relocated to their present underground emplacements under Numbers 2 and 4 Bastions. Spike Island’s 6” guns were manned continuously throughout the ‘Emergency’ period. Post war, the role of Coastal Defence declined, with eventual disbandment and re-rolling to air defence artillery.
Spike Island’s 6” gun on Bastion 2 saw a new lease of life with the arrival of the Prison Service in 1985, with staff and inmates working on its restoration, a task which was taken up by a team of ex island residents and volunteers in the years after the prison closed.
Today both guns 1 and 2 are open to the public and are kept in a high state of restoration, and continue to impress the visiting public. The 6” guns are the largest surviving examples of breech loading guns in Ireland.