Before Victorian times there was no distinction between age groups when it came to crime and punishment, but during the 1850s when Spike Island's prison population had swollen to the largest in the world, people began to discuss the need for prisoner reform rather than Punishment.
Conditions would slowly improve for child convicts but Spike time was still hard time for the 100 children as young as 12 who were among the 100 in Spikes childrens dormitory. Huge chain hung from the ceiling supported hammocks in which the children would sleep, many of whom were imprisoned for crimes as trivial as stealing a handkerchief or loaf of bread.
Sadly not all made it off the island either, with some succumbing to the conditions and many arriving already weak from the famine which had gripped Ireland in the last 1840s.
The building became the shell store for the fort, used to protect the ammunition from attackers projectiles. Today the building houses a recreation of the cells of the transport hulks that once sat in Cork harbour, along with videos telling the stories of 3 generations of prisoners. There is our John Mitchel room which tells the story of the nationalist for whom the fort is named.