The first episode of a new TV documentary series, ‘Building Ireland’, will focus on Cork’s Spike Island and the Victorian residential architecture of Cobh.

The episode will air at 8.30pm on RTÉ One on this Friday, 30th September, with five more episodes airing in the same time-slot over the following five weeks. 

‘Building Ireland’ explores and explains how Ireland’s greatest building and engineering achievements came to be, and the impact they had on the development of our towns and cities. In part one of the six-part series, presenters Tim Joyce, a civil engineer; Cork native and geographer, Dr. Susan Hegarty; and award-winning architect Orla Murphy, will delve into the history of Spike Island and the surrounding areas.

The programme will explore how and why Spike Island came to be a prime defensive location for the British Empire, as well as its function as part of the Irish prison system, housing up to 2,500 men at its height in 1850. Spike Island has opened up to the public in recent months, after undergoing a €5.5million upgrade and enhancement project, funded by Cork City Council and Fáilte Ireland.

In contrast to the stark prison regime on Spike Island, architect Orla Murphy will examine the residential architecture of Cobh and the influence the prosperous middle class had on the town in the aftermath of the Irish Famine

The documentary series will run for six weeks, and will include programmes on Kilkenny Castle and Ardnacrusha Power Station in Co. Limerick, among others.