Story of Spike Island and Little Nellie of Holy God


Podcast: The fascinating story of Little Nellie of Holy God – Cork’s unofficial patron saint – and why a small girl who died in 1908 means so much to so many.

I got the chance to visit deeply historic Spike Island in Cork harbour – during the Victorian period it held the world’s largest convict depot. Over 2,300 prisoners lived and many died there. It also was home to Little Nellie of Holy God – born in 1903, she died in 1908. It looks as if she might be achieving a sainthood in the Catholic church.

I travelled from Kennedy pier in Cobh to take the short boat ride to Spike – along the way passing the island of Haulbowline, where the Irish navy have their base and Rocky Island where a unique crematorium has been built into a Victorian-era gunpowder store. John Flynn is tour guide for Spike – which won top prize in the world travel awards last year. He explained the fascinating and unusual story of how he came to specially research Little Nellie and her connection to the island.