A CEREMONIAL 21-gun salute has heralded the start of Cork's celebrations for The Gathering.
Soldiers from the 1 Brigade Artillery Unit, based in Collins Barracks, Cork, performed the spectacular salute on Spike Island in Cork Harbour yesterday.
Commandant Michael Doyle, Defence Forces spokesman, said that the salute had its origins in an ancient naval display of friendship.
"The reason why Spike Island was chosen was because of its proximity to Cobh, formally Queenstown, where thousands of Irish immigrants left for a better life abroad," he said.
Spike Island is a 104-acre island that is dominated by a Napoleonic star-shaped fort. In ancient times it was home to a monastic settlement and in more recent history it has been a prison.
Cork County Council is working to turn it into a world-class tourist attraction where visitors can learn of its fascinating history.
The event yesterday was part of a broader gathering for people who have associations with Spike Island and its military and penal history.