A visitor centre run by Cork County Council on Spike Island in Cork Harbour has been named Europe's leading tourist attraction at the 2017 World Travel Awards.

Fortress Spike Island saw off competition from the Eiffel Tower, Buckingham Palace and Rome's Colosseum to win the award.

The 104-acre Spike Island was a monastic settlement in the seventh century, a British artillery fortification from the 18th century, and a prison from where thousands of convicts were transported to Australia in the 19th century.

It remained under British control, even after the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, and was handed over to the Irish State in 1938.

It operated as a prison again from 1985 until the last of the prisoners left in 2004.

Cork County Council and Fáilte Ireland have invested €6m developing Spike Island as a tourist attraction, with 2017 is its first full year of operation.

Over 45,000 people visited this year; the target is 100,000 by 2020.

The reward for the €6m investment has been swift, with Fortress Spike Island named Europe's Leading Tourist Attraction at last night's World Travel Awards in St Petersburg, Russia.

It's a hat-trick of victories for Ireland, with Titanic Belfact winning the title last year and the Guinness Storehouse winning in 2015.

The awards ceremony in St Petersburg was attended by the Mayor of County Cork, Councillor Declan Hurley, Cork County Council Divisional Manager Declan Daly and Spike Island General Manager John Crotty.