Roaringwater Journal

Our friends at the Roaringwater Journal have just published two fascinating and inter-connected posts, one on Knockdrum Fort, which is very close to us, and another on Boyle Somerville, naval officer and archaeologist.

Brother of the well-known West Cork novelist Edith Somerville, Boyle was one of the first to suggest a link between the alignment of some ancient monuments and solar events at significant times of the year. This is now known as archaeoastronomy. Boyle and Edith explored Knockdrum together as children, and he later excavated and surveyed the site.

Boyle Somerville was murdered by the IRA in 1936.


The view from Knockdrum, January 2018





Audio of 2017 Festival

We’ve posted audio of more of the WCHF 2017 talks in the last few days here:

The audio that’s up so far gives an excellent view of the range of subjects and periods we cover, not to mention the fascinating line up of speakers we had in 2017.

  • Professor Roy Foster on ‘”A Fair People”: antagonism & conflict in Irish history’
  • Michael Dobbs on ‘Life, Lust and Liquor: how House of Cards wrote itself
  • Professor Eunan O’Halpin on commemoration 1919-1923
  • Professor Terry Barry on Tower Houses in Ireland
  • Lar Joye of the National Museum of Ireland on duelling in Ireland
  • Dr Connie Kelleher on Pirates in West Cork
  • Dr Dominic Selwood on the Knights Templar in Ireland

WCHF programme update – the 1918 influenza epidemic

Although the West Cork History Festival does not have one over-arching theme – we prefer to examine a variety of historical periods and locations – we do have some sub-themes, allowing us to devote one or two sessions to a particular subject. The centenary of 1918 is one such sub-theme this year, reflecting a hugely significant series of anniversaries. These include the First World War Armistice and the 1918 General Election, which had such major consequences in Ireland and Britain.

One of our recently confirmed speakers – Ida Milne – will look at the impact on Ireland of a global event in 1918 – the influenza pandemic. Ida Milne is an Irish Research Council Marie Curie Elevate Fellow at Maynooth University and in May 2018 will publish Stacking the Coffins: Influenza, War and Revolution in Ireland 1918-19 (Manchester University Press). The striking cover of her book is shown below.


In the press ….

We were delighted to see Skibbereen’s Time Traveller’s Bookshop featured in the Irish Times yesterday – Holger and Nicola Smyth have always been strong supporters of the West Cork History Festival. Their pop-up bookshop was a huge hit at the 2017 Festival and will be there again at the 2018 Festival.

Also in the Irish Times last Friday was a moving article about cillíns (unofficial graveyards) which included the research work of William Casey, West Cork historian and a speaker at the 2017 Festival:íní-1.3389630?mode=amp


Audio of 2017 WCHF

We’re gradually posting talks from the 2017 Festival on our website – click here to find them.

So far, we have

  • Professor Roy Foster on ‘”A Fair People”: antagonism & conflict in Irish history’
  • Michael Dobbs on ‘Life, Lust and Liquor: how House of Cards wrote itself
  • Professor Eunan O’Halpin on commemoration 1919-1923
  • Professor Terry Barry on Tower Houses in Ireland
  • Lar Joye of the National Museum of Ireland on duelling in Ireland

And more to follow …..

WCHF 2018 programme update

Although our full programme will not be released until after Easter, we will be posting some details before then. As with last year, there will be no one big over-arching theme, but a number of sub-themes are emerging. One is the events of 1918, in Ireland, Britain and the wider European perspective. In many countries, 1918 did not mean an end to war.

We are also looking at history as mediated through the visual arts, with confirmed speakers including National Gallery of Ireland curator Niamh MacNally on Margaret Clarke (nee Crilley), about whom she curated a very successful exhibition in 2017.

Peter Murray, former Director of Cork’s Crawford Art Gallery, will speak about George Victor du Noyer. Murray co-curated the fantastic exhibition about du Noyer at the Crawford which ends on 24 February.

We are also very honoured that we will be linking with the Coming Home: Art and the Great Hunger exhibition, which will be at the West Cork Arts Centre in Skibbereen from July-October this year. This exhibition brings the largest collection of Famine-inspired art to Ireland from the Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac University in the US. Its curator Niamh O’Sullivan will speak at the West Cork History Festival

Dr David Edwards joins Festival Committee

We are delighted to announce that David Edwards of UCC has agreed to join the WCHF Festival Committee.

David Edwards is Senior Lecturer in History at University College Cork. He is a graduate of TCD and went to UCC in 1993, teaching and researching in the area of late medieval and early modern Ireland. His current principal project focuses on the career and estate of the ‘New English’ adventurer Richard Boyle, first earl of Cork, whose land-grabbing activities in Munster and parts of Connacht and Leinster helped to transform the social and economic life of early seventeenth-century Ireland. He spoke on the first Earl at the 2017 Festival.

Press coverage of the West Cork History Festival

From the Irish Times on Sunday:

and on Monday

and visit The Southern Star’s Facebook page for lots of photos and videos of the weekend



Day Three – West Cork History Festival


Rabbi Julia Neuberger, one of the panel members for our second session on the First World War and Ireland, looking at Commemoration. 

Professor Marianne Elliott speaking to a packed tent on “Sectarianism in Ireland: Its History and Impact on the Northern Ireland Peace Process”

Lar Joye from the National Museum of Ireland talking about Duelling in Ireland – on the table in front of him is an 18th century duelling pistol which he brought with him, and which the audience were allowed to handle after the talk.

Michael Dobbs, our closing speaker, in full flow on “Life, Lust and Liquor: how House of Cards wrote itself” and other stories. The portraits of historical figures which can be seen behind him were specially produced for the West Cork History Festival by artist Harriet Selka


Michael Dobbs, Dee Forbes and David Puttnam at Lord Dobbs’ talk

Pointing the way out after a fantastic inaugural Festival …..



West Cork History Festival starts tonight

We’re getting ready for the first ever West Cork History Festival, starting this evening at 19.30 with our opening lecture by Professor Roy Foster on “A Fair People: antagonism and conflict in Irish history” and then a screening of the film Rebel Rossa. A few tickets are still available via our website, today from 11-2pm in the Arts Festival Box Office in Skibbereen Town Hall and on the door on the day. Please note all parking is at Liss Ard, the property adjoining Rosebank where the Festival is taking place.