A 15th century Christmas gift


This beautiful Nativity scene is part of one of the most richly decorated prayer books from the medieval period, now in the British Library in London and known as the Bedford Hours. It was given by Anne of Burgundy, Duchess of Bedford to her nephew, King Henry VI who was then eight years old. It has 38 large miniatures and over 1,200 marginal roundels, painted in Paris. Some of the Bedford Hours has been digitised and can be viewed here.

Should history be optional for Junior Cert ?

Joe McHugh, the Minister for Education, announced this week that there will be a review of the decision to make history optional at Junior Certificate level, which came into effect in September. The decision has been widely criticised, including by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin who addressed the subject at the West Cork History Festival in August, as reported here by the Irish Times.



Dublin Munitions Workers

Lar Joye, who spoke at both our 2017 and our 2018 Festivals, was previously at the National Museum and is now Dublin Port Heritage Director. The Port has released this fascinating film about the Dublin Dockyard Munitions Factory, particularly its female workforce. This is of course one of the most important themes of the last four years of commemorations, the hugely varied roles taken on by women in the conflict, both at home and on the fighting fronts.


More photos from our 2018 Festival


A visit to Drombeg Stone Circle as part of our History and Archaeology of West Cork Field Trip (which sold out well before the event!)

Terri Kearney of Skibbereen Heritage Centre speaking about the ‘Stories of the Revolution’, a schools’ folklore project collecting stories about the 1916-23 period in West Cork

Peter Murray speaking on George Victor du Noyer, the Victorian antiquary about whom he curated a widely praised exhibition at Cork City’s Crawford Art Gallery


Dr Niamh O’Sullivan speaking about the exhibition Coming Home: Art and the Great Hunger, of which she is curator and which is currently on show at Skibbereen’s West Cork Arts Centre, Uillinn

William Casey on cilliní in West Cork
A full house to hear Cal Hyland ‘Considering the Situation of Protestants in West Cork, 1920-1925’

Professor Linda Connolly on ‘Addressing the violence suffered by women during the Irish Revolution’.

Ronan McGreevy of the Irish Times before a screening of his remarkable film ‘United Ireland: How Nationalists and Unionists fought together in Flanders’

The Time Travellers bookshop, one of the two bookshops at this year’s Festival


Photos from our 2018 Festival


Professor Alvin Jackson giving our opening address, on Edward Carson and John Redmond; the latter died 100 years ago this year
Lord Puttnam introducing Michael Attenborough who spoke about his father Richard’s film classic anti-war film about the First World War, Oh! What A Lovely War, followed by a specially edited screening of the film

Professor John Horne on ‘The War to End All Wars? International Perspectives 1918 – 1923’. He is accompanied by Simon Kingston, co-founder of the WCHF, and Gus, the Festival dog.


Micheál Martin introducing our Saturday afternoon session on the events of 1918, a pivotal year;  with him is Professor Eunan O’Halpin of Trinity College, Dublin.


Dr Ida Milne, speaking on the 1918-19 influenza pandemic in Ireland


Professor Louise Ryan, University of Sheffield, on the Irish suffrage movement and the Irish Citizen Newspaper

Lunchtime at the Festival, with food provided by Carmel Somers and Chris Hedges and coffee by The Golden Bean. Also starring Gus the Festival dog again.


Professor Colum Hourihane on Gothic Art in Ireland

Dr Susan Flavin of Anglia Ruskin University speaking about consumption habits in 16th century Ireland
Our Festival Concert with Patsy Puttnam (left) and Jessie Kennedy, performing songs inspired by the diaries of Lady Mary Carbery in the early 1900s

Niamh MacNally of the National Gallery of Ireland on artist Margaret Clarke, about whom she curated a very successful exhibition at the Gallery in 2017

Victoria Kingston, Festival co-founder, introduces Katie Childs, Head of Partnerships & Stakeholder Relations at Imperial War Museums. Katie spoke about the museum & the First World War centenary, particularly focusing on women’s role in the war.

Dr Andy Bielenberg of UCC who spoke on ‘Disappearances in Co Cork 1920-22 and the case of Mrs Lindsay’. Simon Kingston, Festival co-founder, is on the left.


Jeremy Irons, who closed our 2018 Festival with a reading of revolutionary era and First World War poetry



Jeremy Irons will be our closing act

Jeremy Irons, actor and West Cork resident, will be our closing act at the 2018 Festival. Irons, who has taken on diverse roles in film and theatre over a 40-year career, will read a selection of poems written in response to the Great War and the Irish Revolution and will offer a brief reflection on each of them.

This will make a fitting close to a Festival which will reflect upon these events in the centenary of the war’s ending and the establishment of the First Dáil. Irons himself takes a keen interest in the history of West Cork and lives in nearby Kilcoe Castle which he has restored. He has been a champion and inspiration for the arts in the area for many years.

Commenting on his involvement in the Festival, he said, “I am a West Cork man and an Englishman, the events of the Great War and revolutionary period in Ireland matter to me. We are shaped by them, but we continue to struggle to understand them. The words of these poets, Irish and English, their fascination, fury, sorrow, and their confusion, are important. Their witness gives us a way to comprehend something of those times and the people who lived through them.”

RAF 100

2018 marks the centenary of the founding of the Royal Air Force and to reflect this aviation historian Guy Warner will speak on three First World War aviators with Cork connections, Mick Mannock, Robert Smith-Barry and John Carbery. The talk will take place on Sunday afternoon and tickets can be bought here

John Carbery grew up in Castle Freke, near Roscarbery, and his mother Lady Mary Carbery’s diaries have inspired the concert which Patsy Puttnam and Jessie Kennedy will give on Saturday evening. Find out more here