The programme for the 2018 West Cork History Festival was as diverse, engaging and erudite as last year’s Festival. As with 2017 we had no overall theme, but we did have a number of sub-themes including the events of 1918, history as mediated through art and the First World War.

However, as is obvious from the talks, discussions and film screenings set out below we covered a wide range of other periods and subjects, leading to some intriguing juxtapositions. And this year we also offered field trips to places of historical and archaeological interest in this very special part of West Cork.

We look forward to creating an even better programme in 2019.

2018 Festival Talks and Events

The full Festival programme can be downloaded here as a pdf.

Friday evening (The Arena): 17 August 2018, 17:30-22:15

17:30-19:00 – The West Cork History Festival opens with a keynote address by Professor Alvin Jackson on Edward Carson & John Redmond, 100 years after Redmond’s death. The two men are the subject of a recently published book by Professor Jackson.
19:30-22:15 – We are very pleased to be screening the influential film Oh! What A Lovely War, released in 1969, a musical satire about the events of the First World War. Theatre director Michael Attenborough, the son of the film’s director Richard Attenborough, will discuss the film.

Saturday morning (The Arena): 18th August 2018, 10:00-12:00

10:00-10:50 – Professor John Horne on ‘The War to End All Wars? International Perspectives 1918 – 1923’.
11:00-11:50 – John Horne is joined by  Professor Eunan O’Halpin and Professor Louise Ryan to discuss the eventful year of 1918 and its consequences.

Saturday morning (The Secret Garden): 18th August 2018, 10:00-12:15

10:00-10:50 – Terri Kearney of the Skibbereen Heritage Centre will speak on the ‘Stories of the Revolution’, a schools’ folklore project collecting stories about the 1916-23 period in West Cork.
11:00-12:15 – A Dunmanway double bill: Reverend Cliff Jeffers will screen a documentary on the town’s community bells, complied and produced by Brendan Hayes. Historian Kieran Connolly will speak about one of Dunmanway’s most famous sons, Sam Maguire.

12:00-13:00 – Lunch

Festival contributor William Casey’s book on Early Fenians in Skibbereen will be launched at lunchtime in the Arena. All are welcome and no ticket is required.

Saturday afternoon (The Arena): 18th August 2018, 13:00-17:00

13:00-13:50 – Professor Eunan O’Halpin on ‘A catalogue of errors? British government and Ireland in 1918’.
14:00–14:50 – Professor Louise Ryan on ‘Shining a light on secret aspects of Irish society – the Suffrage Movement and the Irish Citizen Newspaper’.
15:00-15:50 – Dr Ida Milne on ‘Stacking the coffins: the 1918-19 influenza pandemic and Irish society’.
16:00-16:50 – Lar Joye on Weapons of the War of Independence.

Saturday afternoon (The Secret Garden): 18th August 2018, 13:00-17:00

13:00-13:50 – Professor Colum Hourihane on Gothic Art in Ireland.
14:00-14:50 – Dr David Edwards on Gaelic politics in the later Middle Ages.
15:00-15:50 – Dr Susan Flavin on ‘Food, Drink & Society in 16th century Ireland’.
16:00-16:50 – Mary McGillicuddy on women and the environment in the fishing industry in south-west Ireland in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Saturday evening Dinner

Between the end of the afternoon’s talks and discussions, and the evening’s concert, there will be the opportunity to enjoy some of West Cork’s excellent food and drink.

The Festival Dinner will be cooked by award-winning restaurateur and Irish Times columnist Carmel Somers. It will consist of three courses with wine, and will be served from 18:30-20:30. Tickets must be bought in advance for this event via our Tickets page.

There will also be more informal food and drinks available to buy, for which no ticket is needed.

Saturday evening (The Secret Garden): 18th August 2018, 21:00-22:30

Concert by Jessie Kennedy and Lady Patsy Puttnam: Lady Mary Carbery’s West Cork Diaries, 1898-1901 – A Musical Narrative

For further information please click here

Sunday morning (The Arena): 19th August 2018, 10:00-13:00

10:00-10:50 – Peter Murray on Victorian painter, geologist and antiquary George Victor Du Noyer, about whom he curated a widely praised exhibition at Cork City’s Crawford Art Gallery.
11:00-11:50 – Dr Niamh O’Sullivan on the exhibition Coming Home: Art and the Great Hunger, of which she is curator. The exhibition will be on at Skibbereen’s West Cork Arts Centre, Uillinn, from 20 July – 13 October 2018. For more information, please click here.
12:00-12:50 – 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.

Sunday morning (The Secret Garden): 19th August 2018, 10:00-13:00

10:00-10:50 – Dr Connie Kelleher on ‘The 1627 wreck of the Spanish treasure galleon Santa Ana Maria and the fall of an empire’.
11:00-11.50 – Finola Finlay on ‘From Skibbereen to the Moon: Agnes Clerke and Nineteenth Century Astronomy.’
12:00-12.50 – William Casey on cilliní in West Cork.

13:00-13:30 /13:00-14:00 – Lunch

The Skibbereen & District Historical Society’s 2018 Journal will be launched at 13:00 in The Arena – all are welcome and no ticket is required for this event.
Please note that the afternoon’s events in the Secret Garden will commence at 13:30 while those in the Arena will begin at 14:00.

Sunday afternoon (The Arena): 19th August 2018, 14:00-18:00

14:00-14:50 – Dr Brian Hughes on ‘Gossip, rumour, and propaganda: depictions and perceptions of Irish revolutionary violence’.

Please note that Professor David Fitzpatrick was due to speak on ‘Revolutionary consequences of economic change in Ireland, 1914–23’  in this slot, but sadly he has had to withdraw due to ill health. We are grateful to Dr Hughes for agreeing to speak in his place.

15:00-15:50 – Dr Andy Bielenberg on ‘Disappearances in Co Cork 1920-22 and the case of Mrs Lindsay’.
16:00-16:50 – Cal Hyland on ‘Considering the Situation of Protestants in West Cork, 1920-1925’.
17:00-17:50 – Professor Linda Connolly on ‘Addressing the violence suffered by women during the Irish Revolution’.

Sunday afternoon (The Secret Garden): 19th August 2018, 13:30-18:00

13:30-15:00 – Ronan McGreevy will screen the Irish Times’ film ‘United Ireland: How Nationalists and Unionists fought together in Flanders’ and will answer questions about the film afterwards.
15:00-15:50 – Guy Warner on ‘Three First World War Airmen with strong Cork connections’.
16:00-16:50 – Katie Childs, Head of Partnerships and Stakeholder Relations at Imperial War Museums, on the museum & the First World War centenary, particularly focusing on women’s role in the war.
17:00-17:50 – Michael Robinson on ‘Disabled Great War Veterans during the Revolution’.

Sunday evening (The Arena): 19th August 2018, 18:15-21:30

A screening of the acclaimed film Citizen Lane (2018), which mixes documentary and drama to provide a vivid portrait of Irish aesthete, collector, dealer and philanthropist Hugh Lane. Lane was one of the most fascinating figures in modern Irish history. This will finish around 20:00.

Jeremy Irons will then give a reading of revolutionary era and First World War poetry as the closing event of the Festival. This will begin around 20:30.

Please note: the film and poetry reading are included in your ticket price if you have already bought a weekend, Sunday day or Sunday afternoon ticket for the Festival. 

If you just want to come to the poetry reading by Jeremy Irons, you can buy a ticket on the door for €15.

Festival Field Trips

For the first time, we arranged walks and field trips to historically and archaeologically important locations in and around Skibbereen, which both complemented themes explored at the Festival, and enhanced them. Ticket bookings are now closed. Further information is available here.