Below you will find details of the programme for our 2019 Festival (8-11 August). Tickets are on sale here and are also available in The Coffee Shop at the Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre in Skibbereen. Excellent West Cork food and drink will be available throughout the Festival.

Festival field trips

This year we have four separate field trips covering the History & Archaeology of West Cork, the Beara Peninsula and the Mizen, along with a Walking Tour of Historic Skibbereen on Thursday 8 August (now sold out). More details are available here:  Field Trips WCHF 2019.

Friday 9 Augustevening (18.30-22.30)

The Festival will open in the Arena, with former Taoiseach John Bruton in conversation with Carl Dinnen, ITV News political correspondent. The opening discussion will cover Ireland’s relationship with European and trans-Atlantic partners and also consider some of the centenaries of 1919.

Late night entertainment will follow with the History Disco in the Secret Garden, featuring a range of historically-inspired disco numbers.

Saturday 10 August – morning (10:00-13:00)

Many of our Saturday talks examine the triangular relationship between Ireland, Britain and continental Europe through different historical lenses, while others focus more closely on the history of Cork.

The Secret Garden

10:00-11:00 Professor Thomas O’Connor: ‘Strangers to Citizens: the Irish in Europe before the French Revolution’

11:00-12:00 John Dorney: ‘Florence McCarthy and his Spanish connections’

12:00-13:00 Dr Sylvie Kleinman: ‘Framing the Irish Republic 1796-2016: A revisit of Tone’s exile in France for the Decade of Commemorations’.

The Arena


Dr Brian Coghlan: ‘An exploration of the life of Percy Ludgate’ followed by the launch of appeal for information on Ludgate.

In conjunction with the Ludgate appeal, we will be running ‘Searching for Percy: discovering the every day lives of West Cork’s most famous residents’, a digital history quest for 8 years olds and up (and their grown ups) in conjunction with the Ludgate Hub. This will take place at Skibbereen’s Ludgate Hub at 10am, Saturday 10 August.

11:30-13:00 HE Dan Mulhall, Irish Ambassador to the US: ‘Declaring Independence: America 1776, Ireland 1919’.


13:00-14:00 Lunch

Saturday 10 August – afternoon (14:00-18:00)

The Secret Garden

14:00-15:00 Gerard O’Brien in conversation with William Casey: Daniel O’Connell and the Monster Repeal Meeting, Skibbereen, June 1843’

15:00-16:00 Professor Clare Connolly: Subject Waves? Towards an environmental history of the West Cork coastline’ on the Deep Maps Project

16:00-17:00 Orla Murphy on ‘The Life and Work of Seamus Murphy’ with an introduction by Mary Leland on the cultural life of Cork City from the 1950s to the 1970s.

17:00-18:00 Miriam O’Donovan: ‘James Goodman’s Song Manuscript of 1857 in its Context’

The Arena


Professor Brendan Simms: ‘From Back door to Back Stop. Britain, Ireland and Europe in historical perspective’.

15:00-16:00 Professor John Horne: ‘At the Crossroads: Ireland, Britain and the International Context, 1919-1923’

16:00-17:00 Professor Mary Murphy: ‘Europe and the British-Irish Relationship: Past, Present and Future

17:00-18:00 A panel discussion on the triangular relationship between Ireland, Britain and continental Europe, one of the major themes of the 2019 Festival, with Ruth Dudley-Edwards, Professor John Horne, Professor Mary Murphy and Professor Brendan Simms, chaired by Patrick Handley.

Saturday 10 August – evening (19:00-20:30)

Jessie Kennedy and Justin Grounds will be joined by one of Ireland’s leading pipers, Eoin Ó Riabhaigh, as well as composer and performer Johnny McCarthy in a concert of music inspired by the work of Canon James Goodman.

Sunday 11 August – morning (10:00-13:00)

In both the Arena and the Secret Garden, the talks will focus on events of 1919 and their significance in the Decade of Centenaries.

The Secret Garden

10:00-12:00 A screening of the film Keepers of the Flame (2018) which draws on material emerging from the Irish Military Pension Archives.

The Arena

10:00-11:00 Professor Brian Walker: ‘Southern Protestant Voices during the War of Independence and Civil War’.

11:00-12:00 Professor Liam Kennedy will discuss the Protestant experience of the Troubles of the 1920s and later 20th century in Northern Ireland.

12:00-13:00 Professor Eunan O’Halpin on ‘Policing and politics: the RIC and the War of Independence, 1919-21’

13:00-14:00 A panel reflecting on the challenges which lie ahead in the Decade of Centenaries, including professors Liam Kennedy and Eunan O’Halpin.

Sunday 11 August – afternoon (15:00-18:00)

The Secret Garden

15:00-16:00 Jim Herlihy of The HARP Society on ‘The Royal Irish Constabulary – A Forgotten Force – the case for a Memorial.’

16:00-17:00 Stephen Collins of the Irish Times: ‘Why the State should commemorate the RIC/DMP – a personal perspective’.

The Arena

15:00-16:00 Ida Milne & Ian d’Alton on ‘Protestant and Irish: Opening a different sort of conversation?’.

16:00-17:00 Ruth Dudley-Edwards reflecting on attitudes in southern Ireland to Northern Ireland.

17:00-18:30 Our closing speaker will be screenwriter and novelist Daisy Goodwin, who wrote the hugely popular TV series ‘Victoria’ on the life of Queen Victoria. Daisy will speak about writing Victoria and her own West Cork connections.


Please note, this programme and the timings are subject to change.