The programme for the 2017 West Cork History Festival, which took place 28th-30th July, is retained below to give you an idea of the depth and breadth of the subjects we covered, and the range of speakers (audio of all the talks will soon be available on this website). The programme for the 2018 Festival will be as diverse, engaging and erudite and as soon as it is announced, it will be available on this page.

Session 1 (The Arena & The Secret Garden): Friday 28th July 2017, 18:30-23:00

The West Cork History Festival opens with a keynote address by Roy Foster, authorised biographer of Yeats and the leading Irish historian of his generation. The Festival opens at 18:30, with Roy Foster’s lecture beginning an hour later.

19:30-20:30 – Introductory lecture by Professor Roy Foster (The Arena) on ‘”A Fair People”: antagonism and conflict in Irish history’
21:00-23:00 – Screening of the film Rebel Rossa, the recent biopic of O’Donovan Rossa (The Secret Garden)

Session 2 (The Arena): Saturday 29th July 2017, 10:00-13:00

10:00-11:00Dr William Sheehan on lessons in counter-insurgency from Ireland
11:00-12:00Dr Eve Morrison on ‘Cork Ghosts of the Irish Revolution’
12:00-13:00HE Ambassador Dan Mulhall ‘War & Peace: two Irish writers in 1917, Francis Ledwidge and AE’

The Skibbereen and District Historical Society’s Journal 2017 will be launched at 13:00 in The Arena – no ticket is required for this event and all are welcome.

Session 2 (The Secret Garden): Saturday 29th July 2017, 10:00-13:00

10:00-11:00Dr David Edwards on the Great Earl of Cork
11:00-12:00Dr Patrick Little on the second earl of Cork and his children
12:00-13:00 – Screening of the film An Tost Fada (The Long Silence) and post-screening discussion with Eoghan Harris, the writer and narrator

Session 3 (The Arena): Saturday 29th July,14:00-17:00

14:00-15:00Dr Andy Bielenberg on spies and informers in Cork in the War of Independence
15:30-17:00Professor David Fitzpatrick on ‘Protestant Depopulation and Upheaval in Southern Ireland, 1845-1950’

Session 3 (The Secret Garden): Saturday 29th July, 14:00-17:00

14:00-15:00Dr Terry Barry on Tower Houses in Ireland
15:00-16:00 – with a local dimension provided by Finola Finlay on Tower Houses in West Cork
16:00-17:00 – and in contrast Richard Butler on the architecture of Bishop Lucey’s churches in Cork

Session 4 (The Arena): Saturday 29th July, 17:30-19:00

Panel discussion on the War of Independence, chaired by Mark Hennessy of The Irish Times. Panel: David Fitzpatrick, Eve Morrison, William Sheehan, and Kevin Myers

Session 4 (The Secret Garden): Saturday 29th July, 17:30-19:45

17:30-18:30Dr Dominic Selwood – The Knights Templar and Ireland
18:45-19:45Connie Kelleher on piracy off the West Cork coast

Festival Dinner (The Arena): Saturday 29th July, 20:30-24:00

Festival dinner in The Arena with dinner provided by one of West Cork’s best restaurants, The Good Things Café, and a chance to meet some of our speakers. The three course dinner has been especially created for the West Cork History Festival by the inspirational Carmel Somers, owner of Good Things, and will include wine with each course.

Please email us at to let us know if you booking for the dinner and are a vegetarian.

Session 5 (The Arena): Sunday 30th July, 11:00-13:00

11:00-12:00 – Panel Session 1 on the First World War and Ireland – Participation: chaired by Carl Dinnen with panellists HE Ambassador Kevin Vickers, Lar Joye, Heather Jones, HE Ambassador Dan Mulhall

– Panel Session 2 on the First World War and Ireland – Commemoration: with panellists Ruth Dudley Edwards, Eunan O’Halpin, Julia Neuberger, Nigel Biggar, Kevin Myers

Session 5 (The Secret Garden): Sunday 30th July, 11:00-13:00

11:00-12:00Pat Crowley of Durrus History Society on ‘The O’Donovan Family of Muintervara, Durrus: Early Nineteenth Century Catholic Magistrates, Landowners and Political Activists
12:00-13:00William Casey on early Fenianism in Skibbereen

Session 6 (The Arena): Sunday 30th July, 14:00-16:00

14:00-15:00Kevin Vickers on Irish-born Canadian Soldiers in the First World War
15:00-16:00 Professor Eunan O’Halpin on commemoration 1919-1923

Session 6 (The Secret Garden): Sunday 30th July, 14:00-16:00

14:00-15:00Professor Marianne Elliott on ‘Sectarianism in Ireland: Its History and Impact on the Northern Ireland Peace Process’
15:00-16:00Lar Joye on duelling in Ireland

Session 7 (The Arena): Sunday 30th July, 16:30-17:30

The closing speaker of the West Cork History Festival is Michael Dobbs, creator of House of Cards

Michael Dobbs on Life, Lust and Liquor: how House of Cards wrote itself