Events in bold will be paid for & broadcast live; tickets available via this website from early July.
All other events will be posted on this website on the morning of the relevant day of the Festival.
Friday 6 August
Introduction from founders Victoria & Simon Kingston, discussing the Festival’s themes of Ireland in 1921 and Ireland & Empire
The Execution of Bridget Noble – Sean Boyne
A family on both sides of the 1921 Rosscarbery RIC barracks attack – Flor McCarthy
4pm: Panel discussion
Let’s talk about the Black and Tans. How should the actions of Crown Forces be remembered and understood in Ireland and in the UK? with Dr Marie Coleman, Dr David Leeson, Dr Edward Madigan, Professor John Horne (Chair)
6.30pm: Live talk
Ireland after 1921 – Why the Free State had to be a Catholic State – Mary Kenny
Saturday 7 August
In the wars: military and imperial culture in nineteenth century Ireland – Dr Aoife Bhreatnach
Echoes of the Zulu Wars in West Cork – Robert Harris
Irish soldiers in the British Army during Empire – Lar Joye
An unsinkable constable makes an arrest: the Newmarket Men who policed colonial Hong Kong – Patricia O’Sullivan
Everything that touches Ireland finds an echo in the remotest parts of the Empire: The Dominion Dimensions of the Anglo-Irish Settlement, c.1916-1922 – Dr Donal Lowry
The Irish in polar exploration – Dr Clare Warrior
Colonial objects at home in Ireland: how do they make us feel? – Dr Briony Widdis
2pm: Live talk
Ireland, Empire and the Early Modern World – Professor Jane Ohlmeyer
4pm: Panel discussion
When did Partition happen? with Professor Paul Bew, Dr Niamh Gallagher, Dr Caoimhe Nic Dháibhéid
6.30pm: Live talk
Partition – the experience of Southern Protestants and ‘left overness’ – Professor Roy Foster
8.30pm: Festival Concert
Hope On, Hope Ever: a musical response inspired by elements of the Franklin Expedition with Jessie Kennedy, Tess Leak & The Vespertine Quintet
Sunday 8 August
Ethics and Remembering Empire – Professor Nigel Biggar
The Tainted – writing fiction about Irish imperial experience with Cauvery Madhavan, author of The Tainted, & Dr Ida Milne
English Memory and Amnesia about Empire – Professor David Reynolds
4pm: Panel discussion
Selective memories: Irish and British historians on the imperial past with Dr Aoife Bhreatnach, Dr Margaret O’Callaghan, Professor Eunan O’Halpin Professor David Reynolds
6pm: Live talk – Closing Act
What we choose to remember and how – Fergal Keane
Please note: this programme remains subject to final confirmation.
This week censored literature, port history and an online exhibition about Cork in 1920. Also do look at our recently released 2021 programme which you can see here – most will be free to view on our website over the Festival weekend, and tickets for paid events go on sale in early July.
Nano Nagle Place have put online their exhibition Small Lives: at Home in Cork in 1920 featuring the stories of lives lived inside and outside the North and South Presentation Convents in that extraordinary year.
Also related to the Decade of Centenaries, we logged in this week to an interesting discussion – War in Peacetime: The British in Ireland 1920-21 – featuring Dr Edward Madigan and Professor Dan Todman. It was hosted by the the National Army Museum in London and you can watch it here.
Another online exhibition we discovered is about the Women’s Pioneer Housing organisation, set up in London in 1920 to provide homes for women. Its founder was the remarkable Etheldred Browning, born in Dublin in 1869 and an artist, suffragette and activist.
Liverpool and Dublin: as one of a series of discussions hosted by the Little Museum of Dublin Festival contributor Lar Joye, Port Heritage Director with the Dublin Port Company, discusses the history of the ports of Dublin and Liverpool with Ian Murphy, Head of Merseyside Maritime Museum.
And finally to mark Bloomsday on 16 June, the RIA published on its blog an article about authors who were banned in Ireland. This is also a subject explored very entertainingly by Festival contributor Aoife Bhreatnach on her podcast Censored!, which we can highly recommend.
In Our Time on BBC Radio 4 is always good listening, whatever the subject, but recently featured this fascinating discussion on the Interregnum, which looked at Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales in the 1650s. One of the contributors was Micheál Ó Siochrú Professor in Modern History at Trinity College Dublin.
An unexpected post on the website of Seton Hall University in New Jersey about Alice Stopford Green, historian, activist and independent member of the Seanad from 1922 until her death in 1929.
This striking portrait of Stopford Green is from the university’s website.
Dublin Castle has a new exhibition called Vicereines of Ireland: Portraits of Forgotten Women and you can watch an introductory video here. And if you are in or near Dublin, you can visit the exhibition from today – looks like it includes some amazing paintings, many of them on loan.
One of our 2021 speakers will be Briony Widdis from Queen’s University Belfast. The title of her talk will be confirmed shortly but will relate to one of our Festival themes this year, Ireland & Empire. Briony is co-organiser of a really interesting academic conference next year which looks at a similar theme and has a call out for speakers – more information here. The full title is Ireland, Museums, Empire, Colonialism: Collections, Archives, Buildings and Landscapes.
And finally, the Great Parchment Book of Waterford, which contains city records from 1356 to 1649, has been digitised and is available to view here. There are 450 pages in all, and the original is on display at Waterford Treasures.
This week, a polar explorer and his forgotten sisters, First World War war brides, Second World War lookout posts and BBC history podcasts for children (and their grown ups).
Our 2021 Festival will look at the experiences of the Irish in polar exploration, so Clodagh Finn’s article in the Irish Examiner on Shackleton’s sisters Kathleen and Eleanor was particularly interesting and featured research by Sharon Greene, editor of Archaeology Ireland on their extraordinary lives. Last month An Post’s issued four stamps of ‘Irish Ice Men’, featuring Shackleton along with seven others, including five from County Cork. No Ice Women yet.
Damian Shiels has written this fascinating blog post for Midleton Archaeology & Heritage project about Irish women who married US sailors during the First World War, including 50 from County Cork. The post includes a visualisation of their journeys across the Atlantic.
The Irish Military Archives have started their own podcast series, and featured this on the destruction (and preservation) of Ireland’s Second World War lookout posts.
And finally, they are intended for children but we’ve really enjoyed them too – the BBC’s Home School History podcasts presented by Greg Jenner. There are 21 episodes in total, covering a really diverse range of subjects including Roman Pompeii, William Shakespeare, Leonardo da Vinci, Cleopatra (featured below), the Stone Age and Mary, Queen of Scots.
This week we are featuring both 20th and 17th century history and some beautiful Harry Clarke windows in Cork.
The Examiner is running a series on Cork in 50 Artworks, and No 4 features Harry Clarke’s stained glass windows for the Honan Chapel. The image below is a detail from the window depicting St Gobnait, who was the patron saint of bees and beekeeping (with thanks to UCC for the image). Find out more about the windows, and St Gobnait, here.
An article by Festival contributor Brian Walker on Partition and the foundation of Northern Ireland appeared recently in the Irish Independent. You can read it here.
The Wartime NI website featured a post about events in Lough Foyle in May 1945, when eight German U-Boats surrendered, emphasising the importance of Co Londonderry in the Battle of the Atlantic. The post has some fantastic images and Pathe film from the time.
An intriguing article by Paul Lay on The Herd website entitled ‘England’s ancient beef with Ireland’ looked at a 17th century trade dispute between the two countries. Ireland began exporting beef directly to Europe, bypassing Britain. Sound familiar ?
And finally from the BBC website, a very comprehensive long read on the Ballymurphy killings in Belfast in 1971. An inquest ruled last week that all ten people killed were innocent and that nine of the ten were killed by the British army.
This week we have the centenary of Partition along with the photographs of Helen Hooker O’Malley, a medieval manuscript associated with St Colum Cille and Edith Somerville’s birthday.
On Partition there was a lot to read and hear, including the Irish History show podcast with Cathal Brennan and John Dorney interviewing Cormac Moore; the Creative Centenaries website, based in Northern Ireland has lots of good content on this and many other subjects; the Irish Times interviewed a woman born in the year of partition while this was a good summary on the BBC website.
The National Library of Ireland has a wonderful online exhibition looking at the work of photographer Helen Hooker O’Malley. Born in the USA, she met Irish revolutionary and author Ernie O’Malley and they married in 1935 and moved to Ireland. Although they were divorced in 1952, she continued to love Ireland and photographed both urban and rural lives and landscapes.
Another online exhibition, this one from the Royal Irish Academy and telling the story of the manuscript known as the Cathach of Colum Cille, Dating from the 6th century, it contains a copy of the psalms written in Latin and is closely associated with Saint Colum Cille (c. 521-597), in this year which marks 1500 years since his birth. A Cathach was an object believed to have protective power in battle. One page, taken from the RIA website, is shown below.
And finally yesterday, 2 May, was the birthday of one of West Cork’s most famous writers, Edith Somerville (1858-1949). She was born in Corfu, but spent most of her life at Drishane House in Castletownshend – the house is still lived in by the Somerville family and you can find out more about it on their website. Read more about Edith herself on the Dictionary of Irish Biography website. The image below was drawn by Edith herself and is on the cover of her book Maria and Some Other Dogs. She wrote this book, as so many others, with her cousin Violet Martin.
A fortnight’s worth of history-related content to read, listen to and watch today including dark tourism, the American Civil War and Ireland’s first trade fair, held in Cork in 1852.
As part of Cork World Book Festival, a digital event hosted by Nano Nagle Place about ‘Dark Tourism’. The talk is a conversation between Gillian O’Brien, author of the fascinating book The Darkness Echoing: Exploring Ireland’s Places of Famine, Death and Rebellion and Danielle O’Donovan for Nano Nagle. Full disclosure: Danielle is on our Festival Committee.
Gillian’s book is pictured left. And there was a related article in the Examiner on the same subject by Michael Moynihan with the catchy title – ‘Should we start marketing Cork as a destination of death and misery?’
Damien Shiels, whose really excellent website Irish American Civil War has so many fascinating stories to tell, has a new post on Irish American experiences, particularly those of Irish New Yorkers, in the Battle of Williamsburg on 5 May 1862.
The Irish Story featured the tale of HMS Wasp, which was wrecked off the coast of Tory Island in Donegal in 1884 with the loss of over 50 crew. The ship was on its way to to pick up a group of police and bailiffs who were to carry out evictions for non-payment of rents. Was it cursed, or sabotaged or was it simply human error ?
The Crawford Art Gallery highlighted this amazing digital version of the catalogue of The National Exhibition of the Arts, Manufacturers and Products of Ireland from the US National Archive, which you can flick through. The Exhibition was held in Cork in 1852 and was Ireland’s first trade fair, intended to boost morale and commerce in the aftermath of the Famine. It was located on the site where City Hall now stands.
Finally, the Ulster Museum has some good articles on its Collections blog, with various themes illustrated by images and artefacts from their collections. The one on the period 1500-1700 includes the intriguing Dungiven Costume, found in a bog in 1956 near Dungiven in Co Londonderry and pictured below. Probably dating to the early 17th century, there were the remains of a jacket, mantle (cloak) and tartan trews (trousers), along with shoes and a leather belt. Apparently, the jacket reflects English fashion and the tartan trousers Scottish influences, while the mantle is distinctly Irish. All are heavily patched and repaired. The image below courtesy of the Ulster Museum.
This was supposed to be a post for the Easter weekend, but somehow that came and went …. so instead it’s a summary of a fortnight of interesting historical content including the Belfast Blitz, the 1918-19 flu pandemic and the history of emotions.
The Irish Examiner recently featured a fascinating story of the MacCarthy family and their links to both sides of the IRA attack on the RIC barracks in Rosscarbery in March 1921. We’re delighted Flor MacCarthy, who has been a great supporter of the Festival, has agreed to speak about this part of her family’s history at our 2021 Festival.
We are also really pleased that Sean Boyne will talk at this year’s Festival about the killing of Bridget Noble by the IRA in the Beara Peninsula in March 1921. Sean’s research was featured in the Irish Times this week. Bridget Noble is one of only two women known for certain to have been ‘disappeared’ by the IRA during the War of Independence.
7 April marked 80 years since the start of the Belfast Blitz – four nights of raids between 7 April and 6 May resulting in up to 1000 deaths and widespread destruction in the city and beyond. This new website tells the story and lists the casualties.
An intriguing series of podcasts from the RIA on the theme of the History of Emotions (and below the very striking illustration which accompanies them).
A year into the Covid pandemic, the RTE History Show this week featured Festival contributor Ida Milne talking about the 1918-19 influenza pandemic. Ida is on from around 0:09 to 0:27
The Late Late Show featured artefacts from the National Museum of Ireland, with Audrey Whitty from the museum talking to Ryan Tubridy about objects from the revolutionary period including Michael Collins’ slippers and Éamon de Valera’s sock!
And finally, the Decade of Centenaries newsletter is well worth subscribing to for updates on all kinds of events all over the country – you can sign up via their website.
… and first up, Skibbereen Heritage Centre which now has a brilliant interactive map on its website with lots of information about different sites in and around the town. It includes individual buildings, streets, clubs, graveyards and even post boxes.
Lots of good content posted in connection to St Patrick’s Day including from the National Museum of Ireland on St Patrick’s Day traditions while the Dictionary of Irish Biography launched a new open access website, with nearly 11,000 lives. Over 2,300 of them reference Cork – we checked – but lots of other interesting lives as well! The image below is also from the National Museum, and is of the Bell of St Patrick and its shrine. You can find out more about these beautiful objects here.
To mark the end of the Six Nations, this post from Wartime NI on Irish rugby internationals in the Second World War. And also connected to the Second World War, the We Have Ways of Making You Talk podcast featured Joseph Quinn of UCD (although he also works at the Imperial War Museum in London) discussing the Irish in the Second World War with hosts comedian Al Murray and historian James Holland. Holland also co-founded the Chalke Valley History Festival which was very supportive to the West Cork History Festival when we first started.
And finally another history festival that’s worth a look, this one in early April in London in early April – but as it’s digital accessible to everyone. It’s called theHistFest and you can find out more about their 2021 programme here.