In these difficult times…

… why not listen to some historical context for our current troubles – Dr Ida Milne speaking about the 1918-19 flu pandemic at our 2018 Festival – click here to hear her talk.

We also have lots of other fascinating talks from our 2017, 2018 and 2019 Festivals, all available on our website, covering the Decade of Centenaries, the RIC, Templars, pirates (ooh-arr), Carson & Redmond, tower houses, duelling, Queen Victoria, Wolfe Tone, Florence MacCarthy, Agnes Clerke, US & Irish independence, Sam Maguire, Spanish treasure ships, the Great Earl of Cork, Bishop Lucey’s Cork churches, early Fenianism in Skibbereen and much more.


Articles of interest

Here are some articles on historical and cultural themes which caught the Festival’s eye recently ranging from the 21st century to pre-history:

Seas of Ideas: Women and the Ireland-Wales crossing by Elizabeth Edwards posted on the blog of the Ports Past and Present project. This is headed up by Professor Claire Connolly of UCC, who spoke at our Festival last year.

And Festival contributor Professor Louise Ryan writes with Professor Mary Hickman for RTE on ‘Why do British people know so little about Ireland’?

Sexual violence in the Irish Civil War a forgotten war crime ? by Professor Linda Connolly, a Festival contributor on this important subject in 2018.

Rare film of rural life in Kerry and Cork in the 1920s discovered in America, as reported by RTE.

A great article in the Examiner earlier in the week on the women heading up arts organisations all over Cork, including Ann Davoren of Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre in Skibbereen.

And a conference in Meath revealing new discoveries at Bru na Boinne as reported in the Irish Times:




Podcast on Passage Tombs

A really interesting listen from Amplify Archaeology, hosted by Neil Jackman, in which he discusses Ireland’s Neolithic passage tombs with Dr Jessica Smyth from UCD. There are at least 230 known passage tombs in this country, of which Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth in Co Meath are amongst the best known. These monuments can also be found along Western Europe’s Atlantic coast in Spain and Portugal, Brittany and the western parts of Britain.

Dr Smyth leads the Passage Tomb People project, which uses a multi-disciplinary approach to look at the societies which built passage tombs. Find out more about the project here.

Festival co-founder Victoria Kingston helped develop the content for the new exhibition at the Brú na Bóinne visitor centre which interprets the passage tombs of the area, including Knowth and Newgrange. Dr Smyth was on the academic advisory board for that project.


Lough Abisdealy

Lough Abisdealy is part of the Liss Ard estate, which neighbours Rosebank where the West Cork History Festival takes place. The Lough is up to 20 metres deep in places and writer Edith Somerville, who lived in nearby Castletownshend, is alleged to have spotted a mysterious long black creature in its waters.


RIC and DMP commemorations

Listen to Festival contributor Professor Eunan O’Halpin on Newstalk discussing the recent controversy over plans to commemorate the RIC and DMP. Professor O’Halpin is a member of the Expert Advisory Group on Commemorations.

And here is another Festival contributor, retired Garda Jim Herlihy, interviewed in the Irish Times about his recent experiences in relation to this controversy. Jim is a member of the Harp Society which campaigns for a memorial for the RIC and the DMP.

Both their contributions to our 2019 Festival – Jim Herlihy’s specifically about the RIC – can be heard on our 2019 Podcasts and Playback page.


Our specially commissioned 2019 Festival podcasts are all here


Professor Brendan Simms summarises his thoughts on Ireland’s position on Brexit and its historical context, a subject about which he spoke at greater length during the 2019 Festival. 


Festival contributor Ruth Dudley-Edwards also reflects on this key theme for our 2019 Festival


Ambassador Dan Mulhall interviewed about his Festival talk, ‘Declaring Independence: America 1776, Ireland 1919′


Festival contributors Dr Ida Milne and Ian d’Alton reflect on the Decade of Centenaries as well as their co-edited book Protestant and Irish: The minority’s search for place in independent Ireland.


Jim Herlihy of the Harp Society on the memorialisation of the Royal Irish Constabulary, the subject of his talk at the Festival. Jim is himself a retired member of An Garda Síochána.


TCD mathematician Dr Brian Coghlan on Percy Ludgate, Skibbereen’s pioneering mathematical genius, about whom he spoke at the Festival.


A review of Saturday’s events at the 2019 Festival with Festival founders Victoria and Simon Kingston, and John McGrath who was in charge of our Green Room.


Professor Roy Foster lecture on Somerville & Ross at UCC

On 28 November Professor Roy Foster, who opened our first Festival and has been a supporter ever since, will give a lecture at UCC entitled ‘Humour, Humors, Negotiations: the Secret Languages of Somerville and Ross’. This will mark 70 years since Edith Somerville’s death. More information about the lecture can be found here.

Roy Foster’s lecture at our 2017 Festival, ‘ “A Fair People” antagonism and conflict in Irish history’ can be heard here.

Remembrance Sunday

A selection of interesting articles related to Irishmen and women who served in the First and Second World Wars, posted on and around Remembrance Sunday:

Festival contributor Ronan McGreevy on the largest execution by the Germans of Allied soldiers on the Western Front during the First World War, including of six Irish soldiers, in the Irish Times

An article from 2014, which we’ve only just come across, looking at Irish women’s contribution to the First World War, published in the Independent.

Information about a new exhibition about Grangegorman Military Cemetery in Dublin, which contains over 600 Irish casualties of two world wars. The exhibition is in the neighbouring Phoenix Park Visitor Centre.

The story of the three Sheehan brothers, from Fermoy, who lost their lives in separate bombing missions while serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War. This was originally posted by historian Damien Shiels in 2017 on his website, but re-issued via Twitter last week. All three were remembered at a ceremony in Heverlee War Cemetery in Belgium this weekend, which was covered in the Irish Times. Shiels remarks that this family’s experience “must surely represent one of the worst, if not the worst, loss of life suffered in a single southern Irish family due to Allied combat operations.

The Treaty of Limerick

Great to hear 2019 Festival contributor Professor Thomas O’Connor from Maynooth University on BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time, discussing the 1691 Treaty of Limerick which ended the Williamite Wars. He was joined by Professor Jane Ohlmeyer, Chair of the Irish Research Council and Professor of Modern History at Trinity College Dublin and Dr Clare Jackson from the University of Cambridge.

Long Strand

A beautiful day on Long Strand on Sunday …. nearby is Castle Freke and Rathbarry Church, closely associated with the Carberys.  Our 2017 Festival concert was a performance by Jessie Kennedy and Patsy Puttnam of The Carbery Songs, inspired by three women of the Carbery family.


Films of some of our Festival talks are now available on our website

Click through to our Programme page to watch films of some of our Festival talks, with John Bruton, Ambassador Dan Mulhall, Professors Brendan Simms, Mary Murphy and Brian Walker, Dr Ida Milne and Ian d’Alton and Daisy Goodwin. There are also films of our two panel discussions reflecting two of the themes of the 2019 Festival, the Decade of Centenaries and the triangular relationship between Ireland, Britain and continental Europe.

All the other talks will be available as audio files soon.