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.


Professor Roy Foster on the effect of Brexit on Anglo-Irish relations

A very insightful interview with Professor Roy Foster, one of Ireland’s most distinguished historians (and former WCHF contributor), on RTE 1’s Drivetime. It was broadcast on 30 August – click here and listen from about 1:40. Foster refers in the interview to Cambridge historian Brendan Sims, who spoke at our 2019 Festival.

Foster, who lives in Britain, is particularly critical of British Conservative politicians and their ignorance of Ireland and Irish history. In the interview he comments:  “… from the 1980s on …. the atttiude of British politicians towards Ireland has been in the main thoughtful and well-meaning…. All that has now gone into reverse…. Anglo-Irish relations are now at a worse point than they have been since the early 1970s and for completely unnecessary reasons.”

Ida Milne and Ian d’Alton podcast

A short podcast by Festival contributors Ida Milne and Ian d’Alton, in which they 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 about which they spoke at our 2019 Festival (pictured below).

Ireland in the European Eye

Today’s Irish Times has a very positive review here of Ireland in the European Eye, edited by Bettina Migge and Gisela Holfter and published by the Royal Irish Academy. The article by Professor Thomas O’Connor entitled ‘Prequels: The Irish European diaspora’ prompted us to ask him to speak on the same subject at the West Cork History Festival this year, which he did to much acclaim. The audio of his talk will be available on our website soon.

Sunday: the West Cork History Festival

Saturday: the 2019 West Cork History Festival

Festival contributor Daisy Goodwin on The Ryan Tubridy Show this week

Daisy Goodwin, closing speaker at our 2019 Festival, was interviewed on The Ryan Tubridy Show on RTE 1 on Wednesday 21st August. She spoke about writing the hit TV series ‘Victoria’, her West Cork connections and the lack of understanding in Britain about Irish history, particularly the Famine. Click here to listen to the interview again:

Here is Daisy with Festival co-founder Victoria Kingston:

Keepers of the Flame

We are delighted to be screening the documentary Keepers of the Flame (2018) in the Secret Garden on Sunday 11 August at 10am. This feature-length documentary brings to light the diverse experiences of ordinary Irish men and women who made claims for active service from Easter 1916 to the end of the Civil War and whose records are held in the Irish Military Service Pensions Archive. Read the Irish Times review here.


Festival Food & Drink

There will be plenty of excellent West Cork food and drink available at the Festival, with Chris Hedges providing food for Friday and Saturday evening and lunchtime on Saturday and Sunday, while Nicky Smythe of Skibbereen’s Antiquity Vegan Cafe & Bookshop will be doing coffee & snacks. There will also be a separate coffee stand with coffee from The Golden Bean Coffee Roasters as well as plenty of cold drinks.  A range of Glen Ilen products will also be available.

Festival Menu

Chris’ menu for the Festival will be as follows:

Evening – Friday 9 August

New potato, broad bean and pea quesadillas (€8.00)

Gubbeen hot dogs ((€8.00)

Lunchtime – Saturday 10 August

Spinach and feta borek (€10.00)

Falafel wraps (€10.00)

Grilled tofu skewers (€8.00)

Grilled minute steak with onions and tomato concassé in a Syrian flat bread wrap (€14.00)

Evening – Saturday 10 August 

Chicken with lemon and olives, rice pilaff (€14.00)

Charcoal grilled Moroccan leg of lamb, tzatziki, rice pilaff (€14.00)                         

Melanzane alla Parmigiane with green salad (€12.00)

Apple Strudel & Creme Chantilly (€8.00)

Lunch – Sunday 11 August

Grilled Korean breast of Chicken, broccoli slaw  (€12.00)

Red lentil and spinach curry, rice (€12.00)


West Cork History Festival Concert 2019

This year’s concert, curated by West Cork musician and writer Jessie Kennedy in collaboration with the West Cork History Festival, celebrates the work of Canon James Goodman. Canon Goodman was a renowned uilleann piper and musicologist, who spent much of his life in West Cork. Composer and violinist Justin Grounds will join Jessie for part of the concert, where they will perform pieces from their recent album of ancient Irish songs and music, relating to the spirit, nature and history of West Cork, and the work of the great Canon Goodman.

We are delighted that acclaimed piper Eoin O Riabhaigh and flautist/fiddler Johnny McCarthy will headline this year’s concert. Most fittingly Eoin has restored and plays Goodman’s original pipes. A one-off, special gathering of some of Cork’s finest musicians. Not to be missed!

Eoin O Riabhaigh









Piper and pipemaker Eoin is the son of the late, well known Cork piper and teacher, Micheál O Riabhaigh. He began his piping career at the tender age of 9 under his father’s watchful eye, and continues to play regularly. Eoin headed up the workshop at the National Sculpture Factory in Cork for 10 years where he developed an appreciation of materials and a flair for design. Later, he set up his own business and continued to work with sculptors, galleries and private collections. During this time he also started to make pipes on a part-time basis and completed several fine full sets in D.

He has since also restored some old and historically significant instruments, and owns uilleann pipes originally belonging to Canon James Goodman. Eoin has enjoyed a very varied career as a piper, having performed and recorded with, among others,  Dolores Keane, Mary Black, Iris Demente (US), Tom Russell (US), Matt Cranitch, Frankie Gavin, The Xenia Ensemble (Turin), Tim O Brien etc.. He has played and taught throughout Europe and the U.S.

Johnny McCarthy









Johnny is a lecturer in traditional music and classical flute at CIT Cork School of Music and is highly regarded as both a composer and performer in classical and traditional music. He studied at the Konservatorium and Musickhochschule, Zurich, Switzerland under Professor Jean Poulain. He has performed extensively throughout Europe, the US and Asia. Johnny has presented and performed on radio and TV series such as Geantrai, Glaoch an Cheoil, Faoi Lan Cheoil, The Rolling Wave, The River of Sound and Bringing it all Back Home. He has collaborated and recorded with Michael O Suilleabhain, John Spillane, Antonio Breschi and Pat Crowley. He is a member of the renowned traditional group The Four Star Trio, whose music concentrates on the Sliabh Luachra tradition.

Jessie Kennedy






Jessie is a vocalist, writer and violinist from West Cork. She is a member of The Vespertine Quintet, and has released four studio albums, most recently “We are the Dark Night Ocean” with long-time collaborator Justin Grounds. Other works include the acclaimed “The Carbery Songs”, inspired by the lives of generations of women who lived at Castlefreke, West Cork, which Jessie performed at last year’s History Festival with collaborator Patsy Puttnam and other guests.

Jessie has headlined venues such as St. Barrahane’s Classical Music Festival, National Digital Week, National Concert Hall Dublin, Cork Opera House and Rosscarbery Cathedral. Jessie has collaborated and performed with music legend Donovan, Maurice Seezer, Nigel Kennedy, Paul Tiernan, Interference, Sacha Puttnam, Adrian Crowley, Liam O’ Maonlai, Glen Hansard and John Spillane among others.

Upcoming shows include St. Andrew’s Church in London with Westminster Abbey organist and composer James McVinnie, and a tour of Boston and Martha’s Vineyard in the autumn.  October sees the beginning of a year-long film and recording project in various parts of Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda) where Jessie will collaborate with local musicians for a charity that she works with, Five Talents. Recently Jessie and Justin performed with Jeremy Irons as part of the “Coming Home” commemorative event at Reen Farm in West Cork, home of renowned artist John Kelly. Jessie sang the Irish lament “I am Stretched on Your Grave”, followed by Jeremy’s powerful reading of the famous NM Cummins famine letter.

Justin Grounds









Justin is a violinist, composer and electronic music producer based in West Cork. He studied baroque violin in his home town of Cambridge, UK, and went on to do a degree in Music and Theology at Durham University. Justin toured as violinist with the electronic band Keiretsu as well as producing 5 albums of solo music. His work for orchestra and chamber ensembles has been celebrated for its ‘minimalist musical aesthetic, with an almost rhapsodic arch of movement’. His “Passacaglia Apis” won the inaugural East Cork Early Music Festival composers competition in 2014 and was premiered by Maya Homburger and Barry Guy.

He performs regularly as a solo violinist, as a composing member of The Vespertine Quintet, the Barefoot Baroque Project and with bands Idiot Songs, Fir Beag and Farewell JR. He also works as a record producer and string arranger, teaches workshops with young people and is a member of the Arts for Health team bringing music to hospital and clinical environments.