Just why so little has been written or recorded about the River Ilen is something we can’t answer.
Thankfully, Robert Harris has undertaken to correct this anomaly and has written the first of a two-part article on the River Ilen for the 2022 Skibbereen Historical Journal.
For such an important waterway in west Carbery, it is quite remarkable that so little has been written about the Ilen.
In 2020 and 2021 Robert published a series of articles on the Ilen River on the Roaringwater Journal, https://roaringwaterjournal.com, the brilliant blog which he and Finola Finlay write.
In ‘Sweet Ilen – the story of a river: Part 1 – Source to Tide’ Robert has concentrated on the upper part of the river.
Robert writes of the topography and history of the Ilen and also refers to the geology of the area. In a wonderfully written and entertaining account, Robert has brought together pretty much all the information on the Ilen from a myriad of sources. We look forward with anticipation to Part 2!
In the 2022 Skibbereen & District Historical Society Journal Margaret Murphy has written an account of the extraordinary life of Kate McCarthy (Sr Marie Laurence), a native of Drominidy North, Drimoleague.
Kate McCarthy, the eldest of a family of ten children, was born in Drominidy North, Drimoleague, in 1895. She joined the Order of Franciscans of Calais at their Cork convent in 1913.
During World War I, Mother Laurence nursed hundreds of Allied soldiers and also German soldiers in Béthune in northern France.
Following a period in the US, Mother Laurence returned to Béthune at the outbreak of World War II. She assisted in the escape of countless numbers of Allied forces from Béthune when it became German-occupied territory. In June 1941, Mother Laurence was arrested by the Gestapo. She endured terrible conditions in several prisoner of war camps for several years before subsequently being held prisoner in Ravensbruck concentration camp.
At the end of the war, Mother Lawrence was helped to reach Sweden before eventually returning to the Honan Convent in Cork where she was made Reverend Mother.
The governments of both Britain and France recognised the valiant contribution of the Drimoleague-born nun. A year after the war ended, Mother Lawrence returned to France where she was decorated for her bravery, personally by General de Gaulle. She also received the ‘Black Cat’ emblem from the French underground movement, the Maquis.
Mother Lawrence was further honoured when she received a citation from Sir Winston Churchill, and the Chief of Staff of the Royal Air Force also cited her for her bravery.
Mother Lawrence McCarthy died suddenly on 21 June 1971 and is buried in St Finbarr’s Cemetery, Cork.
In the early days of July one hundred years ago, Skibbereen town was pretty much under siege!
It was the early stages of the Civil War (1922–23) and for Skibbereen the most active period of the conflict was in July and August 1922 when the war was in its initial phase.
Following the Anglo-Irish Treaty, opinion in Skibbereen, like most other places, was divided. At the outbreak of the Civil War most of County Cork was under the control of anti-Treaty forces, but Skibbereen was an exception. The town and immediate hinterland were controlled by a small contingent of Free State troops under the command of Jerh MacCarthy of Dreeney, assisted by Tadhg O’Sullivan of ’98 Street.
On the night of 1 July 1922 anti-Treaty forces, under the command of Gibbs Ross and Tom Hales, entered Skibbereen and demanded the surrender of the Free State troops. What followed was a few days of intense exchanges between Free State and anti-Treaty Forces. While the siege was relatively short, fighting was intense and within a week the Free State garrison had evacuated the barracks and handed it over to the anti-Treaty forces.
In a particularly timely and relevant article in the latest issue of the Skibbereen & District Historical Society Journal, William Casey details the exchanges between Free State and anti-Treaty forces in Skibbereen and surrounding areas in July and August 1922. This is one of 12 articles featured in Vol 18 of the annual Skibbereen Journal. Included also are a number of other contributions which are particularly relevant to the centenary of the War of Independence and Civil War period.
Among them is a splendid and compelling account of the life of Thomas Healy (1895–1957) by Liz Cassidy and Bernard Cassidy. Thomas Healy was born in Skibbereen in 1895. His father Joseph Healy was a solicitor and opened his own law practice in Skibbereen in 1881. Joseph Healy became a prominent figure in various Nationalist organisation in west Cork and was a passionate advocate for low rents, Home Rule and farmers’ rights.
Thomas Healy followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming a solicitor and also a very prominent Nationalist figure in west Cork. He was a close friend and a confidant of Michael Collins and, in writing this article, Liz was able to draw on a private collection of letters from Collins to her grandfather, among many other sources, private and public. The Healy family also had a long association with the Southern Star and Thomas was a director of the company for many years and served a period as managing director.
In his beautifully written article about the River Ilen, Robert Harris has done us all a great service. For such a prominent feature of the landscape in the greater Skibbereen area, it is quite astonishing that so little has been written about the Ilen. In part one of what is a two-part series, Robert has addressed this anomaly with a wide-ranging and extensive look at the river and its history.
Margaret Murphy has written on the heroic life of Kate McCarthy (Sister Marie Laurence) from Drominidy North, Drimoleague. Sr Marie Laurence led an extraordinary life. During World War II she became a member of the French Resistance and was honoured by both France and Britain for her heroic work.
The story of Patrick John Hurley of Windmill (1888–1918) is a delightful vignette by Julianna Minihan. Patrick John Hurley was born in 1888, son of Denis and Honora Hurley of Windmill, Skibbereen. Patrick John was a soldier in the First World War and died in action in Italy in 1918. Like so many millions of others, Patrick John was an almost completely anonymous casualty of war. Now, Julianna has restored his name, his place, and his dignity, thanks to her diligent research and her perceptive writing of his story.
If there is one feature in this current Journal that will gain universal approval, it is Amanda Clarke’s piece about holy wells in County Cork, with particular reference to Skibbereen and the Mizen peninsula. It is fantastically informative and beautifully illustrated article and a pleasure to read.
Contributions by Oscar Hernanz Elvira, Donal Corcoran, Maura Cahalane Joe Gibbons and Philip O’Regan are also included in Vol 18 of the Skibbereen Journal which maintains the very high standard it has set since its first publication in 2005.
The latest issue of the Skibbereen & District Historical Society Journal has just been published. Volume 18 of the annual Journal and it maintains the very high standard it has set since its first publication in 2005. The Journal is selling for €12. As well as local shops this year’s Journal, and a selection of back issues, can be purchased online at https://biblio.ie/bookstore/coolim-books-skibbereen/shj/39607814
If there is one article in the 2022 issue of the Skibbereen & District Historical Society Journal that will gain universal approval, it is Amanda Clarke’s piece about holy wells in County Cork, with particular reference to Skibbereen and the Mizen peninsula.
It is a fantastically informative and beautifully illustrated piece and a pleasure to read.
On St Bridget’s Day 2016 Amanda set out on a quest to visit every holy well in the county, where possible.
Please note that due to the high number of Covid-19 cases in the community, the Skibbereen & District Historical Society has decided to cancel the 2022 Journal lunch on Thursday 7th July. Apologies to anyone for any inconvenience caused by this.
The good news is that the Skibbereen Historical Journal Vol 18, 2022, is now available for purchase in shops in Skibbereen and some other outlets in West Cork.
Like other years, the 2022 Journal has a wide variety of articles, including: The Civil War in Skibbereen, An Eye-Witness Account of Michael Collins in Skibbereen in 1922, The Holy Wells of County Cork, The Irish White Cross in Skibbereen, The Heroic Life of Kate McCarthy (Sr Marie Laurence), Irish Army Census Records 1922, Sweet Ilen – the story of a river, and much more. See a full list of the articles below. The Journal is selling for €12. As well as local shops this year’s Journal, and a selection of back issues, can be purchased online at https://biblio.ie/bookstore/coolim-books-skibbereen/shj/39607814
Contents: The Civil War in Skibbereen during July and August 1922 – William Casey Thomas Healy (1895 – 1957) – Liz Cassidy & Bernard Cassidy An Eye-Witness Account of Michael Collins in Skibbereen in 1922 – Joe Gibbons The Heroic Life of Kate McCarthy (Sr Marie Laurence) – Margaret Murphy Patrick John Hurley of Windmill, Skibbereen, (1888-1918) – Julianna Minihan Cornelius O’Driscoll: A West Cork man serving in the Spanish Army (1602-1622) – Oscar Hernanz Elvira Michael Collins and the Irish Provisional Government: January – August 1922 – Donal Corcoran The Irish White Cross in Skibbereen – Philip O’Regan Irish Army Census Records 1922 – Maura Cahalane The Holy Wells of County Cork with particular reference to Skibbereen & the Mizen Peninsula – Amanda Clarke Sweet Ilen – the story of a river: Part 1 – Source to Tide – Robert Harris Rides through the County of Cork: Castle Donovan – Philip Dixon Hardy