We’re really looking forward to the inaugural West Cork History Festival which will be held in Skibbereen on the weekend of July 28-30th.

The Festival opens on Friday evening, July 28th, at 6.30. A keynote address will be delivered by Roy Foster at 7.30. Foster, the authorised biographer of Yeats, is the leading Irish historian of his generation, and should get the weekend off to a very auspicious start.

Activities will be based in and around Rosebank, the former Dower House of the Liss Ard estate, which is situated about a mile outside Skibbereen. Over the course of the weekend, there will be a programme of events which will run concurrently in two or three venues at Rosebank. There’s a fantastic schedule of speakers lined up for what should be a most interesting weekend.

The 2017 issue of the Skibbereen & District Historical Society Journal is also being launched during the West Cork History Festival, on Saturday July 29th, at 1 o’clock.

To see the full programme or to buy a ticket for the weekend see http://www.westcorkhistoryfestival.org

Among the speakers for the weekend is our own William Casey, who has contributed very generously to the Skibbereen Journal over the years. William is speaking on ‘Early Fenianism in Skibbereen’, a subject he has studied in great depth over the past number of years.

William’s talk is on Sunday July 30th at 12 noon, and it will be well worth attending.

In 2016 William completed a masters in local history, the subject of his thesis being the early Fenian movement in the Skibbereen region. The period covered by his research was from the mid-1850s to the Fenian Rising of 1867, a period when Skibbereen became known as the ‘Cradle of Fenianism’. As well as detailing the development of Fenianism in West Cork, William’s work also examined how this small area influenced the wider movement in Ireland and America.

Local historian William Casey will give a talk on ‘Early Fenianism in Skibbereen’ at the inaugural West Cork History Festival in Skibbereen on Sunday July 30th at 12 noon.

In the 2017 edition of the Skibbereen & District Historical Society Journal William has written an article on ‘Mortimer Moynahan: the forgotten Fenian leader’. Moynahan was one of the founders of the Phoenix Society in Skibbereen in 1856 and he went on to play a leading part in the Fenian movement locally and nationally. It’s an outstanding article by William and he has done us all a great service by helping to restore the name of Mortimer Moynahan to its rightful place among the most prominent of the Fenian leaders.

The Fenians are not William’s only interest; other topics he has researched include subjects as diverse as nineteenth century Protestant missions, loan funds and the history of children’s burial grounds. In the 2010 issue of the Skibbereen Journal William wrote an article on the History of Aughadown House. In the 2012 Journal, William contributed an article entitled ‘Unlawfully Drilling with Pikes: A Story of Fenian Volunteers’.

In Vol 9, 2013, of the Journal William wrote an article on ‘The Life and Times of Bishop Michael Collins (1781-1832)’. Michael Collins was the man who was responsible for building the cathedral in Skibbereen.

In 2014 William contributed an article on ‘The Cillíní of Aughadown and Kilcoe Parishes.’ William has done a lot of very valuable work in locating cillíní (children’s burial grounds) in West Cork and recording their locations, and  has given talks on cillíní in Skibbereen, Bantry and Clonakilty.

In 2015 William wrote an article on two of Skibbereen’s old graveyards ‘Abbeymahon and Kilmahon, ‘Two Graveyards in Skibbereen’ for Vol 11 of the Journal. This is another area where William has done some great work – he has been involved in carrying out a number of graveyard surveys in this area.

Later in the summer, as part of Heritage Week in Skibbereen, William will give two separate talks. On Tuesday August 22nd at Skibbereen Credit Union conference room, William will deliver a talk on ‘Cillíni in West Cork’ – unofficial children’s burial grounds in this area. Then, two nights later, on Thursday August 24th, he will give a talk on ‘Fenians in Skibbereen’, again at the Credit Union conference room.

Skibbereen Heritage Centre organises a programme of events each year for Heritage Week and all events are free!


Another local historian, Finola Finlay – Finola won’t mind us calling her one of our own – is giving a talk at the West Cork History Festival, on Saturday at 3 o’clock on ‘Tower Houses in West Cork’.

Finola has also contributed an article to this year’s Skibbereen Journal, ‘Rock Art at Derreenaclogh, Co. Cork.’

Finola has a BA in History and Archaeology and an MA in Archaeology from UCC, and is a most engaging speaker. With her husband, Robert Harris, Finola researches and writes about the history, archaeology, landscape, flora, fauna, language, music and culture of this area for their blog Roaringwater Journal. It’s an outstanding blog with a big following. If you haven’t already done so, you should definitely log in at https://roaringwaterjournal.com.

William to give talk on the Fenians at West Cork History Festival