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Skibbereen (Irish: An Sciobairín), is a town in County Cork, Ireland. It is the most southerly town in Ireland. It is located on the N71 national secondary road. The name "Skibbereen" (often shortened to "Skibb") means "little boat harbour." The River Ilen which runs through the town reaches the sea at Baltimore.
Prior to 1600 most of the land belonged to the native McCarthy tribe - today McCarthy remains the town's most common surname. The town charter dates back to 1657 and a copy can be seen in the town council Chambers. Skibbereen was established near the 14th century ruins of the medieval hamlet of 'Spá Elaíne', long after the scourge of the black death (circa 1350 AD) decimated the region. In 1631 it received an influx of refugees fleeing from the Sack of Baltimore.The Phoenix Society was founded in Skibbereen in 1856 a precursor to the Fenian movement.
500 years after the Black Death, once again the region was plagued with unprecedented famine in the years 1845-52, a time referred to as 'an Gorta Mór' (The Great Hunger). It is probable that some 8,000-10,000 victims of 'The Great Famine' are buried in the Famine Burial Pits of Abbeystrewery Cemetery.
Skibbereen is also the name of a song about the Famine, and the impact it and the British Government had on the people of Ireland. The song, known as Dear Old Skibbereen, takes the form of a conversation between a father and a son, in which the son asks his father why he fled the land he loved so well. The father relates to his son how the famine ruined his farm in Skibbereen, and killed his wife. As the man was unable to pay taxes,
- ...the landlord and the bailiff came to drive us all away.
- They set the roof on fire with their cursed English flame,
- And that's another reason why I left old Skibbereen.
In the final verse the son swears he will return to Skibbereen to take vengeance on the government that he holds accountable. A version can be found on the soundtrack to the PBS mini-series, "The Long Journey Home," performed by Sinéad O'Connor. In the film Michael Collins , Michael Collins, played by Liam Neeson, sings the song. There is also a version by The Dubliners.
Skibbereen has not forgotten the victims of the Great Famine. A permanent exhibition at the Skibbereen Heritage Centre commemorates that tragic period in Irish history. Skibbereen was the focal point of Ireland's first National Famine Memorial Day on 17 May 2009. The town was selected as it was in one of the areas worst affected by the Great Famine, with a mass grave at Abbeystrewery containing the remains of between 8,000 and 10,000 people.
The Skibbereen Eagle, a newspaper founded in 1857, was famous for its international perspective, publishing an editorial that "told Lord Palmerston that it had “got its eye both upon him and on the Emperor of Russia."", and in August 1914 having a leading article that said “We give this solemn warning to Kaiser Wilhelm: The Skibbereen Eagle has its eye on you.” This newspaper was superseded by the Southern Star, founded in 1889, its first editor D.D. Sheehan, and included amongst its shareholders one Michael Collins.
Transport and communications
- Bus Éireann operates bus services to and from Skibbereen.
- The nearest airport is Cork Airport.
- Skibbereen was formerly served by two railways - the Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway and the narrow gauge Schull and Skibbereen Railway.
- O'Donovan Rossa (Skibbereen) is the local Gaelic Athletic Association club.
- Skibbereen Golf Club
- Skibbereen Rugby Club
- Skibbereen Rowing Club
- A.F.C.Skibbereen is the local Football Association Club
- Skibbereen Athletics Club
There are three secondary schools located in the town:
- Rossa College - Mixed school
- St Fachtna's de la Salle - Boys school
- Mercy Heights - Girls school
There are three primary schools:
- Abbeystrewry National School - Mixed School
- Gael Scoil Dr O'Suilleabhain - Mixed Irish-Speaking School
- St. Patrick's Primary School - Boys school
- Scoil Naomh Seosamh - Girls School
Gearóid O'Sullivan (28 January 1891 – 25 March 1948) was an Irish teacher, Irish language scholar, army officer, barrister and Sinn Féin and Fine Gael politician. Gearoid O'Sullivan was the officer appointed to rise the flag over the GPO in 1916, no doubt an honour bestowed upon him due to the fact he was from Skibbereen.
- Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa who lived for a greater part of his life in Skibbereen was one of the leaders of the Fenian movement that instigated a rebellion against the British occupation of Ireland in 1867. The rebellion failed but O'Donovan Rosss's fame spread due to his courage while being held in British prisons, despite being subjected to deplorable and inhumane treatment. Padraig Pearse used O'Donovan Rossa's funeral in 1915 to utter these famous words:
"The Defenders of this Realm have worked well in secret and in the open. They think that they have pacified Ireland. They think that they have purchased half of us and intimidated the other half. They think that they have foreseen everything, think that they have provided against everything; but the fools, the fools, the fools! — they have left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace"
- Birthplace of Agnes Mary Clerke (1842 - 1907), astronomer and writer.
- Jasper Travers Wolfe TD and Solicitor
- Birthplace of Percy Ludgate designer of an Analytical Engine
- Tony Davis former gaelic footballer, now a gaelic football analyst for RTE's The Sunday Game
- Don Wycherley actor
- Kieron Moore actor
- William Joseph Donovan - grandfather came from Skibbereen
Community Arts Festival
Skibbereen Arts Festival occurs annually; It takes place the end of July and is a festival that prides itself in showcasing community based projects as well as hosting a varied mix of nationally and internationally acclaimed films, theatre, visual art and music.
Music, local entertainment, and outdoor adventure
The town has strong musical traditions with many different music events held each year. A few bars in town also host various musical acts throughout the week. Baby Hannah's is a popular place for locals to see bands from as far as Poland come play on occasion.
Skibbereen is home to the annual Cork X Southwest Music & Arts Festival. In 2011, Cork X SW was held at Liss Ard Estate and featured Patti Smith, Echo & the Bunnymen, Balkan Beat Box, Fred and Yuck among its two-day lineup. The festival had a camp ground where attendees were able to either pitch a tent or park a camper for both Saturday and Sunday night. Beyond food and merchandise vendors, there was also a section of the festival called Vibrations where there were drum circles and free expression platforms. Besides being home to the festival, the Liss Ard Estate offers several options for walking, swimming, exploring, and discovering the magic of the sky garden crater.
Also in Skibbereen is the Russagh Mill Hostel and Adventure Center, which offers a wide range of activities such as sea kayaking in the local Lough Hyne marine lake, abseiling, archery, orienteering, rock climbing, hill walking, and team building. A number of local schools go to Russagh Mill on field trips and it is a popular stop for cyclists and backpackers. The hostel is owned by Michael Murphy, a highly accomplished outdoor enthusiast, a member of the first and subsequent successful expeditions to Mt. Everest, as well as being one of the top Irish canoe coaches. Murphy has grown up in the area and now lives on his family farm. Also, the hostel invites volunteers from all over the world to work in exchange for room and board, as well as occasional participation in some of the outdoor activities offered at the Mill. Skibbereen's location near the coast of Ireland makes it a perfect place to pursue sea fishing, scuba diving, sailing, and kayaking.
Also, just outside of town is the Tragumna Beach where many people go to swim during the warmer months and also on 25 December for the traditional Christmas Day swim.
A new sewerage scheme to costing €13,100,000. was completed in 2008. The new system stops raw sewage discharging to the river Ilen and greatly improves water quality and appearance. The stream and river has made a full recovery.
- "National Famine Memorial Day".
- Cobham Brewer, E (1898). Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. London: Cassell, and Co. Ltd.
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|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Skibbereen.|
- Official Website
- Skibbereen Heritage Centre
- Skibbereen History
- The thriving Saturday Farmers' Market - food, crafts, plants etc
- Official Website Skibbereen Arts Festival