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Cloich na Coillte
The Feagle River passes through Clonakilty
The Feagle River passes through Clonakilty
Clonakilty is located in Ireland
Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 51°37′19″N 8°53′11″W / 51.62194°N 8.88639°W / 51.62194; -8.88639Coordinates: 51°37′19″N 8°53′11″W / 51.62194°N 8.88639°W / 51.62194; -8.88639
CountyCounty Cork
 • Total3.433 km2 (1.325 sq mi)
 • Total4,592
 • Density1,337.5/km2 (3,464/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC±0 (WET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+1 (IST)
Eircode routing key
Telephone area code+353(0)23
Irish Grid ReferenceW381417

Clonakilty (/ˈklɔːnæˌkɪlt/; Irish: Cloich na Coillte, meaning 'stone (castle) of the woods'),[2] sometimes shortened to Clon, is a town in County Cork, Ireland. The town is located at the head of the tidal Clonakilty Bay. The rural hinterland is used mainly for dairy farming.[3] The town's population as of 2016 was 4,592.[4] The town is a tourism hub in West Cork, and was recognised as the "Best Town in Europe" in 2017, and "Best Place of the Year" in 2017 by the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland.[5][6] Clonakilty is in the Cork South-West (Dáil Éireann) constituency, which has three seats.


The Clonakilty area has a number of ancient and pre-Celtic sites, including Lios na gCon ringfort.[7]

Normans settlers built castles in the area, and a number of Norman surnames survive to the present day.[citation needed] In 1292, Thomas De Roach received a charter to hold a market every Monday at Kilgarriffe (then called Kyle Cofthy or Cowhig's Wood), close to where the present town now stands.[citation needed]

In the 14th century, a ten-mile strip of fallow woodland called Tuath na gCoillte (the land of the woods) divided the barony of Ibane (Ardfield) and Barryroe and reached the sea at Clonakilty Bay. Here a castle called Coyltes Castell was recorded in a 1378 plea roll. This was subsequently referred to as Cloghnykyltye, one of the many phonetic spellings for Cloch na gCoillte (meaning the castle of the woods, from cloch, the Irish for stone or stone building, and coillte meaning woods).[2]

Clonakilty benefited from the patronage of Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Cork ('the Great Earl'), who is sometimes regarded as its founder.[citation needed] It was this Lord Cork who obtained its charter from King James I of England in 1613 with the right to return members to the Irish House of Commons. The borough of Clonakilty returned two members from 1613 to 1801; it was disenfranchised when the Act of Union came into force in January 1801.

The lands at Clonakilty were later purchased by the Earls of Shannon, another branch of the Boyle dynasty. They remained the main landlords of the town from the eighteenth century through until the early twentieth century.[8]

During the Irish Rebellion of 1641, the planted English settlers in Clonakilty fled to Bandon, and much of Clonakilty was burned.[9][10][11] English forces retook the town in 1642, in an attack where several hundred of the Confederate Irish forces were killed.[10] Some later 18th century sources stated that English forces killed "238 men, women, and children" after retaking the town.[12] The town was also the site of a battle in 1691, during the Williamite War in Ireland.[10]

During the Irish Rebellion of 1798, Shannonvale near Clonakilty was the site of the Battle of the Big Cross. It was described as "the only place in all Munster where a blow of some sort had been struck during the Rising of '98".[13] There is a commemorative statue celebrating the Battle of the Big Cross in Astna Square in the centre of Clonakilty.

Battle of the Big Cross statue, Clonakilty.

Michael Collins, who was the Director of Intelligence for the IRA, which sought independence from Britain in the 1920–1921 period, lived in Clonakilty and attended the local boys' national school. Collins later served as Chairman of the Provisional Government and was instrumental in the founding of the Irish Free State. Collins was killed in an Anti-Treaty ambush during the Civil War. He gave several orations from O'Donovan's Hotel on the Main Street of Clonakilty. On Emmet Square, where Collins lived for a period, is a statue of Michael Collins (erected and dedicated in 2002) and a museum (opened in 2016).

In April 1943, a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress was travelling from Morocco to England when it was forced to land at a marsh just outside Clonakilty.[14] The crew (who were uninjured) thought they had been flying over German-occupied Norway.[15]

Kennedy Gardens at Emmet Square (formerly Shannon Square) in the centre of town is named after John F. Kennedy.

In June 2012, Clonakilty was damaged by flooding.[16]

Clonakilty was founded on 5 May 1613, and on 5 May 2013, President Michael D. Higgins and his wife visited the town to commemorate 400 years since it obtained its original charter.[17]


Kilgariffe Church (Church of Ireland) is a building of 1818 replacing an older church going back to 1613.[18][19]

The Church of the Immaculate Conception (Catholic) is a large building in Early French Gothic style, designed by George Ashlin and completed in 1880.[20][21] The old Presbyterian Church was built in 1861 and taken over and used since 1924 as a local Post Office.[22] The local Methodist church is located in the town and became the first church in Ireland to win two Eco Congregation Ireland awards.[23][24]


The nearest airport to the town is Cork Airport, and Bus Éireann provides coach links from Clonakilty to Cork and Skibbereen.[25] During the summer months, there is a bus link to Killarney via the N71 road through Skibbereen, Bantry, Glengarriff and Kenmare.

Clonakilty was one of the destinations on the West Cork Railway, an Irish mainline railway from Cork City to various parts of West Cork, which shut down in 1961. Clonakilty railway station opened on 28 August 1886, but finally closed on 1 April 1961.[26]

Clonakility is home to ClonBike, the only Bicycle-sharing system in Ireland in a town of Clonakilty's size.[citation needed]

Culture and music[edit]

De Barra's

Clonakilty's bars host live music nights throughout the year,[citation needed] and a number of notable musicians have found a welcome and a home in the area.[citation needed] For example, Noel Redding made Clonakilty his home,[27] as has singer-songwriter Roy Harper.[28] English novelist David Mitchell also calls Clonakilty home. Monday Night Trad Sessions, O'Donovans Tuesday Trad and Shanley's Famous Music Bar are among the main music venues.[citation needed] Summer afternoon sessions in Scannells beer garden has attracted acts like Christy Moore, Sharon Shannon, and Frances Black.[citation needed]

An Súgán

The town hosts several festivals every year, among these are The Clonakilty International Guitar Festival in mid-September, The Motion festival and The Waterfront Festival in August. The 2010 Waterfront Festival featured Irish acts, The Dublin Gospel Choir, Mundy, Aslan, The Heathers, Setmaker and Spanish Singer Paula Gómez and her band.[citation needed]


The town won the Irish Tidy Towns Competition in 1999 and every year since has gained awards for its environmental efforts,[citation needed] including being named 'Ireland's Tidiest Small Town' in 2017.[29] In 2003, Clonakilty became Ireland's first ever official Fair trade Town. In 2007 it was awarded the status of European Destination of Excellence by the European Commission at a ceremony in Portugal and is Ireland's first recipient of this title.


As of the 2011 census, ethnically Clonakilty was 80% white Irish, 14% "other white", 1.5% black, 1.5% Asian, and 2% other or not stated.[35] In terms of religion, the 2011 census captured a population that was 80.5% Catholic, 10% other stated religions, 8.5% with no religion, and 0.5% not stated.[35]


The town is known for its black pudding. Clonakilty black pudding originated in Edward Twomey's butcher shop in Pearse Street. The secret spice recipe has been handed down through the generations since the 1880s, and is still known only to the Twomey family who continue to manufacture the pudding at the Clonakilty Food Company.[36][37]


Model village

The Model Village in Clonakilty is a tourist destination in the area, and includes fully scaled models of Clonakilty and nearby towns - built on a miniature of the area's railway line.

Michael Collins House is a museum dedicated to Irish revolutionary leader Michael Collins. The museum is set out in a restored Georgian townhouse on Emmet Square, where Collins lived from 1903 to 1905. The museum tells the story of Collins' life and the history of Irish independence through tours, exhibits, interactive displays, and historical artifacts.[38]

Clonakilty is the home of the world's only "Random Acts of Kindness Festival" set up in 2012 by the local Clonakilty Macra na Feirme Club.[citation needed] The Festival is held each year on the third weekend in July, with the motto: "Cut the Misery and Spread the Positivity".[39]

Clonakilty Street Carnival takes place in June of each year, and involves live music, activities and other events.[40]

Other historical attractions in the town include the Clonakilty Museum, the Georgian houses of Emmet Square and the Micheal Collins Centre which is located a few miles east of the town. A Farmers Market takes place at Emmet Square every Friday.


Clonakilty library

There are two secondary schools located in the town. Clonakilty Community College is a mixed school and the Sacred Heart Secondary School which is an all girls school. There are 4 Primary Schools located in the town. Clonakilty Agricultural College is located 2 miles east of the town. It is known locally as Darrara College and mainly deals with Agricultural Education.


Clonakilty has a GAA club (Clonakilty GAA), two soccer clubs (Clonakilty A.F.C, Clonakilty Town), a Rugby union club (Clonakilty R.F.C.) and a Martial Arts club (Warrior Tae Kwon Do).[41] The GAA team won the Cork Senior Football Championship in 2009, 1996, and were runners up in the 2003 competition. Clonakilty GAA won their first adult hurling county title when they won the Cork Minor B Hurling Championship in 2007. Clonakilty R.F.C. also became a senior rugby club in 2001 and spent 12 years in the All-Ireland League until they were relegated to Division 1 of the Munster Junior League. Clonakilty A.F.C. have won the Beamish Cup in 2008 & 1995 and in 2014 featured Australian international, Alex Swift. Students of the Clonakilty "Warrior Tae Kwon Do" club compete in Tae Kwon Do, Kickboxing and Freestyle tournaments and the club has produced 4 World Champions in several martial arts disciplines.[42]


The Blue Flag beach at Inchydoney Island.

About 15 minutes from Clonakilty and looking out over the Galley Head lighthouse is Long Strand - a mile and a half of sand bounded by waves of dunes. The top end is used by surfers but the rest of the beach is unsafe for bathing due to a dangerous undertow.[citation needed]

Duneen Beach is across the bay from the right-hand side of Inchydoney beach.[43]

International relations[edit]

Clonakilty is twinned with:

Notable people[edit]

Born in Clonakilty[edit]

Notable residents[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Census 2016 Small Area Population Statistics (SAPMAP Area) - Settlements - Clonakilty". Census 2016. Central Statistics Office. Retrieved 4 January 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Cloich na Coillte/Clonakilty". Irish Placenames Database. Retrieved 21 September 2017.
  3. ^ "Dairy". Clonakilty Agricultural College. Archived from the original on 6 May 2005.
  4. ^ "Population Distribution - CSO - Central Statistics Office". Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  5. ^ "Clonakilty prepares to welcome 5,000 for street feast and fun". Southern Star. 15 June 2017.
  6. ^ Editor. "Clonakilty wins RIAI 'Best Place of the Year 2017'". Retrieved 21 September 2017.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  7. ^ "Lios-na-gCon, Restored Ancient Fort - Discovering Cork". Retrieved 21 September 2017.
  8. ^ Lord Shannon's Letters to his Son, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, 1982. Introduction, pp xxviii-xxvix
  9. ^ "Clonakilty Historic Map" (PDF). Cork County Council. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  10. ^ a b c Lewis, Samuel (1837). "Clonkilty". A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland. Lewis.
  11. ^ Collins, John T. "History of Clonakilty and Surrounding Districts". Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  12. ^ Harris, Walter (1764), A collection of some of the murders and massacres committed on the Irish in Ireland since the 23rd of October 1641. With some observations and falsifications on a late printed abstract of murthers said to be committed by the Irish, London: R. S.
  13. ^ C.O. Ruairc. "The Battle of the Big Cross where one hundred Irish died".
  14. ^ "Statue for Tojo, the monkey who dropped in for a drink". BBC News. BBC. 5 April 2013. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  15. ^ "Clonakilty honours crash-landing monkey with statue". Irish Examiner. 7 April 2013. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  16. ^ "Community pulls together to ensure it's business as usual in Clonakilty". Irish Examiner. 30 June 2012. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
  17. ^ "Public service acknowledged by President at Clonakilty Town Council civic reception". Southern Star. Archived from the original on 13 October 2013.
  18. ^ "Church of Ireland - A Member of the Anglican Communion". Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  19. ^ "Kilgarriffe - Imprints of Light". Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  20. ^ "CO. CORK, CLONAKILTY, CHURCH OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION (RC) Dictionary of Irish Architects -". Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  21. ^ "Prior Park Additional Images: Buildings of Ireland: National Inventory of Architectural Heritage". Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  22. ^ "1861 - Post Office, Clonakilty, Co. Cork - Architecture of Cork - Archiseek - Irish Architecture". 12 July 2012. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  23. ^ "Clonakilty Methodist Church, Co Cork « Eco Congregation Ireland". Retrieved 21 September 2017.
  24. ^ "Clonakilty: The Methodist Church in Ireland". Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  25. ^ "Bus Éireann". Cork County Development Board. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 3 August 2007.
  26. ^ "Clonakilty station" (PDF). Railscot – Irish Railways. Retrieved 17 September 2007.
  27. ^ "Bassist for Jimi Hendrix Experience dies". USA Today. 13 May 2003.
  28. ^ Phelan, Eugene (24 February 2012). "Press 22 snapper wins portrait award at AIB Press Photographers event". Limerick Leader. Archived from the original on 17 February 2013. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
  29. ^ "Ireland's Tidiest Town for 2017 has been revealed". 25 September 2017.
  30. ^ "Server Error 404 - CSO - Central Statistics Office". Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  31. ^ "". Archived from the original on 7 May 2016.
  32. ^ "NISRA Census". Archived from the original on 17 February 2012. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  33. ^ Lee, JJ (1981). "On the accuracy of the Pre-famine Irish censuses". In Goldstrom, J. M.; Clarkson, L. A. (eds.). Irish Population, Economy, and Society: Essays in Honour of the Late K. H. Connell. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press.
  34. ^ Mokyr, Joel; O Grada, Cormac (November 1984). "New Developments in Irish Population History, 1700–1850". The Economic History Review. 37 (4): 473–488. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0289.1984.tb00344.x. hdl:10197/1406. Archived from the original on 4 December 2012.
  35. ^ a b "Census Mapping Module: Cork County". Clonakilty Urban and Rural.
  36. ^ "History - Clonakilty Food Co". Retrieved 21 September 2017.
  37. ^ "36 hours in Clonakilty: 'Airbnb has a lot to answer for'". The Irish Times. 24 July 2021..
  38. ^ "Michael Collins House - Museum". Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  39. ^ "Random Acts of Kindness Festival a big hit". Irish Central. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  40. ^ "Clonakilty Street Carnival". Retrieved 11 June 2019.[permanent dead link]
  41. ^ "Clonakilty Taekwondo Club".
  42. ^ "Warrior Tae Kwon Do Hall of Fame". Warrior Tae Kwon Do Official Website. Retrieved 6 September 2010.[permanent dead link]
  43. ^ "10 Hidden Gems of West Cork". Visit West Cork.
  44. ^ "Taoiseach pays tribute after death of Fianna Fáil Senator". The Irish Times. 12 October 2009. Retrieved 8 July 2020.
  45. ^ "About Us - FAQ". Michael Collins House. Retrieved 8 July 2020. Michael Collins lived on Emmet Sq between 1903 and 1905 we cannot conclusively say exactly which house he lived in
  46. ^ "Patricia Driscoll". British Film Institute. Retrieved 8 July 2020.
  47. ^ Stephen, Leslie, ed. (1889). "Elmore, Alfred" . Dictionary of National Biography. 17. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  48. ^ "William Harnett". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 8 July 2020.
  49. ^ "Obituary - Michael O'Donovan". The Globe and Mail. 12 February 2005.
  50. ^ Matthews, A. (2010). Renegades: Irish Republican Women 1900–1922. Mercier. p. 14. ISBN 978-1-85635-684-8.
  51. ^ "Cork-based writer David Mitchell in tune with Joni". Irish Examiner. 16 May 2018. Retrieved 8 July 2020.
  52. ^ "Hendrix bassist dies". BBC News. BBC. 13 May 2003. Retrieved 8 July 2020.

Further reading[edit]

  • The Battle of the Big Cross / Cath Béal a' Mhuighe Shalaigh, compiled by Tim Crowley & Traolach Ó Donnabháin; Clonakilty, Clonakilty District 1798 Bi-Centenary Commemoration Committee, 1998.
  • Walks of Clonakilty town and country by Damien Enright. Timoleague, Co. Cork : Merlin Press, 2000. ISBN 1902631021.

External links[edit]