2021 Decade of Centenaries 1912-1923 Free Event

Let’s talk about the Black and Tans: Panel Discussion

Panel Discussion: Let’s talk about the Black and Tans. How should the actions of Crown Forces be remembered and understood in Ireland and in the UK? with Professor Marie Coleman, Dr David Leeson, Dr Edward Madigan and Professor John Horne (Chair)

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The Interregnum, Alice Stopford Green & the Great Parchment Book of Waterford

In Our Time on BBC Radio 4 is always good listening, whatever the subject, but recently featured this fascinating discussion on the Interregnum, which looked at Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales in the 1650s. One of the contributors was Micheál Ó Siochrú Professor in Modern History at Trinity College Dublin.

An unexpected post on the website of Seton Hall University in New Jersey about Alice Stopford Green, historian, activist and independent member of the Seanad from 1922 until her death in 1929.

This striking portrait of Stopford Green is from the university’s website.

Dublin Castle has a new exhibition called Vicereines of Ireland: Portraits of Forgotten Women and you can watch an introductory video here. And if you are in or near Dublin, you can visit the exhibition from today – looks like it includes some amazing paintings, many of them on loan.

One of our 2021 speakers will be Briony Widdis from Queen’s University Belfast. The title of her talk will be confirmed shortly but will relate to one of our Festival themes this year, Ireland & Empire. Briony is co-organiser of a really interesting academic conference next year which looks at a similar theme and has a call out for speakers – more information here. The full title is Ireland, Museums, Empire, Colonialism: Collections, Archives, Buildings and Landscapes.

And finally, the Great Parchment Book of Waterford, which contains city records from 1356 to 1649, has been digitised and is available to view here. There are 450 pages in all, and the original is on display at Waterford Treasures.

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Shackleton’s sisters, First World War brides & Home School Histories

This week, a polar explorer and his forgotten sisters, First World War war brides, Second World War lookout posts and BBC history podcasts for children (and their grown ups).

Our 2021 Festival will look at the experiences of the Irish in polar exploration, so Clodagh Finn’s article in the Irish Examiner on Shackleton’s sisters Kathleen and Eleanor was particularly interesting and featured research by Sharon Greene, editor of Archaeology Ireland on their extraordinary lives. Last month An Post’s issued four stamps of ‘Irish Ice Men’, featuring Shackleton along with seven others, including five from County Cork. No Ice Women yet.

Damian Shiels has written this fascinating blog post for Midleton Archaeology & Heritage project about Irish women who married US sailors during the First World War, including 50 from County Cork. The post includes a visualisation of their journeys across the Atlantic.

The Irish Military Archives have started their own podcast series, and featured this on the destruction (and preservation) of Ireland’s Second World War lookout posts.

And finally, they are intended for children but we’ve really enjoyed them too – the BBC’s Home School History podcasts presented by Greg Jenner. There are 21 episodes in total, covering a really diverse range of subjects including Roman Pompeii, William Shakespeare, Leonardo da Vinci, Cleopatra (featured below), the Stone Age and Mary, Queen of Scots.

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Partition, Harry Clarke, U-Boats & the 17th century beef trade

This week we are featuring both 20th and 17th century history and some beautiful Harry Clarke windows in Cork.

The Examiner is running a series on Cork in 50 Artworks, and No 4 features Harry Clarke’s stained glass windows for the Honan Chapel. The image below is a detail from the window depicting St Gobnait, who was the patron saint of bees and beekeeping (with thanks to UCC for the image).  Find out more about the windows, and St Gobnait, here.

Cork in 50 Artworks, No 4: St Gobnait stained glass window, Honan Chapel, UCC

An article by Festival contributor Brian Walker on Partition and the foundation of Northern Ireland appeared recently in the Irish Independent. You can read it here.

The Wartime NI website featured a post about events in Lough Foyle in May 1945, when eight German U-Boats surrendered, emphasising the importance of Co Londonderry in the Battle of the Atlantic. The post has some fantastic images and Pathe film from the time.

An intriguing article by Paul Lay on The Herd website entitled ‘England’s ancient beef with Ireland’ looked at a 17th century trade dispute between the two countries. Ireland began exporting beef directly to Europe, bypassing Britain. Sound familiar ?

And finally from the BBC website, a very comprehensive long read on the Ballymurphy killings in Belfast in 1971. An inquest ruled last week that all ten people killed were innocent and that nine of the ten were killed by the British army.

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Partition, Helen Hooker O’Malley & Edith Somerville

This week we have the centenary of Partition along with the photographs of Helen Hooker O’Malley, a medieval manuscript associated with St Colum Cille and Edith Somerville’s birthday.

On Partition there was a lot to read and hear, including the Irish History show podcast with Cathal Brennan and John Dorney interviewing Cormac Moore; the Creative Centenaries website, based in Northern Ireland has lots of good content on this and many other subjects; the Irish Times interviewed a woman born in the year of partition while this was a good summary on the BBC website.

The National Library of Ireland has a wonderful online exhibition looking at the work of photographer Helen Hooker O’Malley. Born in the USA, she met Irish revolutionary and author Ernie O’Malley and they married in 1935 and moved to Ireland. Although they were divorced in 1952, she continued to love Ireland and photographed both urban and rural lives and landscapes.

Another online exhibition, this one from the Royal Irish Academy and telling the story of the manuscript known as the Cathach of Colum Cille, Dating from the 6th century, it contains a copy of the psalms written in Latin and is closely associated with Saint Colum Cille (c. 521-597), in this year which marks 1500 years since his birth. A Cathach was an object believed to have protective power in battle. One page, taken from the RIA website, is shown below.


And finally yesterday, 2 May, was the birthday of one of West Cork’s most famous writers, Edith Somerville (1858-1949). She was born in Corfu, but spent most of her life at Drishane House in Castletownshend – the house is still lived in by the Somerville family and you can find out more about it on their website.  Read more about Edith herself on the Dictionary of Irish Biography website. The image below was drawn by Edith herself and is on the cover of her book Maria and Some Other Dogs. She wrote this book, as so many others, with her cousin Violet Martin.

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The American Civil War, the sinking of HMS Wasp & the Ulster Museum’s extraordinary collections

This week dark tourism, the American Civil War, Ireland’s first trade fair, held in Cork in 1852 and the Dungiven Costume at the Ulster Museum.

As part of Cork World Book Festival, a digital event hosted by Nano Nagle Place about  ‘Dark Tourism’. The talk is a conversation between Gillian O’Brien, author of the fascinating book The Darkness Echoing: Exploring Ireland’s Places of Famine, Death and Rebellion and Danielle O’Donovan for Nano Nagle. Full disclosure: Danielle is on our Festival Committee.

See the source image

Gillian’s book is pictured left. And there was a related article in the Examiner on the same subject by Michael Moynihan with the catchy title – ‘Should we start marketing Cork as a destination of death and misery?’

Damien Shiels, whose really excellent website Irish American Civil War has so many fascinating stories to tell, has a new post on Irish American experiences, particularly those of Irish New Yorkers, in the Battle of Williamsburg on 5 May 1862.

The Irish Story featured the tale of HMS Wasp, which was wrecked off the coast of Tory Island in Donegal in 1884 with the loss of over 50 crew. The ship was on its way to to pick up a group of police and bailiffs who were to carry out evictions for non-payment of rents. Was it cursed, or sabotaged or was it simply human error ?

The Crawford Art Gallery highlighted this amazing digital version of the catalogue of The National Exhibition of the Arts, Manufacturers and Products of Ireland from the US National Archive, which you can flick through. The Exhibition was held in Cork in 1852 and was Ireland’s first trade fair, intended to boost morale and commerce in the aftermath of the Famine. It was located on the site where City Hall now stands.

Finally, the Ulster Museum has some good articles on its Collections blog, with various themes illustrated by images and artefacts from their collections. The one on the period 1500-1700 includes the intriguing Dungiven Costume, found in a bog in 1956 near Dungiven in Co Londonderry and pictured below. Probably dating to the early 17th century, there were the remains of a jacket, mantle (cloak) and tartan trews (trousers), along with shoes and a leather belt. Apparently, the jacket reflects English fashion and the tartan trousers Scottish influences, while the mantle is distinctly Irish. All are heavily patched and repaired. The image below courtesy of the Ulster Museum.

Image result for dungiven costume ulster museum

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A post-Easter post including the Belfast Blitz, the 1918-19 flu pandemic & the history of emotion

.The Irish Examiner recently featured a fascinating story of the MacCarthy family and their links to both sides of the IRA attack on the RIC barracks in Rosscarbery in March 1921. We’re delighted Flor MacCarthy, who has been a great supporter of the Festival, has agreed to speak about this part of her family’s history at our 2021 Festival.

We are also really pleased that Sean Boyne will talk at this year’s Festival about the killing of Bridget Noble by the IRA in the Beara Peninsula in March 1921. Sean’s research was featured in the Irish Times this week. Bridget Noble is one of only two women known for certain to have been ‘disappeared’ by the IRA during the War of Independence.

7 April marked 80 years since the start of the Belfast Blitz – four nights of raids between 7 April and 6 May resulting in up to 1000 deaths and widespread destruction in the city and beyond. This new website tells the story and lists the casualties.

An intriguing series of podcasts from the RIA on the theme of the History of Emotions (and below the very striking illustration which accompanies them).

A year into the Covid pandemic, the RTE History Show this week featured Festival contributor Ida Milne talking about the 1918-19 influenza pandemic. Ida is on from around 0:09 to 0:27

The Late Late Show featured artefacts from the National Museum of Ireland, with Audrey Whitty from the museum talking to Ryan Tubridy about objects from the revolutionary period including Michael Collins’ slippers and Éamon de Valera’s sock!

And finally, the Decade of Centenaries newsletter is well worth subscribing to for updates on all kinds of events all over the country – you can sign up via their website.

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Skibbereen Heritage Centre, St Patrick’s Day & wartime rugby

… and first up, Skibbereen Heritage Centre which now has a brilliant interactive map on its website with lots of information about different sites in and around the town. It includes individual buildings, streets, clubs, graveyards and even post boxes.

Lots of good content posted in connection to St Patrick’s Day including from the National Museum of Ireland on St Patrick’s Day traditions while the Dictionary of Irish Biography launched a new open access website, with nearly 11,000 lives. Over 2,300 of them reference Cork – we checked – but lots of other interesting lives as well! The image below is also from the National Museum, and is of the Bell of St Patrick and its shrine. You can find out more about these beautiful objects here.

To mark the end of the Six Nations, this post from Wartime NI on Irish rugby internationals in the Second World War. And also connected to the Second World War, the We Have Ways of Making You Talk podcast featured Joseph Quinn of UCD (although he also works at the Imperial War Museum in London) discussing the Irish in the Second World War with hosts comedian Al Murray and historian James Holland. Holland also co-founded the Chalke Valley History Festival which was very supportive to the West Cork History Festival when we first started.

And finally another history festival that’s worth a look, this one in early April in London in early April – but as it’s digital accessible to everyone. It’s called theHistFest and you can find out more about their 2021 programme here.



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‘Mr Yeats & the Beastly Coins’, old photos of Cork & the Benin Bronzes

This week’s recommendations range across Irish coins, the blog of the Military Service Pensions Collection, old photos of Cork, Harry Clarke’s stained glass and the Benin Bronzes.

We’re bit late to this, but we’ve just seen Mr Yeats & the Beastly Coins, an entertaining (and informative) short film made in 2016 about creating a new coinage for the Free State. Worth a watch – it’s available on the IFI Player.

The blog of the Military Services Pensions Collection always has interesting posts, including on the Clonmult ambush in east Cork on 20 February 1921. On that day the IRA suffered its worst defeat of the War of Independence.

Dan Breen of Cork Public Museum gave an interesting presentation on some of the Museum’s recently acquired photograph collections, including some of the oldest known images of Cork City.

Another presentation, this time on Harry Clarke’s stained glass window The Eve of St Agnes, by Jessica O’ Donnell of the Hugh Lane Gallery. It was part of the Crawford’s Spring Lecture series.

And finally this article from the BBC website which links art dealers, the Holocaust and the Benin bronzes.

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International Women’s Day & Limerick 100 years ago

This week we have some great pieces connected to International Women’s Day (8 March) and a Decade of Centenaries podcast focusing on events in Limerick 100 years ago.

Cork Public Museum featured the story of nurse and suffragette Violet O’Brien on social media, and appealed for a photograph of her. O’Brien trained as a nurse in Cork and moved to London where she became an active suffragette – she earned the medal shown below for going on hunger strike while in prison, with metal bars to show she endured force-feeding twice. The Museum also has medals she earned in Serbia and France for her work in the First World War. O’Brien was included in an exhibition at the Museum in 2018.

Relating to the experiences of suffragettes in Ireland, The National Archives published a useful guide to sources for women’s history on its website including an online exhibition about suffragettes and prison conditions in Ireland.

The Royal Irish Academy has some excellent online exhibitions highlighting the contribution of women, with this on Creative Women who include Sophia Rosamond Praeger and Katharine Tynan. There are also links to a lecture series from 2018 on five women selected as Honorary Members of the Academy in the nineteenth century – amongst them Caroline Herschel and Maria Edgeworth.

History Ireland marked 100 years since the Limerick Curfew murders with a Hedge School featuring editor Tommy Graham in conversation with Brian Hanley, Helen Litton, John O’Callaghan and Tom Toomey.  On the night of 6/7 March 1921, George Clancy, Mayor of Limerick, his predecessor, Michael O’Callaghan and IRA volunteer Joseph O’Donoghue were killed by Auxiliaries.

Finally, the always interesting blog on the Ports, Past and Present website recently included this one on The Dublin Time Ball…..  we never knew about Dublin Mean Time, 25 minutes and 21 seconds later than Greenwich Mean Time.