West Cork History Festival 2022

Our programme this year has two themes: 175 years since Black ’47 and events in West Cork in 1922. We will have a number of talks and panel discussions around both of these themes. We will also have a specially commissioned Festival concert by Jessie Kennedy, inspired by Skibbereen-born astronomer Agnes Clerke.

This year’s Festival has a very limited in-person audience and tickets are now sold out apart from a few for the Festival concerts on the Friday and Saturday evenings. However, you can still buy tickets for a high-quality live stream for all events which will also give you exclusive access to the event for two weeks after the Festival.

Please scroll down to find out more about our Festival field trips and also for more information on how to get to the Festival venue.

If you have problems with a booking, please drop us an email or give us a call – our contact details are at the top of the page:

Friday 5th August

6.30pm: Festival Concert

Long-time Festival friend and collaborator Jessie Kennedy and fellow musicians the Celestial Quartet will perform a concert of specially-composed music ‘Thus she shall go to the stars’. This is inspired by the life of pioneering astronomer and scientist Agnes Clerke, born in Skibbereen 180 years ago. This concert will not be live-streamed but our Saturday one will.

The Festival Concert programme can be viewed or downloaded here.

The Festival Concert is kindly sponsored by the Arts Council

Saturday 6th August

2-6pm: Black ’47

We will begin with a screening of a pre-recorded reading by Bob Geldof of the N.M Cummins letter to the London Times, one of the most well-known documents of the Famine period, and his reflections on it and South Reen today. This will be recorded for the Festival in advance.

We will have the following live contributions with a talk from each speaker, followed by a panel discussion and questions from the audience:

Professor Breandán Mac Suibhne on the experience of Black ’47 in Skibbereen and the social impact of the Famine in Ireland

Professor Melissa Fegan on how writers have approached the Famine through literature

Dr Charles Read on the Famine and the financial crisis of 1847

John Kelly on his artistic responses to An Gorta Mór

8.30pm: Festival Concert

We will host Jessie Kennedy and fellow musicians for a second performance of their concert ‘Thus she shall go to the stars’, inspired by the life of pioneering astronomer and scientist Agnes Clerke, born in Skibbereen 180 years ago. This concert will be live-streamed.

Sunday 7th August

2-6pm: West Cork in 1922 – the Bandon Valley Killings

We will have the following live contributions with a talk from each speaker, followed by a panel discussion and questions from the audience:

Dr Gemma Clark on “Sectarianism” as an interpretative framework: Placing the Bandon Valley Massacre in historical and historiographical perspective

Don Wood on the impact of the events of 1922 on the Protestant community in West Cork

Dr Andy Bielenberg on ‘100 years on; The Dunmanway massacre revisited’

Professor Brian Walker on the Bandon Valley Massacre in its all-island context

Festival Venue

For those with an in-person ticket for the Festival, all events will take place at Rosebank, which is a house on the Castletownshend Road outside Skibbereen. 

The full address is Rosebank, Russagh, Castletownshend Road, Skibbereen, P81 HF61. We share this Eircode with the Liss Ard estate hotel which is right next door. If you are driving from Skibbereen on the Castletownshend Road you pass the gates for Liss Ard on your right. Continue and you will go up a slight rise & round a bend & the gates you need are on your right. They will be clearly signed for the West Cork History Festival. Continue up the drive and you will be directed to parking. 

Refreshments will be available for all those attending in-person. We would be grateful if you could bring cash to buy drinks and food.

Field Trips

Continuing the tradition of our 2018 and 2019 Festivals, we have arranged two field trips. The first is actually more sea than field – we are delighted to be partnering with Atlantic Sea Kayaking who are putting on a special History Festival sea kayaking expedition for us in Castlehaven Bay. This will take place on Friday 5 August 2022 at 11am-2pm. To book please click here and select the correct date & time as 11am.

Those who book tickets for our afternoon session on 6 August focusing on ‘Black 47 will also be able to take advantage of a specially arranged trip that morning to Reen Farm. More info on this will be sent out closer to the event.

Speaker Biographies

The Festival Concert is kindly supported by the Arts Council


WCHF is sponsored by INANNA Rare Books