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 will have a very limited in-person audience and a high-quality live stream for all events. Tickets for both in-person and online will be on sale on our website at the end of June. When tickets go on sale we will update on this via our mailing list, so please do join this, via our home page or by dropping us an email.

Friday 5th August

evening: 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.

The Festival Concert is kindly sponsored by the Arts Council

Saturday 6th August

afternoon: 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

evening: 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.

Sunday 7th August

afternoon: 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 Clarke 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

Field Trips

Continuing the tradition of our 2018 and 2019 Festivals, we will be arranging a number of local field trips connected with the Festival themes – details of these will be announced nearer the time.

The Festival Concert is kindly supported by the Arts Council


WCHF is sponsored by INANNA Rare Books