West Cork History Festival 2022

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

We were delighted to be joined by An Taoiseach Micheál Martin on the Saturday afternoon of the Festival.

An Taoiseach Micheál Martin with Festival founders Simon and Victoria Kingston

Click here to watch any of the 2022 Festival events.

Friday 5th August

6.30pm: Festival Concert

Long-time Festival friend and collaborator Jessie Kennedy and fellow musicians the Celestial Quartet performed 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 programme can be viewed or downloaded here.

The Festival Concert was kindly sponsored by the Arts Council

Our Festival concert - shown are (left to right) Francesca Flowers (cello), Susan McManamon (keyboard) and Jessie Kennedy (vocals & violin)

Saturday 6th August

2-6pm: Black '47

We began 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. It was recorded for the Festival in advance.

We had 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

Three of the speakers for our Black '47 panel (left to right) Professor Breandán Mac Suibhne, Professor Melissa Fegan & Dr Charles Read with Micheál Martin

8.30pm: Festival Concert

We hosted Jessie Kennedy and fellow musicians for a second performance of their concert ‘Thus she shall go to the stars’.

Sunday 7th August

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

We had 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.

Our Sunday afternoon panel (left to right) Dr Gemma Clark, Don Wood, Festival Co-founder Simon Kingston, Dr Andy Bielenbeg and Professor Brian Walker
Festival co-founder Simon Kingston with Dr Andy Bielenberg; Dr Gemma Clark and Professor Brian Walker can be seen behind them

Field Trips

Continuing the tradition of our 2018 and 2019 Festivals, we arranged two field trips. The first is actually more sea than field - we were delighted to partner with Atlantic Sea Kayaking who put on on a special History Festival sea kayaking expedition for us in Castlehaven Bay. This took place on the morning of Friday 5 August.

Kayaks ready to go for the Festival kayaking trip around Castlehaven Bay

Those who booked tickets for our afternoon session on 6 August focusing on 'Black 47 were able to take advantage of a specially arranged trip that morning to Reen Farm.

Speaker Biographies

The Festival Concert is kindly supported by the Arts Council