Diverse range of stories in 2020 Skibbereen Historical Journal

July 24th, 2020 8:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

Kay Summersby, one of General Dwight D Eisenhower’s closest confidantes, during World War II.

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THERE is plenty of reading in the Skibbereen Historical Journal 2020, which is now available in bookshops across West Cork.

Among the diverse stories is one about a close confidante of Dwight D Eisenhower, who was the most powerful general during World War II, the man in charge of the D-Day invasion and who later served as the 34th President of the United States from 1953 to 1961. During the war years, one of Ike’s closest confidantes was West Cork woman Kay Summersby.

She was Ike’s personal driver and a very close companion.

Kathleen, the eldest of the four children of Donal MacCarthy Morrogh of Innis Beg, was born on November 23rd, 1908 at Derrenatra, a few miles east of Schull. The family moved to Innis Beg in 1916.

‘Kay Summersby – helping Ike win the war’ is a beautifully-written personal story of the extraordinary West Cork woman by her nephew Michael MacCarthy Morrogh for this year’s Skibbereen & District Historical Society’s annual journal.

Did Kay Summersby and General Eisenhower have an affair, in the accepted sense of the word? One of Kay’s biographers, Kieron Wood, and many others think they did, but most historians doubt it.

‘Star’ readers

For Southern Star readers and newspaper aficionados, Dr Alan McCarthy’s magnificent article ‘A Tale of Two Editors: The Lives and Words of James Burke and Patrick Sheehy’ will be read with great appreciation. James M Burke, journalist, barrister,
historian and TD, was for many years editor of The Southern Star, and his long-time adversary Patrick Sheehy, journalist, long-serving chairman of Skibbereen Urban District Council, solicitor, poet, and editor of The Skibbereen Eagle.

Skibbereen was unusual in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century in that two weekly newspapers were published in what was a small country town. Dr McCarthy’s account of the political shenanigans and family rivalries in Skibbereen is an absorbing story.

Lighthouse keeper Gerald Butler was on duty on the Fastnet Rock lighthouse on the night of the terrible Fastnet disaster in August 1979.

Fifteen participants lost their lives in what was the worst disaster in the one hundred-year history of ocean yacht racing.

For this year’s Journal Gerald tells the story of that extraordinary night from his unique perspective.

Did you know that one of the first casualties of the American Civil War was a Skibbereen man?

Regular contributor to the Journal, Maura Cahalane, has a fascinating story about two brothers, Andrew and Edward Gallwey of Greenpark, Derrigereen, Skibbereen, who lost their lives in the conflict.

In all, the Skibbereen Historical Journal 2020 has 15 articles, diverse and extensive in their range.

It is available in bookshops throughout West Cork and would make a lovely gift to send to a Skibbereen person abroad.

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