By BRIAN MOORE
WEST CORK’S first history festival is set to attract some of the country’s foremost experts to Skibbereen next July.
The inaugural festival will see such subjects as the Knights Templar, and the Irish revolutionary period in West Cork included, as well as archaeology, political, literary, and military history up for discussion and debate.
‘West Cork has a compelling history of its own,’ said festival organiser Simon Kingston. ‘It also has a population of informed and outward-looking people interested both in local and global affairs. This makes for a potentially very engaged audience for the kind of event we want to hold.’
The origins of the festival lie in Simon’s fascination with history, born over many years in West Cork. ‘My parents are both from West Cork and, although I grew up in various other parts of the country, we have always come back here. As a child, I came back to Cunnamore, where my maternal grandmother’s family have lived since the 1700s. A few years ago, my wife and I bought a house just outside Skibbereen, and it has been wonderful to bring my own children back to Cork. That has given us a base in the area and the opportunity to make a contribution to what is already a very rich programme of cultural events.’
The History Festival, while being held in West Cork, will not be exclusively concerned with the area, as Simon explained. ‘We are going to be deliberately wide-ranging in the topics and periods we cover. In the first year, there will be contributions that range from the history of the Knights Templar to the Second World War.
We will be discussing the piracy off the coast of Cork and the Fenian Rising 1847. We will be considering the tower houses of West Cork and how they relate to those in other parts of Europe and we will be learning about the Great Earl of Cork and the doings of his children.’
The Festival will take place at Rosebank, beside Liss Ard estate, from Friday July 28th-30th. ‘Our hope is that the festival can become an integral and exciting part of the cultural programme of West Cork. We have timed the event in co-operation with the Skibbereen Arts Festival, so our aim is to complement it and other existing activities in the area,’ Simon added.
Visitors will be able to buy tickets for specific sessions (typically two or three speakers, on related topics) for a day, or for the weekend. These will be priced at ‘earlybird’ offers €12, €20 and €50 respectively for tickets bought before the end of April.
See also westcorkhistoryfestival.org