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Plans to showcase stone-cut Famine houses in Skibbereen

August 26th, 2021 5:10 PM

By Jackie Keogh

One of the six stone-cut houses at The Rock.

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THE mystery surrounding unusual rock formations in Skibbereen has been revealed as rudimentary habitats stemming from the Famine era.

Bryan Harris, Declan Groarke and Con McCarthy – otherwise known as the Friends of The Rock – are involved in a project to develop Skibbereen’s Windmill Rock as a community and historical park, as well as a showcase for the six stone-cut houses.

In Famine times, The Rock was a location for small cottages and cabins, and today there is a circular Famine memorial on the site to remind visitors of its historical significance.

A preliminary report on the development of The Rock was undertaken by Skibbereen Tidy Towns in conjunction with the Town Council in 2010.

The report called for the landscaping and resurfacing of access routes, the installation of public lighting, seating and signage, as well as the construction of new access steps behind the Town Hall, to a lookout area.

In August 2010, The Friends of the Rock was established, under the auspices of Skibbereen Tidy Towns.

Since then the group has done a lot of work in clearing the site of litter and scrub.

It was while they were clearing the 4.5 acre elevated site they exposed the remains of stone-cut houses.

These have been acknowledged by archaeologists as being of huge significance.

Declan told The Southern Star that some of the cut-outs on the rocks could have been made for fires but others remain a mystery.

The three men are working with Cork County Council to develop the site – which is located to the east of the town and to the rear of North Street and High Street – in three phases.

As part of the plan, the group would also like to create a new amphitheatre, add gym units, a new and improved boundary fence, and a disabled parking bay.

They are also hoping the stone-cut houses would be showcased in the development with appropriate access, signage and interpretation panels.

Various sources of funding have been identified by the Friends for this ambitious project.

However, they will have to undertake fundraising to meet the requirement for matching finance.

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