For the song, see Skibbereen (song).
An Sciobairín

New Bridge over the River Ilen

Location in Ireland

Coordinates: 51°32′55″N 9°15′49″W / 51.5486°N 9.2636°W / 51.5486; -9.2636Coordinates: 51°32′55″N 9°15′49″W / 51.5486°N 9.2636°W / 51.5486; -9.2636
Country Ireland
Province Munster
County County Cork
Time zone WET (UTC+0)
  Summer (DST) IST (WEST) (UTC-1)
Irish Grid Reference W119334

Skibbereen (/ˌskɪ.bəˈrn/; Irish: An Sciobairín), is a town in County Cork, Ireland. It is located on the N71 national secondary road. The name "Skibbereen" (sometimes shortened to "Skibb") means "little boat harbour." The River Ilen runs through the town; it reaches the sea about 12 kilometers away, at the seaside village of Baltimore. As of the Census of Ireland 2011, the population of the town (not including the rural hinterland) was 2,568.[1]


Prior to 1600 most of the land in the area belonged to the native MacCarthy Reagh dynasty - today McCarthy remains the town's most common surname. The town charter dates back to 1657 and a copy can be seen in the town council chambers. In 1631 Skibbereen received an influx of refugees fleeing from the Sack of Baltimore. The "Phoenix Society" was founded in Skibbereen in 1856 and was a precursor to the Fenian movement.[2]


500 years after the Black Death, the region again experienced a significant famine in the years 1845-52, a time referred to as The Great Hunger or Great Famine (Irish: an Gorta Mór). The Skibbereen Heritage Centre estimates that 8,000 to 10,000 victims of 'The Great Famine' are buried in the famine burial pits of Abbeystrewery cemetery close to the town.[3] While there is some question on the accuracy of census data from the famine era,[4] records indicate a drop of population from 58,335 in 1841 to 32,412 in 1861.[5]

Site of Famine Burial Pits at Abbeystrowery

Skibbereen is also the name of a song about the Famine, and the impact it and the British Government had on the people of Ireland. The song, known as Dear Old Skibbereen, takes the form of a conversation between a father and a son, in which the son asks his father why he fled the land he loved so well.

A permanent exhibition to commemorate the memory of the victims of the Great Famine is sited at the Skibbereen Heritage Centre.[6] Skibbereen was also the focal point of Ireland's first National Famine Memorial Day on 17 May 2009. The town was selected as it was in one of the areas worst affected by the Great Famine.[7] The National Famine Commemoration Committee agreed that the centerpiece of the memorial day would rotate between the Four Provinces on an annual basis. [8]


High Street, Skibbereen

The Skibbereen Eagle, a newspaper founded in 1857 was unusual in having an international perspective. For example, it published an editorial that "told Lord Palmerston that it had 'got its eye both upon him and on the Emperor of Russia'."[9] And a 1914 article said "We give this solemn warning to Kaiser Wilhelm: The Skibbereen Eagle has its eye on you."[10] This newspaper was superseded by the Southern Star,[11] which was founded in 1889. Its first editor was D.D. Sheehan and Michael Collins was among its shareholders.


O'Donovan Rossa GAA is the local Gaelic Athletic Association club. The local secondary school St. Fachtna's was a finalist in 1982 and a winner in 1991 of the Hogan Cup for Gaelic football.

Skibereen Rowing Club is situated on the outskirts of the town, and is one of the most successful clubs in Ireland.[12] Club members Paul and Gary O'Donovan won silver at the 2016 summer Olympics in the men's lightweight double sculls,[13] the first Olympic medal won by Irish rowers.[14]

A.F.C.Skibbereen is the local association football (soccer) club, with other sports clubs including Skibbereen Golf Club,[15] Skibbereen Rugby Club, and Skibbereen Athletics Club.[16]


There are four primary schools located in the town, including Abbeystrewry National School (a mixed school), Gaelscoil Dr O'Suilleabhain (a mixed Irish-speaking school), St. Patrick's Primary School (boys), and Scoil Naomh Seosamh (girls)

As of 2016, there are three secondary schools, including Rossa College (mixed), St Fachtna's de la Salle (boys), and Mercy Heights (girls). As of September 2016, the three secondary schools are due to merge into one school called Skibbereen Community School [17]


1798 memorial

Culture and leisure

Arts Festival

The Skibbereen Arts Festival occurs annually, taking place at the end of July and including community based projects as well as a mix of national and international films, theatre, visual art and music acts.[19]


A number of different music events are held each year, with several bars and venues in town (including "Baby Hannah's") hosting musical acts. Skibbereen has also hosted the Cork X Southwest Music & Arts Festival over several years. The 2011 festival was held at Liss Ard Estate and featured Patti Smith, Echo & the Bunnymen, Balkan Beat Box, Fred and others across a two-day lineup.[20]


Just outside Skibbereen is Tragumna beach, and the town's location near the coast means that sea fishing, scuba diving, sailing, and kayaking are possible locally.

See also


  1. "Census 2011 – Population Classified by Area" (PDF). Central Statistics Office. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 November 2013.
  2. "Book pays tribute to towns fine patriots". The Southern Star. 23 June 2015.
  3. "Skibbereen Heritage Centre - Great Famine Commemoration Exhibition". Retrieved 11 August 2016.
  4. JJ Lee (1981). JM Goldstrom and LA Clarkson, ed. "On the accuracy of the Pre-famine Irish censuses Irish Population". Economy and Society: 54.
  5. "Census of Ireland 1861: Part I, Area, Population, and Number of Houses, by Townlands and Electoral Divisions Provinces of Leinster and Munster". Enhanced British Parliamentary Papers On Ireland. 1861. p. 164. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
  6. "Skibbereen Heritage Centre". Retrieved 11 August 2016.
  7. "National Famine Memorial Day".
  8. "Skibbereen to be focal point of Famine Memorial Day". Retrieved 11 August 2016.
  9. Cobham Brewer, E (1898). Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. London: Cassell, and Co. Ltd.
  10. Philip Howard (2000). "The Press Gang - The World in Journalese" (PDF). Institute for Cultural Research. p. 15. Retrieved 11 August 2016.
  11. "Southern Star Newspaper". Retrieved 11 August 2016.
  12. "Skibbereen Rowing Club". Retrieved 12 August 2016.
  13. "Ireland's O'Donovan brothers become web sensations after medal win". The Guardian. 14 August 2016. [...] Paul, who trains with his brother at Skibbereen Rowing Club, agreed [...]
  14. "Silver for Ireland! The O'Donovan brothers do the country proud with amazing Olympic rowing final race". Irish Independent. 12 August 2016. It is the first ever Olympic medal for Irish rowing
  15. "Skibbereen & West Carbery Golf Club, Co Cork, Ireland". Retrieved 11 August 2016.
  16. "Skibbereen Athletic Club". Retrieved 11 August 2016.
  18. "News & Events | National University of Ireland". Retrieved 11 August 2016.
  19. "Official Website Skibbereen Arts Festival". 11 August 2016.
  20. "Cork X South West Festival website". Archived from the original on 13 March 2011.
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