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Kearney, Skibbereen. The Famine Story.

Kearney, Terri/ O’Regan, Philip.

Skibbereen. The Famine Story. Foreword by Grace Brady.

First Edition. Skibbereen, Macalla Publishing, 2015. 17 x 24 cm. XII, 89 pages. Original Softcover. Very good condition with minor signs of external wear.

Skibbereen, is a town in County Cork, Ireland. It is located on the N71 national secondary road. The name “Skibbereen” (often 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. 500 years after the Black Death, once again the region was plagued with terrible famine in the years 1845-52, a time referred to as ‘an Gorta Mór’ (The Great Hunger). It is probable that some 8,000-10,000 victims of ‘The Great Famine’ are buried in the Famine Burial Pits of Abbeystrewery Cemetery. 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. The father relates to his son how the famine ruined his farm in Skibbereen, and killed his wife. As the man was unable to pay taxes,

…the landlord and the bailiff came to drive us all away.
They set the roof on fire with their cursed English flame,
And that’s another reason why I left old Skibbereen.

Site of Famine Burial Pits at Abbeystrowery. In the final verse the son swears he will return to Skibbereen to take vengeance on the government that he holds accountable. A version can be found on the soundtrack to the PBS mini-series, “The Long Journey Home,” performed by Sinéad O’Connor. In the film Michael Collins, Michael Collins, played by Liam Neeson, sings the song. There are also versions by The Dubliners and the Wolfe Tones. Skibbereen has not forgotten the victims of the Great Famine. A permanent exhibition at the Skibbereen Heritage Centre commemorates that tragic period in Irish history. Skibbereen was 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, with a mass grave at Abbeystrewery containing the remains of between 8,000 and 10,000 people. The National Famine Commemoration Committee has agreed that the centerpiece of the new memorial day should rotate between the Four Provinces on an annual basis. (Wikipedia)

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Kearney, Skibbereen. The Famine Story.