Top 10 Facts about Skibbereen
1. The name “Skibbereen” is thought to have derived from ‘skiff’, a type of boat used for crossing the river.
2. Prior to 1600 most of the land belonged to the native McCarthy tribe who were the overlords but the O’Driscolls also reigned there – today McCarthy remains the town’s most common surname.
3. At the height of the famine in 1848, the body of an unnamed boy, taken for lifeless was placed in a coffin in the Town Square and conveyed for burial to the Abbey Cemetery. As he was lowered into the pit, the youth regained consciousness and walked unaided from the grave.
4. Skibbereen was one of the worst-affected areas in Ireland during the Great Famine and up to 10,000 Famine victims are buried in the Famine Burial Pits of Abbeystrowry Cemetery.
5. The Temperance Hall was the site of the foundation of the first Temperance Society (abstaining from alcohol) in Europe. Built in 1833 it has been succeeded by Skibbereen’s 26 well patronised pubs.
6. General Michael Collins had his last meal in the Eldon Hotel in Skibbereen before he was shot in an ambush later that evening in 1922.
7. The Skibbereen Eagle, a newspaper founded in 1857, became famous by declaring it was “keeping an eye on the Tsar of Russia” over his expansionist designs on China. This newspaper was superseded by the Southern Star, founded in 1889 which included amongst its shareholders one General Michael Collins.
8. Skibbereen and the nearby villages were chosen as location for the making of the film “War of the Buttons”.
9. Skibbereen and the nearby villages are the home to many international celebrities and World Champion Rowers as well as Ireland’s first Rowing Olympians, Gary and Paul O’Donovan.
10. The man who raised the Tricolour over the General Post Office in Dublin on Easter Monday in 1916 was a teacher from a west Cork farm. Gearóid O’Sullivan, from Coolnagurrane, Skibbereen, a second cousin of Michael Collins, was a member of the Irish Volunteers, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and the Gaelic League.