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An Sciobairín
New Bridge over the River Ilen
New Bridge over the River Ilen
Country Ireland
Province Munster
County County Cork
 • Total 2,568
Time zone UTC+0 (WET)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-1 (IST (WEST))
Irish Grid Reference W119334

Skibbereen ( 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.


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.


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. While there is some question on the accuracy of census data from the famine era, records indicate a drop of population from 58,335 in 1841 to 32,412 in 1861.

Site of Famine Burial Pits at Abbeystrowery - - 498383
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. 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. The National Famine Commemoration Committee agreed that the centerpiece of the memorial day would rotate between the Four Provinces on an annual basis.


Skibbereen (8260018053)
1798 memorial
  • Marian Barry, Irish trade unionist.
  • Agnes Mary Clerke, astronomer and writer was born in Skibbereen
  • Seamus Davis, physicist and member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences was born at Skibbereen
  • Tony Davis, former gaelic footballer and analyst for RTÉ's The Sunday Game
  • Jeremy Irons, the English actor, has long maintained a fishing cottage in Skibbereen
  • Percy Ludgate, designer of an analytical engine was born in Skibbereen
  • Kieron Moore, actor
  • Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa, worked in Skibbereen and established O'Donovan Rossa GAA club
  • Jasper Wolfe, politician, Teachta Dála and solicitor
  • Don Wycherley, actor
  • Gary O'Donovan, Olympic silver medallist (rowing – lightweight double sculls, 2016)
  • Paul O'Donovan, Olympic silver medallist (rowing – lightweight double sculls, 2016)

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.


A number of different music events are held each year, with several bars and venues in town (including "Baby Hannah's") hosting musical acts.


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.

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