Folklore, in the seen-it-all 21st-century, is a peculiar thing. On one hand we might consider it a quaint and old-fashioned remnant of our past. On the other, it offers a vivid connection with our ancestors. Layer upon layer, generation by generation, folklore builds. Where many have lost touch with their oral heritage, in Ireland folklore is very much alive. What is more, it continues to live in the people, place names, and landscape, and each generation creates it anew. In 1937, the Irish Folklore Commission’s decision to instruct the nation’s schools to collect stories from their localities was inspired. They recognised that the newly-formed nation’s folklore had been damaged by centuries of occupation and its irrevocable loss was likely; the salvation of the nation’s folklore reflected the hearts of the people, offering a valuable future identity.
West Cork is in some ways a remnant. It sits on the edge of the European continent surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and Celtic sea. It is periglacial, windswept and rain-soaked; and its history is steeped in loss, and emigrations linking across the centuries. At the heart of West Cork is Skibbereen. For those outside of Ireland who know of this small country town, it is tainted with famine and tragedy. For those who live there however, this is only one part of its history, albeit it important. To the Irish of the 21st-century, it is the base of Skibbereen Rowing Club, the O’Donovan brothers, and Olympic rowing medals; of a warm welcome, beautiful beaches, and amazing food.
Skibbereen: Rescued Folklore from Ireland’s South-West is the second in a series of books by Mike Baldwin, recalling the folklore of West Cork. It mines the stories, histories, poems, and songs from Abbeystrowry, Aghadown, Creagh, Corravoley, Dooneen, Drishanemore, Kilkoe, Lisheen, Lissalohorig, Lough Ine, and Ringarogy, the townlands of Skibbereen, written down in the late 1930s by the area’s school children. Skibbereen: Rescued Folklore from Ireland’s South-West will be available in Spring 2022 on Bright Light Books.
Rescued Folklore and Histories from Ireland's South West