Clonakilty (/ˈklɔːnæˌkɪlt/; Irish: Cloich na Coillte, meaning 'stone (castle) of the woods'),[2] sometimes shortened to Clon,[3][4] is a town in County Cork, Ireland. The town is located at the head of the tidal Clonakilty Bay. The rural hinterland is used mainly for dairy farming.[5] The town's population as of 2016 was 4,592.[6] The town is a tourism hub in West Cork, and was recognised as the "Best Town in Europe" in 2017, and "Best Place of the Year" in 2017 by the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland.[7][8] Clonakilty is in the Cork South-West (Dáil Éireann) constituency, which has three seats.

Clonakilty
Cloich na Coillte
Town
The Feagle River passes through Clonakilty
The Feagle River passes through Clonakilty
Clonakilty is located in Ireland
Clonakilty
Clonakilty
Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 51°37′19″N 8°53′11″W / 51.62194°N 8.88639°W / 51.62194; -8.88639Coordinates: 51°37′19″N 8°53′11″W / 51.62194°N 8.88639°W / 51.62194; -8.88639
CountryIreland
ProvinceMunster
CountyCounty Cork
Area
 • Total3.433 km2 (1.325 sq mi)
Population
 (2016)[1]
 • Total4,592
 • Density1,337.5/km2 (3,464/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC±0 (WET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+1 (IST)
Eircode routing key
P85
Telephone area code+353(0)23
Irish Grid ReferenceW381417
Websiteclonakilty.ie

HistoryEdit

The Clonakilty area has a number of ancient and pre-Celtic sites, including Lios na gCon ringfort.[9]

Normans settlers built castles around Clonakilty, and a number of Norman surnames survive in the West Cork area to the present day.[10] In 1292, Thomas De Roach received a charter to hold a market every Monday at Kilgarriffe (then called Kyle Cofthy or Cowhig's Wood), close to where the present town now stands.[citation needed]

In the 14th century, a ten-mile strip of fallow woodland called Tuath na gCoillte (the land of the woods) divided the barony of Ibane (Ardfield) and Barryroe and reached the sea at Clonakilty Bay. Here a castle called Coyltes Castell was recorded in a 1378 plea roll. This was subsequently referred to as Cloghnykyltye, one of the many phonetic spellings for Cloch na gCoillte (meaning the castle of the woods, from cloch, the Irish for stone or stone building, and coillte meaning woods).[2]

The lands around Clonakilty were owned by Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Cork, and it was Boyle ('the Great Earl') who obtained its charter from King James I of England in 1613,[11] with the right to return members to the Irish House of Commons. The borough of Clonakilty returned two members from 1613 to 1801; it was disenfranchised when the Act of Union came into force in January 1801. It also had a part-time judge, the Recorder of Clonakilty.

The estate lands at Clonakilty were later purchased by the Earls of Shannon, another branch of the Boyle dynasty. They remained the main landlords of the town from the eighteenth century through until the early twentieth century.[12]

During the Irish Rebellion of 1641, the planted English settlers in Clonakilty fled to Bandon, and much of Clonakilty was burned.[13][14][15] English forces retook the town in 1642, in an attack where several hundred of the Confederate Irish forces were killed.[14] Some later 18th century sources stated that English forces killed "238 men, women, and children" after retaking the town.[16] The town was also the site of a battle in 1691, during the Williamite War in Ireland.[14]

During the Irish Rebellion of 1798, Shannonvale near Clonakilty was the site of the Battle of the Big Cross. It was described as "the only place in all Munster where a blow of some sort had been struck during the Rising of '98".[17] There is a commemorative statue celebrating the Battle of the Big Cross in Astna Square in the centre of Clonakilty.

 
Battle of the Big Cross statue, Clonakilty.

Michael Collins, who was the Director of Intelligence for the IRA, which sought independence from Britain in the 1920–1921 period, lived in Clonakilty and attended the local boys' national school. Collins later served as Chairman of the Provisional Government and was instrumental in the founding of the Irish Free State. Collins was killed in an Anti-Treaty ambush during the Civil War. He gave several orations from O'Donovan's Hotel on the Main Street of Clonakilty. On Emmet Square, where Collins lived for a period, is a statue of Michael Collins (erected and dedicated in 2002) and a museum (opened in 2016).

In April 1943, a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress was travelling from Morocco to England when it was forced to land at a marsh just outside Clonakilty.[18] The crew (who were uninjured) thought they had been flying over German-occupied Norway.[19]

Kennedy Gardens at Emmet Square (formerly Shannon Square) in the centre of town is named after John F. Kennedy.

In June 2012, Clonakilty was damaged by flooding.[20]

Clonakilty was founded on 5 May 1613, and on 5 May 2013, President Michael D. Higgins and his wife visited the town to commemorate 400 years since it obtained its original charter.[21][4]

ChurchesEdit

Kilgariffe Church (Church of Ireland) is a building of 1818 replacing an older church going back to 1613.[22][23]

The Church of the Immaculate Conception (Catholic) is a large building in Early French Gothic style, designed by George Ashlin and completed in 1880.[24][25] The old Presbyterian Church was built in 1861 and taken over and used since 1924 as a local Post Office.[26] The local Methodist church is located in the town and became the first church in Ireland to win two Eco Congregation Ireland awards.[27][28]

TransportEdit

The nearest airport to the town is Cork Airport, and Bus Éireann provides coach links from Clonakilty to Cork and Skibbereen.[29] During the summer months, there is a bus link to Killarney via the N71 road through Skibbereen, Bantry, Glengarriff and Kenmare.

Clonakilty was one of the destinations on the West Cork Railway, an Irish mainline railway from Cork city to various parts of West Cork, which shut down in 1961. Clonakilty railway station opened on 28 August 1886, but finally closed on 1 April 1961.[30]

Clonakilty has a bypass road on the N71, to the south of the town, which routes traffic to Cork, Kinsale, Bandon, Skibbereen and Dunmanway via the R599, just west of the town, or vice versa to the R588 via Enniskean and the town centre.[citation needed]

Culture and musicEdit

 
De Barra's

Clonakilty's bars host live music nights throughout the year, and De Barra's Folk Club,[31] Shanley's Music Bar,[32] and O'Donovans and are among the town's music venues.[33] De Barra's Folk Club has featured acts like Christy Moore, Sharon Shannon, Roy Harper, John Spillane and Frances Black.[34][35]

A number of notable musicians live in the area. For example, Noel Redding made Clonakilty his home,[36] as has singer-songwriter Roy Harper.[37] English novelist David Mitchell also calls Clonakilty home.[38]

 
An Súgán

The town also hosts several festivals every year, including the Clonakilty International Guitar Festival in mid-September,[31] the Motion Festival and the Waterfront Festival in August.[39]

AwardsEdit

The town won the Irish Tidy Towns Competition in 1999 and was also named 'Ireland's Tidiest Small Town' in 2017.[40] In 2003, Clonakilty became Ireland's first-ever official Fair trade Town. In 2007 it was awarded the status of European Destination of Excellence by the European Commission at a ceremony in Portugal and is Ireland's first recipient of this title.

DemographicsEdit

As of the 2011 census, ethnically Clonakilty was 80% white Irish, 14% "other white", 1.5% black, 1.5% Asian, and 2% other or not stated.[46] In terms of religion, the 2011 census captured a population that was 80.5% Catholic, 10% other stated religions, 8.5% with no religion, and 0.5% not stated.[46]

FoodEdit

The town is known for its black pudding. Clonakilty black pudding originated in Edward Twomey's butcher shop in Pearse Street. The secret spice recipe has been handed down through the generations since the 1880s, and is still known only to the Twomey family who continue to manufacture the pudding at the Clonakilty Food Company.[47][48]

TourismEdit

 
Model village

The Model Village in Clonakilty is a tourist destination in the area and includes fully scaled models of Clonakilty and nearby towns - built on a miniature of the area's railway line.

Michael Collins House is a museum dedicated to Irish revolutionary leader Michael Collins. The museum is set out in a restored Georgian townhouse on Emmet Square, where Collins lived from 1903 to 1905. The museum tells the story of Collins' life and the history of Irish independence through tours, exhibits, interactive displays, and historical artefacts.[49]

A "Random Acts of Kindness Festival" was set up by the local Clonakilty Macra na Feirme Club. The 2012 event ran over a weekend in July.[50]

Clonakilty Street Carnival takes place in June of each year, and involves live music, activities and other events.[51]

Other historical attractions in the town include the Clonakilty Museum, the Georgian houses of Emmet Square and the Micheal Collins Centre which is located a few miles east of the town. A Farmers Market takes place at Emmet Square every Friday.

EducationEdit

 
Clonakilty library

There are two secondary schools located in the town. Clonakilty Community College is a mixed school and the Sacred Heart Secondary School is an all-girls school. There are 4 Primary Schools located in the town. Clonakilty Agricultural College is located 2 miles east of the town. It is known locally as Darrara College and mainly deals with Agricultural Education.

SportEdit

Clonakilty has a GAA club (Clonakilty GAA), two soccer clubs (Clonakilty A.F.C, Clonakilty Town), a Rugby union club (Clonakilty R.F.C.) and a Martial Arts club (Warrior Tae Kwon Do).[52] The GAA team won the Cork Senior Football Championship in 2009, 1996, and were runners up in the 2003 competition. Clonakilty GAA won their first adult hurling county title when they won the Cork Minor B Hurling Championship in 2007. Clonakilty R.F.C. also became a senior rugby club in 2001 and spent 12 years in the All-Ireland League until they were relegated to Division 1 of the Munster Junior League. Clonakilty A.F.C. have won the Beamish Cup in 2008 & 1995 and in 2014 featured Australian international, Alex Swift. Students of the Clonakilty "Warrior Tae Kwon Do" club compete in Tae Kwon Do, Kickboxing and Freestyle tournaments and the club has produced 4 World Champions in several martial arts disciplines.[53]

BeachesEdit

The closest Blue Flag beach is at Inchydoney Island, immediately to the south of the town.

Approximately 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) from Clonakilty, and looking out over the Galley Head lighthouse, is Long Strand. This sandy beach is a mile and a half long, and bounded by dunes at Castlefreke (a protected Special Area of Conservation).[54]

Duneen Beach is across the bay from the right-hand side of Inchydoney beach.[55]

International relationsEdit

Clonakilty has been twinned with:

Notable peopleEdit

Born in ClonakiltyEdit

Notable residentsEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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Further readingEdit

  • The Battle of the Big Cross / Cath Béal a' Mhuighe Shalaigh, compiled by Tim Crowley & Traolach Ó Donnabháin; Clonakilty, Clonakilty District 1798 Bi-Centenary Commemoration Committee, 1998.
  • Walks of Clonakilty town and country by Damien Enright. Timoleague, Co. Cork: Merlin Press, 2000. ISBN 1902631021.

External linksEdit