The area surrounding Inish Beg is rich in local history – from Irish prehistoric times, the great clans of Ireland, the struggle against British rule in the late 1700′s, the Great Irish Famine of the 1800′s, through the War of Independence in the early 1900′s.
Prehistoric monuments still stand throughout the area – standing stones, stone circles and ring forts. Irish castles, some restored and some magnificent ruins, and ancient abbeys surround.
Being so close to the sea, you can hear of many exciting tales of local ships and fisherman. In 1631 Algerian pirates descended upon Baltimore and took up to 200 locals as slaves to North Africa. After this, many of the town’s inhabitants moved up river to Skibbereen, creating a boom in that town.
In the late 1700′s, Irish Patriot Theobald Wolfe Tone enlisted the help of the French Navy in the Irish battle to overthrow British rule. In 1796, 6500 troups left France for Bantry Bay. With fierce winter weather conditions only a part of the fleet arrived in the Bay — none of the ships were able to land. This was considered one of the major events that kept the Irish from gaining home rule at that time.
The town of Skibbereen was devastated by the Great Irish Famine of the 1840′s. Thousands of its inhabitants starved to death due to lack of nutrition brought about by failure of their stable diet – the potato crop – and the effects of cruel landlordism which saw to it that the native Irish were left to die for want of food and money. Skibbereen’s famine victims were wheeled by the cartload into a communal grave in the Abbey Cemetery west of the town where today the visitor can see that Famine Plot. The Great Famine Commemoration Exhibition at the Skibbereen Heritage Centre tells the story in detail.
General Michael Collins, famous for his role in the establishment of the Free State, was born in Woodfield, a village off the main Clonakilty-Skibbereen road. He was asassinated in West Cork in 1922 on his return from inspecting the troops of the area and visits with his many local friends and relatives. That afternoon he had his last meal at The Eldon Hotel in Skibbereen. There is a Memorial Centre at his birthplace in Woodfield, along with many monuments to the great local hero around West Cork.
In August 2002, the 80th Anniversary of the death of Michael Collins, the actor Liam Neeson, best known for playing Collins in the feature film biography, unveiled a new monument in his honour in Clonakilty, the closest town to where Collins grew up. This event was the beginning of ongoing tours and talks on Michael Collins in the area.
There are local historical societies in Bantry, Rosscarbery, Schull and Skibbereen which hold monthly lectures that are open to visitors. Many of these resources can provide information on the geneology of local families.
We can arrange guided tours of any area of interest.