Genealogy and ancestry

Skibbereen Heritage Centre

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Contact details


Old Gasworks Building, Upper Bridge Street, Skibbereen, Cork,
Ms Terri Kearney
T: +353(0)2840900

Skibbereen Heritage Centre is a visitor centre in West Cork with 2 permanent exhibitions, on the Great Famine and on Lough Hyne, which also provides a full genealogy service for the greater West Cork area.

Skibbereen Heritage Centre is located in the Old Gasworks Building overlooking the River Ilen in West Cork and offers a genealogy service for the area as well as having two permanent exhibitons, one on the Great Famine, the second on Lough Hyne.

Skibbereen Heritage Centre has over twelve years experience in carrying out ancestral research, enabling countless people to discover their West Cork heritage. The genealogy service includes primary source documents which are not available through any other source.

The Great Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s is now recognised as the worst humanitarian disaster of nineteenth century Europe. About a million Irish people died, another million emigrated, and it established a trend of emgration which subsequently drained the country of its people.

The Skibbereen area was one of the worst affected by the Irish Famine. It became notorious as the centre of some of the most harrowing suffering endured by famine victims throughout the country.

Between 8,000 and 10,000 unidentified souls are buried in the Famine graveyard at Abbeystrowry, just across the river from Skibbereen Heritage Centre.

The Great Famine Commemoration Exhibition at the Skibbereen Heritage Centre commemorates this period of Irish history and serves as a tribute to the suffering of the local population.

Its exhibition portrays the Great Famine through the primary source accounts of the time, giving an overview of government policies and how they impacted on the ground. Reports from the relief committee in their attempts to alleviate the suffering of local people are shown alongside reports of how the international community responded to the crisis. The story unfolds in an interactive way through the dramatisation by actors, including Jeremy Irons, of actual events and people of the time.

The second permanent exhibition at Skibbereen Heritage Centre is about Lough Hyne, Ireland’s first Marine Nature Reserve. Find out its unique flora, fauna and ecology and Knockomagh Wood Nature Trail. Follow with a visit to the lough, just 5km from Skibbereen Heritage Centre, and explore one of the most beautiful places in all of Ireland.

Skibbereen Heritage Centre also has an archaeology trail, gift shop, tea and coffee facilites and is fully wheelchair assessible. It’s housed in an award winning building, the Old Gasworks, which overlooks the River Ilen in Skibbereen town, just off the N71.