Famine history:

At the height of the Irish Potato Famine (1845-1849) in 1847 the body of an unnamed boy, taken for dead, was placed in a coffin in the Town Square and conveyed for burial to the Abbey Cemetery. As he was lowered into the pit, the youth regained consciousness and walked unaided from the grave. It is probable that some 8,000-10,000 Famine victims are buried in the Famine Burial Pits of Abbeystrewery Cemetery.

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. The father relates to his son how the famine ruined his farm in Skibbereen, and killed his wife. Unable to pay taxes, the landlord and the bailiff came to drive us all away. They set the roof on fire with their cursed English spleen, and that's another reason why I left old Skibbereen. In the final verse the son swears he will return to Skibbereen to take vengeance on the government that he holds accountable.

A fine version can be found on the soundtrack to the PBS mini-series, "The Long Journey Home", performed by Sinead O'Connor. In the film Michael Collins the Collins character, played by Liam Neeson, sings the song.


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