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Clonakilty is a small town on Ireland's Southwest Coast, about an hours drive West of Cork city. It's an award winning town in more ways than one!
Clonakilty is a traditional small, rural Irish town that has over the last 30 years seen the gradual addition of 'non locals' to it's surrounding area, bringing a variety of culture, colour and richness. The town and it's surrounding area boasts residents from Poland, Germany, Israel, Nigeria, Pakistan, England, USA, Canada, France, Bangladesh, Belgium, Spain to name a few. It is twinned with Waldaschaff in Bavaria in Germany and Chateaulin, France. It's a town known for it's art, with two galleries and craft with many local residents involved in painting, pottery, glass making, jewellary making, food production etc. The countryside surrounding Clonakilty can offer the visitor small coves and bays with quiet and often deserted beaches, clifftop walks, woods, rolling hills and agricultural fields all within one hour of Cork international airport. The area is also high in it's number of ancient stone circles, standing stones, mass rocks and megalithic sites. It's history is a rich one.
Clonakilty is situated in one of the tuatha or tribal lands of the tribe known as the Corca Luighe, a pre-Milesian race and the most likely origination for the name comes from Tuath na Coillte or land of the wood. The word Cloghan was used to refer to stepping stones or a ford crossing a river. When The Earl of Cork sought a charter for the town he named the place Cloghnakilty. Other forms used include Cloghannakiltee and Cloghnagoilty and the town's charter was granted in 1613 although there is evidence of settlements in the area dating back to 2500 BC and anecdotal evidence of the area having been inhabited as far back as 3000 BC. Of interest to visitors interested in this time will be Drumbeg Stone Circle near Glandore, a circle whose stones align with the setting sun on the Winter Solstice each year. As indiginous landowners were driven out by English landlords the land came under the ownership of the Earl of Cork and this process was further speeded up by Cromwell's arrival in 1649. West Cork has a long and troubled history of rebellion against those both Irish and English seeking to take land from it's original owners. This includes significant documented involvement in land and other wars in 1232, 1261, 1295, 1598, 1642, 1798, 1868 and most notably 1916 and the 1921 onwards war of independence. Many leaders in the latter two hail from West Cork and specifically the Clonakilty area, most notably Michael Collins and O'Donovan Rossa. Much evidence still exists in the area of large landlord estates, estate buildings and walls, georgian farmhouses and townhouses etc and in the names of local residents and local placenames such as Castletownsend, Castletownbere, Castlefreke, Rathbarry, Courtmacsherry etc.
For further general information about Clonakilty please visit;
www.clon.ie Be aware that this site has not been updated in some time and information regarding restaurants in particular is in some cases out of date, however, the general information about the town is still relevant.
www.clonakilty.ie is the website of the town's Chamber of Commerce and only reflects it's members, so while it is not an exhaustive collection of information about accommodation, pubs etc is is useful.
www.clontwinning.com is the website of Clonakilty Town Twinning Association who are under the auspices of Clonakilty Town Council and deal with all matters in relation to town twinning. In 1986 Clonakilty twinned with Chateaulin, France and a number of exchanges took place between the two towns, particularly between schools. In 1989 Clonakilty twinned with Waldaschaff, Germany and exchanges take place at least once per year. This twinning was the subject of a TV documentary which found that it was probably the most successful twinning between any two towns in Europe.
For further information please visit www.clontwinning.com
This piece has been written by a local resident.