Cloich na Coillte
|• Total||1.325 sq mi (3.433 km2)|
|• Density||3,464/sq mi (1,337.5/km2)|
|Time zone||WET (UTC+0)|
|• Summer (DST)||IST (WEST) (UTC-1)|
|Irish Grid Reference||W381417|
Clonakilty (//; Irish: Cloich na Coillte, Clanna Chaoilte), sometimes shortened to Clon, 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. The town's population as of 2016 was 4,592. 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. Clonakilty is in the Cork South–West (Dáil Éireann) constituency, which has five seats.
Normans settlers later built castles in the area, and a number of Norman surnames survive to the present day. 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.
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).
Clonakilty benefited from the patronage of Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Cork ('the Great Earl'), who is sometimes regarded as its founder. It was this Lord Cork who obtained its charter from King James I of England in 1613 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.
The lands at Clonakilty were later inherited 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.
Shannonvale, near Clonakilty, is known as "the only place in all Munster where a blow of some sort had been struck during the Rising of '98" at the Battle of the Big Cross. There is a commemorative statue celebrating the Battle of the Big Cross in Astna Square in the centre of 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. A statue of Michael Collins by local artist Kevin Holland was erected and dedicated in 2002 at the junction of Bridge Street and Emmet Square.
In April 1943, a war plane, a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, was travelling from Morocco to England when it was forced to make an unscheduled stop at a marsh just outside Clonakilty. The soldiers thought they had been flying over German-occupied Norway but got disorientated in fog. The crew were uninjured in the landing and, once they had emerged from the bog, they met local man Eddie Collins who directed them into the town.
In June 2012, Clonakilty was damaged by flooding.
The Church of the Immaculate Conception (Catholic) is a large building in Early French Gothic style, designed by George Ashlin and completed in 1880. The old Presbyterian Church was built in 1861 and taken over and used since 1924 as a local Post Office. The Methodist church is located in the town and recently became the first church in Ireland to win two Eco Congregation Ireland awards.
The nearest airport to the town is Cork Airport, and Bus Éireann provides coach links from Clonakilty to Cork and Skibbereen. During the summer months, there's 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.
Culture and music
Clonakilty's bars host live music nights throughout the year, and a number of notable musicians have found a welcome and a home in the area. For example, Noel Redding made Clonakilty his home, as has singer-songwriter Roy Harper. English novelist David Mitchell also calls Clonakilty home. Monday Night Trad Sessions, O'Donovans Tuesday Trad and Shanley's Famous Music Bar are among the main music venues. Summer afternoon sessions in Scannells beer garden has attracted acts like Christy Moore, Sharon Shannon, and Frances Black.
The town hosts several festivals every year, among these are The Clonakilty International Guitar Festival in mid-September, The Motion festival and The Waterfront Festival in August. The 2010 Waterfront Festival featured Irish acts, The Dublin Gospel Choir, Mundy, Aslan, The Heathers, Setmaker and Spanish Singer Paula Gómez and her band.
The town won the Irish Tidy Towns Competition in 1999 and every year since has gained awards for its environmental efforts, including being named 'Ireland's Tidiest Small Town' in 2017. 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.
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.  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.
Born in Clonakilty
- Peter Callanan, politician and Fianna Fáil senator
- Michael Collins, leading figure in early 20th century Ireland, was born in Woodfield (now the Michael Collins Birthplace) 5 km west of Clonakilty
- Tadhgo Crowley, footballer and All-Ireland Senior Football Championship winning captain (1945)
- Patricia Driscoll, actress and TV presenter (Picture Book, BBC)
- Alfred Elmore, Victorian artist
- William Harnett, Irish-American artist
- Liam Twomey, politician and Fine Gael TD and senator
- Roy Harper, singer-songwriter
- David Mitchell, author
- Noel Redding, musician
- Joseph Walsh, politician, Fianna Fáil TD and former Minister for Agriculture
Clonakilty is known for its black pudding. Clonakilty Blackpudding originated in Twomey's butcher shop in Pearse Street. The secret spice recipe has been handed down through the generations since the 1880s, and is still only known to the Twomey family.
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 artifacts.
Clonakilty is the home of the world's only "Random Acts of Kindness Festival" set up in 2012 by the local Clonakilty Macra na Feirme Club. The Festival is held each year on the third weekend in July, with the motto: "Cut the Misery and Spread the Positivity".
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 O'Donovans alley every Friday.
There are two secondary schools located in the town. Clonakilty Community College is a mixed school and the Sacred Heart Secondary School which 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.
Clonakilty has a GAA club (Clonakilty GAA), two soccer clubs (Clonakilty A.F.C, Clonakilty Town), a rugby club and a Martial Arts club (Warrior Tae Kwon Do). The teams have been successful in recent years winning the Cork Senior Football Championship in 2009, 1996, and being runners up in the 2003 competition. Clonakilty RFC also became a senior rugby club in 2001 and spent 12 years in the All Ireland Rugby League until they were relegated to Division 1 of the Munster junior league. Clonakilty won their first adult hurling county title when they won the Cork Minor B Hurling Championship in 2007. 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 various martial arts disciplines.
The Blue Flag beach at Inchydoney Island.
About 15 minutes from Clonakilty and looking out over the Galley Head lighthouse is Long Strand - a mile and a half of sand bounded by waves of dunes. The top end is used by surfers but the rest of the beach is unsafe for bathing due to a dangerous undertow.
Duneen Beach is across the bay from the right-hand side of Inchydoney beach.
Clonakilty is twinned with:
- List of towns and villages in Ireland
- Market Houses in Ireland
- Clonakilty (Parliament of Ireland constituency)
- Michael Collins (Irish leader)
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