Great Irish Famine


The Great Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s is now recognised as the worst humanitarian disaster of nineteenth century Europe. In 1841 the population of Ireland was over 8.5 million people. By 1850, at least one million people had died in terrible conditions while another million and a half emigrated as refugees. It is estimated that a further half a million births did not take place as a direct result of an Gorta Mór.

Ireland lost more than its people. The Famine fundamentally changed both the land and the people of Ireland, distorting the course of Irish history. The social, cultural and psychological effects of the Famine lingered on long afterwards and emigration became a part of Irish life. Fifty years after the Great Famine, the population of Ireland had halved.

Skibbereen played a very important role during the Great Hunger as reports from the area focused worldwide attention on the disaster. Skibbereen became synonymous with the Famine and many sites in the town have direct links to this tragic time, each with its own story to tell.


Famine Story Exhibition

Visit our exhibition at Skibbereen Heritage Centre
to learn more about the Great Irish Famine.

Famine Story Book

Gain an insight into the major events of the Great Famine in Ireland
from the experiences of the people of Skibbereen.

Famine Story App

Hear the story of the Great Famine in Skibbereen from Dr Dan Donovan
and others of the era as they guide you around the town.

Famine Story Sites

A map of Skibbereen’s Famine heritage sites showing buildings and streets
that have direct links to this tragic time and video clips of some of these locations.

Famine Sites Video Clips

Short video clips showing Famine sites in Skibbereen.


‘The Great Irish Famine: Remember Skibbereen’ is a TV documentary
available to purchase as a DVD in our online shop.

Read about one of the heroes of the Great Famine in Skibbereen, Dr Dan Donovan,
by downloading an article by Philip O’Regan of Skibbereen Heritage Centre.

Read about how the Great Famine in Skibbereen was reported in the media of the time
by downloading an article written by Terri Kearney of Skibbereen Heritage Centre.

Skibbereen features in an RTE radio documentary on the Great Famine ‘Blighted Nation’
which is available as a podcast here.