McCarthy Home Excavation 2019


The second year of the excavation of the McCarthy home by the staff and students from the University of Maryland is coming to an end and and it’s been a fascinating process.

We already told the story of last year’s excavation so we thought we’d give a round up of this year’s findings too.

The dig moved outside the ruin of the house to the area where the earlier, pre-Famine, dwelling of the McCarthy family was believed to be

The staff and students have finally finished their 5-week excavation this year with 2,048 items found, all of them carefully cataloged, labelled and bagged by the team.

A lot of delph was found of different quality, mostly of it dating to the late nineteenth century.


A lot of glass items too.

This ‘torpedo’ water bottle came from the Franciscan Well in Cork. The water from this well was believed to have mystical powers and people used to believe that it would cure eye ailments.

A lot of brown ware was found on site too. This would have been locally made and was found in every Irish household of the nineteenth century.

Some of the fragments of brown ware were from very large vessels. The finer ware to the right could be fragments of a Dutch water bottle
Ahna excavated the remains of a 3 legged pot which would have been used for cooking the family’s potatoes


Examples of this type of pot that we have at the heritage centre

And the remains of a plough were found too. This would have been pulled by a donkey rather than a horse as was very common in West Cork even into the 1960s.

And a fragment from a plough, seen here against a still intact version



And parts of the donkey harness were found too

These tiny fragments of the lives of the McCarthy family are precious.

They are not the detritus of daily life, rather an insight into how our ancestors lived.

Little did the McCarthy family think that their humble home would one day be the focus of an international study abroad programme.

Peter ‘and Pat McCarthy examining the artefacts found on last year’s excavation of their family’s ancestral home.


Including these porcelain dolls heads that were once a precious possession of a little girl who lived in this house


We look forward welcoming the Maryland group back to Skibbereen again in 2020 when they will continue to explore the McCarthy site. They are a pleasure to have in the area and we love to observe the progress onsite each week. And we will continue to share the story with you!

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