Cllr Kieran McCarthy has launched his third book of this year – 50 gems of West Cork (Amberley Publishing, 2019). The new book explores 50 well-known gems of the West Cork region and is a culmination of 18 months work. It brings 50 stories together in an accessible manner. It is not meant to provide be a full history of a site but perhaps does try to provide new lenses on how heritage is looked at and the power of construction and collective memory in West Cork.
The new book details 50 key sites detailing how they became the focus of attention and development – and how their stories, memories and the making of new narratives were articulated in an attempt to preserve an identity and/ or communities locally and nationally at sites or to create new identities and communities.
Cllr McCarthy highlights that several sites in the book came into being in the fledging years of the Irish Free State where tourism and story-telling about the nation’s history were highlighted or some sites were created from the burgeoning boom time of 1960s Ireland, where the focus was on developing industry and recreational amenities. For example, the promotion of areas such as InchidoneyIslandformoretourismwasdrivenbytheIrishFreeState’sIrishTourist Association (ITA), which was established in 1925 to market the young Irish Free State as a tourist destinationinternationally. SmallresortsalongtheWestCorkcoastlinewere developed simultaneously at sites such as Courtmacsherry, Glandore, Bantry Bay, Glengarriff and Berehaven.
The book takes the reader from Bandon to Dursey Island, from Gougane Barra to the Healy Pass. Cllr McCarthy notes; “Researching West Cork, the visitor discovers that each parish has its own local historian, historical society, village council, sometimes a library, tidy towns group, community group and business community who have inspired the collection of stories, the creation of heritage trails and information panels, and the championing of a strong sense of place and identity”.
“Relics from the past also haunt the landscape with prominent landmarks ranging from Bronze Age standing stones to ivy clad ruined houses and castles, churches and old big houses, to beacons, cable cars and lighthouses. All add to the narrative of the spectacle that is West Cork”, noted Cllr McCarthy.
50 Gems of West Cork by Kieran McCarthy is available is any good Cork bookshop.