(Back To 1999 Contents)
Books About the Lee Valley area of West Cork, Ireland
By Maire Uí Shuibhne
Since it is one of the most historical and scenic parts of the country, it is little surprise that the Lee Valley boasts a huge number of books recording its beauty and its past. These come in all shapes, sizes and prices and are of interest to local history addicts, emigrants, anthropologists and the wider public
A favourite for those with an interest in Uíbh Laoghaire is Beatha Bharra : St. Finbarr of Cork by Pádraig Ó Riain and don't forget the booklet Ar Bhruach na Laoi, a collection of songs from the area which comes accompanied by a tape or CD. Ballingeary Historical Society has recorded the history of Uíbh Laoghaire in word and pictures. They have published two volumes of the Uíbh Laoire Collection and each year produce a historical journal.
Macroom, at the heart of the Lee Valley, is well documented. Barry O'Brien, C.E.O. of Cork County V.E.C., and himself a county footballer of the 1970s, has produced four publications about his native town.
Macroom G.A.A. Club History 1886 - 1987 is available and his series, Macroom - a chronicle, comes in three parts, each priced at £2.50. They contain essays on a variety of subjects and characters pertaining to the town and its surrounding parishes.
Unfortunately, Macroom through the mists of time, an historical geography of the area by Denis Paul Ring, is out of print. Containing a plethora of photographs, maps and references, it is eagerly sought on the secondhand market.
Memories of Macroom by James Kelleher, tells of Mount Massey, Baldwins, Art O'Leary, the Civil War and events such as Fair Day, the coming of the circus, the pictures etc. This 100-page illustrated book sells at £5.
History books dealing with Macroom and its surrounds are many. Rebel Cork in Insurrection - 1798 by Tomás Mac Cormaic, tells of the execution of Robert Hutchinson at Codrum House, Macroom and the subsequent betrayal of his comrades by the infamous Malachy Duggan. O'Sullivan Burke - Fenian is a recent publication from Mary C. Lynch and Seamus O'Donoghue.
Michael Galvin, a most prolific author, has written of Famine times in Kilmichael, Kilmurry, Newcestown and Enniskeane. Black Blight, like all of Galvin's books, sells at £10. His story of Land Reform, Labour and Home Rule in mid-Cork, comes in two parts, The Slow Sunrise and his recent publication Morning Star.
Another local book dealing with the Great Hunger is Famine in Muskerry - An Drochshaol. It is a profile of the sixteen parishes which comprised Macroom Poor Law Union in the mid-nineteenth century. With the aid of maps and photographs, it describes conditions in Macroom, Clondrohid, Kilcorney, Donoughmore, Matehy, Aghabullogue, Aghinagh, Coachford, Canovee, Ovens, Kilmurry, Kilmichael, Iveleary, Cill na Martra and Ballyvourney.
I.R.A. Volunteers in the Lee Valley and Cork in general were very active during the War of Independence and this is reflected in the many books about the era. Perhaps the best known is Guerilla Days in Ireland by Tom Barry. The Wild Heather Glen - Kilmichael's Story of Grief and Glory by Louis White, gives a pen picture of the participants in the Kilmichael Ambush. The Road to Crossbarry is written by Diarmuid Begley. Charlie Browne's Story of the 7th is out of print and in demand secondhand. Tim Sheehan has recorded the death of Major Compton -Smith in Execute Hostage and Mrs. Lindsay's execution in Lady Hostage and these may be available from the author.
Michael Galvin wrote of The Kilmurry Volunteers and Fr. Patrick Twohig has recorded details of the 'time of the Black and Tans in mid-Cork' in Green Tears for Hecuba.
Fr. Twohig has written about the Civil War in West Cork in The Dark Secret of Béal na mBláth. He has also published Filí an tSuláin, which traces the development of Irish poetry in the Muskerry Gaeltacht.
Peter Golden - the Voice of Ireland by Jim Herlihy is a biography of the Macroom poet, orator, patriot and journalist who emigrated to America.
Aubane Historical Society has published The Restructuring of Ireland 1890 - 1910, Aubane - Where in the World is it? and 250 Years of the Butter Road.
Many schools have celebrated anniversaries with publications recording their history. The oldest school in Ireland is in Kilmichael, where Memories of Dromleigh looks back to its roots in 1840. Ballyvongane N.S. 1845 - 1995 recalls 150 years of education in Aghinagh. Tales of the Launey Valley is the most recent school publication, commemorating a hundred years of education in Ballinagree.
General books which refer to the Lee Valley include West Cork - a sort of history like and Theirs not to do or die by Tony Brehony. The Cork Anthology by the late Seán Dunne includes excerpts relating to Gougane Barra, Cuil Aodha, Carraig a' Staighre, Macroom and beyond. Lovely is the Lee by Robert Gibbings, is a must for everyone interested in the region, but is now difficult to access. Family names of County Cork is another favourite. Songs and Poems of the Launey Valley is selling very well.
Social development is charted in many volumes. Michael Galvin's To Make a Railway tells of the effect the Cork- Macroom train system had on the district and why it was closed down. Seamus O'Donoghue's Flooding of the Lee Valley studies the impact of the Lee hydro-electric scheme on a community. Hold your Horses is a history of Ballinagree, as reflected in the lives of the Horgan Brothers, masters of the horse plough. Harvest by Majella Flynn tells of grain growing, harvesting and milling in Ireland. Cumann Peile Gael na mBan is a Ladies Gaelic Football Association publication.
Cill na Martra has a lovely book simply entitled Cill na Martra, Muscraí Co Chorcaí. A collection of music by Connie O'Connell, entitled Ceol Chill na Martra, is now available.
Albert Keating of Coolnidane, Macroom, has Selected Poems to his credit. Dónal Healy, Cúil Aodha, has compiled an exhaustive history of the Healy clan, entitled The Healy Story. Kevin Corcoran, an inveterate walker, has written many books for people with like interests and West Cork Walks is particularly attractive for the active environmentalist in the Lee Valley.
Books on Michael Collins are many and varied. They include biographies by Tim Pat Coogan, Justin Nelson, James Mackay, Margaret Forester, Francis Costelloe, Meda Ryan, Vincent McDowell and León Ó Broin.
Recent religious publications are Footprints of my Journey by Fr. Flor Lynch and From the Heart by Mary Casey.
Cape Clear Island - Its people and landscape by Eamon Lankford and Mackerel and the making of Baltimore will also have general appeal.
Most of the above books are available from local sources and from
Mairead MacSweeney at