The Skibbereen Heritage Centre is situated on the site of the old Gasworks Building in Upper Bridge Street and is well worth a visit. It has three strings to its bow: a Great Famine Exhibition, a Lough Hyne Visitor Centre and a Genealogy Information service.
We were primarily interested in the Famine Exhibition, believing that Irish children should always be educated in the details of that terrible period in our history. Skibbereen was one of the worst areas hit as evidenced by the mass graves of Abbeystrewey where 8,000 to 10,000 victims are buried.
There is much detail here and the centre uses the latest technology to bring the period to life. Quite
impressive but I wonder would the kids need a bit more – by way, for example, of interactive video or lifelike models – to keep them interested.
Lough Hyne is a salt water inland lake near to Skibb and the explanatory exhibition here is really light entertainment after the sombre famine display. It is nonetheless a fascinating insight into Ireland's first marine centre, just five miles or so from the town.
The Genealogy Information centre covers Skibbereen and district.
The Heritage Centre also features an archaeology trail, gift shop, hot/cold drinks, full wheelchair access – and a great welcome from a very friendly and helpful staff. Well worth a call.
Information panels on exterior wall (left) and the middle photo above shows an old building (on the left) which was used as a soup kitchen in famine times.