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Welcome to The Cape Clear Museum Society Website

Cumann Iarsmalann Chleire / Cape Clear Museum Society was set up in 1981 as a voluntary organisation to:

  1. Source, collect and preserve records concerning all aspects of Cape Clear island life.
  2. Organise the collection of artefacts of folk, farm and maritime life and see to their exhibition and preservation.
  3. Develop an Exhibition Centre and Heritage Archive to house both artefacts and documentation of island interest.

With the help of the island community, and Irish State Agencies the Cleire Museum Society has restored and equipped an old schoolhouse, which now holds a large collection of exhibition material and documentation relating to island life and history.

Interpretative exhibition panels cover island settlement patterns, folk and farm, genealogy, folklore, place names, education, famine, telegraph and maritime history. The museum society has undertaken archaeological, geological, botanical, ornithological and genealogical surveys of the island. Events of note in the history of the island are also remembered with special anniversary commemorations, exhibitions and lectures. Click here for Cape Clear Museum Events.

Cape Clear Museum Events

Museum Society formed in 1981 launched a map for visitors and photo exhibition; Two week exhibitions held in old schoolhouse in August 1982- 85; Island Geology Exhibition, 1982; Geography of Cape Clear Exhibition, 1983; Cape Clear Archaeology, 1985; The Official Opening of Cape Clear Museum and Heritage Centre, 24 July 1986; The Baltimore Fishery School, Centenary Anniversary Exhibition (1887-1987); Muilte Gaoithe: Wind Energy Exhibition 1988. The Fastnet Lighthouse, 1849-1989.

Michael Minihane- Cork Examiner Photo Exhibition; The Pierce Hickey 'Images of Cape Exhibition, 1991; Brendan Whooley Exhibition 1992 including a celebration of the work of Rev. Charles Davis (D. 1892) and Rev. Richard O' Halloran (D. 1917); The Thomas Joseph Exhibition (1918-1993); Oíche an Ghála Mhóir (Centenary Anniversary Exhibition (1894-1994); An Gorta Exhibition, Commemorating the Famine (1845-47), 1995; Scéal na dTeileagraf- The Cape Clear Telegraph (1863 -1866), 1996; Comóradh an Chéid 1897-1997: The Centenary of the Cape Clear National School, May 1997. The Voyage of the Stephen Whitney, 1997; The Ilen 1926-1999 - The voyages of Con and Denis Cadogan 1998 & erected the Ilen and Saoirse plaque at North Harbour; Cléire: A Muintir agus Tírdhreach 1999; Launch of Cape Clear Island: Its People and Landscape, 1999.

The Life of Naomh Ciarán –St. Piran and Millennium Pilgrimage 2000, Launch of Naomh Ciarán, Pilgrim Islander, 2000; Rearrangement of exhibition 2001; Island Boats and Maritime Affairs 2002-03; 1979 Fastnet Race Remembrance Ceremony August 15th 2004 & Unveiling of Fastnet Memorial at Cape Clear Museum; Launch of Fastnet, An Charraig Aonair, 2004; Lighthouse Exhibition 2004-06; Launch of O Driscolls, Past and Present 2005; Announced the O Driscoll Collection Archive, 2006- Project [on www.odriscoll.ie]; Logainmneacha Chléire- Island Placenames, 2010; Mounted Museum plaque Celebrating O Driscoll Heritage Worldwide, 2011 and The 25th Anniversary O Driscoll Clan Gathering Exhibition; Fastnet Lighthouse and Fastnet Race Audio-Visual Display, 2012.

Launch of book, An Logainmníocht in Oileán Cléire, 2012 (Placenaming in Cape Clear island, Co. Cork.)

The Museum and Heritage Centre is open daily, June to September and thereafter by arrangement locally with the Visitor Information Bureau, Library and island Co-op Office. Island Tours by minibus and boat hire trip can also be arranged.

Cartlann Chléire / Cape Clear Island Archive

Cartlann Chléire / Cape Clear Island Archive contains research material compiled since 1976 by Dr. Éamon Lankford into aspects of Cape Clear island history and heritage. The collected documentation refers only to Cape Clear island and islands in Long Island Bay and other West Cork islands. Apart from Baltimore and O Driscoll family and history related subjects, it does not contain data relating to the mainland of County Cork or any other part of Ireland. A selecting of original documentation relating to Cape Clear island is to be preserved at Cork County Library, Carrigrohane Road, Cork, Ireland. The collection of data and compilation of records relating to the island and the O Driscoll family worldwide is a permanent work in progress project.

Click here for a general listing of the type of collections in the Cape Clear Island Museum Archive.

General Categories of information in Cape Clear Island Archive

  1. Maritime: Island Boats and their owners, Baltimore Fishery School, Fishing, Sailing Adventures & Artic Expeditions, Fastnet Race.
  2. Education: Hedge Schools, Primary Schools, Teachers, Irish Colleges.
  3. Folklore: 1938 Schools Folklore Collection and Island storytellers.
  4. Baptism, Marriage, Burial records and grave inscriptions.
  5. Signal Towers, Telegraphs, Telephone and Wind energy systems.
  6. Lighthouses: at Cape Clear and the Fastnet Rock.
  7. Shipwrecks off Cape Clear and West Cork Coast.
  8. Ordnance Survey Name Book, Field Books, House Books and Maps.
  9. Census Returns 1821-
  10. Baltimore Fishery School.
  11. Island literature, writers and poets.
  12. Newspaper accounts of island life and events.
  13. Collection of letters on island social and emigrant matters.
  14. Island Photo Collections.
  15. Historical, Archaeological, Geological and other reports.
  16. Island placenames.

The O Driscoll Collection

As Cape Clear Island is the heart of the territory which was left to the O Driscoll's after the Battle of Kinsale in 1601, Cape Clear Museum and Archive has a particular interest in hearing from all who are related to the Clann O Drisceoil (O Driscoll Family Worldwide). Cape Clear Island Museum & Archive invites the submission of O Driscoll related family histories, genealogies, and career profiles for inclusion in a volume of The O Driscoll Collection.
Anyone may, at anytime in the future submit information about people having any form of the name Driscoll, Ó Drisceoil, Driskill, Driskell etc who lived at any time in any place in the world. For further details on the O Driscoll Collection Click www.odriscoll.ie

The Fastnet Collection

Cape Clear Museum Archive invites the submission of documentation of any kind relating to the 1979 Fastnet Race or the race of any other year. Memories, poems, photographs, newspaper accounts, tape recordings, personal accounts, video and film material will be welcome at any time into the future for inclusion in the Fastnet Collection at Cape Clear Island Museum Archive.

As is widely known the biennial flagship Fastnet Race event leaves Cowes, Isle of Wight and sails past Cape Clear island, Co. Cork and around the nearby Fastnet Rock, and back to Plymouth. This great sailing event which engages up to 3000 participants usually gets extensive media attention with articles appearing in newspapers, sailing magazines and journals. TV and Radio Sports channels worldwide cover this major sporting event. Cape Clear Museum Archive is eager to receive from journalists, the sailing community worldwide and others, copies of all kinds of documentation and audio-visual material relating to the Fastnet Race of any years which will be included in the Fastnet Collection at Cape Clear Island Museum Archive.

Some of the Fastnet Collection volumes also contain material relating to the building of the Fastnet Lighthouse and other West Cork lighthouses. The submission of articles and other accounts of the lighthouse on the Fastnet will be very welcome.

All who have sailed in the Fastnet Race of any year and all interested in sailing will at any time, be most welcome to visit the Don Cronin sculptured 1979 Fastnet Race Memorial at Cape Clear Museum and the monument at Trá Ciaráin, North Harbour, Cape Clear island.

The Fastnet Lighthouse and Fastnet Race Display at the island museum is a 20 minute audio-visual presentation with mounted exhibition panels recording other aspects of both the building of the lighthouses on Cape Clear and the Fastnet Rock. The accompanying mounted exhibition on the biennial Flagship Fastnet Race event pays particular attention to the daring rescue operation conducted by the Rescue Service of the RNLI, Coastguard, RAF and Irish Naval service during the tragic 1979 Fastnet Race. It also has the dramatic rescue off Cape Clear and the Fastnet Rock of the crew of the USA owned Rambler 100 yacht during the 2011 Fastnet Race.

Arrangements for consulting documentation in Cape Clear Island Archive

As the Cape Clear Museum Society is, at present unable to provide a research service people interested in consulting sources relating to the history and life of the island community past and present should make advance contact to confirm that material relevant to their area of interest is available.
Consultation of documentation in the Island Archive is confined to those who have either Cape Clear island family and genealogical connections or who have a particular interest in some aspect of the islands history, archaeology, language and heritage. Click here for details.

The Island Archive is housed in the Cape Clear Island Museum building which is open daily June to early September. Between September and May 31st visits to the Museum & Archive can only be made by making prior arrangements. Anyone wishing to consult data in the Island Archive must make a separate prior arrangement to ensure that the Archive Unit can be opened for their visit and that the material sought is actually in the archive collection.

To arrange a visit to the museum contact: Oifig Eolais / Cape Clear Island Information Bureau. email: cccteo@iol Tel. 353 (0) 21 39119

To check if there is information in the Cape Clear Island Archive which relates to your area of enquiry give your name, address and contact details as well as details of your enquiry to the Museum and Archive Director:
Dr. Éamon Lankford: eamon.lankford@gmail.com
Please give as much detail as possible in your enquiry so that it may hopefully be connected to documentation in the archive collection. If you have historic or genealogical / family connections with Cape Clear Island and the surrounding mainland area please give details.

Selected documentation relating to Cape Clear island will also be held in the Local Studies Unit at Cork County Library, Carrigrohane Road, Cork and you will be advised if any of this relates to your enquiry.

Cork County Library has a comprehensive collection of local history sources at:
Local Studies Unit, Cork County Library, Carrigrohane Road, Cork, Ireland. Tel. 353 (0)21 4546499 / email: corkcountylibrary@corkcoco.ie