Baltimore’s history has always been shaped by the sea — so much so that in 1631 much of the population was carried off by pirates, never to be seen again, an event known as the Sack of Baltimore. The castle of Dún na Séad which stands guard over the village was itself sacked by seaborne invaders more than once in its 800 year history. From time immemorial Baltimore, the islands and neighbouring parts of West Cork have been the home of the seafaring O'Driscoll clan whose activities often brought them into conflict with outsiders.
Not all the history is so turbulent. Two years after the attack by Algerian pirates the name of Baltimore crossed the Atlantic to what eventually became the largest city in the state of Maryland. In more recent times rich fisheries and skill at boatbuilding earned the village a reputation far beyond its shores. In 1925 a yacht built in Baltimore, the Saoirse, became the first to fully circumnavigate the globe. A proud history of saving lives at sea is represented by Baltimore lifeboat station with its two lifeboats, one of the oldest stations in Ireland. The seafaring tradition is alive and well at Baltimore, where the night sky is lit by the beams of the Fastnet light, perhaps the most famous lighthouse in the world.