The small village which shares its name with one of the largest cities in America has had a long and occasionally turbulent history. It has always been shaped by the sea — so much so that in 1631 much of the population was carried off by pirates, an event known as the Sack of Baltimore. Even the castle of Dún na Séad which stands watch over the village was sacked by seaborne invaders more than once in its 800 year career. However, piracy in these waters was not a one-way street and area was itself a haven for pirates of various nationalities, while the activities of the seafaring O’Driscoll clan, who ruled over Baltimore for centuries, often caused more than just raised eyebrows.
In more recent times the seafaring tradition has continued but in a more peaceful vein. The fine harbour and proximity to some of the best fishing grounds in Europe made Baltimore an important centre for commercial fishing, alongside which a boatbuilding industry grew up whose shipwrights earned a reputation far beyond the shores of West Cork. And if life in the village could be somewhat hazardous in centuries gone by, Baltimore today boasts a proud tradition of saving life at sea, embodied by the volunteers who man one of the oldest lifeboat stations in Ireland.