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Heritage and history

Traditional sailing craft at the annual Wooden Boats Festival

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 guard 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 for centuries ruled over Baltimore, often brought them into conflict with outsiders.

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 strong tradition of saving life embodied by the volunteer crews of one of the oldest lifeboat stations in Ireland.

Baltimore Heritage Trail

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