The Skibbereen Heritage Center

A Source for Genealogists

When doing genealogy in Ireland on the Crowley surname, a good source to have is the Heritage Center in Skibbereen, which is the second largest town in Cork County and the most southerly town in Ireland. In famine times and today, the Crowley surname is very common. Even if you don't know for sure where your Crowley ancestor lived in County Cork, the Heritage Center in Skibbereen is worth your time.

Prior to the 1600s, the McCarthy Clan held most of the land in Skibb (as it is known). The Crowley Clan was closely aligned with the McCarthys and fought with them in battle. McCarthy is the most common name in Skibb, but Crowley is also strongly represented there.

The Heritage Center is on the edge of the downtown area in the historic Gasworks Building on Upper Bridge Street, telephone (353) 28 40900; e-mail It is situated on the banks of the River Ilen and has walking and picnic grounds on the riverside. It is a good place to watch birds and water fowl.

The staff is friendly and knowledgeable about local history. In addition to an excellent exhibit about pre-famine history and a bookstore/gift shop, the center contains historical and genealogical records for the area. Many of the records can be accessed on the internet.

One database is of transcriptions from old graveyards in the area. This is an ongoing project of the Heritage Council. There are records from the 19th century Loan Fund institutions which provided credit to the poor. There are estate records from the Wrixon-Becher estate, and Tithe Applotment books from the 1820s and 1830s.

The center also has copies of Griffiths Valuation and 1901, 1911 Irish Census, and records from local churches. Searches are available for a donation.

The center is closed in the winter months, but is open March to November, Tuesday through Saturday, from 10am to 6pm.

Skibbereen is an interesting Irish town to visit. Their website is: The downtown is well preserved and has an historic feeling. It is an easy town for walking. Downtown streets are now one way, and traffic problems are not as bad as they used to be. It can be reached on R71 from Cork City. If you are in a self-catering cottage, it is a good town to visit for your groceries. There is also a lovely 18 hole golf course on the south side of town.

By Marian Crowley Chamberlain, Crowley Clan Newsletter, July 2012