Published in Issue 2 (March/April 2022), Volume 30


The skeletal remains of six people found at the site of Nancy Spain’s pub in Cork city have presented a mystery. The ‘Barrack Street Six’ are at least 300 years old, but who they are remains unknown. The bones were discovered by builders doing preparatory work to demolish the pub in order to build social housing. The origins of Barrack Street can be traced back to 900 years ago, in an area incorporating Gallows Green and Elizabeth Fort. In 1690 Cork was besieged by Williamite forces. The fort held out but surrendered when the city wall was breached after a bombardment. No record was kept of where the casualties were buried. Nearby Gallows Green saw many people hanged, with no official reports of where they were buried. It is said that United Irishmen were hanged en masse at Gallows Green in 1798. Thus there are plenty of candidates for the six skeletons found there.

The Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust is launching the Endurance22 expedition to mark the centenary of Ernest Shackleton’s death. The expedition will consist of the research vessel SA Agulhas II, which will travel to the Weddell Sea and film the wreckage of the Endurance using underwater robots. The Endurance was one of two ships used by the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, led by Irish explorer Ernest Shackleton, which hoped to complete the first land crossing of the Antarctic. The 144ft-long, three-masted schooner was sturdily built to endure polar winters but became stuck in pack ice on the Weddell Sea on 18 January 1915. The vessel and its 28-man crew remained stuck there until the ship was crushed by the ice in late October and finally sank on 21 November 1915. The men made their way across the ice to Elephant Island. Shackleton and a five-man crew, including Tom Crean, sailed for South Georgia in an open boat and eventually returned to rescue the rest of his men on board the steam tug Yelcho, which they borrowed from the Chilean Navy. The Endurance22 expedition will also include live-streaming and podcasting from ice camps, which will be available online. Media company History Hit has teamed up with the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust in order to air documentary footage from the expedition on digital channels and social media platforms.

Above: Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance, stuck in pack ice in the Antarctic’s Weddell Sea, where it eventually sank in November 1915. (Scott Polar Research Institute)

Floorboards once walked on by Ernest Shackleton have been made into a violin. The boards were salvaged from a skip outside the house in Edinburgh’s South Learmonth Gardens where Shackleton lived when he was the secretary of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society (1904–10). The violin was made by Edinburgh-based luthier Steve Burnett. Inside is carved the names of all 28 crew members of the Endurance, along with a poem by Irish writer Mel McMahon.

The Kerry Archaeological and Historical Society recently launched a landmark edition of its journal—the 50th issue of this august publication. First appearing in 1968, the journal has recorded the heritage of County Kerry for the past 50+ years, publishing a variety of academic articles on topics relating to the history and archaeology of the county, and features about the exploits of Kerry people across the globe. The Society’s editor, Tony Bergin, said: ‘We are really proud to have reached this milestone of the 50th print edition of the publication. The Journal plays a vital role as a medium to record and document the history and archaeology of our county.’ This latest edition includes articles on archaeological excavations on the N70 Kilderry Bends Road Improvement Scheme near Killorglin; recent rock art discoveries; and a detailed account of the Lispole Ambush/Luíochán Lios Póil, which took place during the War of Independence. For full details see

The Guinness family, famous as a brewing dynasty, have been called on to make a stately home in west Donegal available for the teaching of Irish and the promotion of Gaelic culture. Nestled in woodland near Dunlewey Lake in the west Donegal Gaeltacht, the pink stately home is in the scenic Poisoned Glen under Mount Errigal. For many Northern holidaymakers and visitors, Dunlewey House, built almost 200 years ago, is a key landmark on the journey into the Gaeltacht. Previous owners of the property, which also encompasses outbuildings and extensive land, included the Russell family, who paid for the building of the iconic, now roofless, An tSean Eaglais (the Old Church) in Dunlewey. The house is today owned by the Guinness family as a holiday home. West Donegal independent councillor Micheál Mac Giolla Easbuig supports calls to make the property available for wider public use. He says that the house is rarely used by the family and would be a ‘national asset’ while benefiting the local economy. Among possible uses is a campus to teach Irish to communities unfamiliar with Gaelic culture.


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