Dan Boyle: Revenge For Skibbereen


From top: Protestors in Skibbereen opposing plans for a plastics factory manufacturing polymer pellets in the town last February; Dan Boyle

When our family moved from Chicago to Cork, my Dad stayed there for a further five years. He worked as a merchant seaman on the Great Lakes. His intent to build up a nest egg.

During this period we would have see him for a few weeks in and around Christmas time.

At other times we would record cassette tapes we sent to the US/Canada to let him know we were thinking of him and missing him.

As a 10 year old I would have performed my party piece, which found it way onto one such cassette. It was the somewhat mawkish yet still somehow anthemic famine song, ‘Skibbereen’.

The open lines of the song continues to be evocative for me, precisely because of how it came to exist in my life.

“Oh Father dear I often hear you speak of Erin’s isle”

Several verses later while ranging from the near piteous to the near militant, the song ends with a rallying cry ‘Revenge for Skibbereen’.

I think of the song as a link in my relationship with my Dad. It has also given me something of an affinity with the town of Skibbereen.

The place that suffered the worst ravages of the Potato Famine has lot going for it now.

The gateway to the glories of West Cork, the town is surrounded by a necklace of incredibly beautiful coastal villages. Add to those locations the wonderful Lough Hyne, and you have a region that compares with any of the visually stunning parts of the World.

West Cork isn’t without the economic difficulties other regions experience. Despite many persistent obstacles, great efforts have been made to make Skibbereen more economically diverse.

The development of a globally rated local food culture has been part of that process. As has been the establishment The Ludgate Hub, named after a turn of the 20th century computing pioneer, Percy Ludgate, a Skibbereen native, who developed an analytical machine.

This Centre is attempting to provide a template for IT companies to exist and thrive in small towns in Ireland.

Into this mix someone somewhere has decided that Skibbereen needs an industrial component to its economic development.

Over the past year a proposal to construct a plastics factory in the town has been making its way through the planning system.

There has been practically no support for this factory in the town. It is felt it is in no way complementary, and is thought to be openly compromising, of the economic development that has been occurring there.

The opposition has turned into justified anger as planners in Cork County Council, and subsequently Bord Pleanala, have flexibly interpreted planning regulations so that the plastics company has not been obliged to provide an environmental impact statement, or seek an air pollution licence.

Last week Bord Pleanala chose to approve the application, ignoring the need for such safeguards. Tonight another in a series of well attended public meetings will be held in Skibbereen, to consider what further opposition will be made. Details here.

Time to add a few more verses to that song.

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator. His column appears here every Thursday. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle

Pic via The Southern Star

33 thoughts on “Dan Boyle: Revenge For Skibbereen

    1. qwerty123

      The headline on the picture said plastics recycling facility, it has now changed. Seems strange they didn’t have to provide an impact statement?

  1. Tom

    So you’re worried about the prosperity of your small town. A company wants to setup business but you don’t want it because it’s not some cool IT setup. You complain about plastics by typing away on a plastic keyboard.

    Where should the plastic factory be located and why not Skibereen?

    1. Donal

      I read somewhere about how the oil companies are trying to diversify their activities to reduce the impact that a world that is trying to wean itself off oil will have on oil consumption. One diversification was to invest massively in plastics production. This while the world is also dealing with a large problem relating to plastic waste. I’m not sure more plastic production is needed, so why anywhere is my question? Existing plastics factories are causing enough problems, why add to them?

      1. Clampers Outside!

        I wouldn’t call that a particularly good example of diversification, but more a product extension as plastics are made from oil.

        The wee lad in Indonesia ( or is it Thailand?) making edible plastic cup / container replacement products from seaweed is the way to go… I hope.

  2. CO2 Rocks

    Time to abandon your globalised Neo-liberal nonsense and it’s austerity agenda.

    You want to impoverish the very people you claim you want to represent. You want to deprive them of cheap and abundant hydrocarbon energy. You want to flood their communities with imported migrants and engineer a clash of cultures where the ‘other’ will hold sway over the local. And now you want to deprive these same communities of economic opportunity and industrial manufacturing jobs.

    Macron, the European poster boy for globalisation, carbon taxes and uncontrolled migration has just got BTFO by his own people and even his generals have suggested he is on the verge of treason.

    And yet here’s Dan Boyle blithely promoting the same agenda oblivious to the damage it causes.

    Nobody could support your anti-people, anti-wealth programme to dismantle ordinary decent Irish communities.

    Go away Dan Boyle. Leave us alone and never come back.

    1. millie st murderlark

      Touch of Smeagol about your last words there, Zup. Might want to have a word with your inner Gollum, no?

    2. Nigel

      Remove govrrnment subsidies, add the costs of preventing, monitoring and cleaning up pollution and plastic waste, factor in the costs of conflicts based around control of production and supply and see how cheap it really is.

  3. Otis Blue

    Here’s some useful context on economic development in West Cork, more generally.


    What’s particularly interesting about West Cork is that it’s successes have not been either Government or Locally Authority-led. It’s been successful by local interests identifying its assets and opportunities and developing these accordingly.

    As Dan suggests why Skibbereen was picked for this development – and by whom – is curious and warrants explanation

  4. $hifty

    “West Cork isn’t without the economic difficulties other regions experience. Despite many persistent obstacles, great efforts have been made to make Skibbereen more economically diverse.”

    Sounds like a great candidate for a new employer into the region. Just because its not Apple or Microsoft doesn’t mean you should be turning your nose up at it…….in fact, it should be welcomed, no?

    Investment snobbery……the Boom is Back Baby.

  5. Ollie Cromwell

    Didn’t Bord Pleanala do something similar down in Cork harbour with that incinerator where they decided to over-rule their own inspector’s recommendations ?
    I would have thought things like this would have been covered by EU regulations …

  6. Ollie Cromwell

    I had a wonderful dinner at the Church restaurant in Skibbereen while motoring through last year.
    The rack of lamb in particular was historic.

        1. Ollie Cromwell

          I’ve been asked very politely to moderate a certain aspect of my comments which is becoming tedious. I spend a lot of time on this site and I certainly don’t wish to be banned. I apologise for any rude assertions I’ve made about moderators who have exercised an extremely light touch with me thus far. Pip Pip.

  7. newsjustin

    “….someone somewhere has decided that Skibbereen needs an industrial component…”

    Ireland isn’t a planned economy. People are free to set up enterprises where they like, as long as they obey the law.

    “…so that the plastics company has not been obliged to provide….”
    “….ignoring the need for such safeguards.”

    Perhaps because it is deemed not to need these things at all?

  8. ollie

    So the good people of Skibbereen are happy to use plastic once it’s manufactured elsewhere, and then complain about the lack of jobs in the Town.
    Yep, Culchies

    1. Nigel

      The oceans are choked with plastic it’s literally in the food chain but you’re sneering at these Culchies who think they’re too good for a plastics factory?

  9. Ollie Cromwell

    Ten rivers contribute to most of the plastic in the world’s oceans and not one of them is in Europe.
    Ocean plastic is a guilt trip forced on the rest of the population by environmentalists and green politicians pursing ever more expensive and ludicrous policies at the expense of common sense.

  10. Jose Ospina

    Having attended the Save Our Skibbereen meeting last night, it occurs to me that what we need is a Sustainable Enterprise Centre proposal to oppose to the Plastics factory. This could be a genuine light industrial park that provides space for only sustainable SMEs. that use local and sustainable materials and skills and provide quality and reusable, non-polluting products. The Sustainable Park could bring in the IDA as Partner and secure EU funds for development (there are many Programmes out there that support fabLabs, Circular Economy, Reuse, etc.) This development could provide at least 50 quality jobs and enhance rather that pollute the environment. I think the defence proposed is good. But in the medium and long term we need alternatives that can be supported. We need to me pro-active…Maybe Sustainable Skibbereen could develop this?

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