Cork’s Rebellious Past

Cork is the main destination on our Cork & Blarney Castle Tour. County Cork is both the largest and most southern county in all of Ireland. It is also the 3rd most populous after Dublin and Antrim.

Rebel County

Cork is known as the Rebel County. This is because it has a long history of challenging claims to authority. Most people assume that the title has to do with Cork’s prominent role in the War of Independence in the 20th Century. However the county’s history of rebellion can be traced back to the Vikings. As far back as the 9th century people from the area now known as Cork have been recorded destroying Viking Castles. They also killed the Norse leader known as Gnimbeolu. 

During the 12th century the MacCarthy clan managed to take control of the southern part of the Kingdom of Munster. Then they renamed it The Kingdom of Desmond. The MacCarthys were eventually replaced by the Fitzgerald dynasty following the Norman Invasion. The Fitzgeralds were famous for their enthusiasm for Gaelic culture.

<Cork rebels

Gerald Fitzgerald was a descendant of the family and was known as the unofficial King of Ireland. He would set in place the events that led to Cork being nicknamed ‘the rebel county’. King Henry VII won the War of the Roses and the English crown in 1458. After this Fitzgerald supported the claim of the Earl of Warwick (who was later found to be an imposter) to the Lordship of Ireland.

A rebellion against Henry VII was launched in 1941 from Ireland. A man named Perkin Warbeck arrived in Cork city. The majority of Corkonians supported his claim to the throne whereas other parts of Ireland did not. This support of Warbeck led the English to deem Cork ‘the rebel county’.

Cork continued this rebellious tradition as time went on with the Fitzgeralds launching the Desmond rebellions. These were periods of deep struggle against the English who increased their control over Ireland. During the Battle of Kinsale in 1601 the English had a decisive victory which nearly put an end to Gaelic Ireland. However this did not kill Cork’s rebellious streak and it became evident again during the 19th century when the County played a significant role in the War of Independence.