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Double Take

Double Take: The 65ft-long whale skeleton on display in a West Cork park

Visitors are sure to have a *whale* of a time.

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IF YOU’VE EVER fancied getting close to a whale – without the risk of being eaten for dinner – you might want to head to west Cork.

Situated in Village Park, just off Main Street, Kilbrittain, is the skeleton of a 65ft-long fin whale – but how did it end up there? 

On 15 January 2009, the whale was found lying on a sandbank on the coast of the town of Burren. The fin whale, the second largest species on earth after the blue whale, was discovered by locals and a rescue operation was put in place, reads an Irish Times report from the time. 

A lifeboat was used to drag the whale back into the water, according to Atlas Obscura, but the mammal went on to die on the shore. A specialist was flown in from America to examine the carcass and perform an autopsy, before locals were faced with the decision of what to do with the body. 

A group of volunteers worked to remove the animal’s blubber while workers from a nearby meat factory provided tractors and lorries to aid the volunteers in removing the blubber.

This was no easy feat considering fin whales can weigh up to 70,500kg (70.5 tonnes), according to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group. The major organs were removed for tests, while the flesh was sent for incineration, states a report by

However, there was uncertainty between two villages as to who owned the carcass, according to an article published in the Irish Independent at the time. Kilbrittain locals stated that the whale died in their section of the harbour, while residents in Courtmacsherry, a village located just across the harbour, proposed displaying the jaw bones in their town hall. 

Adding to the conflict, locals in Kilbrittain removed the jaw bones and kept them in a “secret location” before it was decided that the entire skeleton would go on display in the village. 

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More than 10 years later, the fin whale skeleton is displayed in Village Park with a playground and picnic area above it, allowing visitors to have a whale of a time whenever they stop by. 

More Double Take: The oddly-named Dalkey road that was once a very unusual railway

More Double Take: The Dublin square that was once one of the city’s most crowded graveyards

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