Kirkop, a small village in the south of Malta, is inhabited by approximately 2600 people. Its name has thought to have originated from the surname Percopo, belonging to a family that resided in or had a connection to then “hamlet” of Kirkop. The name is also thought to have originated from a member from the court of the King of Sicily who visited Malta at some point and had a summer residence in Kirkop. The name has been written in different ways: Percop, Corcop, Chircop and finally Kirkop. Kirkop’s motto is “Parva non Ivers”, which means ‘small but not idle’.
Kirkop was previously a hamlet and part of the parish of Our Lady of Bir Miftuħ. Churches, such as St. Leonards and St Nicholas, which were built under the old parish, still exist. On the 29th May 1592, the parish of St. Leonard of Kirkop was established by a decree from the Bishop Mons Tomasso Gargallo. The new hamlet also included the hamlets of Mqabba and Safi. The newest church was built soon after the new parish was established and then enlarged in 1706. The church has many features including two bell towers which were built by the local parishioners during their Sundays and holidays.
With fields full of onions and potatoes, the village was renowned for its agriculture. Villagers also bred goats and had irkotta making businesses. Nowadays, one will find only part time farmers as the land has reduced greatly. The reasons for this reduction are as a result of the enlargement of the airport runway, quarrying for resources and housing. In keeping up with tradition, the local council has organised an irkotta festival for four consecutive years. Held in May each year, the festival aims to show traditional methods of irkotta production in contrast with the more modern production.
Religious feasts are well celebrated in Kirkop. During the feast days of Saint Leonard and Saint Joseph, the village is transformed by artistic decorations and festive dress. The feast of St. Joseph is celebrated on the second Sunday in July and the feast of St. Leonard is celebrated on the first Sunday following St. Mary’s feast, which is celebrated on the 15th August.