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The entry of South West Cork into international trade with Europe from the late 16th century. Seizures 1620 of ‘Plymouth’ sailing from Kinsale to Cadiz and Malaga by Turks and Moores and of ‘Weymouth’ sailing from Bantry with pilchards to Alicante in Spain and the crew being sold into slavery by the Turks and Moors.

The above are from the records of Trinity House in London and the summaries are available on British History Online. They illustrate the extend of international trading in the period affecting the area.

Under the old Gaelic order trade took the form of barter of fish for wine or as a rentier where o’Sullivan Bere received a tribute from the Spaniards to fish or rent for fish palaces on Whiddy Island. In evidence before a parliamentary Commission sitting in Bantry in 1836 a member of the Bantry Young family said that they had lost a considerable sum in the failure of a bank in Bilbao around 1640 suggesting that the operational system was in place for some previous time.


Apart from pilchards timber was bring exploited and exported and in East Cork Sir Walter Raleigh was exporting timber products to Spain and the Canaries, In the same area iron smelters and glass works were bring established in the Bride Valley.

The old Gaelic order was not equipped culturally or have the business skills or contacts to integrate with the developing European economy and the process is an important one of cultural exchange ultimately beneficial to everyone. There had been a limited amount of trade as witnessed in the Customs receipts of Kinsale and Baltimore prior to 1600.

The introduction of English and welsh businessmen such as Davenant, Hull and others enabled a high value product to enter international trade. Their experience, training, financial backing from London houses and marketing contacts opened up the local economy to internaational trade. This commenced a process which enabled the dramatic transformation of the local landscape, enormous population increase both local and abroad among descendant of local people and the enormous prosperity enjoyed today.

By the middle of the 17th century the records of the East India Company suggest that youths from the most remote townlands of West Cork were joining their army and navy for Indian service:


19 March 1620. Certificates by Trinity House

They have been asked by James Carter, mariner of Plymouth, and others to certify that he was master of the John of London (about 60 tons) bound from Kinsale in Ireland to Cadiz and Malaga in Spain when the ship was surprised by Turks and Moors on 17 Sept. last. He and all his crew, numbering 8, were taken to Arcila in Barbary, enslaved, sold 5 times, and cruelly misused. Carter lost his adventure of £140 in goods and merchandise. His release was secured by a Jew, and he was sent home to obtain ransom for himself and 5 others who are held in great misery at Tetuán in Barbary. The ransom of 800 rials a man, equivalent to a total of £420 for all of them, would make his total loss £560, which he will never be able to raise without help.

Thomas Best, Thomas Love, Nicholas Diggens, Michael Geere, Walter Whyting, Robert Rickman, Thomas Milton, Roger Gunston, Rowland Coytmore, Matthew Woodcot.

160. 28 March 1620. Certificate by Trinity House

At the request of Clement White, mariner of Weymouth in Dorset, and others they certify that he was pilot of the Hopewell of Rye (about 35 tons) which last September sailed from thence to Bantry in Ireland where he loaded a cargo of pilchards. Sailing from thence to Alicante in Spain, the ship was surprised by a Turkish man-of-war near the Southern Cape. He was sold to the Moors in Arcila in Barbary who took him to Tetuán, where he was kept in cruel slavery for about 2 months. English merchants then ransomed him for £30 which he now owes and cannot repay because he lost his estate of £40 when the ship was taken. He, his wife and 6 children are likely to perish.

Henry Rawlin, Thomas Best, John Moore, Nicholas Diggens, Thomas Love, William Ivie, Thomas Milton, Robert Rickman, Rowland Coytmore, Robert Bradsho.

1648 Winspeare Bantry export staves: