West Cork History

From Recollecting John Clarke Sullivan, Nemasket, Mass. USA


Bantry was typical of Irish towns of the era, with great disparities between the Anglo-Irish population and that of the Native Irish. The great scenic beauty of the region contrasted sharply with the poverty of a large number of its inhabitants. English novelist William Makepeace Thackeray captured this contrast in The Irish Sketch Book of 1842. Describing Bantry a year prior to Sullivan’s birth, Thackeray wrote:

The harbour is beautiful. Small mountains in green undulations rising on the opposite side; great grey ones further back; a pretty island in the midst of the water, which is wonderfully bright and calm. A handsome yacht, and two or three vessels with their Sunday colors out, were lying in the bay. It looked like a seaport scene at a theatre, gay, cheerful, neat, and picturesque. At a little distance the town, too, is pretty…

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