Thursday, November 5, 2020

Quare goings-on at Cape Clear


When I was a child, my parents often had trouble with the neighbours over one thing or another, no matter where we lived. Now I'm an adult, I'm prepared to put up with a bit of inconvenience to avoid the nasty, obsessive feeling of being at loggerheads with 'them next door.' Even if you don't see your neighbours from one end of the year to the next, its a very underrated feeling to have no issues with twitching curtains.
Not so these two boyos, as reported to the Cork Southern Reporter, back in early 1843.

Intolerance and Bigotry even at a Lighthouse

There is a Lighthouse on the Southern Coast of Ireland, not five miles from Cape Clear, on which two Lightkeepers reside with their families in different habitations, the one a Protestant and the other a Roman Catholic. The Protestant is principal light man, was a Lieutenant of Marines, and is this long time retired from the service on her Majesty’s half pay. This sprig of the Reformation is in the habit of being visited by a saintly Parson of the neighbourhood, who never comes without some of his followers in his train. A Coast Guard and his family (all Protestants) living near are summoned to attend the station (if such a popish name could apply to the gathering.)

The keepers' cottages on Cape Clear are now reduced to being a couple of gable walls.

Induced by the example set by his neighbour, the Catholic Lightkeeper resolved to have his station too, and for that purpose invited the Priest to his house. The Priest, faithful to his engagement, was at the gate of the Lighthouse early on the morning of the day appointed but was met by his parishioner, the Lightkeeper, with tears in his eyes. Gentle reader, you will think those tears were tears of gladness at the sight of a respected clergyman coming to discharge the duties of his calling. No such thing: they were tears of dread and dismay at the frightful rating he got a few minutes before for presuming to introduce a Popish priest into the sanctuary of the Lighthouse, hallowed as it was by the visits of the saintly person above alluded to. The poor man was threatened with being instantly turned off and deprived of his livelihood if he dared to introduce any Minister of “that damned infernal Church” to pollute with his presence a place hitherto sacred only to the flying visits of any Ranter of the Law Church who may choose to come there. The Priest, of course, not wishing to involve any member of his flock in trouble, did not urge his visit, but immediately returned home.
These facts will speak for themselves and who, after reading them, can envy the gallant Marine, or his less fortunate brother of the lantern, their feelings.
Cape Clear, April 29th, 1843. 

"There is a lighthouse ...not five miles from Cape Clear" is an interesting phrase. Not sure who the writer is trying to kid. The only lighthouse at this time between Kinsale and Skellig Michael was on Cape Clear itself. I bet the families had a great relationship after that little incident!

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