The old 1818 Cape Clear lighthouse beside the slightly older signal tower on the top of the island
He and wife Ann had had four children born on Inis Mor (Robert, 1816; Ann 1817; Elizabeth 1820; and Mary 1822) and a fifth child, John, was born on Arranmore, or Arran North, as it was sometimes called, in 1826. Robert's third and final station - also an inhabited offshore station - was at Cape Clear, the light which preceded the Fastnet, off the coast of county Cork.
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.)
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.
My suspicions as to the author of the letter fall on one John S. Sloane, later Chief Engineer of the Ballast Board, even though this learned gentleman does not include his tell-tale catchphrase in the piece. But the style is very Sloane and he would have had access to the lighthouse through his work with the Ballast Board.
The first business of the meeting, involved the secretary of the local Repeal Movement, reading out a letter he had written to Robert Wilson asking him to chair the meeting: