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Mary Carbery’s West Cork Journal

eBook Only

By: Jeremy Sandford

Publication Date: 8 Dec 1998

(2 customer reviews)


This is the remarkable journal of an Englishwoman in her early thirties abroad in Ireland, recently widowed and sole mistress of the vast neo-medieval Castle Freke overlooking a remote headland in west Cork, where she raised her young family in the company of servants, dependants and occasional visitors. Reflective and sensitive, Mary Carbery was deeply attuned to the spirit of place and to the people she lived amongst in Ross Carbery, studying Irish and taking note of local speech, folklife and customs.

This journal of 1898 to 1901, previously unpublished, is an intimate record of one woman’s growing attachment to an alien countryside and its inhabitants, bringing them vividly to life with the eye of a naturalist and the ear of a writer. The editor, Jeremy Sandford, describes his grandmother’s life before and after the period of journal, and the fate of the Carbery family at a time of seismic political and social change. His commentary encompasses the terrible fire of 1910, and the rebuilding of the castle; the disaffection of her eldest son John, and 10th Lord Carbery – a daredevil aeronaut who sold Castle Freke in 1919 and joined the ‘Happy Valley’ set in Kenya; and Mary’s own wanderings, writings and gentle decline at Eye Manor in the Welsh border country.

A singular work, appearing in the centenary year of its inception, Mary Carbery’s West Cork Journal will take its place among the minor classics of Ireland’s Literary Revival.

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2 reviews for Mary Carbery’s West Cork Journal

  1. Lilliput Press

    “Beautifully written book, I will definitely treasure full of history and if you live in West Cork
    this is a must buy… a book that can be passed down to generations.” KATHERINE ROSS

  2. Lilliput Press

    “For anybody who knows West Cork, this gem of a book will take them deeper into its past, and help perhaps to understand a bit more about the present. This is live history, as well as a fascinating and touching personal memoir, and not just a nostalgia trip – and it’s real, a wonderful complement to the fictional works of Somerville and Ross. This journal is all the more poignant, given that Castlefreke was burnt in 1910, restored by 1913, and then suddenly sold in 1921 by her son John, the 10th Earl, who departed to Kenya where he became a noted member of the Happy Valley set (White Mischief). More bizarre still, a descendant has recently bought the wreck of Castlefreke and is lovingly restoring it once more. There is a certain amount in this book about fairies, and the beliefs of the old countrry people at that time, and the story of the great house is surely a fairy story in its own right. Mary Carbery, widowed at a tragically early age and confronted with the task of running this great house and estate in deepest rural SW Ireland, shines off the pages as a woman of courage, empathy and intelligence. It’s a slim volume, but full of treasure.” HADDOCK

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Weight 0.01 kg
Publication Date

8 Dec 1998


eBook, 158pp