West Cork Fisheries 1700-1750

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West Cork Fisheries 1700-1750

From the early modern period onwards, there was an association of the south west coast with unexploited plenty.  The West Cork pilchard fishery was particularly significant at this point in time.  Improvers such as Boate targeted the south west as an area ripe for development – though they were often frustrated in this respect.   The following section considers the West Cork Fisheries 1700-1750.

At the start of this period, the West Cork pilchard fishery was already in decline.  Irish fisheries (such as Sir William Petty’s on Dursey Island) were privately funded.[1]  Indeed, fishing was one of the trades the White family engaged in, eventually amassing enough wealth to purchase land and build Bantry House in the 1770s.[2]  These private enterprises were risky and often unsuccessful, however.[3]  Ireland also faced competition from foreign fishermen.   In the following pages we will explore some of these themes in more detail.

[1] de Courcy Ireland, Ireland’s Sea Fisheries, pp. 30-35

[2] Breen (2007 213).

[3] Rynne, p, 200.