``Guns, harpoons, lances, casks and every [necessary] article'': An account of the history and archaeology of an eighteenth-century shore-based whaling and basking shark fishery in Donegal bay

Rory William Adamson McNeary

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    Landowners were probably the most important social, economic, and political force for change in 18th-century Ireland and were in the strongest position to shape the economy and environment of the island (Kelly 1985). In southwestern Donegal, a whaling company was founded by local landed entrepreneurs and merchants on the back of attempts to develop the fisheries of the northwest in general. Although this was not a longstanding venture, it pre-dates the later Norwegian-run whaling stations on the West Coast by some 130 years (Fairley 1981). Documentation consists of generalized accounts, including various petitions to the Irish Parliament for financial aid, as well as accounts in contemporary journals. Documentary data is not captured at the individual site level and, because of this, the location of the shore-based station is not definite. A site in the townland of Port, near Inver, is tentatively suggested as a possible location for a tryworks (the name given to the iron pots used for boiling the oil out of the blubber of whales), or at least a location where the activity of flensing or cutting-in (the process of removing blubber from the whale's carcass) was carried out (Figure 1).
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)115-124
    JournalHistorical Archaeology
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


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