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Danzig – A labour of Love

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Danzig – A labour of Love

Danzig – A Labour of Love

Saothar a spreag sinn

Danzig Spring 2023

Spring 2023

Danzig is an iconic stone building on Cape Clear Island. It stands at the top of Leaca Joan, a steep road rising from North Harbour. From here the road divides to Baile Iarthach or to South Harbour and beyond.

History and Folklore

Over 200 years old Danzig has a rich history. And more has come to light in recent months as the building has been carefully restored.

Restoration Danzig
Danzig being restored

 A new life for an Iconic Building

Saol nua don seantigh

Danzig is to become a store and display center for Lavender products from the Island. Later its planned to include Craft Gins, whiskeys and other products from Cape Clear Distillery. It has room both for display and also for some interesting exhibits for visitors.

As little as possible

Ná bac leis mura bhfuil gá leis

Our approach was to do as little as possible consistent with preserving Danzig for future generations. While we  replaced the original slate  we retained much of the supporting timber-work. So too the lichen covered roof tiles. Meanwhile the original wooden windows were also carefully restored.

Upper window Danzig
Danzig former upper window

Revealing its Secrets

Ag scaoileadh leis na rúnta

As the works progressed this intriguing building shared some of its long-hidden secrets.  We found  evidence of a traumatic fire and we  assume that this was probably the original thatched roof. Also discovered and partially replaced was the original loft. Signs were found of a long closed upper window. Many of the original beams are plainly much older. We presume that these were salvaged from old fishing boats of the 19th Century. Some bear unmistakable signs of their former use.

Beams in Danzig
Beams in Danzig


Two Families

Dhá chlann, ach an rabhadar in adharcha a chéile ?

Quern stone Danzig
Quern stone found in Danzig

Hard to believe that this modest building was once home to two families. So the second Northern entrance was restored to its original opening. Intriguingly while preparing for a new internal floor we found an ancient quern stone buried underneath.

Other artifacts from days gone by

Iarsmaí eile ós na sean laethanta

More recently Danzig was used to store unused items, many from days gone by. While most were in poor condition some we could slavage. This did not include the drag, a type of poor mans cart or sled pulled by a horse or donkey. These were very suitable for the island’s narrow, stoney roads. But others such as various tools, a cradle, a broken telescope and oars are being returned as the building as its contents are restored.

Drag in Danzig
Drag in Danzig

Restoring its Northern doorway

Ag cur an doras arais mar a bhí

Originally Danzig had two doors, one for each family. The Northern door was replaced with a much wider door which suited the buildings more recent use for storage. So this entrance was

restored to its previous size. Amazingly, we found in the debris right in this spot a perfectly sized

lintel and stone threshold. These too were restored to the building as can be seen from the photo.

Cradle restored
Cradle from Danzig

Why was it called Danzig ?

Cén fáth an t-ainm seo Danzig ?

Lintel Danzig
Restored Lintel Danzig

Islands like Cape Clear, inhabited by seafarers were familiar with World affairs. Danzig, today Gdansk in modern Poland was a city once disputed by Germany and Poland. And at the same time a dispute also arose between two families about the ownership of this building.  So the name stuck. Fortunately, this was resolved in the best possible way since a boy and a girl from both families later fell in love and Danzig became theirs. And more recently while most

of those who worked on it were locals, they also included a Pole and a German who worked to restore this historic building.

Keening Lady

Bean caointe

Windows under restoration
Danzig, windows restoration

Cait Carey, the last keening lady on the Island lived in this house in her old age.  Keening was traditionally performed at funerals and was a form of ritualised crying/singing similar to sean-nós singing. Deriving from the Gaelic tradition in both Ireland and Scotland the tradition came to an end towards the beginning of the 20th Century. Her last keening  and the last on Cape Clear Island took place in 1918 .This  was performed by Cait Carey to mourn the passing of a young priest, an tAth Risteard Ó hAlloráin  Richard O’Halloran who died tragically in that year.

A Well


Behind Danzig there is a well and this has also been uncovered. In years to come we plan  to restore this also.


A Labour of love

An saothar a spreag

The restoration of Danzig was a labour of love for all concerned. We all enjoyed our journey into the past and we  hope that our work will be appreciated by many for years to come.

Danzig, photo taken inside before
Danzig inside before reconstruction

Cléire abú. Lus Liath abú. Danzig abú.

Danzig after restoration
Danzig after restoration