An island community off the south-west coast has come up with a novel way of raising money, while also educating visitors about its past. Two artists created three graphic novels which detail the history of Cape Clear, the heroic rescue of a liner’s crew, and the story of a chalice which disappeared for more than 200 years.
Created in comic-strip fashion, the graphic novels have gone on sale at the island’s tourist office and craft shop, with the proceeds going towards their upkeep.
Seamus Ó Drisceoil, who was involved in the project, said there are plans to create another two graphic novels, one of which will focus on another dramatic sea rescue.
Titled The Greatest Film Never Made, one of the recently-produced graphic novels concerns the true story of the daring rescue carried out by Cape Clear islanders in 1917 on the steamship Nestorian.
“It was foundered on the wild, western side of the island in a bad gale. With all the ship’s lifeboats smashed by the storm, all hope was lost until the Cadogans and Dalys arrived at dawn and effected the rescue in a
rowing boat, deftly handled by brave and accomplished oarsmen,” Mr Ó Drisceoil said.
One sailor was lost, while the survivors expressed a lifelong deep gratitude to the brave Cape Clear islanders.
“It tells the story, and readers will be glad to know that their gallant efforts were rewarded by the highest of commendations and medals from the Royal National Lifeboat Institute.
“Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way has truly earned its name, and this is only one of many exciting stories of heroism, against the odds, from Cape Clear,” Mr Ó Drisceoil added.
The artwork for the story of the 1917 rescue was done by Oisín Hughes, a recent new resident on the island. He also did the artwork for the publication The Timoleague Chalice. The chalice was saved from the Timoleague Friary when it was burned by English troops in 1642. Some Franciscan monks managed to escape from the friary, which was built in 1240. They got away in a rowing boat and headed west until they were picked up by fishermen from Cape Clear.
The friars left them the chalice in a box, with instructions that it was not to be opened until they returned, but they never did. Mr Ó Drisceoil said that in 1855 the local parish priest was visiting the island and spotted the box. He gave instructions to open it, and when locals did so, they found the chalice, plus some vestments. The third graphic novel features a history of Cape Clear island, with its artwork compiled by a visiting artist from Cornwall, England.
It is believed its earliest inhabitants arrived around 2,500BC and art carvings on stones on the island are understood to have been made by them. The novel details the island’s patron saint, St Kevin, as well as the upright stones painted there in the early 1800s to look like British soldiers, which was supposed to deter a French invasion.
Later in the same century a telegraph station was opened on the island and as a result, the islanders became the first people in the British Isles to find out about the outbreak of the American Civil War.
“There are plans for further [novels], the next proposed being the rescue of the crew of the steamship Hazelsize, which took place in 1938, and the story of the famous Cape Clear Stone, carved by the first settlers,” Mr Ó Drisceoil said.