The unique imagination, energy and determination that John D’Arcy brought to Connemara in the early nineteenth century set in motion a dynamic that would see the development of a new town, the opening up of a previously unknown district and the introduction of settlers into a hitherto forbidden region.
D’Arcy was just nineteen years of age when he inherited his family estates in 1804, imbued with the self-belief that the naivety of youth can bring and a consciousness of his responsibilities as landed proprietor and landlord. This combination ofnoblesse oblige and youthful exuberance propelled his ambitious plan to build a town and to populate his Connemara estate with industrious tenants, capitalists, artisans and merchants.
As time went on, the town’s population increased, its fortunes waxed and waned and its social fabric was knitted together, echoing the political and economic developments taking place throughout Ireland during this period.
A Colony of Strangers: The founding and early history of Clifden is a fascinating study of Irish urban history and a dramatic tale of one man’s efforts to create a new reality in west Galway. Extensive research undertaken by the author paints a vivid picture of many of the town’s early citizens and provides us with an interesting insight into small-town life in the west of Ireland in the first half of the nineteenth century.