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The Cottage at Bantry Bay, by Hilda van Stockum
: Bethlehem Books
Number of pages
: 239


This is the story of the O’Sullivan family from Glengerriff, County Cork, Ireland. Mr. and Mrs. O’Sullivan, Michael and Brigid, Francie and Liam (6-year old twins) are one body with one heart. They live in poverty but have a wonderful spirit of charity. They also find their happiness in simple things.

The children have many adventures, one of them being the discovery in a cove of a treasure consisting of some very old poems. With the money given as a reward for this great finding, the O’Sullivan family is able to take Francie to a doctor in Dublin in order to have his foot fixed. An interesting character in the book is Paddy the Piper. He is a bard, "someone who keeps the love of Ireland warm in the hearts of her people." Irish Catholics suffered 800 years of religious persecution at the hands of the English. Poets were a big factor in keeping the Faith alive (of uprising in 1916). Paddy gives his songs and makes everyone happy.

Strong points:

  • We see a united family whose members love each other.
  • The O’Sullivans live their Catholic Faith (for instance, they attend Mass, p. 118)
  • Other families show kindness, such as the Flynns (p. 41-46) or the O’Flaherty (chapter 8)
  • The reader is introduced to the world of Irish culture (fairies, etc.) and admires their perseverance in the Faith.
  • Paddy is the happiest person in the book and at the same time he is the poorest. "Money is of no use to me. It won’t buy me the things I care for. …the swell of the sea and the sight of the gulls on the wing, the sweep of a road in front of me, the friendly faces greeting me at cottage doors, the kindness of the stars at night, and the wet nose of a dog pressed in me hand…Money won’t buy me the look in a mother’s eye when she watches her child, nor will it make me flute play faster or me blood run stronger in me veins…" (p, 236)

Cautions: None.


This book is a wonderful commentary on the doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ. The O’Sullivans all live in Our Lord. The Cottage at Bantry Bay is an excellent story and the illustrations (by the author herself) are beautiful.