Cornelius Sullivan bookseller of Cork City
Niall C.E.J. O’Brien
On Tuesday, 18th November 1766 the wedding took place in Cork city of Ranigius Fallon of St. Kitts, merchant, to Miss Ann Sullivan, daughter of the eminent Cork bookseller, Cornelius Sullivan. The Freeman Journal (2nd December 1766) gave the groom’s name as Redmond Fallon of St. Kitts. Faulkner’s Dublin Journal of 1766 also reported on the wedding and said that Mr. Fallen was a West-India merchant while Miss Sullivan had a considerable fortune. This fortune was given in the Cork Constitution as about £1,000. A woman with money was often mentioned in the newspapers accompanying marriage notices such as that of Miss Jackson of Co. Limerick in 1770, who was described as ‘a young lady endowed with every accomplishment that can render the marriage state truly happy, with a large fortune’.
Cork’s trade with the West Indies was growing throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as the number of colonies grew. Cork’s chief export to the West Indies, to places like St. Kitts, was in the form of provisions such as beef, butter, pork, herrings, candles and sometimes linen.
There were people called Fallon (such as Daniel Fallon) living on St. Kitts in the 1630s, then known as St. Christopher. The first English colony on St. Kitts was established in 1623 and the French established their colony there in 1625. The island changed many times between French and English control in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. St. Kitts was a major sugar growing colony and slaves played a vital role in the business. It is very possible that Redmond Fallon was some way involved in the save trade and sugar growing. It is possible that Redmond Fallon made the voyage to Cork from St. Kitts on a number of occasions, bringing sugar and returning with provisions and possibly some books from the Brown Street premises of Cornelius Sullivan.
No. 14 Brown St. is the three story building in mid picture –
near where Cornelius Sullivan had his shop
It is not known when Cornelius Sullivan first established his bookselling business in Cork. With a name like Sullivan he or his ancestors possibly came from south-west Cork around the coasts of Bantry and the Beare Peninsula.
So far, 1738, provides the earliest notice of Cornelius Sullivan as a bookseller. In May 1738 Cornelius Sullivan was operating a book shop under the Exchange Coffee House on Exchange Street. By that early date he must have been a successful bookseller for in May 1738 Cornelius Sullivan placed an advert in Harvey’s Jocular Medley that he was the letting agent for the inn called the Blew Bell in Cove Lane near the South Gate. it is not clear if he actually was the owner of the Blew Bell (J.C.H.A.S., vol. LXII, 1957, p. 95).
In 1741 Cornelius Sullivan, bookseller of Cork, was a subscriber to The Genuine Works of F. Josephus: Translated from the Original Greek by Flavius Josephus and edited by William Whiston of Cambridge University. The book was printed in Dublin by George Ewing.
In 1747 Cornelius Sullivan, bookseller of Cork, subscribed for four sets of The Life and Exploits of the Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote de la Mancha by Miguel Cervantes de Saavedra and translated from Spanish by Charles Jarvis. The book was printed by Peter Wilson of Dame Street, Dublin.
In 1748 a person called Cornelius Sullivan, operated a bookselling business in Newry, subscribed for eight sets of A New History of the Holy Bible by the Rev. Thomas Stackhouse. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that this Cornelius Sullivan of Newry and Cornelius Sullivan of Cork was one and the same person, but further research is needed to prove or disprove this case.
In the Corke Journal of 15th February 1754 Cornelius Sullivan was operating out of Castle Street in Cork city. In the Corke Journal (11/7/1754) and (15/8/1754) Cornelius Sullivan advertised his bookselling business on Castle Street. Castle Street in the mid eighteenth century was a good location for a bookselling business. The Exchange was built on that street c.1705-1710 by the city merchants to conduct business and exchange news. Therefore people with money were coming past the bookshop every day and it seems Cornelius Sullivan captured a good share of their custom.
Castle Street (now Exchange Street) –
one of these houses could have been the bookshop
Unlike George Bagnell (died March 1768) of Cork city who was both a printer and a bookseller in Cork city, Cornelius Sullivan stayed as a bookseller. If he did print books as well as selling them he could have commanded more customers as they would have to come to him to get any book he printed and which would be unavailable at any other bookseller. Yet it seems that Cornelius Sullivan did acquire a sizeable clientele to his shop and became wealthy enough to give his daughter £1,000 as a dowry and purchase property.
In 1760 Cornelius Sullivan was listed among the tradesmen of Cork as a bookseller. In the same Cork Journal Cornelius Sullivan also gave notice that he had a house and slaughter-house in Blarney Lane to let. In 1770 a person called Sullivan died in Blarney Lane but it is unknown if he was any relation to the bookseller. It is presumed Cornelius Sullivan had acquired that slaughter-house as an investment opportunity from his bookselling business.
In 1762 Cornelius Sullivan was listed amongst other Catholic inhabitants of Cork who were prepared to offer a reward for the capture of any Whiteboys or Levelers. The business of the Cork booksellers was mainly among the select country customers with the biggest trade period around the social occasions in the city like the assizes time. The Whiteboys and Levelers were challenging these country customers for control of the countryside and so were a threat to the business of Cornelius Sullivan.
In 1767 Cornelius Sullivan advertised his business as bookseller and stationer in Brown Street. Brown Street no longer exists as it was demolished in the 1970s to make way for the Paul Street shopping centre and multi-story car park. The last independent bookseller on Brown Street, Connolly’s, closed in 2014 and their address was number 14 Brown Street. It is not known where on Brown Street Cornelius Sullivan had his premises.
Brown Street is marked in yellow on this old Cork map
In 1768 a person called Cornelius Sullivan of Cork died and left a will. It is not known for certain but it is very possible that this was Cornelius Sullivan the bookseller as he appears in no later documents.
In 1787 a person called Bartholomew Sullivan operated a paper-making business in Hoar’s Lane while Jeremiah Sullivan was a bookseller and lottery agent in North Main Street. This Jeremiah Sullivan went on to become an eminent printer and bookseller. He died in November 1824 at Sarsfield Court. It is not known if they were any relation to Cornelius Sullivan.
In 1787 there were just eight booksellers in Cork city but this had grown to eighteen by 1824. It is interesting to speculate that Cornelius Sullivan was at the vanguard to this expansion in the Cork bookselling trade.
Ann Sullivan Fallon
It is possible that Ann Sullivan returned to St. Kitts were her new husband, Redmond Fallon and reared a family. Yet she could have returned to Ireland in later years. In 1806 a person called Ann Fallon died at Hanover Street in Dublin and left a will. Investigation into that story is sometime for a visit to St. Kitts and for another day. For the moment it is to take down a book from the book-shelve and have a good read while remembering Cornelius Sullivan, bookseller of Cork city, who in another time could have sold us that book.
Casey, A.E., & O’Dowling, T. (eds.), OKief, Coshe Many, Slieve Loughter and Upper Blackwater (15 vols. Wisconsin, 1964)
Cork Evening Post, 1767
Corke Journal, 1760
Cork Trade Directory, 1787
Dickson, D., Old World Colony: Cork and South Munster 1630-1830 (Cork, 2005)
Limerick General Advertiser, 1824
Morris, H.F., ‘Faulkner’s Dublin Journal 1766’, in The Irish Genealogist, Vol. 7, No. 2 (1987), pp. 245-277
Morris, H.F., ‘Extracts from Finn’s Leinster Journal, 1770’, in The Irish Genealogist, Vol. 8, No. 2 (1991), pp. 214-238
Morris, H.F., ‘Faulkner’s Dublin Journal 1766’, in The Irish Genealogist, Vol. 9, No. 1 (1994), pp. 14-42
O’Sullivan, W., The Economic History of Cork City (Cork, 1937)
Vicars, A., Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland 1536-1810 (Dublin, 1897)
End of post
 Casey, A.E., & O’Dowling, T. (eds.), OKief, Coshe Many, Slieve Loughter and Upper Blackwater (15 vols. Wisconsin, 1964), vol. 15, p. 2568 – quoting the Cork Constitution, 24th November 1766
 Casey & O’Dowling (eds.), OKief, Coshe Many, vol. 15, p. 2568. The Cork Journal 20th November 1766 also mentioned the wedding.
 Morris, H.F., ‘Faulkner’s Dublin Journal 1766’, in The Irish Genealogist, Vol. 9, No. 1 (1994), pp. 14-42, at p. 33, no. 4131
 Casey & O’Dowling (eds.), OKief, Coshe Many, vol. 15, p. 2568 – quoting the Cork Constitution, 24th November 1766
 Morris, H.F., ‘Extracts from Finn’s Leinster Journal, 1770’, in The Irish Genealogist, Vol. 8, No. 2 (1991), pp. 214-238, at p. 214
 O’Sullivan, W., The Economic History of Cork City (Cork, 1937), p. 148
 https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/soc.genealogy.west-indies/iBx7TO6B1nc accessed on 9th August 2017
 Morris, H.F., ‘Faulkner’s Dublin Journal 1766’, in The Irish Genealogist, Vol. 7, No. 2 (1987), pp. 245-277, at p. 258
 Cork Journal, 1760; Morris, H.F., ‘Extracts from Finn’s Leinster Journal, 1770’, in The Irish Genealogist, Vol. 8, No. 2 (1991), pp. 214-238, at p. 221
 Cork Journal, 1762
 Dickson, D., Old World Colony: Cork and South Munster 1630-1830 (Cork, 2005), p. 413
 Cork Evening Post, 6th April 1767
 Vicars, A., Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland 1536-1810 (Dublin, 1897), p. 444
 Cork Trade Directory, 1787
 Limerick General Advertiser, 24th November 1824
 Dickson, D., Old World Colony: Cork and South Munster 1630-1830, p. 413
 Vicars, A., Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland 1536-1810 (Dublin, 1897), p. 161