Light in the Forest
The Story of Coollattin, 1633-2019
The story of an Irish estate and its families over the centuries.
Light in the Forest tells the story of Coollattin, in County Wicklow, for 386 years one of Ireland’s most successful commercial and social enterprises. As with most holdings of landed families in Ireland, the estate was an agricultural business that depended on the labour of its inhabitants for revenue. What distinguishes this estate, however, is that the landowners—the Wentworths, Rockinghams, and Fitzwilliams—were, within the framework of enterprise, progressive, attentive, respectful of, and grateful for the industry, ingenuity, and loyalty of their tenants.
Kevin Lee, historian and lifelong resident of Coollattin, consulted multiple hitherto unpublished primary sources, finding records in the National Library of Ireland and in the UK National Archives of thousands of decisions made to benefit the families of the lands. He details the estate’s impact on its tenants through events such as the 1798 Rebellion, the Napoleonic Wars, potato famines, and the ongoing struggle for Irish independence. The author’s findings run contrary to the oft-quoted stereotypical image of Irish landlords and their estate agents.