Mullagh to Lilliput


About 4 miles to the west of Mullagh, Co. Cavan, stands the historic Quilca House – formerly the residence of the cleric Dr. Thomas Sheridan and a meeting place for the literati of the day.

The house stands in lonely surroundings near a small lake.

Dean Swift (Jonathan Swift) was a frequent visitor during the summer months, and he wrote parts of “Gulliver’s Travels” there.

Swift was reputedly inspired by a local farmer, “Big Doughty” when describing the Brobdingnagian giant in his book, but according to a version by VR Wyse Jackson, in Swift and His Circle, this Doughty was the prototype for Lemuel Gulliver.

Doughty was so large that he could hide a man being sought by a process server, under his coat, and he once rescued a widow’s cow from the pound by lifting the animal over the wall.

Another story goes that Dr. Sheridan employed as workmen some members of a family also named Sheridan who were of gigantic size. The Doctor was quite proud of their appearance and took pleasure in parading them occasionally before his visitors.

Down in Rantavan, Mullagh, were a family named Brookes who employed on their farm some men named Bradley who were the smallest men in the district, almost dwarves.

Dr. Sheridan and Mr. Brookes were close friends and visited each other at many farming operations.

On one occasion when Dean Swift was visiting in Rantavan, Dr. Sheridan happened to send some of his huge Sheridan labourers to help at Mr. Brookes’ haymaking, and the Dean was so amused at the contrast, and at seeing the giant Sheridans lift up the dwarf Bradleys in their hands and place them like dolls on the haycocks that he joked and laughed with Mrs. Brookes at what he had seen that day in the hayfield.

It is firmly believed in the locality that it was from this incident Swift got his idea of Lilliput etc.