Sheilagh Ne Geira                                                                                                                                                                                                          

The  great folklore tale of Carbonear and perhaps one of the most famous in all of  Newfoundland is the story of the Gaelic Princess Sheilagh Ne Geira  or  “Sheilagh the beautiful."  Legend holds that in 1602  Sheilagh, the daughter of an Irish Chieftain whose name was said to be O'Connor, was sailing  home from a French convent school  when her boat  was seized by  Dutch pirates and the passengers taken prisoner.  As luck would have it , the English  Captain  Peter Easton known as the “Pirate Admiral” who was on his way to Newfoundland intercepted the Dutch vessel and rescued Sheilagh Ne Geira and the others.    She married Lt.  Gilbert  Pike at sea and the couple settled at Bristol Hope, near Carbonear  in the early 1600s.    Sheilagh is said  to have been the earliest woman settler in Newfoundland.  She and her husband  Pike are credited for being the founders of Carbonear.   A  model  planter  she tended crops while her husband became a successful fisherman.  Sheilagh was well-admired for the care she offered the sick  and the leadership she demonstrated at times of crisis.  Legend has their first born  as the first European child born in New World.  Whether a Pike child of the  “Carbonear’s Irish Princess” was the first European born in the New World after the Viking settlement at L’Anse Meadows we cannot say for sure.  Indeed many Pike children were born in Carbonear and one of the earliest family graves is dated August 14th, 1753  perhaps a descendant of the legendary Carbonear couple.

 Read the poem "Sheila Ni Gara"  by Iris poet Ethna Carberry (Anna MacManus)

Another version of Sheila Ne Geira from a A Treasury of Newfoundland Stories