Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Testimony of an Irish Slave Girl” as Want to Read:
Testimony of an Irish Slave Girl
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Testimony of an Irish Slave Girl

3.31  ·  Rating Details ·  452 Ratings  ·  90 Reviews
Kidnapped from Galway, Ireland, as a young girl, shipped to Barbados, and forced to work the land alongside African slaves, Cot Daley's life has been shaped by injustice. In this stunning debut novel, Kate McCafferty re-creates, through Cot's story, the history of the more than fifty thousand Irish who were sold as indentured servants to Caribbean plantation owners during ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published January 28th 2003 by Penguin Books (first published February 18th 2002)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Testimony of an Irish Slave Girl, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

P.J. Kelley I read the sample and really liked it. I stumbled on this book while doing some research on the topic of Irish slavery. When I tried to borrow it from…moreI read the sample and really liked it. I stumbled on this book while doing some research on the topic of Irish slavery. When I tried to borrow it from the local library, it turned out somebody had stolen it.
I have heard of his kind of thing before, sick people with twisted agendas steal books from the library to bury information that clashes with their agenda.
Congratulations to the author on this moving (literally) work. I'll review the entirety after I buy it.(less)
Evermore by Alyson NoelNorth of Beautiful by Justina ChenSelina Penaluna by Jan PageThis Lullaby by Sarah DessenThe Dark Divine by Bree Despain
Cover Couples
318th out of 803 books — 592 voters
Flygirl by Sherri L. SmithI Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya AngelouWarriors Don't Cry by Melba Pattillo BealsTaking Flight by Michaela DePrinceBrown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
HW-SC Library
21st out of 30 books — 1 voter

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jun 14, 2009 Debrakin rated it it was amazing
Had I not been conducting genealogical research on the Newton family, I would never have found this wonderful book. With a title too akin to typical modern "trash" novels, it would have stayed on the shelf.

What a delight it was to find it! I would highly recommend it to my AP students, or to anyone who would like to know more about the slavery experience, or to the development of early plantations in Barbados.

Book is well researched historically and suitable for academic audiences. Beautiful pr
Maol Mhuire O'Duinnin
Cot Quashey, or Cot Daley as she was known before she got married, narrates a tale spanning her entire life for a British scribe who is subject to the British Governor of Barbados. Cot is a prisoner when we enter the story who is charged with telling about her part in the slave uprising of 1675 (I think, can't quite remember exact years). By this point in the story, Cot has lived most of her life in indentured servitude or slavery (sometimes they were interchangeable), although she was captured ...more
May 27, 2014 Carla rated it really liked it
The book is testimony of an Irish slave woman, telling an "official", while he writes it down, of how the Irish and African came to revolt against their owners. She agrees to tell all, if she can tell it "her" way, in detail, from the beginning. We then hear of the abomination of being poor, and Irish, led her and thousands to slavery in the Caribbean.

Immediately, upon starting the book, I started an internet search to get more information, and it was astounding. From 1641 to 1652, over 500,000
Paula  Obermeier McCarty
Interesting Read. Recently discovered that one of my ancestors was kidnapped from Scotland as a young girl and sold into indentured service around 1690. I was astounded by the numbers of people who kidnapped from Ireland and Scotland and forced to become indentured servants. Almost unbelievable! Am also planning to read "The Kitchen House" by Kathleen Grissom. It's a similar story that takes place in Virginia and has some excellent reviews.
May 08, 2016 C rated it really liked it
The premise (scribing her story) felt thin to me, but eventually I got into the story anyway.

I loved that it gave a history that I was unfamiliar with & that it kept its rough edges instead of trying to soften things up and it was very atmospheric.

The Englishman (Coote) taking down her story is a great portrait of the perspective and abuse of privilege; and Cot's initial prejudice is an illustration of the racism fostered between groups to keep them divided. Coote seems an intentionally ir
As a child, Cot Daley was kidnapped from her home in Ireland and taken to Barbados, where she was sold as a slave.

Now after a failed rebellion by Africans and Irish, Cot is brought in for questioning. Cot agrees to tell Peter Coote about the uprising, but only if he is to write her whole life story as she tells it.

This book is historical fiction about a little-known part of history. It has been more than ten years since it was released and it seems that since then, there has been more discovered
Mar 15, 2013 kasia rated it it was ok
I'm still waffling between two and three stars on this one. The book is about what I expected it to be. Aside from the initial hook of it being the story of an Irishwoman who forms close ties with her fellow African slaves in Barbados and participates in a rebellion, it's actually not an especially creative or surprising work. I don't doubt that the book is well researched, but unfortunately, the mentalities of the characters are so much what you'd expect that they come across as flat. The writi ...more
Alyssa Greatbanks
I'm having a hard time rating and reviewing this. Knowing that while this character is fictional, these events and atrocities happened to very real people, and that hurts my soul a little. While that is true, I just could not get myself to like Cot, and that took me out of the story. I'm not really sure why exactly I disliked her, but I did.

It is a very striking novel however, and would be good for teens to get more perspective on such events, as (as far as when I was in High School a few years
Teresa Biggie
Jul 15, 2015 Teresa Biggie rated it really liked it
THis really got into the nitty gritty of slavery / indentured servant. It was not all glossy and the master takes in the slave girl and she lives happily ever after.
Heather McCorkle
May 05, 2014 Heather McCorkle rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing, heartbreaking book about a time in history that many would like forgotten. It is brilliant and important. Testimony should be on reading lists everywhere.

That said, it is true to its title and is a testimony where the main character is telling her story to a man who is writing it all down so it certainly breaks the 'show don't tell' rule in a huge way. But it's worth it because it is that good.
Mar 03, 2012 Ida rated it liked it
A wonderfully written tale told in a passionate voice, describing the harrowing servitude of an Irish woman kidnapped as a child from Ireland and sold into slavery on the island of Barbados in the 1600's. An eye-opening look at an era of brutality and a story that reveals the little-known fact that white slaves as well as blacks helped build the British colonies. This is a compelling novel.
Sep 28, 2014 Gail rated it it was amazing
This book was amazing and moving. As an African American woman I had no idea such horror as slavery had been visited upon the Irish. I will share this book with my own children when I have them. Irish slavery is not a subject discussed anywhere that I have heard or seen. Just as "12 Years A Slave" was made into a film I believe this subject should so be addressed on film.
Well, I gave it up until page 106, which is a bit over the halfway point. I just didn't really care about the characters. At all. There were bits, here and there, that would catch my eye, but then it was back to the same ho-hum-ness. *shrug* The premise is interesting, but the style just didn't work for me.
Jan 12, 2015 Laurel rated it really liked it
Testimony of an Irish Slave Girl by Kate McCafferty

This was a very informative book about a fictional Irish slave, Cot Daley, who was kidnapped and sent to work in the tobacco fields of Barbados. Though it probably had many similarities to the life of the life of an Irish slave in early America, this book did not fit the bill of exactly what I want to research. I am looking for a book about white slavery in the Early America. I have read several books, that reference that Irish slaves had a ver
Dena Beck
Dec 21, 2009 Dena Beck rated it really liked it
This was a really enjoyable read that kept my interest. It is historical fiction, and if you enjoy that type of novel, this is a good one. Based on an Irish slave in Barbados. It was a part of history I didn't know anything about. Her story really pulls you in.
Mar 02, 2011 Bill rated it liked it
As Cromwell conquers Ireland, thousands of Irish are sent to the Caribbean as indentured servants/slaves. An interesting look at little known events in the history of slavery in the Americas.
Sep 19, 2010 Jan rated it liked it
I had no idea that the Irish sent exiles to the Caribbean Islands to work as slaves- a horrible, brutal existence. Quite interesting to learn about this little-know chapter of slavery.
Karen Smith
Jul 14, 2011 Karen Smith rated it liked it
Interesting. I liked the real history of Irish and Scots people who were indentured in to slavery in Barbados. The story itself was sad. It kept my attention.
E. Chainey (Bookowski)
Mar 26, 2014 E. Chainey (Bookowski) marked it as to-read
Şu kapağın güzelliğine bakın ya! Harika, bayıldım <3
I just fell in love with the cover. So beautiful <3
Jan 01, 2010 Kathleen rated it really liked it
very interesting novelization of early days of British colony at Barbados based on actual facts
Jan 04, 2013 Beth rated it liked it
This story was a struggle to get through for two reasons:
The first is that it was written more as a third-person narrative biography, making it difficult to personally relate to the characters and therefore difficult to personally care about their strife. Although there is strife and sorrow by the bucketful, and it's horrible and shocking, it's very removed and thus by the middle of the book it becomes background noise rather than the driving action.

The second is that it chronicles the actual ev
I recently read Kathleen Grissom's 'The Kitchen House' about an indentured servant from Ireland who works on a tobacco plantation in southern Virginia. She arrives when she is seven years old and the story follows her to adulthood. The novel is primarily narrated in her voice and she is a wonderfully realistic and sympathetic character.

So, following that novel, which I loved and highly recommend, this was interesting but didn't have the emotional depth of 'The Kitchen House'. I'm glad I read it
Jul 09, 2008 Amanda rated it liked it
I'm really surprised by the other reviews for this book - I rather liked it. I was really intrigued by the subject of the book, slavery in Barbados in the 1600s. The premise of the story - Cot Quashey, an irish slave girl giving her testimony of a slave uprising, but instead gives her life story - is a bit odd, but it manages to not only tell the story in a slightly different way, it also gives a bit of insight into the point of view of the other half, the masters, through Peter Coote's reaction ...more
Susan Sargis
Sep 21, 2016 Susan Sargis rated it it was ok
I am glad I read this book. I grew up in what I thought to be a household proud to be 2nd generation Irish. But I knew nothing of the Irish slave trade. I should think that would be a suffering that might have been mentioned, but no. This book was a difficult read as it was written in the form of one woman telling her interpretation of events over the course of one or two days. As a descendant, wheres my restitution?
Testimony of An Irish Slave Girl - Kate McCafferty

A different take on the cruel enslavements were also the indentured servitudes of the 1600's. Those who freely became an indentured servant served up to seven years then they were free. However, not only was slavery cruel but those forced or kidnapped into indentured servitude was equally disturbing.

Cot Daley was 10 years old when she was kidnapped from Ireland and sold on the autioneers block in Barbados into indentured servitude. The story is
May 11, 2015 Debbie rated it it was ok
This story was extremely educational but it was so terribly dry. I think knowing about these indentured Irish is very enlightening - it makes you realize how horrible people can be to other people (not necessarily a function of race, gender, age, etc). It was a very difficult story to read and it was extremely difficult to get close to any of the characters.
Apr 09, 2016 Gail rated it really liked it
Very similar to the story of Book of Negroes out on Hulu recently. The story is similar no matter who the players are. Indentured servants or slaves all suffered the same abuse whether it be verbal, emotional, psychological, financial, or physical or all of it. The strength of these ancestors no matter who they are in remarkable. We are standing on their shoulders. Good for them for surviving and giving us their legacy of toughness. This book is a good one for genealogy too,, to learn about the ...more
Mar 31, 2015 Barb rated it liked it
I found this book difficult to read on two levels. The subject covers shameful historical events: the abduction and slavery of people. Also, the language used, although likely doing a fair job of mimicking those times, lent another hurdle to overcome.

This was a book club selection. If I were to have chosen to read about these events, my preference would have been non-fiction.
Rodney Moorhead
Sep 06, 2014 Rodney Moorhead rated it really liked it
I at first thought this was a nonfiction book when I bought it. My mistake. However it is wonderfully written and you can tell the writer did a lot of research. A lot of folks don't know just how many white slaves there were in the new world and often how they were treated a lot worst than others.
Deirdre Vogel
Mar 30, 2015 Deirdre Vogel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A little slow to start but very in formative. The story definitely improves if you stick with it. I never realized that most "indentured" servants were essentially slaves. Many kidnapped from their homelands as the British government forced it's imperialism upon the world.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Guerilla Days in Ireland: A Personal Account of the Anglo-Irish War
  • In Search of Ancient Ireland: The Origins of the Irish from Neolithic Times to the Coming of the English
  • I Am of Irelaunde: A Novel of Patrick and Osian
  • Story-Wallah: Short Fiction from South Asian Writers
  • The Journey Home
  • The Speckled People: A Memoir of a Half-Irish Childhood
  • Stripping Bare the Body: Politics Violence War
  • The Love Spell: An Erotic Memoir of Spiritual Awakening
  • Atlas of World History: Concise Edition
  • Brave Enemies: A Novel of the American Revolution
  • The Global Class War: How America's Bipartisan Elite Lost Our Future - and What It Will Take to Win It Back
  • Mulligan Stew (The Mulligans Book 1)
  • A Practical Guide to Buddhist Meditation
  • Guests of the Nation
  • Cuchulain of Muirthemne: The Story of the Men of the Red Branch of Ulster
  • Jennifer Johnson Is Sick of Being Single
  • The Last Prince of Ireland
  • The Tehran Conviction (Jack Teller, #3)

Share This Book

“To dance to fey music is the beginning of the end.” 2 likes
“I try to clutch onto those last moments in the place that I was born to, but I was so busy *living* them! How was I to know I'd have to capture everything I ever wanted to remember of Eire for the rest of my life?” 1 likes
More quotes…