Bantry is a town on the coast of County Cork
County Cork
County Cork is a county in Ireland. It is located in the South-West Region and is also part of the province of Munster. It is named after the city of Cork . Cork County Council is the local authority for the county...

, Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

. It lies on the N71
N71 road (Ireland)
-Road standard:The road is mostly relatively poor single carriageway, with better sections towards the Cork end of the route. There are wide sections with climbing/passing lanes, including a very rare configuration with a passing lane on both sides, and a dual carriageway section approaching...

 national secondary road
National secondary road
A national secondary road is a category of road in Ireland. These roads form an important part of the national route network, but are secondary to the main arterial routes which are classified as national primary roads. National secondary roads are designated with route numbers higher than those...

 at the head of Bantry Bay
Bantry Bay
Bantry Bay is a bay located in County Cork, southwest Ireland. The bay runs approximately from northeast to southwest into the Atlantic Ocean. It is approximately 3-to-4 km wide at the head and wide at the entrance....

, a deep-water gulf extending for 30 km to the west. The Beara peninsula
Beara Peninsula
The Beara Peninsula is a peninsula on the south-west coast of Ireland, bounded between the Kenmare "river" to the north side and Bantry Bay to the south. It has two mountain ranges running down its centre: the Caha Mountains and the Slieve Miskish Mountains...

 is to the northwest, with Sheep's Head
Sheep's Head
Sheep's Head, also known as Muntervary , is the headland at the end of the peninsula between Bantry Bay and Dunmanus Bay in County Cork, Ireland....

 also nearby, on the peninsula south of Bantry Bay.

As with many areas on Ireland's south-west coast, Bantry claims an ancient connection to the sixth century saint, Breandán (Naomh Bréanainn) the Navigator
Saint Brendan of Clonfert or Bréanainn of Clonfert called "the Navigator", "the Voyager", or "the Bold" is one of the early Irish monastic saints. He is chiefly renowned for his legendary quest to the "Isle of the Blessed," also called St. Brendan's Island. The Voyage of St...

. In Irish lore Saint Breandán was the first person to discover America.

The focus of the town is a large square, formed partly by infilling of the shallow inner harbour. In former times this accommodated regular cattle fairs; after modernising as an urban plaza it now features a colourful weekly market and occasional public functions.


In past centuries Bantry was a base for major pilchard fisheries, and was visited by fishing fleets from Spain, France and the Netherlands. Wolfe Tone Square in the town commemorates Theobald Wolfe Tone
Theobald Wolfe Tone
Theobald Wolfe Tone or Wolfe Tone , was a leading Irish revolutionary figure and one of the founding members of the United Irishmen and is regarded as the father of Irish Republicanism. He was captured by British forces at Lough Swilly in Donegal and taken prisoner...

. Dublin-born Tone led the republican United Irishmen in what he had hoped would be a local re-run of the recent French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

; this was to be achieved with the help of French
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 Republicans in overthrowing British
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

 rule (see 1798 rebellion). The ill-fated French invasion fleet arrived in Bantry Bay in 1796, but its purpose was frustrated by unfavourable winds. For his efforts in preparing the local defenses against the French, Richard White, a local landowner, was created Baron Bantry in 1797 by a grateful British administration. A Viscountcy followed in 1800 and in 1816 he became the 1st Earl of Bantry
Earl of Bantry
Earl of Bantry, of Bantry in the County of Cork, was a title in the Peerage of Ireland. It was created in 1816 for Richard White, 1st Viscount Bantry, who had helped repelling the French invasion at Bantry Bay in 1797...

. The noted mansion and gardens in the Bantry House demesne on the outskirts of the town testify to the family's status; the estate includes the "Armada Centre" devoted to the historic event.
During the Irish War of Independence
Irish War of Independence
The Irish War of Independence , Anglo-Irish War, Black and Tan War, or Tan War was a guerrilla war mounted by the Irish Republican Army against the British government and its forces in Ireland. It began in January 1919, following the Irish Republic's declaration of independence. Both sides agreed...

, the 5th Cork Brigade of the Irish Republican Army
Irish Republican Army
The Irish Republican Army was an Irish republican revolutionary military organisation. It was descended from the Irish Volunteers, an organisation established on 25 November 1913 that staged the Easter Rising in April 1916...

 was very active in Bantry, and many members remained so during the Civil War
Irish Civil War
The Irish Civil War was a conflict that accompanied the establishment of the Irish Free State as an entity independent from the United Kingdom within the British Empire....

 that followed. Action by British forces included the punitive firebombing of several buildings in the town. The names of those who died between 1920 and 1923 'In Defence of the Republic' are listed on the wall of the former court house in Wolfe Tone Square.

Sheltering the head of the bay is Whiddy Island
Whiddy Island
Whiddy Island is an island near the head of Bantry Bay, Ireland. It is approximately long and wide. The topography comprises gently-rolling glacial till, with relatively fertile soil...

, site of an important oil terminal, originally owned by Gulf Oil
Gulf Oil
Gulf Oil was a major global oil company from the 1900s to the 1980s. The eighth-largest American manufacturing company in 1941 and the ninth-largest in 1979, Gulf Oil was one of the so-called Seven Sisters oil companies...

. On 8 January 1979 the oil tanker Betelgeuse
Betelgeuse incident
The Betelgeuse incident, also known as the Betelgeuse or Whiddy Island disaster, occurred on 8 January 1979, at around 1:00 a.m., when the oil tanker Betelgeuse exploded in West Cork, Ireland, at the offshore jetty of the Whiddy Island Oil Terminal, due to the failure of the ship's structure...

exploded, killing all 42 crew members, as well as seven employees at the terminal. The jetty was seriously damaged, but fortunately the storage tanks were not affected. Nevertheless, 250 employees at the terminal, one of the largest employers in the region, lost their jobs. There was also significant environmental impact, and so the local fishing industry was also affected. Local interests subsequently initiated mussel-farming in the sheltered waters between Whiddy and the town, and this industry has enjoyed considerable success.

An injection of money by the Irish Government in the early 1990s led to the part of the terminal being restored. The Government arranged for oil to be stored here during the First Gulf War in case of a disruption to oil supplies. Further funding led to more and more of the terminal being made operational. By 1998 it was deemed officially 'open for business' once more. It passed from state ownership to several American oil companies, and is now part of ConocoPhillips Corporation. The terminal is working to full capacity once more and sees up to forty ships berth every year. The recent increase in the price of oil has led to some speculation about future expansion of the terminal.

Buildings of note

  • Bantry House
    Bantry House
    Bantry House is a historic house with gardens in Bantry, County Cork, Ireland.-History:Bantry House was constructed in about 1700 on the South side of Bantry Bay. In 1750, Councillor Richard White bought Blackrock from Samuel Hutchinson and changed the name to Seafield...

    , home since 1739 to the White family, sometime Earls of Bantry, is located west of the town
  • Bantry Market House
  • The public library and Garda (police) station are examples of modern architecture in the town
  • Bantry Church


The town is a service centre for a large catchment area, including the Beara Peninsula. It is no longer a major fishing port, mussel-farming having replaced the traditional trawling. Tourism is now a major part of the economy, exploiting the coastal scenery of the region, and the town contains numerous hotels and guesthouses. Bantry made headline news in 2007 when a major cocaine-smuggling conspiracy was foiled on the nearby coast.

Bantry became a Fairtrade Town
Fairtrade Town
Fairtrade Town is a status awarded by a recognized Fairtrade certification body describing an area which is committed to the promotion of Fairtrade certified goods...

 in 2006.

Bantry hosts two significant cultural events each summer - the West Cork Chamber Music Festival and the West Cork Literary Festival. These feature musicians and writers of international stature, with performances at various venues in the town.

Condom company Durex announced in October 2011 that they were setting up a factory in the town. This is expected to make 100 jobs in construction and 50 permanent jobs.


Bantry has its own small privately owned airfield called Bantry Aerodrome
Bantry Aerodrome
Bantry Aerodrome is a small and privately owned airfield west south-west of Bantry in County Cork, Ireland. The landing strip is near the coast, only some hundreds of metres away.The nearest international airport is Cork Airport.-References:*...

, though the nearest large international airport
International airport
An international airport is any airport that can accommodate flights from other countries and are typically equipped with customs and immigration facilities to handle these flights to and from other countries...

 is Cork Airport.

Scheduled bus services connect the town with Cork, Killarney, Castletownbere, and some smaller local centres.

Bantry's railway station, the western terminus of the Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway
Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway
Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway , was an Irish gauge railway in Ireland. It opened in 1851 as the Cork and Bandon Railway, changed its name to Cork Bandon and South Coast Railway in 1888 and became part of the Great Southern Railway in 1924....

, opened on 22 October 1892, but finally closed on 1 April 1961 cause a cow was on the track.

Town Council

Bantry Town Council has nine members. These members are elected by the town's residents every five years. The members elect a mayor and deputy mayor annually.


  • Bantry is the birthplace of William Martin Murphy
    William Martin Murphy
    William Martin Murphy was an Irish nationalist journalist, businessman and politician. A Member of Parliament representing Dublin from 1885 to 1892, he was dubbed 'William Murder Murphy' among Dublin workers and the press due to the Dublin Lockout of 1913...

    , formerly a wealthy Catholic businessman and MP at Westminster. He gained notoriety in Irish history in his opposition to Jim Larkin and James Connolly
    James Connolly
    James Connolly was an Irish republican and socialist leader. He was born in the Cowgate area of Edinburgh, Scotland, to Irish immigrant parents and spoke with a Scottish accent throughout his life. He left school for working life at the age of 11, but became one of the leading Marxist theorists of...

     and their trade union, the Irish Transport and General Workers Union, during the Dublin Strike and Lockout in 1913. By 1913 he was chairman of the Dublin United Tramway Company and owner of Clery's department store and Imperial Hotel. He also controlled the Irish Independent
    Irish Independent
    The Irish Independent is Ireland's largest-selling daily newspaper that is published in both compact and broadsheet formats. It is the flagship publication of Independent News & Media.-History:...

     newspaper which is still printed.
  • Bantry is also the birthplace of Tim Healy
    Timothy Michael Healy
    Timothy Michael Healy, KC , also known as Tim Healy, was an Irish nationalist politician, journalist, author, barrister and one of the most controversial Irish Members of Parliament in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland...

     (1855–1931). He was a prominent and controversial Irish nationalist. Later he became a Home Rule MP in Westminster and led a faction of the party after it split in 1891. He became the first Governor-General of the Irish Free State
    Governor-General of the Irish Free State
    The Governor-General was the representative of the King in the 1922–1937 Irish Free State. Until 1927 he was also the agent of the British government in the Irish state. By convention the office of Governor-General was largely ceremonial...

  • Legendary 19th century lightweight boxing champion Jack McAuliffe is a notable sportsman born in Bantry.
  • Graham Canty current Cork Football captain is from Bantry and plays for Bantry Blues along with rugby star, Colm O'Leary who also hails from Bantry and is often seen sporting his signature dalmatian suit.
  • The musical duo Métisse
    Métisse is an Irish/African Soul/Electronica band, formed by former Chapter House member Skully, and Aïda, a singer/choreographer from Côte d'Ivoire. They formed in Toulouse, France. The band's name is the French word for 'mixture', and its music is a mix of African, Celtic, soul and electronic music...

     were based in Bantry during the early part of their career.


The local Gaelic Athletic Association
Gaelic Athletic Association
The Gaelic Athletic Association is an amateur Irish and international cultural and sporting organisation focused primarily on promoting Gaelic games, which include the traditional Irish sports of hurling, camogie, Gaelic football, handball and rounders...

 are the Bantry Blues
Bantry Blues
Bantry Blues is a Gaelic football club based in Bantry, County Cork, Republic of Ireland. The club is affiliated with Cork GAA and to the Carbery division. The club has always been primarily a Gaelic football club, but has fielded hurling teams also...

. The area also has a golf
Golf is a precision club and ball sport, in which competing players use many types of clubs to hit balls into a series of holes on a golf course using the fewest number of strokes....

 club (Bantry Bay Golf Club), a sailing club (Bantry Bay Sailing Club), and rugby union
Rugby union
Rugby union, often simply referred to as rugby, is a full contact team sport which originated in England in the early 19th century. One of the two codes of rugby football, it is based on running with the ball in hand...

 and coastal and ocean rowing
Coastal and ocean rowing
Coastal and offshore rowing is a type of rowing performed at sea. Due to the harsher conditions encountered, the boats are wider and more robust than those used on rivers and lakes.-International competition:...


International relations

Bantry is twinned
Town twinning
Twin towns and sister cities are two of many terms used to describe the cooperative agreements between towns, cities, and even counties in geographically and politically distinct areas to promote cultural and commercial ties.- Terminology :...

 with: La Crosse, Wisconsin
La Crosse, Wisconsin
La Crosse is a city in and the county seat of La Crosse County, Wisconsin, United States. The city lies alongside the Mississippi River.The 2011 Census Bureau estimates the city had a population of 52,485...

  • Pont-'n-Abad
    Pont-l'Abbé is a commune in the Finistère department of Brittany in north-western France.The self-styled capital of Pays Bigouden , Pont-l'Abbé was founded in the 14th century by a monk of Loctudy who built the first bridge across the river estuary, hence the name...

    , Brittany
    Brittany is a cultural and administrative region in the north-west of France. Previously a kingdom and then a duchy, Brittany was united to the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province. Brittany has also been referred to as Less, Lesser or Little Britain...

Further reading

  • Bantry in Olden Days: Richard S. Harrison (Published by Author)
  • J. Kevin Hourihane, Town Growth in West Cork: Bantry 1600-1900 in JCHAS (1977), LXXXii, no 236, 83-97.
  • Wild Gardens The Lost Demesnes of Bantry Bay Nigel Everett Hafod Press.
  • An Irish Arcadia The Historic Gardens of Bantry House Nigel Everett, Hafod Press 1999 ISBN 0-9535995-0-7
  • What the doctor ordered, a third Bantry anthology, compiled by Denis Cotter, Pooky Paw Press Bantry, 2000.
  • Speaking Volumes, Edith Newman Devlin, Blackstaff Press 2000 ISBN 0-85640-672-4, Bantry in early 1920s.
  • The Memoirs of John M. Regan, a Catholic Officer in the RIC and RUC, 1909–48, Joost Augusteijn, editor, District Inspector, Bantry, 1919, ISBN 978-1-84682-069-4.

See also

  • List of towns and villages in Ireland
  • Market Houses in Ireland
    Market Houses in the Republic of Ireland
    Market houses are a notable feature of many Irish towns with varying styles of architecture, size and ornamentation making for a most interesting feature of the streetscape. Originally there were three, four or even five bays on the ground floor which were an open arcade. An upper floor was...

  • Bantry Bay
    Bantry Bay
    Bantry Bay is a bay located in County Cork, southwest Ireland. The bay runs approximately from northeast to southwest into the Atlantic Ocean. It is approximately 3-to-4 km wide at the head and wide at the entrance....

  • List of Cork Archaeological sites including Bantry area.
  • Durrus and District History
    Durrus and District history
    Durrus is an area of West Cork in Ireland. In the early history land ownership changes, and there are records of marine resources and mineral workings, agricultural development, communications, religious practices, schools and aspects of the 1901 Census.-Prehistory to 1600:A number of Neolithic ...

    , contains references to Bantry and Bantry Bay
    Bantry Bay
    Bantry Bay is a bay located in County Cork, southwest Ireland. The bay runs approximately from northeast to southwest into the Atlantic Ocean. It is approximately 3-to-4 km wide at the head and wide at the entrance....

  • Cork City (Parliament of Ireland constituency)
    Cork City (Parliament of Ireland constituency)
    Cork City was a constituency represented in the Irish House of Commons to 1800.-Boundaries and boundary changes:...

  • Cork County (Parliament of Ireland constituency)
    Cork County (Parliament of Ireland constituency)
    Cork County was a constituency represented in the Irish House of Commons to 1800.-Boundaries and Boundary Changes:This constituency was the borough in County Cork. It returned two members to the Parliament of Ireland to 1800.-History:...

External links

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