Scroll down and have a look at what we've been doing over the past few years!
On Sunday, August 27th we went on an outing to Bere Island.
On disembarking from the Castletownbere ferry, we were met on the island by our guide Barry Hanley, who then took us on a tour of the island by bus. The first stop was at the Gallán, a standing stone three metres in height, which is believed to mark the exact centre of the island, and dates back to the Bronze Age. Nearby is the Holy Year cross, erected at Knockanallig, the highest hill on the island, in 1950 to mark the Holy Year.
Our next stop was Lonehort Harbour, believed to have been used by the Vikings for shelter and for the repair of their boats. This was also the location of Sir George Carew's landing, prior to his attack on Dunboy Castle in 1602.
Close by is Ardagh Martello tower, which, along with the tower at Cloughland, are two of the four Martello tower - built in the early 1800s because of a fear of a Napoleonic invasion - still standing. The other two were knocked to make way for the second wave of military fortifications erected at the end of the 19th cetnury, primarily to protect the large British naval fleet.
The most significant of these was the Lonehort Battery, which was our next stop. The fortification, surrounded by a deep moat, contains two 6" guns (a 9" gun having been removed), and a laybrinth of rooms underground. The island's importance was such that it was one of the three treaty ports retained by the British until 1938.
After refreshments laid on by the hotel, we visited the Heritage Centre, incorporating the old Ballinakilla National School, which was built in 1857. Officially opened as a Heritage Centre in 2009, the exhibitions detail the miliary and social history of the island.
Finally, the group was bussed back to the ferry to Castletownbere, after what was a very enlightening and enjoyable day.
On Wednesday 16th August, 11am, in Bantry Library, the Bantry Abbey Mapping Group gave a presentation on the progress made since last year on the recording of the memorial inscriptions in the Bantry Abbey Graveyard, with over 1600 memorials recorded so far.
They also presented some very interesting findings in the Abbey graveyard, Whiddy Island funeral traditions, where you can find the information, and how the community can be involved in this worthy project. Time for questions and answers too.
Originally scheduled for Monday, July 10th, but rescheduled due to circumstances beyond our control we visited the Kilnaruane Pillar Stone on Sunday, July 23rd 2023.
This fascinating early Christian period stone (GPS 51.671250, -9.468180) is one of the most recognised icons of Bantry. We met local historian Colum Hourihane at the site, and he discussed the two carved sides of the stone, and offered some tentative suggestions as to why it was placed where it was, when, and by whom. He also showed us his home-made depictions of what's on each face of the pillar stone, capturing the incredible detail of the original carvings.
On Monday, June 12th 2023 Bantry Historical & Archaeological Society hosted historian, theologian and Bantry native Tomás O'Sullivan at the Christian Fellowship Church to deliver his talk on Bantry Union Workhouse.
The Bantry Poor Law Union was established by the Poor Relief (Ireland) Act of 1838, and the Union Workhouse, on the southern edge of Bantry town, first opened its doors on Thursday, 24th April 1845.
His engaging style captivating the audience, Tomás presented his findings on the documentation from the workhouse's early years, particularly 1845 and 1846, in an attempt to discover when the Famine can be said to have begun in Bantry.
Since 2021, the Bantry Abbey Mapping Group (a sub-group of the Bantry Historical Society) have been photographing and transcribing the inscriptions on the memorials in the oldest part of Bantry Abbey Graveyard.
As part of the 2022 Heritage week, 3 panels were unveiled at the Bantry Tourist Office on 13th August. The panels reflect the history of the Franciscan Friary, the methodology used in deciphering and recording the inscriptions, researching the history of those interred, and show examples of iconography and historically-interesting memorials. The panels were on display in the Tourist Office, the Square, Bantry, throughout Heritage Week.
A one hour presentation on the work of the Bantry Abbey Project Group was held in Bantry Library on 16th August 2022. Project members spoke about the history of the Friary and the Abbey graveyard, how the memorials are being recorded, and the genealogical research being carried out. Some significant memorials were also discussed. Over 60 members of the community were in attendance, and their input and questions were welcomed after the presentations.
Councillor Danny Collins, Mayor of County Cork, was in attendance at both events.
If you would like to know more about our project, have a read of Finola Finlay’s recent Roaring Water Journal article https://roaringwaterjournal.com/2022/06/05/this-is-our-history-the-abbey-graveyard-project-in-bantry/
You can email any queries about memorials in Bantry Abbey Graveyard to email@example.com
Bantry Historical and Archaeological Society held their Annual General Meeting on Monday, April 17th at 7.30 pm in the Christian Fellowship Church, Bantry.
The following new committee members were elected:
The AGM was followed by a talk by Colum Hourihane.
During this fascinating talk, Colum explained how rare it is for places to retain their original names, and then showcased his extensive research in this area by discussing more than sixty names of streets, roads, and places which once described areas in Bantry town, such as Fair Rock, Sea Court, The Irish Market, Mill Street, Youngfield, Carberry Road, Widow Baskinagh’s Holdings, Church Street, Stormy Hill, Forge Lane, Railway Terrace, Wolfe Tone Lane, Aghalane and Glenbrook Cottages.
A very pleasant function took place in September 2022 in Bantry Library to mark the official handover of the Illuminated Address that had been presented to James Gilhooly M.P. (1847 - 1916) on his release from prison by Inhabitants of Bantry in 1890's. Gilhooly's descendants, Angela Douglas and her family, very generously presented this beautifully decorated Address to Bantry Historical & Archaeological Society as a memorial to her great grandfather - Mr James Gilhooly - who served as M.P. for West Cork constituency for 30 years from 1885 until his death.
The Address is now proudly displayed in Bantry Library along with an explanation of its content and how/when Illuminated Addresses were in vogue in Ireland.
Our new Journal Volume IV was recently launched by the Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Danny Collins MCC.
A bumber journal containing 18 papers on a diverse range of subjects, all relating directly or idirectly to the history of Bantry and its environs.
Now selling at €15 each,you can purchase copies at Bantry Bookshop and O'Keeffe's SuperValu Bantry.
A large crowd gathered at the Christian Fellowship Church in Bantry last Monday night (5th December) for the launch of a new journal by the Bantry Historical & Archaeological Society. Some members of neighbouring historical societies also attended i.e. people from Skibbereen Historical Society, from Beara Historical Society and from Dúchas Clonakilty Heritage were present. It was officially launched by the Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr. Danny Collins M.C.C. who praised the publication for its diverse range of subjects and the very high standard of research that was evident in each article. This new volume contains many articles relating specifically to the local area of Bantry, while some are of national interest but also have components pertinent to Bantry.
Angela O’Donovan, in her opening remarks, said it was a great night for the society as it launched Volume IV of its journal. And she went on to say it was also a great night for the greater Bantry area as this new volume contained 18 expertly-researched and written articles on a diverse range of subjects relating to the local history of the greater Bantry area. She praised all the contributors to the new volume, who had given so generously of their time and their expertise in their respective subjects, in writing these articles for the journal. She went on to say that such people who write for journals and edit journals, and give talks to the society are the life blood of the society. And Bantry Historical & Archaeological Society is truly indebted to those people, many of whom were present for the event. She outlined the original aims of the society which are to research, make known and preserve the local history, folklore, culture and heritage of the local area. She went on to remind the audience that the various talks organised by the society and the production of journals were fulfilling that remit. “We are truly indebted to the contributors of these articles for supplying such lovely reading material, while revealing such inspiring history of this locality” she said.
The Mayor was high in his praise of the Bantry Historical & Archaeological Society for all the great work it has done over the past years 44 years in promoting local history and highlighting several areas of historical interest in the locality. He praised Angela O’Donovan who had been Cathaoirleach, and earlier worked as Hon Secretary of the society. She had initiated and carried out this project of creating a new journal for the society. She had sourced 18 eminent speakers, many of whom had earlier come to Bantry and delivered brilliant lectures to the members of the Bantry-based society. Now, those speakers had agreed with Angela to write an article for this new journal. The Mayor described Angela O’Donovan as a remarkable woman. She has a huge knowledge of local history, he said, and has worked tirelessly on it for several years and he recalled how he had encountered her several years ago when he was able to guide her regarding funding for a project she was undertaking at that time.
The editor of the new journal is Colum Cronin of Coppeen, who was described by Angela as “the busiest man in West Cork”. Being Chairman of the Coppeen Historical, Archaeological and Cultural Society, he is hugely involved in his local parish and other community events in his area. He has researched and written much about local history and he has edited a number of Journals for the Coppeen society. He has mapped the Kinneagh graveyard, he made a film on the Kilmichael Ambush and gives talks on that subject. He has restored old historical sites – truly a community man at heart. Colum spoke about each contributor to the journal and gave a very brief, though highly interesting, synopsis of their respective topics. He was high in his praise of the quality of the material in the new journal and the diversity of subject matter, thus giving the reader a great mix of educational and enjoyable subjects to savour. Angela O’Donovan said Colum Cronin was the saviour who rescued this project and made this journal into the beautiful book that it now is. He didn’t just deal with editing, but he also enhanced several photos that are used throughout the journal, and then he created a beautiful collage of images from the journal and overlaid that with excerpts from the various articles in the journal. All that is on the back cover, while the front cover has an aerial photo of Bantry, taken in 2002 by Colum Cronin.
The new journal is dedicated to the memory of the founding members of the society who took a great leap of faith in setting up Bantry Historical & Archaeological Society in 1978, and to those dedicated followers who continued to work tirelessly and selflessly for the betterment of the society. Angela said “they left us a great base from which to continue the aims of the society to research, make known and preserve the history, culture and heritage of the greater Bantry area. “We have a splendid collection of diverse topics in this issue” Angela said “and I confidently commend it to our readers. Enjoy the read".
Conor Nelligan, Heritage & Biodiversity Officer with Cork Co Council spoke briefly about his long association with Angela O’Donovan, through her involvement in heritage and local history. He recalled the many projects that she was involved in under the Creative Ireland funding scheme and the huge work done for the centenary of 1916 in Bantry. He pointed out how Bantry was always to the forefront in undertaking projects e.g. Culture & Creativity of Bantry, Project on The Four Valleys of Bantry, Bantry Through the Ages, and providing the website bantryhistorical.com He also commended the commemoration booklet published by the society in 2016 “Bantry Remembers 1916 to 1921” which has proved very popular ever since, with a number of reprints.
Larry Breen, Hon Secretary of the Federation of Local History Societies, spoke briefly and he encouraged local history societies to publish more material on the local history of their own areas. He himself had written an article for the new journal about Matilda Tone, wife of Wolfe Tone who entered Bantry Bay in 1796. He said Angela O’Donovan reminded him of Matilda Tone!
The event concluded with a complimentary cuppa and seasonal refreshments kindly supplied by Jim O'Keeffe and his team at SuperValu Bantry. Everyone enjoyed the opportunity to catch up with friends and fellow historians. The journal is for sale at Bantry Bookshop and SuperValu Bantry for €15 (a real bargain)!
A talk by Aodh Quinlivan was delivered on Monday 7th November at 8.00pm in Christian Fellowship Church, Bantry.
This talk assessed the establishment of local government in Ireland, primarily through the zeal for centralisation that existed in the 1920s. One argument which was developed was that local democracy was a casualty of the Civil War. The effects of this are still being felt today.
Aodh Quinlivan is a lecturer at the Department of Government and Politics in UCC, where he also serves as the Director of the Centre for Local and Regional Governance (CLRG). He has written eight books on many aspects of local government in Ireland, with a particular focus on the 1920s. His next book tells the story of Cork’s longest-serving Lord Mayor, Councillor Seán French, and will be published in late 2023. Earlier this year, Aodh was appointed to the Expert Advisory Group of the Dublin Citizens’ Assembly, under the chairmanship of Jim Gavin.
22nd September, 2022
The members and supporters of Bantry Historical & Archaeological Society had a most enjoyable and informative day out on Thursday, starting with a visit to the West Cork Heritage Centre in Bandon where they were welcomed by John Hurley and his team of volunteers. First on the agenda was the history of the building itself, Christchurch, which is one of the earliest protestant churches built in Ireland c.1610. A well-informed resumé of the history of Ireland by John, linking in the various displays of Irish heritage and culture which are included in this extensive collection of artefacts and installations. Some members revelled at the display of local hand-made lace, while another was thrilled to see the cream separator which brought back fond memories of her young days at home on the farm; while another member was excited coming home with three butter spades that she bought from their sales table.
All were high in their praise of the delicious lunch in Copper Grove. Then it was off to the refurbished monument at Béal na Bláth where the group admired Michael Collins' final journey etched in stone - which was crafted by our local stone-carver, Victor Daly. Stories about Collins and his extended family were recalled as we enjoyed some brilliant afternoon sunshine.
The final leg of the outing brought us over the hills to Keimaneigh near Gougane where we met Seán Ó Súilleabhán of Cumann Staire Uibh Laoghaire who gave a brilliant talk on the events leading up to the Battle of Keimaneigh (Cath Céim an Fhia). and a detailed account of the battle on this its bicentenary year. A brief stop at the nearby monument commemorating those who lost their lives in this battle, after which it was home time and all were high in their praise of a great day out.
21st August, 2022
This exciting talk took place during Heritage Week 2022 in Bantry Library
Strawberry Tree (Arbutus unedo) is considered by many to be native to Ireland but Dr Micheline Sheehy-Skeffington’s research suggests it may be a more recent arrival. Following the trail of the first copper miners who reached the shores of Ireland, along with Irish place-names, folklore and DNA, Micheline weaves a fascinating story about the possible origins of the Strawberry Tree in Ireland.
This was a joint event between Bantry Historical and Archeological Society and the Ellen Hutchins Festival
The revamped Local Studies website is now online at www.corklocalstudies.ie. The new website provides enhanced access to a wide range of resources, including recently digitised material such as the Irish Tourist Association files and Standish Barry Estate maps. Some extra features have also been included in the new website, such as a dedicated schools page with information for students, history podcasts, extensive information relating to family history research and detailed descriptions of books that are available for research from our Rare Books Room and the Cork and Irish Collections.
29th May, 2022
A very enjoyable trip was had by members of Bantry Historical & Archaeological Society on the last Sunday of May '22
Travelling by luxury coach from Cremins Coaches we stopped off at Derrygrenaugh Barytes Mines where, thanks to the local landowner, we were each able to take away a souvenir sample of barytes. We enjoyed a brief history of the workings of this mine.
Then on past Lough Bó Finne, hearing how this lake got its name, and passing the homeplace of Gibbs Ross who was killed in Bantry town during the Irish Civil War in 1922.
Arriving at Castledonovan, and the site of the old Deelish School, we were met by David Ross who was our friendly guide from the rest of our trip. Here we were introduced to a former past pupil of the old Deelish School, and we heard tales of earlier excapades in regard to the former school.
A short walk brought us to the Castledonovan castle and we were priviliged to be able to get inside the building where we heard all the history relating to this building and were shown where the Cromwellian forces set up their cannons and attacked the building, destroying one wall of same. The building was never occupied again.
Then it was time to travel on to Top of the Rock in Drimoleague where we enjoyed welcome refreshments, popped in to the restored cowhouse and witnessed the hand-milking of the (old breed) Droimeann cow. Most appropriately, the poem An Droimeann Donn Dílis was read for us in Irish and in English. This poem is familiar to a certain vintage of locals who would have learned it at school long ago.
After visiting a local 1950's style farmhouse, it was then over the road on foot to the site of the old Drimoleague village where we were shown the old Butter Road from Bantry, leading on to Cork. With the arrival of the railway to Drimoleague, the village gradually moved down to the surroundings of the then Drimoleague Railway Station which we are familiar with today. Many snippets of local history were regaled including a record of Saint Finbarr travelling from this spot in Drimoleague on to Kilmacomogue parish and then on to Gougane Barra where he founded a hermitage, before moving on and credited with founding Cork City - we have St Finbarr's Cathedral in Cork, we have St Finbarr's Oratory in Gougane, we have St Finbarr's Church in Bantry and the old church in Drimoleague was also dedicated to St Finbarr. Much of this connection with St Finbarr is kept alive today with the very popular St Finbarr's Pilgrim Path from Top of the Rock in Drimoleague to Gougane Barra.
Pearson's Bridge is the bridge that spans the Ouvane river between the townlands of Ardnacloghy and Lisheens on the R584 road from Ballylickey to Kealkill. We already havve referenced the Irish name, Droichead na Siorraí, in our project on Culture & Creativity 2020. More recently, Bantry Historical & Archaeological Society entered into correspondence with Logainmneacha.ie asking if they can make this Irish name official, and following our submission they have now added the Irish name Drooichead na Siorraí to the official database. See Logainm.ie
The following extracts from the Schools Folklore Collection (as yet untranscribed) of the Kealkill School entry explains more.
‘Siad na trí h-aibhne a sceidheann isteach go Cuan-Baoi sa taobh thoir theas di ná, Abha an Mhealaig, An Abhabháin nó an ‘Abha-mheadhoin’, agus Abha-Cúm-na-Fheola. Sí an Abhabháin an ceann lár-baill agus sé is dóichighe gur ón bhfocal meadhon nó meadhónach do fuair sí a hainm…’ https://www.duchas.ie/ga/cbes/4811626/4803600
‘Tá fhios agam nuair théigheadh mo sean-athair — an fear do mhair go raibh sé cead agus trí bliadhna deug — go Beanntraighe go dtógadh sé corán, gallóg agus téad leis; go mbainfeadh sé beart aitinn i gcóir an chapaill i dTrian-na-Madraí, áit atá le hais Droichead-na-Siorruidhe agus go dtógfadh sé é ar a dhrom abhaile leis i dteannta pé rudaí beaga eile a bhíodh aige á mbreith abhaile ón sráid. Ní uair nó dhó do dhein sé é sin. ‘Bat-an-Ghleanna’ an leas-ainm do glaodhtaí air. Do mhair sé aimsir an Ghorta…’ https://www.duchas.ie/ga/cbes/4811626/4803607
‘Ó na seandaoine im Ghleann féin do chualas an cud is mó de a bhfuil scríbhadhte mar geall ar Tobar Muire agus Cill-mo-Chomóg’ https://www.duchas.ie/ga/cbes/4811626/4803615
Is é an príomhoide féin a scríobh an leabhar seo ar fad.
[Clúdach] ‘Gach rud atá scríobhtha sa leabhar so is ó’s na daoine do toghadh isteach ag scoruigheacht d’airigheas iad nuair bhíos im garsún scoile. MOL’ … cf. ‘Scoil: Coolehill, Oide: Mícheál Ó Laoghaire, Caolchoill, Beanntraighe’. https://www.duchas.ie/ga/cbes/4811626
9th May 2022
Famine in Bantry Union Posturers, pragmatists and petitioners
Geraldine Powell, MB BCh BAO, MA (Local History) author of the recently-published book A Want of Inhabitants Famine in Bantry Union gave a very informative and well researched talk about the people in Bantry Union who impacted the outcome of the famine in the 1840s. Those leaders, landlords, merchants, doctors and clerics influenced the morale, economic future and survival of thousands of individuals. Their names are unfamiliar today. In the wake of the trauma, the numbed community tended to block out the horror, leaving us a fragmentary and confusing record of events.
This talk, based on the book written by Geraldine Powell, brings to life the story of the people who have been forgotten.
4th April 2022
Robert Harris of Roaring Water Journal gave a very interesting and ifrmative talk to the members of BH&AS in their usual venue - the Christian Fellowship Church Bantry. Hull was an English adventurer from Devon who was ‘planted’ in Munster in around 1605. He held extensive lands overlooking Roaringwater Bay and ostensibly established fisheries in the waters of the Bay. In this he was partnered by Richard Boyle, the ‘Great’ Earl of Cork (1566 - 1643). In fact, Hull’s empire was the centre of a ’Nest’ of pirates, with which he was complicit, making considerable financial gains from his dealings. Ironically, Hull was granted the title of ‘Deputy Vice-Admiral of Munster’ - a role that was supposed to flush out piracy and rid the southwest of Ireland of the pirate plague that flourished in the first half of the seventeenth century. This talk examined the life and times of Hull and his compatriots and looked at the legacy and memories which remain in West Cork to this day.
An opportunity to live through a moment in time and a slice of two lives.
In the summer of 1811, botanists, Ellen Hutchins of Ballylickey, Bantry Bay, and Dawson Turner of Great Yarmouth, East Anglia, England exchanged letters covering many more topics than the plants they were identifying.
Hear their story through extracts of their letters read by performers, Karen Minihan (in West Cork) and Robin McLoughlin (in East Anglia), with introductory notes by Finola Finlay and an explanation of letter writing, the postal system, costume and customs of the day by historical re-enactor Carrie O’Flynn (in Cork City). See some period pieces relevant to the story including the type of microscope Ellen might have owned, some letters and books of Ellen’s and images of her specimens and drawings, introduced by Madeline Hutchins, researcher on Ellen and her great-great-grandniece.
This new online version of a highly successful live event run in the Ellen Hutchins Festival during Heritage Week 2021. The Festival Team invited members of the Bantry Historical Society to join them for this Zoom event, which was thoroughly enjoyed by all.
Oliver Doyle, whose father was Station Master, Bantry, 1949-1956, detailed the history of the railway from its opening in 1881 to its closure in 1961, almost 80 years later. An early proposal for a railway to Bantry has its records at the House of Lords. Eventually the Ilen Valley Railway struggled to build the line from Drimoleague to Bantry old station site which was an unsuitable location. The line was extended to the station near St Brendan's Church eleven years later, by a steep and circuitous route. The railway did much to develop Bantry and enabled the local fishermen get good prices in Cork for their catch. The cattle fairs on first Friday of each month brought big revenue to the railway. Interesting passenger excursions are recorded including the 13 years of Knock Pilgrimages. There were three fatal accidents during the 80 years. Despite new passenger trains and doubling of the frequency in 1954, the use of the railway declined and it was maintained on a 'minimum' basis. The inevitable closure came on 31 March 1961.
On Sunday 24th October 2021, some members of Bantry Historical Society were thrilled to meet two members of the Tone family who had travelled from the United States to Ireland. William Riddle Tone and his nephew Bill Atkins paid a courtesy visit to Bantry, in memory of the ill-fated event of 1796 when Theobald Wolfe Tone and a fleet of 36 ships came into Bantry Bay. The visitors were entertained by some members of Bantry Historical Society in the Maritime Hotel, and William R Tone signed two books on The Life of Wolfe Tone, Vol One and Vol Two which were edited by William Theobald Wolfe, son of Wolfe Tone.
As part of National Heritage Week 2021 (Saturday 14th – Sunday 22nd August), Bantry Historical & Archaeological Society are welcoming heritage newcomers to learn more about our Abbey Mapping Project by attending an online presentation over Zoom this coming Thursday, August 19th at 8PM.
This project aims to document, map, geotag and photograph all the gravestones in the Abbey Graveyard, Bantry. We have engaged Eachtra, a Kinsale-based archaeological partnership, to prepare a project management plan to tackle this ambitious survey, beginning with the oldest part of the graveyard, dating from the 1700s.
To access the Zoom link, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This project has received funding under the County Cork Heritage Grant Scheme 2021, supported by Cork County Council and the Heritage Council.
Bantry Through the Ages is an exhibition consisting of five panels of data and images which was prepared by Bantry Historical Society to mark the 40th anniversary of our founding in 1978. It chronicles much of the activities of the society during the past 40 years and is shown here with a photo of Bantry Museum which was one of the principal aims of the society at its founding. The exhibition is on display at Bantry Library for Heritage Week 2021, and continuing intermittantly thereafter. We are grateful to Bantry Library for affording us this gallery space. You may also view on the link here https://www.bantryhistorical.com/backend/web/img/exhibition/1543511752_bantry%20historical%20panels%202018.pdf
In line with re-opening up the country post Covid-19 Pandemic, Bantry Historical held a small gathering in person on Wednesday 21st and Thursday 22nd July 2021. Here Hazel Vickery led the group on a guided walk along the older part of Bantry town - from Bantry Library via Market Street to Garryvurrchu Graveyard. Back in the day that route would be described as: from the Mill up past the Town Hall, over Kingston's bridge and down Pound Lane to the Church!
Image shows Hazel Vickery outside the ruined Garryvurrchu Church recalling the history of this historic place.
A further outdoor event was held at Carraiganass Castle in Kealkill a few weeks later, when Dan Sullivan of Kealkill gave a well-researched, and well delivered, talk on the history of this 16th century "castle". Dan provided seats for everyone who really enjoyed his presentation and were most appreciative of the event.
To conclude the evening's proceeedings, Dan presented each attendee with a DVD which was professionally done a few years ago on the castle and its history.
Museum now open to visitors
Opening hours 10.30 - 16.30
Monday to Friday
Bantry Historical is thrilled to announce we won the County Award in the Heritage Council's Awards for our entry in National Heritage Week 2020. Our project A Decade of Celebrating Heritage of Bantry was selected from a group of projects from County Cork shortlisted for this award, new for 2020. (click here to view)
Bantry Historical is no stranger to awards! Five years ago when we initiated the Ellen Hutchins Festival in 2015 to mark the bi-centenary of Ellen's death, we were awarded the (national) Best Hidden Heritage Award. Now the Ellen Hutchins Festival stands as an independent group, and today
Today we congratulate the Ellen Hutchins Festival on winning a national award - Water Heritage Award 2020 for their project
“Explore the Shore: Seaweeds of inner Bantry Bay”
Bantry Historical & Archaeological Society is delighted to be included in Heritage Week 2020. We looked back at all the events we have organised over the past eleven years for Heritage Week. and we were very impressed with what we have contributed to Heritage Week over the years, many years having several events. So we are now showcasing our work and bringing our rich heritage of the Bantry area to new audiences. We have summarised our events in the pdf herewith . We invite you, especially, to view our 2019 Project Celebrating Culture & Creativity in Bantry's 4 Valleys in the History tab.of our website. Here you will find in excess of 130 pages of collected material - Folklore, Poetry written by locals, stories etc of the rural hinterland of Bantry, plus five short videos. That project was supported by the Cork Co Council/Creative Ireland Programme 2019.
Enjoy your visit to our local heritage. We are passionate about our local heritage and would love to share it will you all so please go to on our LOCAL HISTORY tab
Bantry Historical Society is looking for your help
We are compiling data on a project under Creative Ireland /Cork Co Council 2020 Scheme. This year's project is titled Bantry Culture & Creativity 2020.
We are looking for details of any poetry/prose/drama etc that was created/written by any person who was native of greater Bantry area, or who had links with this area. Also works of art created by residents of this area, or artists who frequently visited here.
Bantry has been noted for its creativity down through the ages, and we know that many poets etc visited here. The landscape and topography of this area is noted for its beauty, and has been written about, extensively, over the centuries.
We would like to gather as much data as possible, respecting copyright issues etc, and upload it, appropriately designed by professional Graphic Artist, on to our website www.bantryhistorical.com
If you haven't already enjoyed our 2019 Project covering the Four Valleys of Bantry, who not look into our website (Local History tab) and have a leisurely read - in excess of 130 pages of stories, poems (some as Gaeilge) and much more, giving a flavour of what life was like in the 19th and early 20th century. This year we are covering the whole area, and extending out towards Castledonovan and Drimoleague, Caheragh and Muintirvara/Sheeps Head Peninsula.
Please email email@example.com or contact Angela at 027 51246
Here is a poster of information which has been provided by Cork County Council
There has been significant public resistance to the commemoration of the RIC which the last government was forced to acknowledge and ultimately backed down. This paper examines the British response to the IRA and the way in which the RIC was deployed during the Irish War of Independence in Co. Cork.
This talk by Dr. Andrew Bielenberg will be on Friday, 27 March 2020 at 8.00pm in the Christian Fellowship Church, Bantry.
Monday 2nd March 2020
In Ireland, nunneries are perhaps the most under-studied of all medieval religious houses. Not only is there a relative dearth of source material on these female religious communities, but too often, nunneries have been compared to the more "mainstream" male medieval monasticism and have been considered lacking. This view has marginalised nunneries in archaelogical narratives. Dr. Collins is a professional archaeologist and founding director of Aegis Archaeology, a consultancy firm. She holds a PhD from University College Cork. This talk was based on archaeological excavations that Dr Tracy Collins did at a later medieval nunnery near Shanagolden, Co. Limerick including some background on medieval nunneries generally
Monday 3rd February 2020 8pm in Christian Fellowship Church, Bantry.
Our Annual General Meeting reviewed our activities over the year Oct 2018 to Sept 2019.
20 January 2020
This was an illustrated lecture to a capacity audience by Dr. Jim Larner. In 1910, John Annan and Violet Bryce bought a barren rocky island off of Glengarriff in Co Cork and set about creating their own garden paradise. Today, the island of Garinish, is famous the world over for its sub-tropical garden, set against a magnificent backdrop of mountains and sparkling water. The Italianate garden at its heart is now one of the most iconic images of Irish gardening. This talk by Jim covered the story of their achievements and set-backs in the turbulent times in Ireland of the early 20th century.
25th November 2019
'Back to the Beginning: The Rituals and Magic of Christmas’
A Lecture by Shane Lehane, Cultural and Heritage Studies, CSN College of Further Education, Cork.
As we approach the midpoint of the cold, wet and dark, winter season of the year, Irish people have filled this significant time with an extraordinary plethora of compulsory observations and traditions. As familiar as these may be, this illustrated lecture highlighted the nature and character of the many automatically observed mid-winter, Christmas and New Year rituals and importantly seeks to explain their relevance and why they take place.
21st October 2019
This very informative talk by Daithi Mac an Bhiocaire covered the pivotal role played by County Cork ports of Bantry , Cork and Kinsale in the Jacobite/Williamite War. There was a look at the propaganda war in the aftermath of The Naval Battle of Bantry Bay.
He detailed the vital transport links between Ireland and France in terms of logistics and supplies during this era.
Daithi utilised French, Irish, British and USA archives over a 10 year research period on this topic.
20 August 2019
An evening of celebration of rich local heritage and culture of Borlinn, Coomhola, Kealkil and Mealagh valleys beside Bantry Bay, with singers and storytellers, and host John Greene of C103 Radio.
This most enjoyable evening held in Bantry Library with capacity crowd showcased the rich culture and talent of these rural havens from seashore to mountain tops, overlooking Bantry Bay. A social consisting of songs/poetry written about the Bantry area, storytelling, readings from the Schools Folklore Collection of 1937/39, written by the school children of these valleys who walked barefoot to school, plus small craft display, thus linking the past with the present, and creating a sense of belonging to place, and getting to know ourselves.
10th September 2019
We visited the fascinating and magnificently sited megalithic Kealkill Stone Circle and standing stones just outside the village of Kealkill with local guide Aine Brosnan, Archaeologist, who shared her extensive knowledge of this ancient site. Heading downhill the short distance to the strategically sited Carriganass Castle in the village of Kealkill. Carriganass Castle was built in the mid 1500s by the O'Sullivan Beare clan, who wielded considerable power in West Cork during the 16th and early 17th centuries. We learned of the turbulent history of the O'Sullivan clan from local guide Dan Sullivan.
28 July 2019
Exploring local archaeological sites in Bantry area. Following in the footsteps of our founding members, this guided trip by archaeologist Kate Smyth took us to St Bartholomew's Holy Well, Cappanaboul Stone Circle, and Carraig na Caointe (The Rock of Lamentations). St Bridget was also remembered for her onetime nearby well.
Thanks to the respective landowners at each site for their kind permission for members to enter private property.
6 July 2019
Saturday saw us off to Sherkin Island for a guided history tour of Sherkin Island led by Karen, an island native. Members enjoyed her vast knowledge of different aspects of Sherkin Island, including the Franciscan Abbey built in 1460, Dún na Long Castle, Slate quarrying and earlier stories of pirating which affected island life. This interesting trip was organised by Hazel Vickery and we enjoyed excellent weather!
9 June 2019
The members of Bantry Historical & Archaeological Society had a brilliant field trip to this masterpiece of architectural expertise and skilled plantsmanship, led by Bernard O'Leary who gave us a feast of history of the island from architecture to plant hunting in SE Asia etc, from garden design to social history, from evolution to folklore... Thanks to Bernard, we can now appreciate so many other qualities in Garnish apart from the brilliant flowers and plants. Will be back soon!
28th April 2019
The members of Bantry Historical & Archaeological Society had a brilliant field trip to Whiddy Island, in almost perfect weather conditions. Under the knowledgeable guidance of Whiddy's Tim O'Leary, we saw all the historical sites, and got a detailed account of each one. We were also privileged to receive a guided tour of the former island school, now the location of the island's proposed Community Centre and hostel. We also viewed the middle Battery - these three fortified Batteries were built by the British Authorities in Napoloenic times. But now Whiddy Island welcomes everyone ashore with a Céad Míle Fáilte. Have you been there yet?
21 March 2019
This lecture examined the divisions within the O’Sullivan family in County Cork during the reign of Elizabeth, the reaction of the rival branches of Donal Cam and Sir Owen to the arrival of Spanish expedition in Kinsale in 1601 followed by the English attack on Beara and the insurgent retreat to Ulster in 1602 which resulted in the exile and death of Donal Cam in Spain and the continuance of the Bantry branch in Ireland.
The talk was delivered by Dr. Hiram Morgan, who lectures in Early Modern History at University College Cork.
5th March 2019
A brilliant talk was expertly delivered by Fr Tom Hayes on this intriguing topic He explored with us where the Station Masses began, going back to the 4th Century, as well as recalling how they have changed over the years. He recalled many of the rubrics and practises that have been well known around West Cork parishes in particular.
The packed audience was treated to a wealth of information in his discourse, and a friendly discussion ensued.
4th February 2019
White-tailed Sea Eagles, the largest resident bird species in Ireland, were once a common sight along the western seaboard. They became extinct in Ireland over 100 years ago due to persecution and poisoning but have recently returned to our skies due to a reintroduction programme. This talk by Clare Heardman, the local Conservation Ranger with National Parks and Wildlife Service looked at the historical evidence for their presence in Ireland and examined the latest chapter in their story, especially in relation to West Cork. Clare has been working on eagles since 2011.
The Annual General Meeting followed, and the evening ended with the usual cuppa and chat.
15 October - 21 December 2018
Ellen Hutchins (1785-1815) Ireland’s First Female Botanist. Ellen’s story is of a remarkable young woman with a curiosity and determination to find out more about seaweeds and other plants. Th[s exhibition had a selection of Ellen’s beautifully detailed watercolour drawings of seaweeds, her specimens, and her letters as well as objects and books that helped to tell her story. The space featured wonderful photographs of Bantry Bay, Glengarriff Woods and the special plants found in the area. When one visited this exhibition, one was invited to sit in a period chair and read some of Ellen’s letters. At a laboratory table, there was the facility to look through a folder of Ellen’s specimens, and peer through a microscope or hand lens at some amazing lichens.
28th November 2018
This lecture by Shane Lehane looked at the sometimes extraordinary rituals, traditions and beliefs popularly held in Ireland up to recent times focusing on the different calendar festivals throughout the cycle of the year. It explored everything from the rites associated with February 1st, St Brigid’s Day, through Bealtaine and the belief in Fairies, to the midsummer festivals and the pattern day and right through to Halloween and the Christmas, mid-winter rituals. It looked at these important points in the agricultural calendar and explored how they map into the major turning points of the human lifecycle. This lecture was richly illustrated and it certainly was both enlightening and entertaining: a rare opportunity to explore Ireland’s folk traditions.
12 November 2018
Most people are familiar with Theobald Wolfe Tone, who he was, and the contribution he made to the course of Irish history. Described by Pearse as the “Greatest of all Republicans” he was certainly an iconic figure in our history.
However he was also a family man, with grandparents, parents, siblings and a wife and children. We knew much less about this part of his life but, it did in fact present a fascinating story. Larry Breen has taken a personal interest in Wolfe Tone’s life and carried out research into the Tone family and in particular the role played in their lives by his wife, Matilda. Larry presented a somewhat different approach in looking at the family life of one of Irelands’ best known hero’s in a talk which kept the audience enthralled.
25 October 2018
October 10th marked the 100th anniversary of the greatest loss of Irish lives at sea, when the "mail boat" (RMS Leinster) was sunk within sight of the shore, ten miles off Dun Laoghaire in 1918 just before the end of World War One. Over 500 people lost their lives when the ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat. It remains the largest loss of Irish lives at sea ever.
How did it happen that a passenger ship was attacked so near the end of the War? Who and what was on board the ship? Why were so many lost so near the shore? Could more have been done? What is the local connection to West Cork? Why have we not heard much about this before? /what is being done to mark the occasion?
Niall O Reilly has been researching these RMS Leinster questions for a few years, after finding out that a relative of his was one of those lost. He will give an illustrated talk about the ship, the people on board, the attack, the aftermath, his journey of discovery and a tale of romance lost and found.
Niall, originally from Malahide in Dublin, now lives in Skerries. He has an interest in family history, and has family connections with West Cork. He is looking forward to making his acquaintance with them and meeting members and friends of Bantry Historical Society.
11 October 2018
From Kilmocomogue to Garryvurcha to North Street - Hazel Vickery will present a history of the building of St Brendan's Church; its changes to the interior up to the present.
We are very proud to have this beautiful building, which was constructed two hundred years ago, still standing proudly on Wolfe Tone Square today.
24th September 2018
A fully illustrated talk was given by Tim O Leary on the Whiddy Island Seaplane Station on 24 September. This date was the eve of the centenary of commencement of operations at this American Seaplane Station.
23rd August 2018
This amazing archaeological object was the subject of a talk delivered by Ms. Sharon Weadick, Assistant Keeper, Antiquities Division, National Museum of Ireland. The talk in Bantry Library was preceded at by the official launch of the Societies exhibition in Bantry Library - Bantry Through the Ages - by the mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy.
15 May 2018
The lecture by Mr Mike Murphy was a chronological journey using rich images and maps showcasing the Irish Revolution. It began with the upheaval of the Cromwellian plantations of the 17th century, charting the population and economic pressures in pre-Famine Ireland, the catastrophic effects of the famine and the reawakening of National identity. It covered the struggles for freedom in the late 19th century and the loosening of the London based Government’s strangle hold on the Nation. The main periods of revolution, The War of Independence and the Civil War were covered by maps and images in a way never before seen with new insights into many of the main events. While some of the content was harrowing, these elements are interspersed with more lighthearted aspects of this troubled period.
February 12th 2018
Margaret Murphy from the Skibbereen Heritage Centre discussed online genealogy sources, explaining what records are available online and where to find them. This most informative and illustrated talk covered many online research resources such as the Census 1911, Census 1901 of Ireland, Griffith's Valuation of Ireland covering the period from the late 1840's to very early 1850's in West Cork and the Tithe Applotment Books which have West Cork records for the 1825-1832 era.
Margaret's talk inspired many to take up their own family history research.
January 15th 2018
Since earliest times, cities have depended on forti ed walls for protection. Many survive across Europe, although they have largely disappeared in Ireland. This illustrated talk, by Dr Kevin Hourihan of UCC, looked at the evolution of these walls over time and examined some of the impacts they have had on the cities themselves.
December 6 2017
Photos copyright National Museum of Ireland
Tim Crowley of the Michael Collins Centre, Castleview gave an illustrated talk on the men from West Cork interned in Fron-goch in 1916. These men included Michael Collins, Gearóid O’Suilleabháin, Sean Hales and Bantry man, Joe Reilly, who went on to play major roles in subsequent Irish History. In his talk, Tim outlined the history of the Fron-goch Camp and explored events in Bantry in 1917. These events included the smuggling of petrol from Bantry to Clare, to help Eamon DeValera win the July bi-election and the running of a famous Aerídheacht in Bantry in October. Tim also discussed the start of the construction of the Ford Plant at the Marina in Cork City.
November 26 2017
From the early days of post boys and packet ships to pensions, railways to radio, the Post Office has served generations of Irish people at home and abroad and has played a role in shaping Irish life and society down through the centuries. Stephen Ferguson, Assistant Secretary of An Post and curator of its museum and archive gave a fascinating talk about the Post Office, telling us of the vital role the service played maintaining precious links between Ireland and its emigrants, and representing, through the friendly face of a local postman or postmistress, an approachable facet of Government
October 26 2017
Eugene McSweeney gave a fascinating talk on the Baryte Mine in Dreenlomane. Situated underneath Mt. Corran and operating intermittently for 80 years, this mine was a serious industrial complex during World War I. Men from all over the catchment area benefited from the unique employment opportunity that the extraction of this valuable mineral offered.
August 19 2017
What was happening in Bantry on an ordinary day in August 1917 and 1867? We delved into Irish newspapers to discover what made the news in Bantry 100 and 150 years ago and presented a public event focused on these small stories of ordinary life. With period costumes and spirited performances we recreated a glimpse of life in Bantry from times gone by
Heritage Week 2017
The theme of this year’s Heritage Week was Nature, which chimed brilliantly with the Ellen Hutchins Festival activities. We were delighted once again to be part of this award-winning festival which took place in Bantry, Glengarriff, Kealkil and Ballylickey. The final event of the week was the wonderful Whiddy Island Seaweed Event with a huge attendance.
July 23 2017
Our Summer outing, led by Dr Colum Hourihane took in famous houses including Ballylickey House, originally the Earl of Kenmare’s shooting lodge, Reendesert Court, a fortified an O’Sullivan stronghold from 1630 and the Puxley mansion high on the rise above Dunboy. This house was built by the profits ‘Copper John’ Puxley made from the mines at Allihies. At the Allihies museum, we were given a talk by Tadhg O’Sullivan on the start of mining operations in 1812 past the peak in 1842 when sixteen hundred people were working in twelve-hour shifts. The day was one of those rare perfect summer events.
Dr. Colum Hourihane led us on a trip that included a guided tour of Ballinacarriga Castle and other sites of interest. Refreshments were enjoyed in Coppeen with delightful entertainment provided by the Coppeen Historical & Archeaological Society
This talk was given by Áine Brosnan, Archaeologist. These evocative stone carvings which caused such consternation to the early antiquarians, have long been misunderstood. Áine, in her presentation, discussed some new ideas in relation to their meaning and use.
This interesting talk was given by Dr. Connie Kelleher (OPW). She concentrated on the type of goods traded and from where they came. The talk included material examples.
This presentation was given by local Historian, Ted O’Sullivan, who examined the historical evidence documenting the pilchard industry which contributed to the growth of Bantry and other such towns and communities, but is now largely forgotten. He tracked the development and decline of the industry in the south west and in Bantry Bay in particular
This fascinating talk was given by Tomás O’Sullivan, PhD, who presented new research into the early Christian saints associated with Bantry: Cainir, today hailed as a feminist icon; the Gobáns galore,and the shadowy saint Mochomóg. The ancient name of Kilmocomoge, as the name of this parish, was also addressed.
As part of the 1916 national commemorations we publishes a book Bantry Remembers 1916-1921 which details the events leading up to 1916, the Uprising in Dublin, and all the details of who did what in Bantry at Easter 1916, as well as the following years right up to the Truce in July 1921. During Heritage Week 2016 we launched the book in Bantry Library.
This was tutored by well-known, local and professional basket-maker, Martin O’Flynn. It was fully booked out.
The 2016 Festival began with a seaweed event on Whiddy Island and ended with a woodland walk in Glengarriff. In between there were exhibitions, a botanical art trail, a talk and discussion and two children’s events. There was also a one day botanical art workshop run by Shevaun Doherty, award-winning artist, and a two day lichens foray run by Howard Fox & Maria Cullen
We supported Bantry Library and Johnny Hanrahan, playwrightwho presented this wonderful event
Joseph O’Reilly, a Bantry man, was in the General Post Office, Dublin, during the Uprising from Easter Monday, 24th April 1916. This presentation was given by Neill Clarke who gave details of the many incidents in Joseph O’Reilly’s life, leading up to Easter 1916 and the years following same.
An exhibition in Bantry Library which commemorated the members of Bantry Company of Irish Volunteers who willingly gave so much of their time and energy and risked their lives for sake of Irish freedom. The panels from this exhibition may be read on this website under the tab Exhibition Panels.
Marcus Keyes, son of Raphael P Keyes one of the Bantry Company of Irish Volunteers gave a talk on his father and his place in the national fight for freedom
Brian Waters and his sister Mary O Dubháin children of Thomas Waters one of the Bantry Company.
We unveiled a commemorative plaque beside Bantry Library and held a welcome reception at Aras Beanntraí for relatives of the Irish Volunteers of Bantry Company 1916. Later the celebrations continued by following in the footsteps of the 1916 Bantry Volunteers on trip to Kealkil for Kealkil 1916 Commemorative Ceremony.
A fascinating talk given by David Ross and Abraham Kingston
The traditional picture of Celtic art with its origins in Central Europe has drastically changed over the last few years. No longer seen in terms of an east-west movement or the result of one cultural group, scholars are now looking as the whole period in terms of distinct cultural groups with a possible origin in Ireland’s western shores. This talk, by Dr. Colum Hourihane, offered the current research in the field against the traditional picture and offered some new insights into the whole issue of origins.