Scroll down and have a look at what we've been doing over the past few years!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.