Bantry’s sites of historical interest really have a tale to tell. Although all may seem calm in West Cork today, this was not always the case. With numerous attempted invasions and a huge loss of life as a result of the famine, stroll these historical sites and get a real insight into how West Cork has progressed throughout the years. We are glad to report that all is now well in Bantry and its surrounds – with the odd day of rain being the only complaint!
Bantry House & Gardens
No visit to Bantry could be considered complete without a visit to the stately Bantry House & Gardens. Bought by the White Family in 1765, and enlarged by Richard White, the 2nd Earl of Bantry, it is now lived in and owned by the Shelswell-White family, descendants of the Earls of Bantry. The House has an eclectic collection of tapestries, furniture and art treasures. The gardens have been partly restored and are home to sub-tropical plants and shrubs. This period home is one of the top reasons for tourism in Bantry Bay and West Cork. Bantry House offer a special discounted admission for guests of the Maritime Hotel. See Reception for further details or visit www.bantryhouse.com.
Bantry Museum is located behind the fire station on Wolfe Tone Square (open June-Aug Tues & Thurs 10am-1pm, Wed & Fri 2-5pm).
The museum is the collection of the local history society - domestic paraphernalia, old newspapers and everyday trivia of every sort - which the curators willingly demonstrate with an entertaining blend of history and gossip.
Wolfe Tone Square
Wolfe Tone Square is located just metres from the Maritime Hotel. The Square commemorates Theobald Wolfe Tone. A Dublin-born Irishman, he led the United Irishmen in what he had hoped to be a re-run of the French Revolution. This was to be done with the help of French Republicans to overthrow British rule The ill-fated French invasion force arrived in Bantry in 1796 but bad weather drove them back. After numerous attempts to reach Bantry through various points throughout Ireland, he was eventually capture by the British Navy and was imprisoned at Derry Gaol before being moved to Dublin. He was tried for Treason and sentenced to death. When Tone's request for a military execution was refused he tried to cut his throat with a penknife and died of his injuries on November 18th, 1798. Ironically, it is believed he never set foot in Bantry!
At the top right hand of Wolfe Tone Square lies an anchor from the French Armada force from 1796. It was discovered off the northeast point of Whiddy Island in 1980 by the Dutch salvage company Smit Tak.