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Bantry from afar - - 15178.jpg
Bantry from the southeast
Ireland adm location map.svg
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Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 51°40′47″N9°27′12″W / 51.67972°N 9.45333°W / 51.67972; -9.45333
Country Ireland
Province Munster
County County Cork
Population (2016) [1] 2,722
Irish Grid Reference V997488

Bantry (Irish : Beanntraí, meaning "(place of) Beann's people") is a town in the civil parish of Kilmocomoge in the barony of Bantry on the coast of West Cork, County Cork, Ireland. It lies at the head of Bantry Bay, a deep-water gulf extending for 30 km (19 mi) to the west. The Beara peninsula is to the northwest, with Sheep's Head also nearby, on the peninsula south of Bantry Bay.

Irish language Goidelic (Gaelic) language spoken in Ireland and by Irish people

Irish is a Goidelic (Gaelic) language originating in Ireland and historically spoken by the Irish people. Irish is spoken as a first language in substantial areas of counties Galway, Kerry, Cork and Donegal, smaller areas of Waterford, Mayo and Meath, and a few other locations, and as a second language by a larger group of non-habitual speakers across the country.

Civil parishes in Ireland administrative division of Ireland

Civil parishes are units of territory in the island of Ireland that have their origins in old Gaelic territorial divisions. They were adopted by the Anglo-Norman Lordship of Ireland and then by the Elizabethan Kingdom of Ireland, and were formalised as land divisions at the time of the Plantations of Ireland. They no longer correspond to the boundaries of Roman Catholic or Church of Ireland parishes, which are generally larger. Their use as administrative units was gradually replaced by Poor Law Divisions in the 19th century, although they were not formally abolished. Today they are still sometimes used for legal purposes.

Bantry is a barony in the west of County Cork in Ireland. Patrick Weston Joyce said the name Beanntraí means "descendants of Beann [Ban]", a son of Conchobar mac Nessa; similarly for the Wexford barony of Bantry. The barony borders the top end the southern shore of Bantry Bay. On the opposite shore is the barony of Bear. It is also bordered by Carbery West, and Muskerry West to the northeast. To the north is County Kerry.


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 weekly market and occasional public functions. Bantry is in the Cork South-West (Dáil Éireann) constituency, which has three seats.

Cork South-West (Dáil constituency) Dáil Éireann constituency (1961-)

Cork South-West is a parliamentary constituency represented in Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Irish parliament or Oireachtas. The constituency elects 3 deputies. The method of election is the single transferable vote form of proportional representation (PR-STV).

Dáil Éireann Lower house of the Oireachtas (Irish parliament)

Dáil Éireann is the lower house, and principal chamber, of the Oireachtas, which also includes the President of Ireland and Seanad Éireann. It currently consists of 158 members, known as Teachta Dála. TDs represent 40 constituencies, and are directly elected at least once every five years under the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote (STV). Its powers are similar to those of lower houses under many other bicameral parliamentary systems and it is by far the dominant branch of the Oireachtas. Subject to the limits imposed by the Constitution of Ireland, it has power to pass any law it wishes, and to nominate and remove the Taoiseach. Since 1922, it has met in Leinster House in Dublin.


As with other areas on Ireland's south-west coast, Bantry claims an ancient connection to the sixth-century saint Breandán (Naomh Bréanainn) the Navigator. In Irish lore, Saint Breandán was the first person to discover America.

Brendan Irish monastic saint

Saint Brendan of Clonfert, also referred to as "Brendan moccu Altae", called "the Navigator", "the Voyager", "the Anchorite", and "the Bold", is one of the early Irish monastic saints and one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland. He is primarily renowned for his legendary quest to the "Isle of the Blessed", also denominated "Saint Brendan's Island". The Navigatio Sancti Brendani Abbatis can be described as an immram, i. e., Irish navigational narrative.

In past centuries, Bantry was a base for major pilchard fisheries and was visited by fishing fleets from Spain, France and the Netherlands. It was still a very small town in 1689, when it was described by the Jacobite army officer and future author John Stevens as "a miserable poor place, hardly worth the name of a town", consisting of "seven or eight small houses, and some mean little cottages". Wolfe Tone Square in the town commemorates Theobald Wolfe Tone. Dublin-born Tone led the republican United Irishmen in what he had hoped would be a local re-run of the recent French Revolution; this was to be achieved with the help of French Republicans in overthrowing British rule (see 1798 rebellion ). The ill-fated French invasion fleet arrived in Bantry Bay and Berehaven Harbour in 1796, but its purpose was frustrated by unfavourable winds. For his efforts in preparing the local defences 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. The mansion and gardens in the Bantry House demesne on the outskirts of the town testify to the family's status.

Jacobitism political ideology

Jacobitism was the name of the political movement in Great Britain and Ireland that aimed to restore the House of Stuart to the thrones of England, Scotland, and Ireland. The movement was named after Jacobus, the Latin form of James.

John Stevens was an English captain, Hispanist and translator. He is known for his translation of Don Quixote in 1700.

French Revolution social and political revolution in France and its colonies occurring from 1789 to 1798

The French Revolution was a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France and its colonies beginning in 1789. The Revolution overthrew the monarchy, established a republic, catalyzed violent periods of political turmoil, and finally culminated in a dictatorship under Napoleon who brought many of its principles to areas he conquered in Western Europe and beyond. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, the Revolution profoundly altered the course of modern history, triggering the global decline of absolute monarchies while replacing them with republics and liberal democracies. Through the Revolutionary Wars, it unleashed a wave of global conflicts that extended from the Caribbean to the Middle East. Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history.

Irish War of Independence commemorative plaque Irish War of Independence commemorative plaque Bantry.jpg
Irish War of Independence commemorative plaque

During the Irish War of Independence, the 5th Cork Brigade of the Irish Republican Army was active in Bantry, and some members remained so during the Civil War 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.

Irish War of Independence Guerrilla war (1919-1921) between the IRA and British forces, ended by the Anglo-Irish Treaty

The Irish War of Independence or Anglo-Irish War was a guerrilla war fought in Ireland from 1919 to 1921 between the Irish Republican Army and British forces: the British Army, along with the quasi-military Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and its paramilitary forces the Auxiliaries and Ulster Special Constabulary (USC). It was an escalation of the Irish revolutionary period into warfare.

Irish Republican Army organization

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) are paramilitary movements in Ireland in the 20th and the 21st century dedicated to Irish republicanism, the belief that all of Ireland should be an independent republic from British rule and free to form their own government. The original Irish Republican Army formed in 1917 from those Irish Volunteers who did not enlist in the British Army during World War I, members of the Irish Citizen Army and others. Irishmen formerly in the British Army returned to Ireland and fought in the Irish War of Independence. During the Irish War of Independence it was the army of the Irish Republic, declared by Dáil Éireann in 1919. Some Irish people dispute the claims of more recently created organisations that insist that they are the only legitimate descendants of the original IRA, often referred to as the "Old IRA". The playwright and former IRA member Brendan Behan once said that the first issue on any Irish organisation's agenda was "the split". For the IRA, that has often been the case. The first split came after the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921, with supporters of the Treaty forming the nucleus of the National Army of the newly created Irish Free State, while the anti-treaty forces continued to use the name Irish Republican Army. After the end of the Irish Civil War (1922–23), the IRA was around in one form or another for forty years, when it split into the Official IRA and the Provisional IRA in 1969. The latter then had its own breakaways, namely the Real IRA and the Continuity IRA, each claiming to be the true successor of the Army of the Irish Republic.

Irish Civil War June 1922 - May 1923 war following the formation of the Irish Free State, between Irish Nationalists and Republicans

The Irish Civil War was a conflict that followed the Irish War of Independence and accompanied the establishment of the Irish Free State, an entity independent from the United Kingdom but within the British Empire.

Sheltering the head of the bay is Whiddy Island, site of a large oil terminal, originally owned by Gulf Oil. On 8 January 1979 the oil tanker Betelgeuse exploded, killing all 42 crew members, as well as seven employees at the terminal. The jetty was seriously damaged, but 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 the local fishing industry was affected. Local interests subsequently initiated mussel-farming in the sheltered waters between Whiddy and the town.[ citation needed ]

Whiddy Island Isle in Munster, Ireland

Whiddy Island is an island near the head of Bantry Bay, Ireland. It is approximately 5.6 km (3.5 mi) long and 2.4 km (1.5 mi) wide. The topography comprises gently-rolling glacial till, with relatively fertile soil. As late as 1880 the island had a resident population of around 450, mainly engaged in fishing and small-scale farming, but today the population has reduced to approximately 20 people. Previously home to Whiddy Island Naval Air Station the island is noted for its oil terminal facilities – and the related Whiddy Island Disaster.

Gulf Oil former global oil company

Gulf Oil was a major global oil company from 1901 until March 15, 1985. 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. Prior to its merger with Standard Oil of California, Gulf was one of the chief instruments of the Mellon family fortune; both Gulf and Mellon Financial had their headquarters in Pittsburgh.

In 1986, Gulf Oil surrendered its lease on the site to the Irish government. State investment in the 1990s restored part of the terminal and the Irish Government arranged for oil to be stored there during the First Gulf War in case of disruption to oil supplies; it currently holds one third of the national strategic petroleum reserve. The facility passed from state ownership in 2001 with the proviso that it would remain operational for at least 15 years. It has since been owned and operated by US oil companies Tosco Corporation, ConocoPhillips, Phillips 66 and Zenith Energy Partners. At the time of acquisition by Zenith Energy Partners, the facility employed 30 people and supported up to 100 contractors. It has a storage capacity of more than eight million barrels of crude oil and refined products. The terminal saw a 15% decrease in oil traffic during 2015, according to figures released by the Port of Cork which operates the Bantry Bay port.

A statue of Theobald Wolfe Tone also stands in the town Wolfe Tone sculpture Bantry.jpg
A statue of Theobald Wolfe Tone also stands in the town

Buildings of note

A commemorative plaque, presented to the citizens of Bantry by the Canadian Government for their kindness and compassion to the families of the victims of Air India Flight 182. Plaqueinbantry.jpg
A commemorative plaque, presented to the citizens of Bantry by the Canadian Government for their kindness and compassion to the families of the victims of Air India Flight 182.

Bantry House is located west of the town and has been home to the White family since 1739 - sometime Earls of Bantry.

Other landmarks include Bantry Market House, and the Catholic and Church of Ireland parish churches. The public library and Garda (police) station are examples of modern architecture in the town.


The town is a service centre for a large catchment area. 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 a number of 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 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.

Bantry held the Atlantic Challenge International Contest of Seamanship [2] in July 2012 in which 15 nations competed.


Bantry is accessed by the N71 national secondary road. Scheduled bus services connect the town with Cork city, Killarney, Castletownbere, and some smaller local centres.

Bantry has its own small privately owned airfield called Bantry Aerodrome, though the nearest large international airport is Cork Airport. Cork Airport is served by direct Bus Éireann buses from Bantry in the summer tourist season.

Bantry Town railway station, the western terminus of the Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway, opened on 22 October 1892, but finally closed on 1 April 1961. [3]



The local Gaelic Athletic Association are the Bantry Blues. The area also has a golf club (Bantry Bay Golf Club), a sailing club (Bantry Bay Sailing Club),a soccer club (Bantry Bay Rovers afc), rugby union and rowing clubs.

This historic mill-wheel beside Bantry library overlooks the town's main street. Iarthair Chorcai 080.jpg
This historic mill-wheel beside Bantry library overlooks the town's main street.

International relations

Bantry is twinned with:

See also

Further reading

This anchor from the French Armada force in 1796 was discovered off the northeast point of Whiddy island, Bantry Bay, in 1980 by the Dutch salvage company Smit Tak French armada anchor in Bantry.jpg
This anchor from the French Armada force in 1796 was discovered off the northeast point of Whiddy island, Bantry Bay, in 1980 by the Dutch salvage company Smit Tak

Related Research Articles

Dunboy Castle

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Castletownbere Town in Munster, Ireland

Castletownbere is a town in County Cork in Ireland. It is located on the Beara Peninsula by Berehaven Harbour. It is also known as Castletown Berehaven.

Bantry Bay Bay located in County Cork, Ireland

Bantry Bay is a bay located in County Cork, Ireland. The bay runs approximately 35 km (22 mi) from northeast to southwest into the Atlantic Ocean. It is approximately 3-to-4 km wide at the head and 10 km (6.2 mi) wide at the entrance.

Events from the year 1979 in Ireland.

Bere Island island in County Cork

Bere Island Irish: Oiléan Béarra, meaning "bear island", although officially called An tOileán Mór meaning "the big island") is an island off the Beara Peninsula in County Cork Ireland. It is roughly 10 km x 3 km in dimension, with an area of 17.68 km², and, as of 2012, had a population of between 210 and 220 people.

Adrigole Village in Munster, Ireland

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Whiddy Island disaster 1979 shipwreck in Ireland

The Whiddy Island disaster, also known as the Betelgeuse incident, occurred on 8 January 1979, around 1:00 am, when the oil tanker Betelgeuse exploded in Bantry Bay, at the offshore jetty for the oil terminal at Whiddy Island, Ireland. The explosion was attributed to the failure of the ship's structure during an operation to discharge its cargo of oil. The tanker was owned by Total S.A., and the oil terminal was owned and operated by Gulf Oil.

Bantry House historic house in Bantry, County Cork, Ireland

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Historic Cork Gardens of County Cork, Ireland.

Kilcrohane Village in Munster, Ireland

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MV <i>Kowloon Bridge</i>

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Bringin' Home the Oil is an Irish-themed sea shanty written in 1969 by Tommy Makem and the Clancy Brothers as the theme for a two-minute-long television commercial for Gulf Oil as part of their sponsorship of NBC News coverage of the US space program and the national political conventions in celebration of Gulf Oil's then-new operations in Bantry Bay.

Drimoleague Village in Munster, Ireland

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Passage West GAA is a Gaelic Athletic Association club based in the town of Passage West, County Cork, Republic of Ireland. The club fields teams in both Gaelic football and hurling. It is a member of the Seandún division of Cork GAA. The club is geographically located in the Carrigdhoun GAA division and was originally a member of it prior to transferring to Seandún following a dispute. The club is currently playing Junior Football and Junior Hurling. The club's ground is located in the Maulbaun area of the town. It also has Ladies Football teams from under 10,11,12,14,16, Minor, under 21, and Junior. It has won Cork County Ladies Football titles in under 12, under 16, as well as the Mid Cork Junior League.


  1. "Sapmap Area: Settlements: Bantry". Census 2016. CSO. 2016. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  2. Atlantic Challenge International Contest of Seamanship
  3. "Bantry Town station" (PDF). Railscot - Irish Railways. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-12.
  4. "Century Ireland - Murphy, William Martin" (PDF). RTÉ. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  5. T.M. Healy at Encyclopædia Britannica
  6. "An Irish Poet in Paris". Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  7. "John Sullivan VC, CGM". Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  8. "History". Retrieved 21 June 2018.