HeritageBantry is a town full of character, history and remarkable heritage sites
The streets of Bantry town are full of character with old and new shopfronts, some still even have their traditional Irish shop interiors. Make sure to visit Ma Murphy’s pub on Main Street where you will find the old style shop at the front of the pub. Jennifer Evans’ shop on The Quay is another treasure in Bantry, while the Anchor Tavern on New Street is full of eclectic artefacts and memorabillia from days gone by.
Dotted around Bantry town you will find Heritage information panels which detail the historical importance of different areas and artefacts around the town. These points of interest are also included in the Heritage Walking Tours which are guided walking tours run during the summer months from the Bantry Tourist Office.
The Anchor Tavern
Heritage Sites in Bantry
Places of interest in Bantry and the nearby area
Dining Room, Bantry House
Rose Drawing Room, Bantry House
Bantry House & Gardens
Bantry House, also pictured above, is one of our great heritage treasures and a must visit in Bantry.
It has been in the White family since the mid 1700′s and the family are still in residence. The gardens were developed by the second Earl of Bantry, Richard White and his wife Mary. Inspiration was taken from their travels across Europe. The gardens contain seven terraces and the house is located on the third.
The fountain within the parterre surrounded by Wisteria sineis and Wisteria floribunda, dominates the southern aspect of the house. The hundred steps from the fountain lead up to the woodland, surrounded by azaleas and rhododendron. Some of the statues are copies of sculptures by Antonio Canova, some copies of classical works. In the middle of the first terrace you will find a rare 19th century copy of the Warwick vase, made out of Coade Stone.
There are four guns overlooking the bay. The two smaller ones were made at Carrion Works in Falkirk, 1780 they are six pounders. The larger one, a twelve punter, is dated 1796 and was made Clyde Iron Works near Glasgow. The guns stamped A4RP is French. Made at the Ruelle Foundry dated 1795, and was possibly captured from the “Surveillante” at the time of the failed French invasion.
Richard White designed the terraces to be grassed over, with phormiums placed intermittently. They were bound by balustrades, with pots on top of each plinth. It was an architectural statement, inspired by the gardens in Italy, but in about 1900, Richard’s plans were forgotten and the terraces were planted with Rhododendron ponticum and luteum. Over the years many self seeded willows, myrtles and scuba took hold between the rhododendron. The family have started to clear the overgrown planting and restore the terraces to their former glory. The house and gardens are open to the public.
Enjoy refreshments from the garden café and appreciate the amazing views out over Bantry Bay.
St. Finbarr’s Church, Chapel Street
Churches in Bantry
St. Finbarr’s Church
Built in 1826, St. Finbarr’s Roman Catholic Church was built just before Catholic Emancipation and the scale, form and prominent position of this church indicates the emerging confidence of the Roman Catholic Church in the 1820s.
Designed by the Pain brothers, it is a both finely designed and executed classical building. It fortunately retains some of its interior features which contribute substantially to its character and are a testament to the skill of their craftsmen.
The Seamus Murphy statues are a noteworthy twentieth century addition to the entrance niches.
St. Brendan The Navigator Church, Wolfe Tone Square
St. Brendan The Navigator Church of Ireland
Built in 1815, St. Brendan’s Church on Wolfe Tone Square exhibits fine craftsmanship in the coherent Gothic Revival.
The features of the church include finely carved hood mouldings, tower crenulations and pinnacles. Internally, timber detailing exhibits sophisticated and highly skilled carpentry and the fine stained glass windows add further artistic interest.
The multiple memorials to the interior of the church in memory of various members of the Shelswell-White family of nearby Bantry House are an indication of the historical ties between the church and the family.
Kilnurane Pillar Stone, Bantry
Kilnaruane Pillar Stone
This is an iconic piece of early medieval stone carving located within a much eroded early ecclesiastical enclosure, an early 6th century monastic site. It stands 2.05m high. Both the SW and NE panels display, sadly much eroded, early Christian iconography.
The SW face is divided into four panels. Two pieces of ribbon interlace on the upper panel, next a praying figure, third a Greek cross; and on the bottom panel St. Paul and St. Anthony are seated at a pedestal table holding bread. NE panel is divided into 3 panels faint traces of spiral interlace, next two pairs of four legged animals; thirdly is famous boat scene with four oarsmen in a boat rowing through a sea of crosses. The boat is thought to be the same type of skin-covered currach that St Brendan the Navigator may have used to sail to America.
This early monastic site may have been founded by St Brendan or St Ruan, who can be found in the name of the townland. Also present at the site is the bullaun pictured below and one other possible bullaun stone. There are several other stone fragments scattered around the enclosure.
There are two incisions on the top of the pillar which perhaps suggest attachment of a further feature. some have suggested it may have originally been an early high cross.
Location: From Bantry head south on the N71. Take the first left after the Westlodge Hotel. The pillar stone is sign-posted about 400 metres down this road . It is up a small track and across a field on your right.
Carriganass Castle, Kealkil
Carraiganass Castle, Kealkill
The restored ruins of Carriganass Castle on the outskirts of Kealkill village, not far from Bantry, played a dramatic role in one of Irish history’s most exciting stories when – in 1602 – the O’Sullivan Bere clan passed its gates as they set out to join the Flight of the Earls.
Today’s walkers, under less pressure to leave, have time to explore the picturesque castle grounds, and to take advantage of the many waymarked routes that wend their way past this amazing monument.
Location: Kealkill Village, signposted from there.
Standing Stones, Kealkil
Kealkill Megalithic Stone Circle & Standing Stones
This Bronze age megalithic complex, located in the Maughanaclea hills above Kealkill village, is dramatically sited with almost a 360’ panorama of the surrounding landscape, with views of the Sheeps head, Beara and the Shehy mountains to the north and east.
Maughanasilly stone row is located just over the next ridge to the North. This site was excavated in 1938 by O’Riordan and comprises of a five-stone circle, a standing stone pair to the N.E. and to the east a radial stone cairn
This is a fascinating relic of the ritual tradition of the middle/late Bronze Age (c.2400-500) not to be missed.
Location: Kealkill Village, signposted from there.
The Priests Leap
Heritage Loop Walks
Bantry has a wealth of heritage, natural and built, from sea, woodlands and mountains, to Bantry House, the Kilnaruane Pillar stone and the story of Wolfe Tone. There are five mapped Heritage Loop Walks around Bantry and they take walkers on a tour of the many heritage points of interests in and around the town.
The walks vary from 2.5km to 5km plus, but they can be linked together to form a walk of more than 20km. The walks are complemented by a series of interpretative boards and plaques around the town.
Skibbereen Heritage Centre
Skibbereen Heritage Centre
Skibbereen Heritage Centre is not far from Bantry and is visited by many tracing their geneology. The centre tells in detail the story of the impact of the Irish Famine of 1841, recognised now as the worst humanitarian disaster of 19th century Europe.
The story is told through engaging audio visual and pictorial illustration, complemented by the wonderful local historians and guides who take much pride in sharing with visitors. It is an interesting, award winning experience for young and old alike and vividly brings to life this defining time in Irish history when 1 million people perished and another million emigrated.