Hemmed in by high mountain ridges, an azure blue sea and cascading mountain streams Bantry Bay is a place of idyllic beauty where the landscape changes with every mood of wind and sky.
Bantry is a thriving market town set in the vast, sheltered Bantry Bay in the heart of the West Cork. Hemmed in by high mountain ridges, an azure blue sea and cascading mountain streams this is a place of idyllic beauty where the landscape changes with every mood of wind and sky.
Bantry boasts a long and colour history and strong association with the sea. It was used over the centuries as a safe haven for seafarers, and was the landing spot for two separate French invasions attempting to free the Irish from British rule, most notably the invasion led by Theobald Wolfe Tone in 1726. Today, a life sized statue of Wolfe Tone stands at the top of the town square.
Visitors can get a unique insight into Bantry’s interesting past by following the Heritage Trail with information boards erected all around the town. Pop into the Bantry Museum to catch up on local history in the summer months. The Kilnaruane Pillar Stone 3km outside the town is a monument of early Christian times and the town graveyard, once the site of a Franciscan monastery, has a famine cross in memory of the hundreds of victims of the Irish famine.
Bantry House, the home of the former Earls of Bantry has spectacular views overlooking the Bay and is well worth a visit. Built in 1690, it has a collection of tapestries, furniture and art treasures and the restored gardens are home to subtropical plants and shrubs. Climb the “one hundred steps” at the back of Bantry House to marvel at the awesome view across the Bay.
Bantry town is a hive of activity with water sports, boating, sailing, rowing, birdwatching and golf. It is the gateway to Whiddy Island with ferries departing daily from the Pier. Experience the thrill of the sea with a deep sea angling trip or go for a relaxing day’s fishing to Lough Bofinne.
t is also a hub for walkers with easy access to the Sheep’s Head Way and Beara Way sign posted walking routes. There are shorter local looped walks, one along the stunning sea front promenade. Cyclists are also spoiled for choice with a number of routes.
World Famous Song.
The song was written in the latter half of the 1800s by James Lynam Molloy from County Offaly, a lawyer who lived most of his life in England and was the composer of many other well known songs.
Molloy (1838-1909) was born in Cornalaur, not too far from Clara, (the home village of the now famous golfer, Shane Lowry) he went to school at St Edmund’s, the oldest Catholic school in England, then to the Catholic University in Dublin, in 1855, the year of its opening.
His songs has certainly gladdened the hearts of millions. And yet, today, the man is little remembered in his own country despite being the composer of such enduring songs as Love’s Old Sweet Song, The Kerry Dance, Bantry Bay and many, many others. ‘Bantry Bay’ is a much loved and cherished Irish song and has been recorded by many famous artists, particularly the iconic Irish Tenor, John McCormack, Frank Patterson and ‘The Irish Tenors.’
As I’m sitting all alone in the gloaming,
It might have been but yesterday.
That we watched the fisher’s sails all homing,
Till the little herring fleet at anchor lay.
Then the fisher girls with baskets swinging,
Came running down the old stone way.
Every lassie to her sailor lad was singing,
Ah welcome back to Bantry Bay.
Then we heard the pipers sweet note tuning,
And all the lassies turned to hear.
As they mingled with a soft voice crooning.
Till the music floated down the wooden pier.
Save you kindly, colleens all, said the piper
Hands across and trip it while I play.
And the tender sound of song and merry dancing,
Stole softly over Bantry Bay.
As I’m sitting all alone in the gloaming,
The shawdows of the past draw near.
And I see the lovely faces round me
That used to glad the old front pier.
Some have gone upon their last logged homing,
Some are left, but they are old and grey.
And we’re waiting for the tide in the gloaming.
To sail upon the great highway.
To an isle of rest unending.
Called peacefully from Bantry Bay.
This is a beautiful rendition of ‘Bantry Bay’ by Frank Patterson.