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.
It 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.
Away from the sea there is no shortage of land based events with the West Cork Chamber Music Festival and the West Cork Literary Festival two major annual events. You can step it out and enjoy the best of Irish traditional music and song at the Masters of Tradition Festival. And do sample the delights of West Cork artisan foods and crafts at the weekly Friday market.