The Road from Cork to Bantry Bay

J. Stirling Coyne & N. P. Willis
c. 1841
Volume I, Chapter I-9 | Start of chapter

The road from Cork to Bantry Bay by Bandon and Dunmanway is agreeably furnished by the hand of nature, and adorned with several rich demesnes and handsome villas, but presents no feature of remarkable interest until we reach Bandon. This is a large, well-built, and thriving town, situated on the Bandon, a gently winding river, which Spencer describes as

"The pleasant Bandon, crowned with many a wood."

After passing the town it increases in magnitude, and is navigable within four miles of the town for vessels of light burthen. The place owes its origin and prosperity to the enterprising spirit of that extraordinary man Richard Boyle, afterwards the first Earl of Cork. The site upon which the town stands formed part of the extensive forfeited estates of O'Mahony, a chieftain who had engaged in the rebellion of the Earl of Desmond. The greater portion of the forfeited district was purchased in 1602 by the then Mr. Boyle, whose foresight and sagacity enabled him to discover the natural advantages of the spot, on which, in the year 1608, he commenced building the present town of Bandon. It was originally surrounded by fortified walls; but in consequence of the town's-people rising upon and disarming a garrison which was placed over them in the interest. of James II., the town was heavily fined, and the party then in power caused the walls to be levelled to the ground, since which time they have not been rebuilt. Under the influence of the enterprising and active spirit of the Earl of Cork, Bandon soon became a place of some importance. He commenced reclaiming the large tracts of bog and moorland which lay in the immediate vicinity of the town, and succeeded in planting a race of industrious tenantry in a district that, before it came into his possession, wore an aspect of rude and cheerless desolation. Much, however, as one must admire the energy and perseverance of this great man, the cruel rigour with which he persecuted all those opposed to him in warfare or religion will always darken the page upon which his history is written.

Dunmanway, a small town of little note between Bandon and Bantry, lies embosomed amidst hills of rugged and sterile aspect; offering few objects to attract the traveller's attention. A short distance beyond the town, the road enters a dark and lofty defile, which winds for nearly a mile through savage but picturesque mountains, that occasionally exhibit vestiges of the natural woods with which they were formerly covered.