BERE, or BEAR ISLAND. This island forms part of the parish of KILACONENAGH, in the barony of BERE, county of CORK, and province of MUNSTER: it is situated on the north side of the bay of Bantry, 21 miles (W. by. S.) from Bantry, and contains 1898 inhabitants. It comprises 2849 acres, of which about one-fourth is under tillage, and the remainder consists of mountain, bog, and pasture land, and is the property of R. H. Eyre, Esq. The inhabitants are principally occupied in fishing and agriculture, but the system of husbandry is rude and unimproved. A pier has been built at Lawrence Cove, which is very useful to the fishery, affording protection to 16 hookers of 12 tons and 90 yawls of 3 or 4 tons each, belonging to the island, and employing about 1000 persons exclusively in the fishery. The southern shore is bold and rocky, but on the north the land slopes gently to the water's edge: there is a small lake on the south side. The whole island is of the clay-slate formation, and excellent stone for flagging is obtained in some of the quarries: copper ore has been found in several places, but no attempt has yet been made to search for mines. The chief communication is by boats from Castletown, and there are also boats from the Bank and other places on the mainland.

After the arrival of the French fleet in the bay, in 1796, Government erected five Martello towers, a signal tower, a large and commodious barrack for two officers and 150 men, a quay, storehouses, and other public works, all of which are now in a neglected condition; the barrack has been taken down, and the rest of the works are under the care of a resident lieutenant. In the R. C. divisions this island forms part of the union of Castletown, in the diocese of Kerry: the chapel is a low thatched building of mean appearance, occupying the site of an ancient church. A school for boys and girls was established in 1825. Divine service is regularly performed in the school-house by the vicar. The sites of three churches are indicated by the burial-grounds, which are still used for interment. There are the remains of a Danish fort or rath on the island. Between the island and the mainland is Bere haven, capacious and well sheltered, and affording good anchorage in water sufficiently deep for the largest ships in the navy: it has two entrances, one at the west and the other at the east end of the island, both rendered somewhat dangerous by rocks. Bere-haven gives the inferior title of Viscount to the Earl of Bantry.

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