Situated at the head of ever-turbulent Bantry Bay and surrounded by green hills, the historic market town of Bantry spreads out around a square where a statue of St Brendan stares out to sea. Colourful houses line the few streets in the centre. It’s a good idea to leave your car in the square or the car park opposite and just stroll around. Around the square, the traditional market is held every Friday where you’ll find not only bric-a-brac but also a number of stalls selling fine organic food. The town has a number of good restaurants and pubs are as plentiful as anywhere in Ireland. If you want a genuine traditional pub that has maintained its original guise, Ma Murphy’s Bar is the place! If you enjoy wholesome meals, why not try The Snug with their massive portions ... their steaks are legendary!
Bantry Gardens: formal aspect with fearsome canons aimed at Bantry Bay
Owing to its past, Bantry is a place of history and character. Bantry House, home of an Anglo-Irish noble family, overlooks the sheltered bay where some attempts from abroad were made to overthrow English rule. In 1796, a French armada lead by Wolfe Tone (after which the town square is named) arrived with revolutionary ideals to liberate Catholic Ireland. The rough sea prevented them from landing so they were forced to turn back. The local landowner at the time was rewarded for his loyalty to the English Crown by being given the title of Baron of Bantry. Packed with numerous art treasures, Bantry House certainly merits a visit ... as do the surrounding gardens.
The 1796 French Armada Exhibition Centre focusses on Tome Wolfe’s failed mission to liberate Ireland ... a must for history buffs. Run by members of the local history society, Bantry Museum recalls the town’s past.
Those into seafood will relish in the Bantry Mussel Festival. It takes place over the second weekend in May and attracts many visitors from near and far.