Located on the WILD ATLANTIC WAY Overlooking Bantry Bay in the heart of West Cork, Bantry is a thriving market town situated at the head of Bantry Bay and surrounded by some of Ireland's most stunning country side with drives and walks that will take your breath away.
2017 West Cork Chamber Music Festival Venue Map
Bantry has become one of Ireland’s leading Destination Towns hosting the West Cork Chamber Music Festival, West Cork Literary Festival and Masters of Tradition. It is set within a magnificent landscape which has inspired its own language, literature, art and song, and is a place where visitors can discover Ireland’s wild, west coast. The town is also host to the Friday market which sees a wide variety of market stalls selling West Cork’s finest local foods, antiques, art, crafts and livestock.
The majestic Bantry House, home since 1739 to the White family, the former Earl of Bantry, overlooks the harbour with its beautiful gardens reaching down towards the shore.
The town is an important economic centre to the region. Apart from tourism, fishing is one of the main industries. Mussels in particular are harvested in the area. (The Healy Pass pictured below)
The Wild Atlantic Way leads visitors through one of the world’s most dramatic landscapes. It runs along the entire west coast of Ireland from the Inishowen Peninsula in County Donegal to the Kinsale in County Cork. This is where land and sea collide, a place to experience nature at its wildest, scenery at its most breathtaking and events which will remain in the memory forever.
From Kerry, the Wild Atlantic Way segues into Cork in a dramatic explosion of islands and jutting peninsulars. From megalithic stone circles and bardic schools to Bantry House, you can trace every stage of Ireland’s rich history here. A few miles away, at the head of the Sheep’s Head (right image) is Durrus, one of the key staging posts on the Wild Atlantic Way. This peninsula is so spectacular it has been recognised as a European Destination of Excellence: a modern Eden.
St Finbarr’s Oratory at Gougane Barra marks the site of an early Christian settlement while Carriganass Castle is a key staging post in the famous Flight of the Earls. Nestling in the heart of Bantry Bay is Whiddy Island. It has an intriguing history: gun batteries were built there in Napoleonic times and it was the site of a US naval air station during the First World War. Garnish Island is renowned for its spectacular gardens and lies a short ferry trip from Glengarriff. Visit Seal Island on your way to Garnish and see the large colony of harbour seals.
On the other side of Bantry Bay lies the remote Beara Peninsula which is dominated by the Caha Mountains and offers views of the distant Skellig Islands. It boasts the highest waterfall in Ireland and Britain as well as one of the oldest mythological antiquities, Cailleach Beara. The Allihies Copper Mines are so deep that they go under the sea and the Dursey Island cable car (right image) is the only one to carry people over open water in Europe.
From walking to stone-carving, kayaking to visiting a working blacksmith’s forge, there is much to do in this region, which is also renowned for its wonderful artisan food.
The Wild Atlantic Way is the new 2,500 km long distance scenic driving route along the entire west coast of Ireland from Donegal in the north to Cork in the south.
For more information on the Wild Atlantic Way, go to http://www.wildatlanticway.com/
For information on the activities available around Bantry and along the Sheep’s Head peninsula, go to http://livingthesheepsheadway.com
Useful Tourism Websites:
Local Tourist Offices:
Bantry Tourist Office: +353 (0)27 50229
Cork Tourist Office: Grand Parade, Cork +353 (0)21 273251
Skibbereen Tourist Office: North St., Skibbereen +353 (0)28 21766
International Irish Tourism Offices:
New York: 343 Park Avenue, NY 10154; Tel: 212 4180800.
London: 150 New Bond St, London W1Y OAQ; Tel: 171 5180800
Sydney: 5th Level, 36 Carrington St, NSW 2000; Tel: 02 9299 6177
Useful Area Maps:
West Cork Map 24 (old series) - ordnance survey
Ireland South Sheet No 4 - ordnance survey
Discovery Series no's 84, 85, 88 & 89 - ordnance survey