Overlooking Bantry Bay in the heart of West Cork, Bantry town is situated just over 55miles (100kms) west of Cork city. It functions as a large Market town providing commercial, retail and tourism/leisure facilities for locals and visitors alike.
Bantry is an important tourism location and is a designated outdoor activity hub in west Cork with a wide variety of activities available all year round. Water sports, Horse riding, Angling and Cycling are some of the outdoor activities available in the area.
The town is conveniently situated between the Beara and Sheep’s Head peninsulas giving access the to The Beara Way and the award winning Sheep’s Head Way with some of the finest walking tracks in the country in close proximity.
With a fine raised plaza in its main square overlooking the harbour the town has a variety of small shops, cinema and businesses, restaurants and bars to choose from and is an ideal holiday location with plenty to offer all visitors. The majestic Bantry House overlooks the harbour with its beautiful gardens reaching down towards the shore where one can enjoy the spectacular views of the Caha Mountains across the bay. On the outskirts of the town there is easy access to the “Kilnaruane stone” which is the oldest ecclesiastical or early Christian sites in the area dating from the 4th century.
As one of the larger towns in West Cork with a population of about 4000 people and a catchment area of about 12000 people, it is a busy community with plenty going on all year round.
Bantry is also host to the West Cork Chamber Music Festival, Masters of Tradition festival, West Cork Literary festival, Bay Run Half Marathon, and Bantry BBQ festival.
In 2012 Bantry was the host town for the prestigious Atlantic Challenge, an international contest of seamanship.
Only an hour from Cork and Kerry international airports Bantry is just a stones throw away and is an ideal location for your holiday in West Cork.
Bantry and West Cork is synonymous with Irish Patriots. The countryside offered a safe haven to many “on the run” during the War of Independence in 1922. Michael Collins and Tom Barry are forever linked to this area and the site of the Kilmichael Ambush and Beal na Blath where Michael Collins was shot and fatally wounded in August 1922 is a 40minute drive from Bantry.
Planning your visit to Bantry and the surrounding West Cork towns and villages come & stay with us here at our Bantry Bed & Breakfast – Doire Liath, where you can avail of our Free Wifi and Parking.
Walking in Bantry & the surrounding areas:
Sheep’s Head Walks:
Short, sweet and scenic, this (The Sheep’s Head Way) must be the best in Ireland. It takes in a superb moorland crest and rugged cliffs, as well as easy lowland terrain for country walking, cycling or driving.
There are few more beautifully located or more delightful walks in the whole of Ireland. Then “The Sheep’s Head Way” which is a fully marked 88km/55mile route and is ideal for self-guided walking with many loop walk facilities for those who wish to vary their route. Whether it’s walking, cycling or driving you will be able to explore one of the least known peninsulas along the Irish coastline and enjoy its tranquillity, beauty and rugged landscape lapped by the Atlantic Ocean.
There are a number of historical and archaeological monuments to be found amidst a spectacular landscape of mountains and sea. You will also have the chance to encounter an array of rare wild flowers, view the dolphins in the bay and take some time to acquaint yourself with some interesting bird life. The terrain varies as you progress along the route that usually goes out on the Bantry Bay side of the peninsula along a wide open rocky ridge with good vegetation cover. However there are wet patches as you progress to the lighthouse at the end of the peninsula. You return on the Dunmanus Bay side along gentler, low level farmland, moor and close knit villages. The average length of the walks each day is between 15 and 22 km’s with the highest point being 345m and remember each walk can be tailored to suit your individual ability. Sheep’s Head drive takes about 3hrs from Doireliath and can be done in a morning or afternoon at your leisure.
The Cork / Kerry Mountains are to be found on the Beara Peninsula – part of the south-west coastal region of Ireland that was formed as the sea level rose between 4000-7000 years ago. This split the region into a number of mountainous peninsulas. Beara is one of the three largest of these peninsulas and the wonderful Beara Way winds through the mountains of the beautiful counties of Cork and Kerry.
As you are cycling walking or driving through this wonderful tapestry of rocky promontories, sheltered beaches, hills, mountains, archaeological sites, and castles – you won’t be disappointed, the Beara Peninsula has them all. There are a number of organised walks up Hungry Hill and The Sugarloaf and less difficult ones for the moderate walker to enjoy. Beara is really a glimpse of old Ireland, less commercialised then the better known Ring of Kerry to the north but beautiful in its magnificence. The Ring of Beara takes about 3hrs to drive directly but people always pull in and take pictures of the stunning vista.
Mizen Head Peninsula:
A sparsely populated peninsula of outstanding rugged beauty, Mizen is Ireland’s most southerly point and at its lonely ocean swept head stands the Mizen Head Signal Station and Visitor Centre.
Beyond the town of Ballydehob, the Mizen Peninsula stretches its long finger southward through Schull, an attractive little fishing village, popular with sail boats in the summer, and on through the tiny village of Goleen. The road goes past the causeway linked island of Crookhaven a place where you can simply stop the world and get off and around Barley Cove Beach, a long stretch of sheltered sandy bay and the best beach in West Cork . From here the road winds along before stopping at the very edge of Europe, where the Atlantic Ocean crashes onto the dramatic rocks at Mizen Head. The landscape along the way is one of wild desolate beauty and isolated nooks and crannies of craggy rocks, breathtaking sea cliffs and hideaway coves.
At the head are the Visitor Centre and Signal Station, which stands on a dramatic promontory battered by the ocean and linked to the mainland by a solid arched bridge. An award winning maritime heritage museum the Visitor Centre includes displays on sea faring and mankind’s relationship with the sea, on sea navigation and sea life. A walk down the 99 steps and across the bridge to the Signal Station brings you to the old Keeper’s House, here you can see how the keepers at the station lived and worked from 1909 when it was built up until 1993 when the signal station was automated.
The real magic of Mizen Head is the breath-taking scenery of the landscape itself and of course the knowledge that you are at the very southern tip of Ireland, with the vast swell of the Atlantic sprawled out before you. Driving to Mizen Head takes about 45minutes through spectacular scenery.
Gougane Barra is a 25minute drive from Doire Liath through the Pass of Keimeneigh. When you arrive you will immediately see why this sacred beautiful place is chosen for romantic weddings and time out in a busy life. The name (Guágan Barra in Gaelic) derives from St. Finbar, who according to tradition built his monastery on the island here in the 6th century. Guágan was at one time part of the territories of the O’Leary’s who lost possession of the land in the plantation that followed the Cromwellian wars. Subsequently it passed to the Townsend family and ultimately the farming tenants under the Land Acts in the early part of this century. The ruins on the island are not part of St. Finbar’s original settlement but were erected around 1700 by Rev. Denis O’Mahony who, following the footsteps of St. Finbar, retired to a life of asceticism here. Because of its isolation, in the days of the Penal Laws people travelled from areas far beyond the bounds of the valley to hear Mass in Guágan Barra. One of the most famous ‘Mass Path’ was that which led from the Borlin Valley to the west via Gowlane Stream and down into Com Rua by way of the savage cleft of Poll. It is one of the oldest pilgrimage destinations in Munster and has been referred to as the “Camino of West Cork”