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. The town centre is very compact and has a wide variety of shops, bars, coffee shops and restaurants in addition to a three screen cinema, tourist office, museum and library. 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 area is steeped in history and mythology and features megalithic tombs, forts and castles and was the landfall for two separate French invasions to free the Irish from British rule, the most famous of which was lead by Theobald Wolfe Tone in 1796. To commemorate Bantry’s past there is a comprehensive historical walk around the town that illustrates many of the most important periods in Bantry’s history.
Bantry House, the home of the former Earls of Bantry which is still lived in by their descendants, contains a collection of tapestries, furniture and art treasures which were mainly collected in 1800s by the 2nd Earl. The beautiful gardens have been restored and are home to sub-tropical plants and shrubs. The gardens & house are open to the public.
There are a number of annual events held in the town which attract a large number of visitors. These include the Bay Run half marathon in May, the Chamber Music Festival in June and July followed by the West Cork Literary Festival in the second week of July. August Bank Holiday weekend is the Bantry BBQ Festival with street barbeques, live music and street performers. The town is also host to horse fairs, cheval rides, national road bowling competitions and one the country’s largest agricultural shows.
Bantry is a hub for the serious walker with access to the Sheep’s Head Way and Beara Way. These walks contain many well signed loop walks that can take just a few hours or a few days. Water sports, golf, pony trekking, boat cruising in the Bay, cookery courses, cycling on well signposted routes all can be enjoyed in the area. And after a day out relax in one of the many restaurants, enjoy music in one of the pubs or a show at a local hotel.
From Cork take the N71 to Bandon and then the R586 to Bantry. There is a wide variety of accommodation available from camping to self catering, B&B and hotels designed to suit all pockets.