Every Monday we share one of our favourite heritage sites, to bring a little bit of Ireland into your inbox.
In this edition, as everything is beginning to bloom, I thought it might be the perfect time to visit the beautiful Bantry House and Gardens in West Cork.
Bantry House is beautifully situated, with views over Whiddy Island and the Caha Mountains. It is an elegant stately home that was originally built in around 1710 in the Queen Anne style by the Hutchison family.
The house has been added to considerably over the years, particularly during the middle of the 19th century under Richard White, the 2nd Earl of Bantry. The White family rose to prominence in the late 18th century, and earned their fortune through the fishing and and timber trade.
Bantry Bay has long been a strategic location in Irish history. In the later years of the 18th century, it was very nearly the landing grounds for an invasion of Ireland from Irish and French forces who were determined to overthrow English rule.
In 1796, a fleet of French ships with over 16,000 men sailed from Brest to land in Ireland to support the United Irishmen in their rebellion. However, the fleet was struck by ferocious storms and only sixteen of the fleet arrived to rendezvous in Bantry Bay. They waited there for the other ships in vain, and, unable to land the soldiers because of the wind, they had to abandon their plans and return to France, to the great disappointment of Theobald Wolfe Tone who was on board one of the ships. He noted his frustration in his diary, “we were close enough to toss a biscuit ashore”.
It was Richard White who raised the alarm and organised local defences, placing Bantry House at the disposal of the Royal Navy. For his efforts, loyalty, and zeal he was raised to the rank of Baron Bantry, and he was later made a Viscount.
Shortly after the Napoleonic Wars in 1816, he was raised to the rank of Earl of Bantry and Viscount Berehaven. Though the title is now extinct, Bantry House has descended through the female line to its present owners.
Like the house, the beautiful gardens also reflect the style of Richard White. They were influenced by the fashionable Italianate style, with handsome terraces that help to complement the stunning vista.
It is a beautiful place to visit, especially in spring and early summer. One to consider for an Easter trip!
You can read more about Bantry House and Gardens at our article below:
Explore Bantry and West Cork with the free Ellen Hutchins Trail Audio Guide
If you'd like to spend a little extra time exploring Bantry and West Cork, you can discover the remarkable story of Ellen Hutchins, Ireland’s first female botanist.
This self-guided tour will take you through the landscapes that Ellen knew so well – from the wind-swept islands to the shores of beautiful Bantry Bay, through wild woodlands at Glengarriff and on to the spectacular mountains that run along the Cork and Kerry border.
You can find the Ellen Hutchins Trail Audio Guide for free on your favourite podcast platform, or by clicking the link below.