The name Bantry comes from the Gaelic Beanntraige, which means territory belonging to Beannt, son of Conor MacNessa, a Gaelic king who lived around 2000 years ago.
The town is protected by the sheltered harbour that reaches up to the town square, where the appearance of the houses and shops has changed little with the passage of time.
- Owing to its strategic location on the southern tip of the country, and its favourable maritime features, this deep, shallow bay was used for centuries as a safe harbour for both fishing and commercial vessels, who paid tax to the O'Sullivan Clan
- Bantry Town, and the head of Bantry bay, is an attractive town and popular tourist destination
- Bantry House is one of the town's main attractions
Bantry has long been a strategic military port.
- In 1689, 7000 French troops arrived in Bantry Bay with money and supplies to support James II in his war with William of Orange
- In 1697 a fleet supporting William of Orange landed in Bantry
- On 15th December 1796 Bantry 43 ships departed from France in support an Irish nationalist uprising - but storms ravaged the ships and most were wrecked off the Irish coast
- In the early nineteenth century, Bantry prospered, exporting agricultural products to England, France and abroad
- During the Irish Famine, Bantry declined and over the next century failed to recover its former status
In recent decades, Bantry has revived with the help of industries such as tourism and mariculture, specialising in products such as mussels.