The highlight of Bantry Town is Bantry House, an outstanding 1739 Georgian mansion. It became the first of Ireland’s great houses to be open for public viewing in 1945, and descendants of the original occupant, Lord Bantry, still live here.
The interior is furnished with a variety of artistic and decorative treasures, most of which were collected by Richard White, the second Earl of Bantry, during his European travels.
- The Rose Drawing Room displays Aubusson tapestries made for Marie Antoinette
- The Blue Dining Room is the showplace for portraits of George III and Queen Charlotte painted by Allan Ramsey
- The Grand Library room offers periodic concerts, including the West Cork Chamber Music Festival each first week in July
- Outdoors, to reach the summit where the view is best, you must ascend through the terraced gardens, also created by the Second Earl
- There are seven terraces, and the house is located on the third
- The formal gardens include Wisteria Circle and the Italianate Garden
- The set of 100 restored stone steps known as the ‘Stairway to the Sky’ leads to the top terrace, overlooking the bay with its wooded islands, extending to the far away Caha Mountains, and is considered one of the best views in all of Ireland
The courtyard houses the Armada Exhibition Centre, which tells the story of the failed French invasion that landed at Bantry in 1796.
- Foul weather forced 48 ships from Brest to turn back, and Richard White received an earldom as his reward for warning the occupying British of the threatened uprising
- Nationalist Wolf Tone (1765-1851) accompanied the fleet, along with General Hoche and 14,000 troops
- The town square of Bantry bears his name and displays a statue in his memory
Bantry House. Image by carlo cravero.
Blue Dining Room in Bantry House. Image by Dondersteen