This parish, which is situated at the extremity of Bantry bay, comprises 56,910 statute acres, of which 5841 are applotted under the tithe act, and valued at £13,977 per annum. Very great improvements have been made in agricultxire since 1815, and a large portion of land has been brought into profitable cultivation. The principal manure is the calcareous deposit found in abundance on the shores of the bay, which in some places is so mixed with coral sand as to be quite as effective as pure lime in fertilising the soil. There are, however, still more than 20,000 acres of waste land, the greater portion of which is mountainous, in some places quite barren, and in others affording good pasturage for young cattle, of which vast herds are reared; and there are about 15,000 acres of bog and marshy ground, much of which is capable of being reclaimed. The surrounding scenery is strikingly varied, and in some parts characterised by features of majestic grandeur and romantic beauty. Glengariff, which is partly in this parish, and within 10 miles of Bantry, is much resorted to for the singular variety and indescribable beauty of its scenery.
It is situated on the picturesque bay to which it gives name, at the north-eastern extremity of Bantry bay; and derives its name, signifying the "rough glen," from its wild and rugged aspect in the midst of rocks, cliffs, and mountains thrown together in the greatest confusion, and finely contrasted with the richness of luxuriant woods and verdant meadows, shaded with thriving plantations intermixed with evergreens and flowering shrubs.
The bay of Bantry, from many points of view, has the appearance of a fine lake studded with numerous rocky islets fringed with evergreens; of these, the island of Whiddy is the largest, and is crowned with a small fort mounting five pieces of cannon, erected by Government after the attempt of the French in 1796. Along the north-western shore rises the Sugar Loaf mountain, supported by the smaller mountains called the Ghoal, the sides of which, dark and deeply indented, are in fine contrast with the bright and smooth surface of the bay; and their summits, frequently concealed by flying clouds and quickly emerging into the sun's rays, present an ever-changing scene. Far behind there is a precipitous cliff, which for many generations has been the resort of eagles, and concerning which the peasantry have many interesting traditions, in connection with the O'Sullivans, the ancient chieftains or princes of Bere. The mountains are of the schistose formation, based on argillaceous grit; in a small rock in Reendonagan bay, limestone is found mixed with the grit, which can be only partially calcined, and is therefore of little use; the schistose rocks merge into clay-slate, and slate of a tolerably good colour is found in several parts. Four rivers intersect the parish in their course to the bay; namely, the Maulagh, or Moyalla, which, on its entrance into the bay, forms a beautiful fall of 30 feet at Dunamarc; the Auvane, which rises in the pass of Caminea, and falls into the bay at Ballylicky; the Coomola, which forms the small creek of that name, and the Drumgariff, which forms the north-western boundary of the parish and barony. There are several small lakes, but none deserving of particular notice. Glengariff Castle, the seat of Capt. White, is a spacious and elegant mansion, situated under the shelter of a mountain which gradually declines towards the water's edge, and is covered from the base to the summit with valuable young timber; the approach to the house is through a noble avenue more than a mile in length, affording in many of its openings a fine view of the bay and the opposite mountains. At the extremity of the bay is seen the Glengariff Hotel, originally a poor cabin, which has been converted into a very commodious house, and forms a picturesque feature in the landscape. From this point the woods of Glengariff, the property of the Earl of Bantry, wind for seven miles through the glen towards the west; the trees are chiefly oak and birch, with a large proportion of arbutus springing up luxuriantly from the crevices of almost every rock; and the woods are annually thinned to the amount of about £1000.
Upon a small verdant islet in the bay is Bantry Lodge, a handsome building in the cottage style, surrounded by a fine plantation of ash, and now the constant residence of the Earl of Bantry; it is situated in the bosom of the glen, enclosed by lofty mountains and rugged cliffs: a road leading from the house directly to the hotel has been recently made by his lordship, for the accommodation of visiters. The other principal seats in the parish are Sea-Court, belonging to the Earl of Bantry; Carriganass, the residence of W. O'Sullivan, Esq.; Inchiclough, of R. White, Esq.; Ballyliskey, of S.
Hutchins, Esq.; Gurtenroe, of J. S. Lawler, Esq.; Drumbree Cottage, of J. White, Esq.; Newtown, of M.
Murphy, Esq.; Ardnagashil, of A. Hutchins, Esq.; Reendonegan, of D. O'Sullivan, Esq.; and Mount- View, of the Rev. T.Barry. A constabulary police force is stationed in the parish.
The living is a vicarage, in the diocese of Cork, and in the patronage of the Bishop; the rectory is impropriate in the Earl of Donoughmore and Lord Riversdale.
The tithes amount to £1186. 15., of which £561. 15. is payable to the impropriators, and £625 to the vicar. The glebe-house, for which the late Board of First Fruits granted a loan of £1500, is a handsome residence, built on a glebe of 32¾ acres purchased by the Board, subject to a rent of £4. 4. per acre; the old glebe comprises nearly four acres, and there is also a glebe of seven acres in the parish of Durrus belonging to the vicar. The churchy which was completed in 1828 by aid of a loan of £1384. 12. 3. from the late Board, and to the repair of which the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have recently granted £107, is a neat structure, in the early English style, with a tower of three stages, which, from the varied colour of the stone, has a singular appearance; it is situated in the town of Bantry.
Divine service is also performed in the school-house at Glengariff, and in houses situated respectively at Ballylicky and Capenalooe, licensed by the bishop. The R. C. parish is co-extensive with that of the Established Church; the chapel, a spacious and handsome building, on an eminence in the rear of the town, was erected by subscription, and there are chapels at Calkil and Comola.
About 580 children are taught in five public schools, of which a male and female school at Glengariff is supported by Capt. White and his lady. There are also nine private schools, in which are about 420 children, and a Sunday school.
On the sea-shore, near the town, was a small monastery, founded in 1466 for Franciscan friars by Dermot O'Sullivan Bere, of which only the cemetery, still called the abbey, is remaining, and is used by the Roman Catholics as a burial-place. Within the demesne of Newtown, about half a mile to the north-west of Bantry are the remains of a fortification raised by Ireton during the parliamentary war; it consists of a quadrilateral area, and was defended by angular bastions and surrounded by a fosse; but the walls and towers have long been demolished, and the cannon was at the same time thrown into a very deep well; the moat still remains entire. Not far from this spot is the beautiful cascade of Dunamarc; and at another place, called Newtown, to the south of Bantry, is a very antique stone pillar in a burial-ground, with some rude sculpture of men in armour and other curious devices. Danish forts are numerously scattered over the parish; and, in 1834, more than 3000 silver coins, chiefly pence, groats, and half groats of the reigns of the earlier Edwards and Henrys, and of Alexander, King of Scotland, were found.
At Carriganass are the extensive ruins of the castle built by O'Sullivan Bere, and garrisoned by Daniel O'Sullivan against the forces of Elizabeth; it surrendered, after the capture of Dunboy fort, to Sir George Carew, and at present consists of a lofty square tower on a precipitous rock rising from the banks of the river Ouvane, and some extensive outworks. On the same river, near its influx into the bay, are the ruined gables of the Castle of Rindisart, the stronghold of Sir Owen O'Sullivan, which was taken by Ireton in the parliamentary war, and by his orders demolished. Near Carriganass are the extensive and ivy-clad ruins of the old church of Kilmacomogue, and near the town are those of the old church of Bantry, from the floor of which rise some lofty poplars. There are several chalybeate springs, of which the most esteemed is near the old abbey of Bantry; and near lake Capanabool is a cromlech surrounded by nine upright stones. See BANTRY and WHIDDY-ISLAND.
from Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837.
The transcription of the section for this parish from the National Gazetteer (1868), provided by Colin Hinson.
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