GPS: 51°42' N , 9°28' W
Bantry is a small town set at the head of Bantry Bay, the longest inlet in Ireland and one of Europe's best natural harbours with a depth of up to 40 metres. It's main industry is fishing, with the culture of mussels being of prime importance. Despite this, and having a small island oil terminal, Bantry Bay is still largely unspoilt and a good base for exploration of County Cork's westerly peninsulas. It has a number of hotels and a profusion of guest houses and bed & breakfast accommodation.
The town has a lively music scene ranging from Irish Traditional sessions, through a multiplicity of styles, to a Chamber Music Festival. Live music may often be seen each friday at a large outdoor market in Wolfe Tone Square, the first in every month being particularly large and known locally as 'The Fair'. The stalls include many local artisan foods, crafts and services.
The name Bantry derives from the irish Beanntraí which probably means 'Beann's people', from a tribal name.
In 1796, Theobald Wolfe Tone and the United Irishmen attempted to land a French armada in Bantry bay. It was intended to expel the British and establish an Irish Republic. Richard White, having heard about the invasion had trained a militia to oppose the landing as he and his tenants were loyal to the British crown. In the end the French armada never even had a chance of landing. The weather was too severe, and 10 ships were lost. One of these 'The Surveillante' remained on the bottom of Bantry bay and was discovered in 1982. The ship was restored and can now be seen in the Dublin National Museum. There is an impressive statue of Wolfe Tone in the main square, which is also named after him
A statue of Saint Brendan 'the Navigator' in Wolfe Tone Square illustrates Bantry's claim of a connection with this 6th. century saint who, it is said, discovered America 800 years before Columbus.
A large open air market is held in Wolfe Tone Square every Friday, with a special, larger, 'Fair' occuring on the first friday of the month.