History of Bandon
The town of Bandon was formed at the start of the 17th century by English settlers during the time of the Plantations of Munster. It has seen the rich history of Ireland at close -hand, as the battle for ownership of Irish shores has played out in detail in key settlements surrounding Bandon, as well as the town itself.
The Castles of the Irish chieftains, who owned the land before it was claimed by the English, can still be seen – the McCarthy’s in Kilbrittain and the O’Mahony’s, in what is now, Castle Bernard.
Harbour View, Kilbrittain
A sweeping expanse of beach, sheltered by embracing headlands, the beach is a peaceful haven with picnic benches in the dunes for those wishing to absorb the tranquility of this spot.
Further west from Bandon, Inchydoney is a beach famed as a family hot spot. A perfect beach for the building of sandcastles and paddling in the shallow bay, children are in their element here.
Renowned throughout Ireland as a surfer’s paradise, Garretstown is a hub of activity for the water lover. For those looking for a more relaxed time, there are stunning coastal walks taking in some of the breathtaking scenery of the West Cork coastline.
For the more thrill seeking amongst you, there is ample opportunity to kite-surf, with instruction readily available if you are a newcomer to the sport. For the more experienced kite-surfer, there are places to test your skills under more challenging conditions as West Cork is gradually becoming recognised as an ideal location for this ever-expanding sport.
Garretstown beach is at the heart of the surfing community, with ample opportunities for instruction by one of the many surf-schools that feature along its shores. Surfers travel from all over Ireland to experience the surfing here, so whatever the weather there is always someone out there!
All along the coastline are idyllic coves and caves, best explored from the water. Kayaking schools offer hire of kayaks including instruction, half and whole day tours, and even night tours – a unique chance to experience the magic of the water, reflecting the light of the moon and a star filled sky.
West Cork is steeped in equine culture and you won’t go far without coming across a horse. For those of you who are partial to a gander on horseback there are local centres that offer lessons, woodland hacks and beach rides all with fully qualified instructors.
West Cork is a maze of lanes, small roads and tracks often leading to the most hidden spots of beauty and local highlights that in a car you might just pass by. Guided tours are available and there is also the option of self-guided tours for those wanting a less structured day out. There is provision made for children with options depending on age and proficiency and picnics can be supplied with advance booking.
Bandon has a picturesque course on the outskirts of town, with the 18 holes played through the grounds of the, now uninhabited Castle Bernard. Not only is this an impressive setting, but the club boasts excellent value for money for what is on offer. For a more extravagant tee-off, there is the world-class Old Head golf course, encapsulated on a protruding headland offering stunning views and an experience as much as a round of golf.
The Seven Heads Peninsula Walk, takes you right to the heart of the coastal landscape, with a full walking distance of 42.5km around the seven dramatic protrusions from Timoleague to Ballinglanna. There are plenty of options of circular walks, so that you can cater for the time and energy available as you admire the the rich variety of flora and fauna, the marine life and the broad tapestry of human existence, surviving in harmony with the wildlife in an area virtually unspoilt by the commercial and material demands of the outside world.
Bandon town bridges the river Bandon, recognised as one of Ireland’s hot spots, with salmon and sea trout abundance. A prominent feature of the town is the historic weir, which is floodlit at night, featuring a modern fish pass where if you are patient enough, you can see the salmon leaping at high water times. There are many opportunities to fish along the scenic banks of the river and even if you are a complete novice there is a chance to try your hand at it under guidance from a local expert.
Bandon Skate and Play
Bandon Skate and Play is a new facilty in Bandon town centre, ideal for kids of any age. From toddlers to teenagers there is something for everyone and with full time supervision you know your kids will be safe while you enjoy the great shopping experience on offer in the town.
The town has seen massive recovery since the 2009 flooding, and shops are flourishing once more. Being a small town community, many of the shops are locally and privately owned, often having been in a family for years and this is a great chance to purchase one off items and unique accessories. There are delicatessens and coffee shops, proud to predominantly source all their food from local suppliers and the farmers market is resounding evidence of what binds a community together with freshly caught fish, delicious cheeses and vegetables complementing a range of produce all from within a close proximity of Bandon.
Must See Attractions
There are so many things on offer within easy access of Bandon, it is hard to decide how to divide your time. Here is brief guide to the places we feel are definitely worth considering.
A medieval fishing town, Kinsale is synonymous with great dining experiences; from small cafes and bars, to classy restaurants, delicatessens and even a newly opened cookery school. With an extensive choice of local to the more exotic, all taste buds are catered for even if you are just looking for an ice cream to eat as you stroll around the cobble streets and browse the shops and galleries of local artists.
A lively seaside town, Clonakilty is maybe better recognised as the music centre of West Cork. In its multiple bars and pubs, it is rare not find live music to accompany the evening. Local performers can be found alongside national and international artists playing, in a more intimate setting, music that spans all genres. Here too, for the family, is the Model Railway Village – a carefully crafted scale model of the town as it was in the 1940s. This intricate model takes in details of the smallest aspects of Irish rural life from this time and is worth a look whatever your age.
The capital of the south, Cork is a hive of activity with shopping, food and history combining to make it a perfect day out. Covering a relatively small geographical area, all its main attractions are easily accessible on foot and there are plenty of opportunities to relax over a lunch or a coffee in between activities.
Michael Collins Centre
One of the most famous figures in Irish history, Michael Collins, was a local of West Cork and it is near to Bandon that he was finally assassinated. As a tribute to all he achieved for Irish independence, and chartering his life’s work, the Micheal Collins Centre is definitely worth visiting. It is a fine example of the struggles that the Irish went through to gain not only their independence but a united country; a point in their history that is still very raw today.
The area encapsulated as West Cork is dotted with picturesque towns, fishing villages, and dramatic coastline. Each town has it’s own character and history and there is a staggering variety of flora and fauna,each distinct to its own habitat. For a comprehensive tour of all the must-see scenic, gourmet, and historical highlights a tailored bus tour can be taken from Bandon throughout the spring and summer seasons.