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|Irish Grid Reference||V997488|
|wonder bay of cork|
|Irish Grid Reference||V997488|
|wonder bay of cork|
Bantry (Irish: Beanntraí, meaning "(place of) Beann's people") is a town on the coast of County Cork, Ireland. It lies on the N71 national secondary road at the head of Bantry Bay, a deep-water gulf extending for 30 km (19 mi) to the west. The Beara peninsula is to the northwest, with Sheep's Head also nearby, on the peninsula south of Bantry Bay.
As with many areas on Ireland's south-west coast, Bantry claims an ancient connection to the sixth-century saint Breandán (Naomh Bréanainn) the Navigator. In Irish lore, Saint Breandán was the first person to discover America.
The focus of the town is a large square, formed partly by infilling of the shallow inner harbour. In former times, this accommodated regular cattle fairs; after modernising as an urban plaza, it now features a colourful weekly market and occasional public functions.
In past centuries Bantry was a base for major pilchard fisheries, and was visited by fishing fleets from Spain, France and the Netherlands. Wolfe Tone Square in the town commemorates Theobald Wolfe Tone. Dublin-born Tone led the republican United Irishmen in what he had hoped would be a local re-run of the recent French Revolution; this was to be achieved with the help of French Republicans in overthrowing British rule (see 1798 rebellion). The ill-fated French invasion fleet arrived in Bantry Bay and Berehaven Harbour in 1796, but its purpose was frustrated by unfavourable winds. For his efforts in preparing the local defenses against the French, Richard White, a local landowner, was created Baron Bantry in 1797 by a grateful British administration. A Viscountcy followed in 1800 and in 1816 he became the 1st Earl of Bantry. The noted mansion and gardens in the Bantry House demesne on the outskirts of the town testify to the family's status; the estate includes the "Armada Centre" devoted to the historic event.
During the Irish War of Independence, the 5th Cork Brigade of the Irish Republican Army was very active in Bantry, and many members remained so during the Civil War that followed. Action by British forces included the punitive firebombing of several buildings in the town. The names of those who died between 1920 and 1923 "In Defence of the Republic" are listed on the wall of the former court house in Wolfe Tone Square.
Sheltering the head of the bay is Whiddy Island, site of an important oil terminal, originally owned by Gulf Oil. On 8 January 1979 the oil tanker Betelgeuse exploded, killing all 42 crew members, as well as seven employees at the terminal. The jetty was seriously damaged, but fortunately the storage tanks were not affected. Nevertheless, 250 employees at the terminal, one of the largest employers in the region, lost their jobs. There was also significant environmental impact, and so the local fishing industry was also affected. Local interests subsequently initiated mussel-farming in the sheltered waters between Whiddy and the town, and this industry has enjoyed considerable success.
An injection of money by the Irish Government in the early 1990s led to the part of the terminal being restored. The Government arranged for oil to be stored here during the First Gulf War in case of a disruption to oil supplies. Further funding led to more and more of the terminal being made operational. By 1998 it was deemed officially "open for business" once more. It passed from state ownership to several American oil companies, and is now part of ConocoPhillips Corporation. The terminal is working to full capacity once more and sees up to 40 ships berth every year. The recent increase in the price of oil has led to some speculation about future expansion of the terminal.
The town is a service centre for a large catchment area, including the Beara Peninsula. It is no longer a major fishing port, mussel-farming having replaced the traditional trawling. Tourism is now a major part of the economy, exploiting the coastal scenery of the region, and the town contains numerous hotels and guesthouses. Bantry made headline news in 2007 when a major cocaine-smuggling conspiracy was foiled on the nearby coast.
Bantry became a Fairtrade Town in 2006.
Bantry hosts two significant cultural events each summer - the West Cork Chamber Music Festival and the West Cork Literary Festival. These feature musicians and writers of international stature, with performances at various venues in the town.
Bantry held the Atlantic Challenge International Contest of Seamanship in July 2012 in which 15 nations competed.
Bantry has its own small privately owned airfield called Bantry Aerodrome, though the nearest large international airport is Cork Airport. Cork Airport may be accessed by direct Bus Eireann bus in the summer tourist season; at other times of year, it is necessary to change buses in Cork.
Scheduled bus services connect the town with Cork, Killarney, Castletownbere, and some smaller local centres.
Bantry Town Council has nine members. These members are elected by the town's residents every five years. The members elect a mayor and deputy mayor annually.
Bantry is twinned with:
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|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Bantry.|