Modern history of Durrus and District

Modern history of Durrus and District

Durrus is an area of West Cork in Ireland.



World War I 1914-1918

When war was declared there was support from the Irish Parliamentary Party and Carson for the war and men were encouraged to join up, which they did in considerable numbers. Many who had emigrated to Britain, the U.S., Canada or Australia joined the defence forces at those locations. After the initial euphoria and when the war of attrition began and casualties mounted the mood changed. This intensified with the Easter Rebellion in 1916 and the executions after together with the threat of conscription in 1917. On the home front it was a period of great prosperity with high prices for cattle and agricultural produce. Bere Island was the base of the British Atlantic fleet and was also used as the operating base for a flotilla of small boats and trawlers engaged in anti-U-Boat activities. It also had a kite balloon station used on anti U-Boat activities on a 67-acre (270,000 m2) site. These balloons went up during the day and had a wicker basket suspended from wire in which an observer with a telescope looked out for enemy shipping or U-Boats. They were a common sight in Bantry Bayin 1919. Bere Island was the location of a military hospital opened in 1915 when many wounded were brought back to recuperate before being sent home or sent back to war. It was also a training camp, in July 1915 approximately 1,500 of the Fourth Connaught Rangerstrained there but only 300 returned alive and many wounded.

After the US joined the war in 1917 the US Navy based some craft in Castletown. The US Navy's Air Wing established a seaplane base was on the eastern end of Whiddy Island which became operational on 25 September 1918 when the first two planes arrived. They controlled an area around Fastnet. One of the planes crashed on 22 October 1918 killing one. The base had an operational radio station receiving messages from as far as The U.S. and Russia. Five planes were based in Whiddy. With the end of the War in November 1918 the rational ended and the station closed in January 1919.


The recent publication of the memoirs of Willie Kingston, Solicitor, Skibbereen 1885-1965, provide an interesting insight into the period of the troubles from a person from a Protestant background. He was born into a Methodist family and qualified as a Solicitor working in the office of his cousin Jasper Wolfe. He sympathised with the objects of Sinn Féin but abhorred the brutalities committed by both sides. He describes his shock at the killings of William Connell and Matt Sweetman by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) on 19 February 1921. He says that the end of 1920 when it became apparent that the troubles would continue for some time there was a wave of emigration including some of his own friends. He later describes the period after the truce when in April 1922 there was a wave of killings by Irregulars including Solicitor Francis Fitzmaurice in Dunmanway whom he had considered joining in practice earlier. Others were shot around this time and it was rumoured there was to be a general massacre of Protestants. He considered that it was like a volcano about to erupt and decided to 'clear off to Dublin' on 29 April 1922. He describes the train from Cork to Dublin full of frightened Protestants going to Dublin or England. In the course of the journey there is an explosion at the tunnel in Cork and shots are fired at Limerick Junction and he saw a man with a revolver in his hand.

  • Attack by 5th Battalion, Cork No.3 Brigade led by Ted O'Sullivan, on Durrus Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) Barracks, Constable Donovan had his right hand amputated arising from injuries. O’Farrell claims one RIC man killed
  • Bantry Courthouse Burned 25 June 1920
  • Bantry RIC Barracks burnt 1920, now part of Bantry Bay Hotel.
  • Bigg's Mill burned at the Quay in Bantry on 25 July 1920. G.W.Biggs wrote a letter to a newspaper stating that this was not the work of Sinn Féin
  • The barytes mine was raided for explosives
  • Vickeries Hotel burnt May 1921
  • Two bridges were blown up at the creamery and Dunbeacon Road formerly stone arched now concrete replacement
  • Ambush on RIC on Bog Road, Clonee, Constable Brett killed on 21 June 1920, he was a native of Waterford and had been in the RIC for 30 years the last 8 in Bantry. On the day in question he gave escort to Constable Cleary, together with Sergeant Driscoll and Constables Cuniffe and Quinn as Clery served juror's summons for the forthcoming Quarter Sessions. They were on bicycles and as they approached Clonee Wood on the road to Durrus from Bantry they were raked by gunfire. It was reported that between 20 and 30 assailants were involved. The inquest in Bantry was presided over by Coroner Neville and the jurors called were John Sweeney, Marine Street, Vitner, William B. Roycroft, Bridge Street, Auctioneer, James Downey, Main Street, Shoemaker, Florence Connolly, Main Street Publican, Richard Swanton, William Street, Flour Merchant, George Symes, Blackrock Terrace, Shop Manager, Charles O'Donovan J.P., Main Street, Draper, Edward Brooks, Marino Street, Shop Assistant, David Mahony, Gurtha, Farmer, Michael O'Driscoll, Gearhies, Shopkeeper, James J. McCarthy, Wolfe Tone Square, Hotel Keeper, Arthur O'Connor, Blackrock Road, Artisan. When the names were called out, only Roycroft, Swanton and Symes answered the others had a fine of twenty shillings imposed. It was said at the inquest that no policeman that ever came to Bantry was more popular, and, deservedly so.
  • Incident with Solicitor Jasper Woulfe (later TD for West Cork) described by Willie Kingston, Solicitor, in Skibbereen Historical Journal. Willie Kingston was a cousin of Jasper Wolfe, Solicitor and Crown prosecutor in Skibbereen. Wolfe at the time had friends in both camps. In April 1921, Wolfe, Kingston and Miss Brown motored to Durrus where he had a case at Petty Sessions. Kingston had been in Bantry earlier where he saw two men coming towards him, one saying to the other 'that's him’, he thought it was a case of mistaken identity. Later he met Jasper at the hotel and a man came out of the shadows and peered at his face. Jasper had met (Bawnie) T.T. McCarthy, cattle dealer earlier and offered him a lift to Skibbereen. They all went to Durrus in Jasper's car driven by a chauffer and had tea in Miss Brown's mother's house. Leaving Durrus for Caheragh McCarthy was in front with Jasper but his profile indicated him as a cattle dealer rather than the Crown Prosecutor. In Caheragh as they rounded a corner a whistle was blown violently suggesting the man was running and giving a pre-ordained signal. Kingston and Miss Brown crouched down but nothing happened. Jasper had a few drinks and slept through the entire episode. When they got back to Skibbereen they heard that an ambush was being laid for Jasper, he thought that the unexpected lift to the cattle dealer had the effect of calling off the ambush.
  • Willie Kingston also describes attending the Dáil Courts at The Land and Labour Hall Skibbereen, Fahoura School, at a field at Derryclough, a stable at Ballyorane and a mill at Donemark. His attendance at the Derryclough was photographed by an American lady and appeared in the American papers and later reached Skibbereen.
  • Workers hut and equipment at Durrus Road Railway Station destroyed by fire.

Economic war

The Anglo-Irish Trade War, known as the Economic War, between 1932 and 1938, was a time of great hardship for farmers as cattle could not be exported and it was necessary to kill the calves and sell their skins for twelve shillings. Bullocks sold for as little as £2 and 12 dozen eggs for 24 pence. There were no buyers for butter.

The emergency/war years

The end of the economic war was welcomed by farmers who now had an outlet for their produce on the British market. After war was declared there was a market for all their produce. During World War I there was a huge increase in agricultural prices and consequential prosperity but this time prices did not increase to the same extent. The imposition of rationing of tea and other items entailed sacrifices but not the hardship experienced in the war zone. There was compulsory tillage which was a percentage of tilled land. There were four cars in the Parish at the outbreak of war, the Priest, the Minister, Dinny John L. O'Sullivan and Barry both of whom operated a hackney service. The train took 4 hours to reach Cork, coal was unavailable and the train stopped at reach station to take on timber and turf.

The Luftwaffe High Command flew weather reconnaissance aircraft over the area and used the lighthouse at Dursey Island as a navigation buoy. The keepers got used to a Junkers plane that used to fly from Merignac near Bordeaux. On 23 July 1943 the aircraft crashed on the island killing the crew of four. It might be noted that in the National Library's Photographic Archive there are photographs taken by the Luftwaffe's aerial photographic wing of military barracks, the airport, railway stations and city centre of Dublin. A German Plane was hit by the Royal Navy's S.S. Major C. and crashed into Cashelane Hill, Dunbeacon on 5 February 1941, killing five of its crew and one taken as prisoner of war. Miss Daisy O’Mahony from Ahagouna was one of a number to view the wreckage but she drank poisoned water and died soon after. A German Airplane crash landed on Mount Gabriel on 3 March 1942 killing all the crew, they were interred in the Abbey in Bantry. Many natives of the district emigrated to England, a number serving in the armed forces others worked in hospitals and factories. Times were hard and many would have had great difficulty but for credit advanced by shopkeepers such as Jackie Cronin and Chrissie O’Sullivan (Mrs. Leahy). Jacky Cronin used to go to Cork with a truckload of pigs and return with fresh bread. In this era Bernie O’Leary showed films in the village hall once or twice a week. There was little local employment except for seasonal work on the extensive bogs at Barnagaoithe, Clonee, Glanlough, Liseenacreagh, the turf when saved was transported to Bantry railway station and thense to the Cork Hospitals. One of the trucks was driven by the late Mrs. O'Callaghan (later owned the Bantry Bay Hotel), then of Ahakista another by Jackie Cronin. There was a big trade in rabbits which were caught in snares or dazzled. The price of rabbits went from a half crown (2s 6d) to 3 and 6 and were bought by Jackie Cronin, the Creamery and Mr. O'Sullivan a dealer from Dunmanway. The Durrus River had a good run of salmon and it was not unknown for a salmon to be speared under the creamery bridge with a hay fork. There were no artificial manures and sea sand and coral were used and were landed at the ‘Sand Quay’, opposite the ‘Good Times Café'.

Post-war years

It was a time of emigration widespread poverty and stagnation apart from a brief uplift in the late 1940s. John Crowley, formerly the Creamery Manager recalls going to a funeral in Kilcrohane with the then chairman of Drinagh Co-Op. As they drove west passing ruined houses the Chairman remarked that it was only a matter of time before there was no one left on the Peninsula. Political excitement was provided by a new political party ‘Clann na Poblachta’. Shaun Dillon of Clashadoo had inherited a licensed premises near the railway station in Bantry from his aunts and for a period this was a centre of political gathering for the new party. Bottled gas, yellow for Kosangas and silver and red for Calor gas came in. It was a great assistance for cooking and for lighting using a silk mantle. People continued to use paraffin and Tilley lamps for lighting. In the late 1950s Rural Electrification brought electricity. This was preceded by a campaign to sign people up. It is said that sometimes people believed that when the cost of the dam at Ardnacrusha was paid for that electricity would be free. Some of the older people distrusted electricity and after the poles and meter had got as far as their house insisted on it being removed. The work in electrifying the area was hard and temporary staff were hired including John Sullivan, Gearameen. The Land Projectstarted with the aim of increasing farm productivity by reclamation, drainage and general improvement of animal husbandry. It was a common sight to see lorries with lime, sea sand, pipes and machinery began to work at reclamation assisted by grants. Tractors were used with hay cutting and saving machinery. The old cattle breeds were replaced over with the superior strains from artificial insemination, from the 160s the black Anglias of the bullmen was a common sight as the inseminators were so called. This was usually commenced with a request to the creamery to call the bullman when the cow "went to dairy".

Development from 1960s

From the early 1960s a move began to rebuilt old cowhalachts (old houses/ruins). One of those who were involved was Mrs. Burton, an Englishwoman. She redeveloped the cottage at Ahagouna Bridge, Tom Mahony's house, the O'Sullivan house both in Coomkeen and The Old Mill, Ballycomane Road. In the mid-1960s Gulf Oil started the building of the oil storage complex on Whiddy Island. Part of it was erected on the farm of Mr. Con O’Sullivan who bought a replacement farm at Ballycomane formerly in the ownership of the Deane and Vickery families. The building of Gulf's Oil complex started a boom in the area, large numbers of people came to work and stay in the district. It also gave an opportunity for local people to acquire skills in construction and many followed with these skills in the building of major projects such as Pfizers in Cork and Alcan Aluminium in Limerick. The first supertanker Universe Ireland arrived at Whiddy in October 1968. The tankers were serviced by four tugs, Bantry Bay, Dingle Bay, Brandon Bay, Tralee Bay. The terminal closed following the explosion on 8 January 1979 when the Betelgeuse exploded killing fifty people.

Tourism developed with a large influx of English visitors. They were catered for in B&Bs and premises such as Ballyrooster House in the village were refurbished for accommodation and to provide a craft shop. Sometimes they rented horse drawn caravans supplied by Joe O'Reilly travel in Cork. The advent of the troubles in Northern Ireland and the popularity of Spain hugely reduced the number of visitors



  • Rossmore slate quarry: It was worked by a Liverpool Company in 1865 and slates were exported to England, Scotland and France. The quarry ceased operations in 1917, the remains of the powder store and tool shed are still extant.
  • Friendly Cove Slate Quarry: Opened from 1870s by Mr. Morris, Friendly Cove and in 1875 employing many men
  • Scart Barytes Mines:This mine supplied the paint factory of Mr. Harris of Donemark, Bantry in 1886. The transport of the barytes gave much employment and many horses and carts were hired.. The ground barytes were bagged and exported in loads of 200-300 tons for porcelain manufacture. The paint was made also of amber and fired in a furnace.
  • Rooska and Killeveenogue Silver and Lead Mine: Henry Thomas attempted to establish a mine and sold 65 tons of lead and 70 ounces of silver between 1849 and 1852 but ran out of capital.
  • Quarry owned by Timothy McCarthy 1912
  • Dereenalomane Barytes Mine: This was originally worked as a copper mine by the Rev. Traill of Schull assisted by Captain William Thomas in 1840 and they sold 19 tons of copper. They discovered barytes or barium sulphate, a heavy white mineral, (used for paint, papermaking, etc.) for which in the 1850s there was a limited market. An early use was by Josiah Wedgewood in the making of pottery. T.D. Triphook, a geologist, (his father was Rector of Schull 1847-1881), was involved in the mine in 1854 when it was known as the Bandon Barytes Mines as the mine was on the Bandon Estate. From 1860 the mine was managed by Charles Thomas, a Conish Mining Captain. George Ellis a Cornish Mining Captain was involved in the 1870s. From 1820-1920 intermittently when 2,500 tons were raised in 1851 compared to only 800 tons in three other centres in the former United Kingdom. The material was washed and dried crushed and milled. It was then produced as barytes flour, this was packed into bags and sent to an island jetty in Dunmanus Bay by an aerial ropeway 1.23 miles (1.98 km) long from 1909 prior to that it went by horse and cart to Schull pier.. The mine also produced a small tonnage of copper (bornite) and approx 22,000 tons of fine barytes. It was worked by a Liverpool Company controlled by the Roe Brothers, one of the assistant Managers was Mr. Barton. The mine used to be all lit up at night it looked like a city. Bells tolled to call the labourers to work in the morning. In 1917 a major fire caused extensive damage including the underground workings. Although repairs were carried out the mine never recovered to its former level of activity. Grenville. A.J. Cole, 1922 the authority on mining history regarded it as the first in Ireland and one of the earliest in the world. The companies listed as having worked the mine were, Marty Dennis and Co., British Barytes Co., Durrus Baryes Co., Mount Gabriel Barytes and Umber Co., Irish Barytes nd Umber Co., Dereenlomane Barytes Mines Ltd., Dunmanus Barytes Mines Ltd.


The Moynihan family had a water mill in the village fed by a sluice from the Durrus River starting at the Creamery and continuing to the Mill behind the village. Corn (wheat) and oats were milled, it had extensive use during the Second World War. Mr. Moynihan was also the headmaster in the school, his son Joe died in the late 1998. In the 19th century there is also listed in Griffiths Valuations a scutch mill.


In 1912, there were butter markets on Wednesdays and Fridays near the present creamery. The main market was in Bantry with fair day the first Friday each month, the pig fair on a Thursday. Cattle would be walked to the Fair with a very early start. In the early 20th century Bantry was considered to have the fourth largest fair in Ireland.. When the railway was running there were 'specials' with as many as eight carriages to carry cattle and pigs to Cork. The annual horse fair then as now was Ballibui in August in Dunmanway. When the marts started especially Bandon and Skibbereen (started by Cork Co-Operative Marts in 1958) it sounded the death knell of the fair for cattle. Durrus Fair used to be held near Creamery. It was revived in 1937 had been dormant for 20 years previously, held on the third Monday of every month.

Dairying and The Creamery

In Gaelic Ireland, a person's wealth was reckoned by reference to the number of cattle he had, a wealthy man was reckoned to be 'fear mile bo' a man of a thousand cows. The Brehon laws devoted a large part of the legal code to affairs relating to cattle ownership. The diet before the introduction of the potato had a major dairy products component. Around 1630, the practice of packing butter for export in wooden firkins (56 lb.) was introduced into Ireland. By 1730, Cork Merchants were distributing firkins to small farmers in Munster ensuring that the butter would be returned in good quality containers. By the mid-18th.century there was a thriving trade in butter to the Cork Market, but the round trip by horse drawn cart from Skibbereen could take eight days. Butter did not always go directly to Cork. In the 1730s a group of Cork Merchants came to Bantry every summer primarily in connection with the pilchard trade but also directly bought and exported butter from Bantry. In addition, farmers and car men faced the hazards of highwaymen seeking their cash on the return journey. Many of those going to Cork did not use carts as evidenced by the comments of Sir John Carr in 1805, 'peasants with horses carrying barrels of butter to Cork secured as usual with ropes of hay' as did Sir Richard Colt Hoare in 1806, who said numerous troops of pack horses conveying casks of salt butter from the interior to Cork. Patrick and Andrew Gallwey of Bantry wrote in 1737 that the butter output of the small cows in the district would have ranged from half to two thirds of a hundredweight of butter per annum. In the post famine era with consolidation of holdings and the collapse of grain prices with the passing of the Corn Laws, dairying assumed a greater importance in the local economy. The mercants would receive butter in amounts of 20 or 30 lb (14 kg) and salt and make it up to 56 lb (25 kg). the measure of a firkin, they would pay the same as applied in the Cork Butter Market. The coming of the railway to Durrus Road reduced the time to take butter to market by 75%. William Warner of Bantry, owned creameries at Killarney, Enniskeane and Ballinacarriga and developed a brand of butter aimed at the export market. In partnership with James Manders who later left the partnership he started a factory at William Street, by 1886 its production was £6,000 in the summer and employed a hundred men including fifty coopers. Before the introduction of the Land Acts, transferring ownership to the tenants in the early 20th century it was common for land to be worked by a combination of owner and dairyman. In one such case, the Sullivan family who had been dairymen at Moulivard and elsewhere agreed in 1897 to work lands at Rusheenisca as follows

By Agreement of 13 January 1897 between Robert Phillips, Church House, Clowes, Worcestershire, England, and John Sullivan of Durrus, the Owner agreed to give the milk and produce of 27 in-calf cows and any cows that the Owner may buy, to make up the above number and calves, on or above 15 May 1898 for the Dairy Year of 1898. The Dairyman was given liberty to graze 6 sheep, and to grow potatoes for his own use, and he was to be provided with dairy utensils and to get a half tonne of bran for the use of the dairy cows, at such times as he may require it. He is also to be permitted to sow last year's tillage to oats and wheat for his own use, and the straw to be the Owner's property. In returned, the Dairyman was to pay Mr. Phillips £6.15.0d. for each cow and the Owner will allow John Sullivan £6.0s.0d. for properly saving the hay. The Dairyman was to pay the sum of £100 0s.0d., and the balance to be secured by Promissory Note. Should the Dairyman decide not to renew the Dairy Agreement for the year 1898, he will be allowed such sum of root crops and ….. need two persons as nominated by the Dairyman and the Owner shall deem proper. It might be noted that around this period Willie Kingston of Skibbereen's brother-in-law was a Bank Clerk of some years standing and earned £120 per annum.

A major influence in establishing the creamery in 1933 was Canon McManaway and it was largely built by cross community voluntary labour. Work started in 1933 and it opened in the spring of 1934. Farmers gave a week at a time with horse and cart. Gravel was sourced from the strand and rock was quarried east the Ballycommane Road, the ground was soft and took a great deal of fill. It was necessary to register 1,000 cows and guarantee £1,000 over three years. Canon McManaway was also involved in starting the creamery at Kilcrohane and Dunmanway nd worked closely with Fr. McSweeney. The creamery was opened before those at Caheragh, Kealkil and Bantry and apart from Durrus farmers, others suppliers from those areas sent their milk there on floats carrying 15 or more churns of milk. Before the creamery butter was sold to Jeremiah O'Sulivan's (Jehr the shop) stores for 4d a lb and was packed in 56 lb (25 kg). boxes. It went from his store by horse and cart to Durrus Road Station and thense to Cork. Apart from taking in milk the creamery operated as a general store where farmers could make purchases against their cheques. It purchased chickens and turkeys and supplied meal and other farm supplies.


Sea urchin fishery 1960s to 1980s

There was a thriving fishery in sea urchins in Dunmanus Bay, in the area bounded by Mannion's Island Ahakista and the ruined Dunmanus Castle. The waters are shallow and this encouraged the growth of the urchins. The fishery was operated by Paudie McSwiney , John, Patrick and Joe Arthur of Kenmare Saw Mills and the other included John and Dermot Murphy of Bantry, the boatmen were Joe and Mick Flynn of Gearameen Durrus. At different stages four or five boats would have operated. The urchins were picked from the seabed by divers and John Arthur said that they would often spend four hours in the water. The urchins were sold on the French market live and were shipped through Cork Airport and were very perishable. The fishery was effectively wiped out with the sudden onset of red tide in the early eighties and by the removal of all sizes of urchin,thus not allowing regeneration.Kenmare Bay suffered a similar fate and urchin "fishing" is now unheard of in these bays. The Lucey family of Waterville and a French Company operating out of Crookhaven were also in the business.


Among those involved in the scallops were Frank Arundel of Ahakista Jim Flynn of Gearhmeen Jack Connolly, Gearhmeen, Mossy Cremin, John & Jimmy O Mahony ( Durrus) & Con Coughlan'(RIP) (Stn Height)' Patsy Flynn, & Mattie coughlan were all well known fishermen during the 50s 60s. In Wartime the catch was exported to the U.K whilst an ever increasing demand for seafood at home see's a huge demand in later & current years. The tradition stretches into the new century With Teddy & Frankie Arundel Frank & Gerard Coughlan Tommy Arundel & Tony Mc Loughlin all involved in this seasonal (Winter type of fishing.) Summer is spent on Lobster, Prawns,& Crayfish. Paddy Barry (R.I.P) was involved in boats during the 60s


Winkles have been harvested along the shores of Dunmanus Bay for many years, and in the past were purchased for the French market by a company operating from Crookhaven who stored them in ponds awaiting transportation. They collected on a regular basis by truck.

Petty Sessions Court

The Court House is still in the village between O'Sullivans and the Sheep's Head public houses. These courts were set up in the early 19th century before that the magistrates administered justice according to their whim frequently on their own. Fr. Collins Administrator of Skibbereen giving evidence to select committees of House of Lords and Commons in 1824 referred to 'presents' being given to the Magistrates of corn, cattle money and having their turf cut. The Government pressurised the Magistrates to hold the Petty Sessions in public with three or four sitting in March 1822. This was formalised under the Petty Sessions Act of 1827. The petty session's nearest modern equivalent is the District Court except that the Petty Sessions operated with the involvement of local prominent people with no legal qualifications. Under the Peace Preservation Act 1814 the resident magistrates appointed were generally strangers and therefore immune to pressures applied to local magistrates.



It is believed that there was a thatched church on the site of the Old Mill, now Cois Abhann built around 1750. There were also Mass Rocks, one in Coomkeen in the lands of the late Timmy Whelly and one at Kealties. There are the ruins of a church at Kealties, this was a thatched church erected c.1780. The old Durrus Church at Moulivard was in use mid-17th century but according to Brady was in ruins by 1699. According to tradition there was a church at Coolculachta. After the 1798 Rebellion and the arrival of the French Armada in Bantry the church was forced to close. The former church at Chapel Rock (on the site of the present National School) was built by Fr. Quinn in 1820 and was a slated structure. Fr. Richard Quinn was from Onoyne, in Co. Tipperary and came to the parish in 1818. In 1820 he started the parish register of births, marriages and deaths.

It was replaced when the Church of the Sacred Heart was built in 1901. This was built on a site of 1-acre (4,000 m2) by way of lease to Fr. O'Leary from the Earl of Bandon for 990 years at a rent of 10 shillings per annum lease dated November, 1898. The first sod was cut by Dan Keohane and John Sullivan, Clonee. The contractor was Daniel O'Donovan, Bantry and the stone was provided from a quarry at Fahies, Clashadoo owned by the Shannon family and drawn to the site by Patrick Crowley of Ahagouna. The cost of the church was £2,900 and the Architect was Maurice Alphonsus Hennessy from the South Mall, Cork There is a mural tablet to the Blair family of Blairscove and outside a Celtic Cross in memorial to the Tobin family in Irish and English.

The Stations are an old tradition going back to Penal times. In each townland families in turn rotated to have mass in the house where the parish dues were taken. It was and is a time of great preparation with help from neighbours in the preparations. A wax candle blessed on Candlemas Day February 2 was used. Stations used to start at 9 a.m. but are now generally in the evenings.

Church of Ireland

  • Brady mentions a church and chancel in Durrus in 1615 and the Rector Thomas Barnam says in 1639 it was in good condition unlike Kilcrohane. The Cork Directory of 1875 mentions a ruined church near Durrus Court the then residence of Lord Bandon. In 27 November 1792 by order of the Lord Lieutenant in Council the parishes of Kilcrohan, Durrus and Kilmacomoge were divided and the new parish of Durrus and KIlcrohan were created. St. James, Church of Ireland, built 1792, at a cost of £461 10s. 9.25d. Aisle rebuilt later following collapse, South Aisle added 1867 to a design of William Atkins. The Rectory (Glebe) was built by the Rev. Edward Jones Alcock in 1831, the former Glebe being at Cappanahola. Licensed places of Worship and Glenlough and Rooska 1852-1866 these were in schoolhouses. This church was closed in January 1988. In 1935 the entrance was widened, railings were erected and gates were added. This work was done by Dick Gay and Eddie Brooks and paid for a former parishioner Mr. Hosford resident in England. In 1940 the Vestry Room was built, 1949 Calor Gas lighting installed and electricity came in the early 1960s. In 1989 extensive renovations carried out. A parochial hall was built partly by voluntary labour at the Rectory and opened on 22 August 1951. The new Rectory was completed in 1965. The parishes of Durrus and Kilcrohane seem to have been separated between 1634 and 1639 but reunited by 1663.
  • Rooska

Some of the services and sermons at these places of worship were in Irish c. 1850 when the Rev. Crosthwaite preached was attended by thirty converts and several poor Protestants who would have to travel six to ten miles (16 km) if the attended the Parish Church.. Rooska Church built 1866 to a design of William Atkins. This Church was closed in January 1988.


The Methodist church was built in 1827 as Four Mile Water Church Hall in village. The last church on the Dunbeacon Road, was built c. 1930, and closed in the early 1950s. Durrus was part of the Skibereen circuit which included the Berehaven Mines, Fivemile Water, Durrus and Drimoleague, with a Minister resident in Bantry. There were a number of Methodist families including two Brooks, and Kingstons in Dromreagh, Vickeries in Ballycomane and Rooska, Millars in Coolcolacta.


The Commission of Public Instruction, Ireland, produced a report in 1835 setting out on a parish the state of local education provision. The following are the details for ‘Durruskilcrohane’:

  • Female school kept by Eliza Daly with an annual grant from the British and Irish Ladies School Society of £12, it had 83 females, average daily attendance of 55 and increasing. Instruction consisted of reading, writing, arithmetic, needlework, the scriptures, and Church catechism
  • Day school kept by James Kingston, with an annual grant from the Association for Discontinuing Vice of £8; house, rent free, and an acre of ground from the vicar. 30 males average daily attendance 22 stationary. Instruction consisted of reading, writing, arithmetic, the scriptures, and Church catechism to the Protestants
  • Day school kept by Samuel Hatfield, subscriptions from the vicar and others and the payment by the children of 1s. 6d.a quarter, males 29, females 16. Instruction consisted of reading, writing, arithmetic, the scriptures, and Church catechism, established June 9, 1834.
  • Day school kept by Timothy Daly, an annual grant from the London Hibernian Society of 1s. per quarter for each child, and payments by the children of 1s per quarter, established 1832. 91 males and 11 females average daily attendance 65 increasing. Instruction consisted of reading, writing, arithmetic, and the scriptures.
  • National School kept by John McCarthy, annual grant from the Board of £8, and payment of 6d. a quarter by the children. 61 males 39 females average daily attendance 55 increasing. Instruction consisted of reading, writing, arithmetic, and the Roman Catholic Catechism
  • Female school kept by Margaret Forbes, annual grant from the London Ladies Society of £12, 14 males 72 females average daily attendance 35 increasing. Instruction consisted of reading, writing, arithmetic, needlework, the scriptures.
  • Hedge school kept by Thomas Toomey, payment by the children, from 1s. 6d. to 3s. a quarter, males 58 females 10 summer attendance 40. Instruction consisted of reading, writing, arithmetic, and the Roman Catholic Catechism
  • Sunday school books from the Sunday School Society males 25 females 55 average 40 increasing, the scriptures

The National school system was begun in 1831.

Catholic Four Mile Water

There was an application to register the Female school in 1853, 1860 and 1865 which succeeded but the school was struck off in 1880 and restored later. The Male school applied in 1868 and 1883. In 1868 there was an application for the payment of a salary of an assistant teacher, Mr John Leary, aged 17 years. There was no monitor as the former monitor, John Canty resigned on September, 1868. The principal was Denis Leary who taught 3rd. class and there were 97 pupils with an average attendance of 63.3-64.8, with 62 present on the day of inspection. The manager was Fr. O’Flynn P.P. In view of the increasing attendance the application was approved. In 1875 there were 131 boys and 161 girls.


In 1875 it had 136 pupils

  • Teacher, Mary Sullivan


  • Teachers
  • John O'Mahony

Church of Ireland schools

These schools remained outside the National School system until later in the 19th century and were supported by the Church Education Society, in the 1840s the Rev. Crosthwaithe received support for schools from the Coast and Islands Society and this continued until towards the end of the century.

Aughagoheen Church of Ireland

There was an application from Rev. William O’Grady on a ‘Bantry Club’ letterhead seeking the entry of the school into the National System. It had been under the Church Education Society (founded 1839) and this involvement would finish on recognition. The patrons were Rev William O’Grady and E.E. Leigh White Esq. It was proposed to carry out certain work and to provide privies. It was suggested that George Patison aged 18.5 would be the teacher and he would have a house provided by the parish. An inspection disclosed the school hours of 10 am to 2.30 pm with religion 2-2.30. There were 16 pupils: nine males and six females. It was later suggested that Annie Stephens be permitted to teach she had been a monitor at Carrigbui up to 3rd. class and was in sole charge for te months (this may have been Durrus C of I school), she would be eligible to act as a substitute and was to go for training later. The file indicated that there was no provision to supplement the teacher's salary and Rev O’Grady replied that the parish was very poor but later proposed to pay £10 in addition to the state salary. The teacher in any event was prepared to work without a local subvention. In the event the appointment went to Miss Susanna Perrott aged 20 from 1 September 1902, she had trained at the Church of Ireland College at Kildare Street. The school was expected to have 29 plus pupils including two from Scart Catholic School which at that time had an attendance averaging between 24.9 and 38.4. After recognition the roll was 17 boys and six girls and the attendance ranged between 10. and 18.5. Miss Rebecca Kingston resigned as teacher from 10 March 1910 and it was suggested that the school be closed and the children go to Bantry at a conveyance cost of £63 per annum. The Rev O’Grady appealed this on hardship grounds as pointing out that many of the children had to come up side road. The Inspector conducted an enquiry looking at the distances the children had to travel their ages and in the end it was suggested that the school stay open. The family names of the children were Swanton (three families), Love, Foley, Jago, Sullivan, Shannon and Deane. Miss Florence M. Clarke resigned from 28 August 1914 and Ella Newman took over (she had been a junior literary mistress in Bantry) from 8 August 1911. She had trained at St. Mary's Shandon passed the relevant exam and was given provisional recognition from 22 October 1915, the non payment of salary while her appointment was being sanctioned caused hardship.

Church of Ireland Durrus

The original school at Clashadoo was built c.1780, in 1875 there were 60 pupils. It was replaced by the school at Ahagouna in 1937 after a diphtheria epidemic when several children died including three of the Shannon children from Rossmore.. This school cost £1,600. There were 60 pupils and a second teacher was employed. This school in turn is about to be replaced by a new school under construction (2006) on an adjoining site acquired from John McCarthy. There were also schools at Rooska and Dunbeacon. In 1947-50 school transport was provided by Mrs. Lottie Dukelow by pony and trap, earlier Bert Dukelow provided transport with a horse and trap for the children on the south side of the bay.

Rooska School

There was an application by the Rev. Pratt for the school to be recognised as a National School in 1898. The file in the National Archives sheds light on the old school which according to Rev. Pratt was built around 1822/1823 when old Captain White gave a lease for ever over a free site whereabouts of lease unknown, the informant being the previous rector Rev. Alcock. The school was inspected by the District Inspector Mr. R.W. Hughes on 9 February 1898. He reported the building in fair condition, one room, no privies, stone and mortar, slated and drew attention to some improvements needed. The local schools were Gurtalasa, 1 mile 70 attending, manager Rev D. Foley P.P., Four Mile Water three miles (5 km) males 68 females 55 Manager Rev. D. Foley P.P., Durrus 2.5 miles (4.0 km) Manager Rev. Pratt 40 pupils. Other schools shown on a plan were Bantry, Whiddy, Rusnacaharagh and Morragh (Methodist Durrus). Normally a school would have to be more than three miles (5 km) from another school but in this case the application was approved from the 1at January 1898 in the exceptional circumstances of the mountain range preventing children from attending. It was stated that the teacher had been Mr. John Wolfe who had taught to great satisfaction for over 50 but was now old and infirm. He had two sons teachers. One, John C. Wolfe was to teach in the school from 1898. He was 36, had trained at Marlborough Street in Dublin qualifying in 1881/2 and had previously taught at Rossharbour, Co. Fermanagh up to December 1897. The school had been supported by the Island and Coast Society £20, The Church Education Society £7, The Diocesan Board £5 and the Manager £3 and this support was to continue. The roll was males 12, females 6, on the day of inspection males ten females six. The average attendance for the previous period was August 10.8, September 12.1, October 3.3 (measles), November 9.6, December 13.3, January 15.2. The manager felt the numbers would continue and that a number of Protestant orphans were expected. Mr. Hughes in accordance with regulations had consulted with Canon O’Grady and the approval of this on the file is struck out and it is stated that he had written to the P.P. no reply but the Curate in Bantry had no objection. Friction developed between Mr. John Wolfe and parents and he resigned in 1903, he was replaced by Mr. Patison (Clashadoo) as a locum tenens. His appointment was approved from The 4 May 1903, he being uncertified in the exceptional circumstances as the manager Rev. Pratt was unable to secure a certified teacher.

Cashelane Church of Ireland School

There was an application by the Rev. R. H. Carroll the Manager of Altar Rectory, Toormore, for a grant to build a new school. This was in his name, and that of Rev. J.T. Levis of Durrus and Rev. Brady of Ballydehob, the existing school was unsuitable due to distance for pupils. The school would have 30 children mixed, the school had been inoperative since 1902 as a teacher could not be located. In 1902 the average attendance was 10.7-11. The nearby Catholic School at Dunbeacon had an average attendance of 54.8-68.3, and included 11 Established Church children and had an assistant teacher. It was expected that the enrolment of the new school would be 21 males and 13 females. There was no objections to the development from Rev O' Callaghan P.P but Fr. O'Connor whose school at Dunbeacon would lose 11 children objected as did Rev W. Caldwell, the Manager of the Methodist School at Morragh. The previous teacher Mrs. Griffin resigned in December 1902 and the School was technically taken off the roll from that date to be restored on completion of the new school on July 1906. Ms. Trinder, who had qualified from the Church of Ireland College in 1894 and had taught at Kilcoe/Corrovally was appointed and the new manager was Rev. A.J. Brady as the school was now in his parish. In October 1906 the attendance was 10 boys and 10 girls out of a possible enrolment of 22.


The school was at Morragh. There was an application to have the school registered as a National School in 1882 and 1883. The site of the school and teacher's residence was leased from Richard Tonson Evans the 1st May 1862 by way of lease of the Three lives, Arthur Jagoe son of William Jago, Robert Evans Hadden son of David Hadden Alexander Bailie McKee son of Thomas Andrew McKey, Weslian Minister and the term of 61 years from the death of the latest survivor of the lives aforesaid, the interest was transferred to the Trustees, William Jagoe, Thomas Alexander McKee, Samuel Dunlop, James Swanton, Robert Ballen, John Hunter Harte, John Atkins, John Hamilton Bryan, and a moiety of rent was paid by G.R. Wedgood, 20, Mount Charles, Belfast. It was proposed to amalgamate the school in 1907 with the Established Church (Church of Ireland) school in Durrus. Even though the school was under Methodist Management only 4 of the 30 pupils were Methodist the remainder Church of Ireland, at that stage Durrus School had 40 pupils and could accommodate the extra children. The other schools in the area Cashelane, Ahogoheen, Durrus all EC and Four Mile Water RC. The school was removed from the roll from the resignation of Mr. Daniel Boyd the teacher who emigrated to Canada. The manager was the Rev. Cathcart who replaced Rev. Caldwell

Church Society Schools

There were schools at Knockroe, Gearhies and Gortalassa in the care of Irish speaking teachers including Seamus O Suilleabhain of the Ui Shuilleabhain Fachdnaidh at Bonane near Kenmare. It is believed that the Irish Society was active in this regard.

Secondary school

The Mercy Order arrived in Bantry in and their school for girls started in 1863, initially on a National School Curriculum. By 1885 they had broadened the curriculum and this later expanded to include bookkeeping, agriculture, horticulture, mechanical drawing, dressmaking and cookery. Art, craft and design vocal, choral and instrumental music and song were included. Children were prepared for Civil Service exams and trained as monitors who would move on to teach in the National Schools. The Intermediate Course started in 1911 and in 1927 a Secondary 'top' was attached to the National School. In 1878 the two schools became distinct and the convent school was the only one in the area providing full time second level education ?. In the absence of transport the secondary school was of limited use to children in outling areas such as Durrus. Where families could afford it boarding schools were utilised. The children of Jehr (the shop) O'Sullivan, Chrissie (Mrs. Leahy), Maisie (Mrs. O'Mahony, Maeve (Mrs. McGovern) went to the Urselines in Cork in the 1930s, The Crowley sisters of Ahagouna, Nonnie (now Sr. Arsinesas of the Sisters of Mercy, Dublin), and Bridie (now Mrs. Blackburn formerly of Bordeaux) went to the Mercy Convent in Dunmanway in the early 1930s

Lace School under the Congested Districts Board

The Sisters of Mercy in Bantry started The Convetual Industries a development of training and employment and they restarted the dormant lace making industry in 1902. This was to last into the 1950s

Distinguished people local parishes

  • James Swanton, (c1760-1828) joined Berwick's Irish regiment in 1780 great grandfather of Hilaire Belloc (1870–1953)
  • Sir Francis L.O’Callaghan, (1839–1909), Born Dunmanus, son of James O’Callaghan, JP, educated Queen's College, Cork in Engineering, Consultant to the Government of India for State Railways, supervised construction of Railway bridge over River Indus and the railway through the Bolan Pass
  • Robert Swanton from Ballydehob, United Irishman, Lawyer in New York, he chaired a meeting of 'the Friends of Ireland in New York' in 1825, possibly the first attempt to mobilise the Irish in America. He became a judge of the Marine Court in New York, he returned home in 1836 and died in Ballydehob in 1841, his grave inscription in Skibbereen states 'Do ghradhaigh se na Gaedhil agus an Gaeilge', he loved the Irish people and the Irish language.
  • Thomas Swanton, Crannliath, Ballydehob, Merchant, Landlord and Gaelic Scholar, he tried to use the language in public, in 1848 he had posters printed in Irish advertising the new fair in Ballydehob from the first Thursday in May, 1848. He was a member of learned societies in Dublin.
  • Capt Francis O'Neill 1848-1936, Tralibane, Collector of Irish Music Chicago
  • Diarmuid O h-Eigeartaigh1856-1934, author of Tadhg Ciallmhar 1934 folklore of 18th century, Is Uasal Ceird memoirs of a teacher 1926.
  • Patrick Joseph Sullivan, born Kilcrohane, Republican US Senator for Wyoming, 1929-1930.
  • Robert Dawson Evans, 1843–1909, born in St. John [now Saint John], New Brunswick [Canada], who rose to prominence and influence in Boston as an industrialist and arts patron, was a son of Captain John Evans—a native of Brahalish who emigrated to British North America, with five of his siblings and their parents, Richard and Elizabeth (Shannon) Evans, in 1831. At Evans' death, in 1909, his wife donated 1,000,000 (US) to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in his memory. "Evansway"-a street near the Museum and Boston's famed Fenway Park is named for him.


The pattern at Gougan Barra is still attended but in the past it was quite different. In the 18th Century and early 19th. Century patterns at holy wells or at Gougan Barra were very popular. In theory these were religious in practice they were a form of zealous recreation. In 1813, the folklorist Thomas Crofton Croker (1798–1854) attended a pattern at Gougan Barra on St.John's Eve the 23rd? June. There were large crowds on the shore of the lake multitudes in and around the chapels, those inside on their knees some with arms uplifted praying aloud others counting the beads on their rosaries or using a small pebble or cutting notches on a stick to indicate the number of prayers to be repeated. A rusty piece of iron was passed was passed from one pilgrim to the next and placed on the head three times, accompanied by a prayer. A man belonging to a mendicant order scratched the wall of the well with a piece of slate, following the imprint of the cross. The pieces of slate were sold to pilgrims afterwards as relics. Inside the door of the well were seven or eight people some with their arms some with their legs in the water exhibiting their sores. Outside little bottles of glass water were sold and applied to an infected part or sold on the spot. Women waited with naked infants to dip them into the waters of the well. On the shores of the lake were tents with whiskey porter and bread. In most tents was a piper and young people danced, the women choosing the partner. There were twenty or thirty people in each tent, drinking heavily singing rebellious songs which were greeted with howls of approval. By evening most were drunk, cudgels were brandished and there was general mayhem. He was impressed with the piety of the simple people but a confused uproar of prayers and oaths of sanctity and blasphemy sounded in the same instant of the ear. He noted the common loss of life due to faction fights at patterns. The Bishop of Cork, Dr. John Murphy banned the Gougan pattern in 1818. The Protestant clergyman Caesar Otway (1780–1842) visited in 1827 and counted 936 Paters, Aves and Credos.


In the post famine era there was dejection and mass emigration. By the 1870s athletics became very popular and the schools folklore project has many references to races, weight throwing and events in Kilcrohane and Ahakista. It was common for people to cross Dunmanus Bay for events on the other side or to meet half way in Carbery Island

GAA History

There are references to a club in Durrus in 1888 playing Skibbereen. However there was a near total failure of the potato crop in 1890 and a mood of panic gripped the area, resulting in a drop in the number of clubs from 38 to 2. In the early years rules were loose and matches sometimes developed into a melee. In the 1930s the playing field was in Clashadoo opposite the former schoolhouse. Teams would often travel to matches in the back of Jackie Cronin's lorry. Over the years players from the area included Robert O’Sullivan (he is a brother of Danny O’Sullivan publican and later joined the Gardaí) he played minor football for Cork in the 1968s.

The G.A.A in the parish went through many changes. The only record that exist of any Trophies won was a West Cork Junior 2 title in 1932 with a team captained by Bill Kennedy from Dunmanus.(dec:2004) The Parish was destined to wait 60 years to repeat this feat. The parish were represented by a side called Western Stars in the 60s but that too collapsed due to emigration and lack of leadership. This was all to change when two committed individuals Tim Cronin & Sean O Suilleabhain organised a meeting to form a new club in the early 70s & it was agreed to call Muintir Bhaire. With Tim as Chairman and Sean as Runai it was all systems go. The most notable even came in the mid 70s when the reached a West Cork Junior Final but alas defeat was their lot. Emigration was again to play a part in the near demise of the Club during the 80s when the brightest and best left the area to seek their fortune in the U.S.A. The arrival of Joe O Driscoll N.T. to The local school concided with a crop of talented pupils put the Club back on track winning games @ Fe 12 & 14.

The early 90s again saw the club in fold up mode but the arrival of Frank Arundel and Tom Coughlan launched the club to new heights & success was soon to follow winning West Cork titles Fe 21 (C)96 & Fe 21 (B)in 98. Greater things were around the corner the turn of the 20th century saw the West Cork Junior (B) cup in the Parish for the first time in 60 years captained by Sean Tobin. Team trainer Careagh's Tony O Driscoll and Tipperary's Jack McNulty with selectors Tom Coughlan and Vincent Cronin had greater plans for the team. This was realised in 2003 when the first ever Cork County title came to the Parish. This was indeed an Historical occasion & amid scenes of great joy as Sean Tobin became the first Muintir Bhaire man to raise a Cup In PAIRC UI RINN to date the only Muintir man to play senior football with Cork is Sean Levis (Brahlish). The Club were promoted to Junior 1 in 04 and to date (2010) have competed with distinction contesting the West Cork final in 07 where they were defeated by Bandon. They won the West Cork Junior League in 09 defeating Kilmacabea in the final. The club were without a ground of their own until 09 when the farm of the Late Jimmy Dukelow at Crotees was purchased and currently plans are on hand to develop magnificent playing facilities over the coming years!


It has been suggested that the introduction of flax in the mid-18th century followed by the introduction of weaving families from the north of Ireland introduced bowl playing to West Cork. With the improvement in the roads in the late 19th century it begins to register in the folklore with names such as Skuse of Brahalish and Barrett of Colomane mentioned.


The games of 45 and 110 were very popular.


In the 1850s when Francis O'Neill (the great collector of Irish Music) was a child many musicians played in his parents' house. In Durrus Nell Burke Coomkeen, played the melodian in her younger days. In the 1930s the Station Heights in Dunbeacon was a centre for dancing and music in particular the Daly house. Music was supplied by the two Mahony Brothers, Mine Road on the fiddle A wooden platform was used in Dunbeacon crossroads for dancing in the same period, it was in use over the weekend and put away on Sunday night. In the early 60s or possibly the late 50s local man Eugene Wiseman formed a 5 piece dance band which became very popular all over West Cork and they were known as "The Roving Sernader's" Pete Sullivan, Bill Cotter, Mary Minehane & Michael Cotter on vocals were the mainstay of this band over a number of years. Eventually the late 60s brough many changes to the type of music and Eugene adapted well bringing new blood to the scene with a band called "The Fastnet Five" with local teenager Tom Coughlan on lead vocals, and it remained on the scene for a couple of years with great demand all over the County.


Bantry had a Regatta in 1833.


Coach service

Before the extension of the railway from Drimoleague to Bantry, a coach service was provided from Bandon to Bantry, and the travel time by train and coach from Cork to Bantry was approximately 6½ hours. In 1875 the mail coach left Bandon at 3.40 a.m. for Bantry arriving at 9.20 a.m., the mail then left Bantry for Durrus and other outlying areas at 10 a.m. The Coach left Baantry for Bandon at 3.55 p.m. arriving at 9.45 p.m. the fare was 4/=. The Cork and Bandon Company agreed with the Post Office to provide a conveyance of the mails from Cork to Bantry in May 1857. The Bantry mail service being given to Mr. Thomas Marmion of Skibbereen. A complaint was made in July 1864 of the late arrival of the Bantry Mail Car. Apparently the driver had fallen asleep on the car between Drimoleague and Bantry, having been plied with drink by a passenger. The Mail Inspector sought the removal of the driver, and an instruction was issued that he was not to be employed on mail cars. Marmion's contract came up for renewal, and under later renewals from 1867, he was receiving £300 per annum, to conduct the mail from Bandon to Bantry.

Steamer service

A Steamer Service operated between Cork and Dingle, between the late 1850s and 1905. The Clyde Shipping Company took over this service in 1876, calling at Bantry to pick up pig and millstuffs.


As early as 1836, the Consulting Engineer, Charles Vignoles, put forward a scheme to the Railway Commission for a trunk line from Dublin to Cork, including a branch running from Blarney, through Macroom and Glengarriff, to Castletownebere. The report, however, made no mention of the line to service West Cork. A later scheme was the direct Dublin, Cork and Bantry Railway Company, which was provisionally registered in August 1845 for a railway from Dublin to Bantry, via Kilkenny, Clonmel and Cork. The Scheme, however, did not proceed. A Company was set up to run a railway from Cork to Bandon in 1845 and in 1846 secured Parliamentary approval to proceed, which included a projected line to Bantry. There were discussions in the early 1850s, with a view towards extending the line to Bantry, and Lord Bandon in October 1850, suggested that the line go from Drumcoureen southwards to Dunmanus Bay. This was declined due to the depressed state of the money market. A memorial was submitted from the people of Durrus, seeking an extension of the line to Dunmanus, but to no avail. The Admiralityexpressed an interest in the possible extension of the line to Crookhaven, as they were examining its suitability as a Trans Atlantic Packet Station. Nothing developed from this however. Eventually work commenced on the line in November 1879,the contractor being William Martin Murphy and opened for business at the old station in Bantry, near the Hospital, in 1881. The West Cork Eagle & Co. Cork Advertiser had a letter from Mr. John E. Sloan, late Chief Engineer, Irish Lights, on 15th. September 1883 proposing a tramway from Skibbereen to Mizen Head with a branch northwards to Durrus Road Station. In the line's heyday in the early 20th century, there were four services a day to and from Cork to Bantry, in the Durrus area, people used the station at Durrus Road. The journey took approximately three hours. The Company was anxious to develop a tourist business, as the line was already an important link in the "Prince of Wales Route" from Cork to Killarney via Bantry and Glengarriff. In 1902 the Company commended the opening of a circular route from Bantry to Dunmanus Bay. Inclusive fares were 13s.6d. First Class, 12s.0d. Second Class, and 10s.0d Third Class, to include luncheon at Ahakista Hotel and tea at Bantry. The Local Development Syndicate (which had acquired the coaching business of Mr. Vickery of Bantry) agreed to do the coach and provide refreshments at 7s.0d a head. The Company agreed to provide a special train to Bantry and back, and to contribute half the cost of the refreshments.

An interesting story is told whereby Sergeant Creagh was appointed as a Sergeant in Durrus in the early 1930s. When he arrived at the station, he was somewhat surprised that the village was located some distance from Durrus Road Station. He was told to put his bags onto the cart of a jennet, which was leaving the station. The jennet belonged to O’Sullivan's shop in Durrus, and for a number of years the animal went to and from the station with a driver to pick up the Cork Examiner and return. The line suffered significantly during the Troubles and Civil War. There was an ambush on the train at Upton on 15 February 1921, six were killed, and two days later Scart Bridge near Bantry was blown up, stopping services west of Drimoleague. On 7 August 1922, (the Civil War had started in June 1922) Chetwynd Viaduct was severely damaged by explosives, traffic was suspended and there was great difficulty getting staff to conduct the repairs, and it was not until April 1923 that service was resumed to Bantry. In the intervening period, Signal Cabins and Staff Instruments were destroyed by fire at Durrus Road Station.

Numbers travelling on the line dropped to an average of 20 daily, but this improved with the introduction of a diesel rail car in 1954, and numbers increased to between 80 and 130. However, there was a policy of closing rail lines, and the loss of the Bandon section for the Year Ended March 1958, was Stg.£91,000, which together with the prevailing mood at the time, proved terminal for the entire West Cork system. The last train went from Bantry to Cork on Good Friday, 31 March 1961.

Letter West Cork Eagle & Co. Cork Advertiser had a letter from Mr. John E. Sloan, late Chief Engineer, Irish Lights, on 15 September 1883 proposing a tramway from Skibbereen to Mizen Head with a branch northwards to Durrus Road Station. In September 1928, a 'pig special' left Bantry after the Pig Fair held on the first Thursday of the month, drawn by two locomotives. At Scart Bridge four wagons became detached and 43 pigs were killed.


The phone service arrived in, and consisted of a manual exchange located in the Post Office. The STD System did not come until circa 1981. In 1979 the Beltegeuse exploded at the jetty at Whiddy Oil Terminal, killing over 40 people. As a consequence the Tribunal Inquiry set up at the West Lodge Hotel, chaired by Mr. Justice Costello. At the time, a postal strike commenced in January of that year, and was to last until the end of June. This strike not only affected the postal service, but also closed down the phone service in those parts of the country still on manual exchanges, including Durrus. At that time, Bantry was still on the manual service, and each afternoon reporters covering the Tribunal had to race to Drimoleague to phone their report in, after enduring a long queue at the phone box, as Drimoleague was then on the STD service. It might be noted by way of contrast, that in the 1890s, a deputation from the Irish Co-Op movement headed by Sir Horace Plunkett, went on a study tour of southern Sweden, in the Uppsala area, and were amazed to discover that most of the farmers in the area had phones.

See also


  • Bantry Historical Journal, Vol 1,2.
  • Evelyn Bolster: A History of the Diocese of Cork, Tower Books, Cork, 1982, ISBN 0-902568-11-6,Catholic Central Library, Dublin
  • James I.C.Boyd, The Schull and Skibbereen Railway, the Oakwood Press, 1999 ISBN 0-85361-534-9
  • W.Maziere Brady: Clerical and Parochial Records of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, (3 Vols, Dublin, 1864).
  • Tim Cadogan and Jeremiah Falvey, A Biographical Dictionart of Cork, 2006, Four Courts Press ISBN 1-84682-030-8
  • Seamus Cahalane, Cartographer's Carbery 1581 Map, Mizen Journal 1997
  • Archive of Dioceses of Cork and Ross, Paddy O'Keeffe, archive for list of priests, handwritten, dates preferred to those in diocesan archive
  • M.F.Cusack: History of the City and County of Cork, Guys, Cork, 1875, Catholic Central Library, Dublin
  • David Dickson:Old World Colony, Cork and South Munster 1630-1830, Cork University press, 2005,ISBN 1-85918-355-7
  • 'Under the Shadow of Seefin' Ann McCarthy
  • Irish words collected by Joe O'Driscoll N.T. Dunbeacon and Dublin in 1930s
  • John Quinn: Down in the Free State, War Time Crashes, W.W.11 (1) W.G. 1999, ISBN 0-9525496-5-4
  • Uilliam O Dalaigh:The O Dalys of Muintir Bhaire and the bardic tradition, 2006, Clolucht Bhearra.
  • Frank O’Mahony, The story of Kilcrohane
  • T.P. O'Neill, 'The Administration of Relief ', Studies in Irish history, the great famine 1845-52, Dublin 1956 p. 242
  • J.G.White: History and Topographical Notes, Catholic Central Library, Dublin
  • The Fold Magazine (Cork Dioceses), 2001, re Durrus Catholic Church
  • Fr. T.J.Walsh (Parish Priest of Durrus), An Irish Rural Parish past and Present Muinter Bhaire, Capuchin Journal 1972
  • Padraig O Maidin, Cork Examiner 19 November 1960 re tithes (from POK papers)
  • Donal J. O'Sullivan 'The history of Caheragh Parish, 'The Captain Francis O'Neill Memorial Company Ltd'., Caheragh, 2002
  • Reference; ‘A Census of Ireland c1659 ,from the Poll Money Ordinances 1660-1661’, edited Seamus Pender Irish Manuscript Commission, Dublin 2002 ISBN 1-874280-15-0
  • Colin Rynne: At the sign of the Cow, the Cork Butter Market 1770-1924,The Collins Press, 1998,ISBN 1-898256-60-8.
  • Richard S.Harrison: Bantry in olden days, 1992, published by author, also on Warner's butter, Southern Star 24 January 1990, Flax Growing in West Cork Southern Star 2 February 1991, Methodists in West Cork, Southern Star 9 February 1991
  • Willie Kingston: From Victorian Boyhood to the Troubles: A Skibbereen Memoir, Skibbereen Historical Journal Vol 1 2005, extracts edited by his niece Daisy Swanton and Jasper Ungoed-Thomas, grandson of Jasper Wolfe, and Vol 2.
  • Mizen Journals 1-12.
  • Bantry Historical and Archarological Society Journal. vol 2, 1994 ISSN 0791-6612 Journal
  • National Library, Dublin has the 19th. Century list (on microfilm) of Birth Marriages and a list of the priests who served in the Carholic Parish box. 4799.
  • Office of Public Works Archaeological Inventory of Co. Cork
  • Penelope Durrell, Dursey
  • West Cork Railway inc. Colm Creedon's Works, Privately published Magazine Road, Cork
  • Diarmuid O Murchadha, Battle of Callann AD 1261, JCHAS, 1961 no. 204 p. 105/116
  • Index to Administration Bonds Dioceses of Cork and Ross 1612-1858, WW8
  • [1], Durrus Graveyards

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