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Bandon the gateway to West Cork


Bandon The Gateway to West Cork

Bandon is the gateway to the beauty that is West Cork. In its own right, Bandon is a beautiful town. In Irish the translation means ‘Bridge of the Bandon’ which is exactly what the town does – Bandon town sits astride the River Bandon.

The beginning

The town did not exist before 1600! The first settlers built shelters, and later more permanent houses, near the bridge crossing the River Bandon. A protective wall was built around the town by Richard Boyle, the first Earl of Cork. The town was enclosed by a protective wall that was about a mile long, it was three metres in depth and between ten and fifteen metres in height at various points. Public buildings and schools were purpose built to accommodate the residents. Most of the settlers came from England on the Mayflower.


Through the centuries Bandon town has expanded with the development of industry. Corn and cotton mills, distilleries, tanneries and many craft-based businesses provided employment and a way of life for the town. Some of the craft-based businesses included tailors, cobblers, harness makers and coach builders. As the gateway to West Cork, Bandon saw traffic from both sides of the county. They were the meeting point for traders, importers and exporters based in Kinsale and Cork City.

River Bandon

The River Bandon and its tributary, the Bridewell, provided the town with a fresh water supply and also it was the power source for the millwheel. The street nearby was aptly named Bridge Street. Bridge Street was the trading area for residents and traders. The original bridge over the river met Bridge Street, the current bridge meets St Finbarr’s Place, joining North and South Main Streets.


One of the biggest developments in Bandon was the railway linking the town to the city of Cork in 1849. This railway initially focused on trade and business between the city and Bandon town, later the railway was extensively extended with lines running off to Kinsale, Clonakilty, Baltimore and Bantry. Railway transport from the outlying areas of West Cork to the city were immensely beneficial to the rural areas.

The railway was instrumental in aiding the industry and economy of the town. It also provided the residents with transport to the city and to the rest of West Cork. In 1961 the rail route was terminated due to lack of business; by this point automobiles were becoming commonplace, meaning people did not rely on the railway. The tracks and sleepers were sold off and more recently the routes were developed into cycling and walking paths.

Modern Times

Bandon has many tags, including the Gateway to West Cork. It is also known as the car-sales hub of Cork. It is home to a host of top-selling car brands. Another vital tag it that of home to the West Cork Heritage Centre – Christchurch. Christchurch is believed to be the very first church built for Protestant worship in Ireland. Today Christchurch is home to the births and deaths database for West Cork. This makes Christchurch the first port of call for all genealogy searches relating to Bandon and surrounding areas.  Subscribe to Lee Valley Irelands Blog Now


The town and its residents love festivals. They are fantastic hosts! They host three festivals every summer. To kick-start the summer, the June Bank Holiday weekend sees the Bandon Music Festival play out. 2016 was the 20th anniversary of the festival. Headliners have included Delorentos, Riptide Movement, Mundy, Hudson Taylor, Hermitage Green and Paddy Casey.

August sees two more festivals: Bandon Summer Festival and Bandon Walled Town Festival. The August Bank Holiday weekend is the first weekend in August and this is when the Bandon Summer Festival happens. It is a fun family festival. Later in the month as part of Heritage Week (August 20-28), Bandon is hosting a celebration of its own heritage. August 23rd – 28th sees the Bandon Walled-Town Festival celebrate with re-enactment battles, lectures, fun and merriment!

Fun Facts

  • The infamous Graham Norton grew up and went to school in Bandon. His mother lives in Bandon.
  • Bandon Mart was THE place to be in the 80s…
  • Bandon has its own Golf Club.
  • It is the Gateway to West Cork.

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  • (caitriona hurley)
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