A New Type Of House
By Francis Humphreys, Durrus: A Parish History
The Old Court was a building of considerable historical significance.
It was built between 1610-1640, that is after the Battle of Kinsale and
before the 1641 rebellion, by Teige na Muclach of the McCarthys. It was
built in the traditional Irish-Jacobean style of which Coppingers Court
near Rosscarbery is a prime example. There is extensive correspondence
in the Paddy O’Keeffe papers (in the Cork Archives), a well-known local
historian, describing his attempts to have Cul na Long taken over by the
Commission and thus preserved for posterity.
It’s importance, as he describes it, was that it was built by
craftsmen of a tradition, who knew of no other kind of Big House except
the castle or the monastery and so transferred the castle-monastic
ornamentation to the new house type. The previous McCarthy residence had
been nearby Rossmore
Castle, a much simpler building. The Monuments Commission rejected the application and both building continue to decay.
Teige “of the Pig” was so named because he “Maintained a large herd of swine which foraged for food in the well-wooded hills of Muintir Bháire”.
T.J.Walsh, An Irish Rural Parish, Past and Present: Muintir Bháire Just after passing the castle note the fine four arched bridge you cross; move a few yards south, to your right, to get a better view. Note also the width of the old road the Walk uses to leave Durrus Court; this is the original road begun in 1792 by Richard White of Bantry House. He must have used this road in 1796 when he went out to Sheep’s Head to look for the French fleet.
When you get to the council road TURN LEFT and down a hill and across a bridge, then TURN RIGHT and pass through the lovely grounds of St. James, Church of Ireland. The chancel and tower were built in 1792. The disused grain store across the water is reported to have been used as a refuge for children during the Famine.
We then TURN LEFT and through the village of Durrus (“black headland
or wood”). After you pass through the village take the fork to the
RIGHT, past Wiseman’s shop and the local creamery. Carry on for
approximately 1.5 miles where you TURN RIGHT in Ballycommane (“place of
the little crooked recess
Take this road up a hill to a T-junction where you carry on for a few yards and TURN LEFT. Here you cross a stile, TURN RIGHT, and through some fields; you are headed for a gap between two forestry plantations to the south. As you go up the tractor road, look to your left for a fine view of a ringfort. The Walk then goes up the hill and through this gap and down the other side of the hill, where you TURN LEFT and into the forestry plantation. (Remember to please not light fires near Coillte lands.)
Take the forestry road to the T-junction, TURN RIGHT, and take the main forestry road to the end, where you TURN LEFT on the county council road.
You take the council road to the junction of the N71, the main Ballydehob- Bantry road. Cross the N71 and go up a small hill – you will be walking a path, wettish in places, just outside the plantation. In the distance to your right (south), note (from west to east) the Fastnet Rock, Cape Clear Island and Sherkin Island.
This path meets the old road to Ballydehob where you TURN LEFT. It is
said that Donal Cam O’Sullivan camped here on his way to the Battle of
Kinsale in 1602. The old road meets a county council road and you carry
on STRAIGHT, over an old footbridge to the main Bantry-Cork road. You
cross this, staying
STRAIGHT, and on the council road up to Vaughan’s Pass, and down through a series of small council roads back into Bantry. (There is a fine panoramic view of Bantry town and harbour here.)
When you come to the entrance of the IDA Centre take a small diversion to see the Kilnaruane pillar stone. Instead of turning right into the IDA Centre, carry on STRAIGHT and TURN LEFT at the sign.
Archaeological Inventory of County Cork, Vol.1, West Cork.: “NW face divided into four panels; uppermost, two pieces of ribbon interlace; second panel, praying figure; third, Greek cross; lowest, St. Paul and St. Anthony seated at a pedestal table holding bread. SE face divided into three panels: topmost, remains of spiral interface; second, two pairs of four-legged animals; third, boat with four oarsmen and fifth figure steering in stern, rowing through a sea of crosses. Two incisions on top of the pillar indicate attachment of an original further element. Adjacent are four deeply grooved boulders which may have functioned as hinge/corner-stones in structure.”
Going back to the IDA Centre, take a quick LEFT TURN after going through the main entrance, and you are on the grounds of Bantry House. Follow the path down to a junction where you TURN RIGHT and follow another path.
Descend the beautiful staircase behind Bantry House, TURN RIGHT and out of the main gates, then down the road, TURN RIGHT at the main entrance, and the Walk ends, where it began, at Wolfe Tone Square.