About Bantry House
Bantry House is an 18th century stately home, built and still owned by the White family.
History of Bantry House
Excavations show that the land Bantry House was built on had been in use since at least the medieval period – remnants of Gaelic settlements and fishing villages. Bantry House – originally called Blackrock – was built in the early 18th century. An earlier version of the house stood on the site, built by Samuel Hutchinson, but in 1765 Richard White bought the property and developed it into something more similar to what stands today.
Richard’s son, also called Richard, was made Baron Bantry in 1797, and later elevated to the peerage as Earl of Bantry in 1816. The Whites travelled across Europe and further afield, collecting voraciously: note the Gobelin tapestries in the drawing room, mosaics from Pompeii in the entrance hall, Japanese chests and Russian shrines.
The second Early of Bantry and his wife Mary developed the gardens at Bantry House, creating seven terraces and planting wisteria, azaleas and rhododendron amongst other plants. Copies of statues by Canova can be found dotted throughout the grounds, and the main lawn offers sweeping views over Bantry Bay.
Bantry House was used as a hospital during the Irish Civil War, and occupied by squadrons of the Irish Army in the Second World War. The White family decided to open the house to the public in 1946, selling a variety of paintings shortly afterwards in order to raise funds.
The East Wing has been restored and now operates as a B&B. The house was given a major grant in 1997 to stop it falling into irretrievable disrepair.
Bantry House today
The house retains a slightly faded aristocratic air, with an eclectic set of collections and a feeling that the modern world hasn’t quite reached it yet. The White family continue to operate Bantry House, and it’s open everyday in peak summer season, but relatively limited hours and days outside of this – be sure to check before you visit. The collections within remain important and notable.
The gardens remain a delight: it’s worth climbing the 100 steps to the top of the terraces for fantastic views, and exploring them fully as they’re beautifully elaborate and well-kept.
Getting to Bantry House
Bantry House is about 1km southwest of Bantry town on the N71. Bus 236 from Cork City goes to Bantry, but unless you sweet talk the driver, you’ll need to walk from the town centre back along the road to the house.