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Ballydehob - Cork - Village

busy street scene

Ballydehob (Béal Átha an dá Chab in Irish, meaning 'The ford at the mouth of two rivers') is a village in County Cork, Ireland. It is located on the coast about 30 kilometres (20 miles) east of Mizen Head, Ireland's south-western tip. It has a reputation for housing artists and craftsmen. Ballydehob is a microcosm of Irish local history and legends and folklore abound in the locality.

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Photo Details

  • County: Cork
  • Town: Ballydehob
  • Scene: Main Street
  • Date: 1910 (estimate)

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  • Read about Ballydehob below

Ballydehob

Ballydehob (Béal Átha an dá Chab in Irish, meaning 'The ford at the mouth of two rivers') is a village in County Cork, Ireland. It is located on the coast about 30 kilometres (20 miles) east of Mizen Head, Ireland's south-western tip. It has a reputation for housing artists and craftsmen.

History

Ballydehob is a microcosm of Irish local history and legends and folklore abound in the locality. At the dawn of the Bronze age (2200-600 B.C.) , copper was mined on Mount Gabriel, and just outside the village. At the same time Stone circles, Wedge and boulder tombs were constructed in the area by local tribes man timmy lonney.

The Celts arrived around this time and the various clans fought for dominance, until the eventual emergence of the McCarthy's and O'Mahonys as the rulers of the area surrounding the present village. A string of castles along the coastline bear testament to their strength, and to the importance of the area. Kilcoe Castle was the McCarthy's most westerly stronghold and is probably West Cork's best preserved castle,( the actor Jeremy Irons is at present extensively restoring it).

In 1602 soldiers led by Sir George Carew, Lord President of Munster descended on the area in a successful bid to break the power of the Gaelic chieftains. Their passage through West Cork was described in 'Pacata Hibernia' by Thomas Stafford, told of course from the invaders point of view, but interestingly, and probably uniquely for the time, a contempary Irish account can also be found in ' Historicae Catolicae Iberniae Compenium' by Don Philip O'Sullivan. The arrival of the 17th century saw an influx of settlers mainly from England, but a significant number were Protestants fleeing persecution in Catholic France.

The Swanton's from Norfolk emerged as the most prominent family in the area, and by the late 18th century they had succeeded in changing the name of Ballydehob to Swanton's town.( the last known use of the name Swanton's town was in the census of 1821).

In the 1820's copper mining took off in the area, Lord Audley opened the Cappagh mine whose 20 metre chimney existed until a few years ago when it was destroyed by a lightning strike. An interesting fact of this mining era was the introduction to Ballydehob of a police constabulary and barracks, this was some 6 years before the first London police force.

By the 1840's the population had swelled to nearly 20,000 , then disaster struck, the potato crop failed and famine stalked the land This most traumatic event in Irish history affected Ballydehob and the whole of West Cork in a most devastating Way. Thousands died and thousands more emigrated in those horrific years, between 1841 and 1851 the population of the area fell by 42 which was a good deal higher than the national average.

In the 1880's amid growing agitation over land reform, the Ballydehob branch of The land league hosted a visit by Anna Parnell sister of Charles Stewart Parnell, to Address a public meeting on the subject, which was held in the field where St. Brigit's school now stands. 1886 saw the opening of the Skibbereen to Schull railway with a huge sports Event held in Ballydehob to mark the occasion, at the time there was a 15m.p.h. Speed limit on the railway. The magnificent 12 arch bridge which dominates the Estuary of Ballydehob, was the major engineering achievement of the line. Mounting losses and the arrival of buses and motor cars eventually brought the closure of the Line. The final train ran on January 27 1947.

People

The village's most famous former inhabitant was the wrestler Danno Mahony. He won the NWA World title from Jim Londos in Boston on 30 June 1935, and was known as the 'Irish Whip' in celebration of his famous throwing technique. One of the many pubs, The Irish Whip, is in the center of Ballydehob and is named after him. There is a bronze statue which was erected in his honour in 2000. Ballydehob in known to have more pubs per capita than anywhere else in Ireland. There is a pub on every corner and two in between. Publicans can be your best friends or your worse nightmare. These are the people who run the pubs 363 days a year. You have to have a heart to be a publican, because you don't do it for the money. They are also a great source of fund raising for any charitable cause, i.e. Barry O'Brien at the Irish Whip. Recently, there has been a countrywide decline in rural pub use and there is a substantial reduction in both pub numbers and opening times.

Transport & communications

  • Nearest airport Cork International Airport
  • Ballydehob was the centre stop for the Schull to Skibbereen Light railway, which was opened in 1886 by the West Carberry Light Railways and Tramway Company and closed in 1947 by CIÉ. The 12-arch railway bridge over the river still stands, and is possibly the village's most prominent feature.