IE-32461 415 - ая открытка

Country: Ireland

Distance: 1,796 km

Travel time:  4 days

On postcard: Castletownbere

Castletownbere (Irish: Baile Chaisleáin Bhéarra) is a small town in County Cork in Ireland. It is located on the southwest coast of Ireland, in West Cork, on Berehaven harbour near the entrance to Bantry Bay. It is also known as Castletown Berehaven. The name of the town comes from the no longer extant MacCarty Castle, and not Dunboy Castle which was home to the O'Sullivan clan. The nearby Puxley Mansion was burnt by the IRA in 1920. The conflict between the Gaelic former ruling family and newly enriched interlopers formed the basis for Daphne du Maurier's novel Hungry Hill named for the mountain of the same name which is the highest peak in the Caha range.


The town has a population of around 875 in the 2002 census with a further 1,000 in the catchment area. Tourists swell this number during the summer season to a small degree. Since the 1960s a small number of immigrants to the area from Holland, Switzerland, Germany and England has increased the mix, and more recently some economic migrants from eastern Europe have arrived. As in any fishing port there is a mix of incoming and outgoing transients and a local Spanish influence is well established. Overall the exodus from local families to North America and the UK is marked and up until recently the population has declined.

In Castletownbere itself many recent businesses and professionals in the area have been women. A new doctor, dentist and solicitor, several new shops and a ships' chandler have been established by women who join more established women publicans and restaurateurs.

The area has several established artists who sell internationally and a few galleries and craft outlets have opened in recent years.


Dunboy Castle - two miles west of the town - was the seat of the O'Sullivan Beare who, together with other Gaelic lords and with Spanish aid, had gone into rebellion against the English Crown. During the Siege of Dunboy the castle was reduced by the forces of Elizabeth I in 1602. He then retreated with his followers to Leitrim. O'Sullivan Beare's stance was reverentially commemorated in 2002. A plaque in Irish and English exists on the ruins of his fortress saying it honoured those who had most nobly lain down their lives for their faith at that hallowed place.

In 1796 Theobald Wolfe Tone and his confederates sailed into Bantry Bay in French men o' war. They anchored off Ahabeg - a townland five miles east of Castletownbere but the gales were so violent that they could not land. Wolfe Tone fulminated that he was so close to Ireland that he could almost have spat onto the shore - he reflected, "England has not had such an escape since the Armada" - perhaps an allusion to the fact that adverse winds frustrated England's mighty enemies on both occasions. For his efforts in preparing the local defenses against the French, Richard White, a local landowner, was created Earl of Bantry and Viscount Berehaven in 1816.

In November 1918 a Royal Irish Constabulary officer from Castletownbere was patrolling at night towards Eyeries whilst another RIC man was patrolling towards Castletownbere. The Castletownbere man saw the figure approaching and panicked, firing - fatally wounding the other.

The deep-water harbour was, up to the 19th century, much used by smugglers. From 1922 to 1938, Berehaven was one of three Treaty ports in the Irish Free State, UK sovereign bases maintained by the Royal Navy. The nearby golf course had been part of the Royal Naval base until 1938. The tennis court there used to be where huge oil tanks stood. The sentry boxes still exist at the entrance to the golf course and at a jetty on the golf course. A golf course existed on that site until 1938 to provide diversion for the sailors of the Royal Navy.

Beside the golf course is Furious Pier. At this pier, at 3pm on 14 May 1921 two soldiers were wounded and Privates Hunter, McCullen, Edwards and Chalmers - all of the King's Own Scottish Borderers - were shot dead by the IRA. It was a reprisal for the execution by firing squad of several IRA men over the previous few weeks in Cork City. The attack was part of a series of synchronised IRA assaults on Crown Forces at ten different points throughout West Cork. The Furious Pier slayings were carried out by men led by Michael Og O'Sullivan. The soldiers who had seen their comrades killed did not take kindly to this and some muttered that revenge must be taken. Their officers were determined to avert any reprisals and ordered their men to run up and down hills. This tired the soldiers out such that the soldiers were too exahusted to take any rash action and they calmed down.

There was also an engagement between the IRA and Black and Tan members of the Royal Irish Constabulary just outside the town that day but no casualties were sustained by either side. This information may be confirmed in "Guerrilla Days in Ireland" by Tom Barry. It is dubious as to whether these attacks accomplished their stated goal of averting future executions. A Cork IRA man had the sentence of death executed on his body two days after these Furious Pier slayings. However, he had already been condemned to die by a drumhead court marital before the attacks took place.

Only one Castletownbere man was killed in the Irish War of Independence 1916-23 - O'Dwyer killed at Kealkil Co. Cork - and he is commemorated on the plaque on Wolfe Tone square in Bantry. When the Royal Navy withdrew from Berehaven in 1938 they accidentally left behind a book containing the names and addresses of loyalist informants resident in the area. It is not known that the IRA took any action against these men.

Electricity came to the town in 1956.

Local economy

Fishing is the chief economic activity in the town but fishing only started up in a major way in the 1950s. Ships from the Soviet Union and the former Soviet Union came to Berehaven to purchase and process fish well into the 1990s. Castletownbere is currently one of the 5 main fishing ports on the island of Ireland. It is the largest whitefish port in the country and the 2nd-safest natural harbour in the world. It is also home to the Irish Fisheries training School, under the auspices of BIM.

Places of interest

Three miles east of the town lies Waterfall House. It was the official residence of the Royal Naval commodore of the Western Approaches squadron, anchored in Berehaven.

The Van Etten family holidayed in Ireland and they all instantaneously fell in love with Beara - they decided to move to Ireland. Waterfall house bought by the Van Etten family - supermarket owners from North Holland - in the 1970s. Within a year of their arrival the father had died. The Van Etten family briefly ran the now defunct Wheel Inn whilst residing in Waterfall House. Another Dutch couple, former owner of the elevator company Mohringer Mr. Fonkert in Haarlem has lived there since 1982. It was then bought by the girlfriend of filmmaker Neil Jordan.

Beside Waterfall House lies the Hermitage, built just after the Second World War. It was built on the site of a farmstead - Curryglass House, dating back to about 1800. Erskine Hamilton Childers, President of the Irish Republic and son of the IRA man Robert Erskine Childers, stayed in the house periodically with the owners his friends, the Bridges-Adams family in the 1970s. The house then passed the Salamas (an Irish-Egyptian family), then Dr John and Mrs. Noirin Callaghan(Corkonians) and now the Collins family - Americans of Irish birth. Mr Collins made his fortune in the United States as an executive with the food marketing company Kerry Group.



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