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HISTORY OF BANDON
[Pages 1-18] DEFEAT OVERTAKES THE DESMONDS - SOUTH MUNSTER A WASTE - QUEEN ELIZABETH RESOLVES TO COLONIZE IT WITH ENGLISH PROTESTANTS - THE O'MAHONYS OF CASTLE-MAHON - BEECHER'S PATENT - NAMES OF THE FIRST SETTLERS - THE SITE OF THE TOWN "A MERE WASTE BOG." - ALL THE ADJACENT LANDS RECLAIMED - THE RIVER BANDON.
The rebellion of the great Earl of
Desmond* was over. That great effort which the Geraldines had made to
shake off the English yoke, ended as disastrously as many a previous struggle.
For awhile the insurgents were victorious, and their hopes rose high with their
success; but the tide turned on them as it had often before, and those who rode
out triumphantly on the ebb were overwhelmed with the flow.
So it was with the Red Earl. After carrying all before him for a time, defeat overtook him. His brother, Sir James, was captured, tried by court-martial, his body was quartered, and his head was set up over one of the gates of Cork. His brother, Sir John, after being stunned by a blow form a horseman's staff, had his head cut off and sent to Dublin. His body was sent to Cork, where it was hung up ignominiously by the heels on a gibbet at North-gate. And he himself-who upon one occasion narrowly escaped being taken prisoner by rushing out of his bed in his shirt, and hiding in the very depth of winter under the bank of a river, where he remained for some time up to his chin in the water-was hunted like a beast of prey across swamps and bogs, through woods, over hills and mountains, and was at last found in a lonely ruin in the wilds of Kerry. "Spare me, I am the Earl of Desmond!" said an old man who lay stretched before the fire; but a blow from a sword had, ere he spoke, nearly cut off his arm, and life's purple current was flowing fast. Another blow, and the head which had brought such ruin upon himself, his kindred, and his associates, was soon to be seen a ghastly trophy on London Bridge.
* Gerald, the sixteenth Earl of Desmond, familiarly know as the Red Earl
The country, which was the theatre of this great devastating
war for so many years, was a desert. There was not a fortress or a town,
or a dwelling, or a stack of corn to which the Desmonds had come that they had
not burned or destroyed, lest the English should possess it; and the English
left not a house or a granary, or a habitation of any kind in their course that
they did not demolish, lest the Geraldines should possess it. Thus
it was that the vast tract of country which was the seat of war did not contain
a fortified castle, nor a tenanted cabin, and had neither corn nor cattle.
The greater portion of the population had starved to death, and the rest were
starving. "All nearly were brought to such wretchedness," says Spenser,
"as that any stony heart must rue the same. Out of every corner of the
woodes and glynnes they came creeping forth upon their handes, for their legges
could not bear them. They looked like anatomics of death; they did eat the
dead carrions, happy when they could find them."
Into this wasted and almost dispeopled region Elizabeth resolved to introduce English colonies. By doing so she expected that, in a short time, the colonists would by their industry and skill turn waste lands into corn-fields and orchards and occupy the pastures with sheep and cows. She expected that prosperity would soon reward their perseverance; and that South Munster, which had been for many years a heavy drain upon her exchequer, would for the future be a support to it; and that; should another outbreak occur, then she could reckon of the assistance of the colonists, and place unbounded confidence in their fidelity.
This was not the case with her Irish subjects. Although there were many among them upon whom she had conferred grants of land; whom she honoured and petted from time to time; yet she knew they only kept their oath of allegiance to her until they were strong enough to break it. What reliance could be placed in the people when their leaders laughed at their own protestations, and thought as little of breaking their oaths as they did of "drinking unstrained milk?" How could she ever rely on the Desmond again? When Sir James of Desmond and his partizans knelt before the Lord-President, with hands uplifted, and with "countenances betraying their great sorrow; with the eyes of my heart sore weeping," said Sir James, "and bewailing my most devilish life past. I acknowledge myself to have most wickedly rebelled against God, and most undutifully against my prince, and most unnaturally against my native country."
He was believed, and he was pardoned; and immediately after he said off for France, where he remained for two years soliciting help to invade the very country which he had used most "unnaturally," and to overpower the very sovereign against whom he had "rebelled most undutifully." Being unsuccessful with the French King, "who misliketh to deal in Irish matters," he proceeded to Spain; where he was introduced to Phillip the Second, by whom he was furnished with letters of introduction to Gregory the Thirteenth. At Rome, Saunders and Allen,* two zealous priests, entered warmly into his designs; and they obtained from his Holiness a bull, addressed to the prelates and nobles of Ireland , exhorting them to join the penitent of Kilmallock; and promising the same indulgences to any one that would kill a Protestant in Ireland, as had been previously offered to anyone that would kill a Turk.
* Allen was soon after killed in battle; and Saunders, who
was subsequently raised to the dignity of Papal Legate, was found lying dead in
a wood in Kerry, and his body half-eaten by wolves.
A book appeared about this time: it was dedicated to Queen Elizabeth, and was entitled:-The supplications of the blood of the English most lamentably murdered in Ireland, crying out of the earth for revenge .
Sir John of Desmond, whose protestations of
loyalty had imposed on the authorities, soon joined the force which Sir James
had brought over under the auspices of Saunders and Allen, and signaled his
hatred to those who treated him with so much tenderness by an act of the basest
treachery. Entering Tralee at midnight, he found his particular friend,
Henry Davels, asleep. Being aroused, Davels became alarmed at seen men
with drawn swords around his bed, but on recognizing his old acquaintance, Sir
John, his fears forsook him, and he called out to him in his usual friendly
"What, son! What's the matter?"
"No more son-nor no more father," gruffly replied Sir John; "but make thyself ready, for die thou shalt!"
Not only was poor Davels put to death, but also everyone who was in the house when Sir John and his party entered it. Even the earl himself-("who hath been before her Majesty; whom her Highness liked well for his plainness; and hath good hope of his truth and constance") -detained in Dublin on his parole, going out one day under the pretence of hunting, showed his own estimate of his plighted word by trotting off to Desmond; where he did not remain long until he rendered his English friends apprehensive for the safety of the country.
It is no wonder then that Elizabeth "should encourage and enable our loving subjects of good behaviour, and accoumpt, within our realme of England, to inhabit and re-people a great part of the province of Munster, which, through the late rebellion of the earl of Desmond and others his confederates, hath been utterlie wasted and unpeopled, and made desolate; and that, as well by the attainders of the earl and his confederates, and by the forfeiture, escheat, and other lawful means, sundry lordships, manors, lands, tenements, and hereditaments within the province, are coming into our hands; and whereas, &c."
All these sundry lordships and tenements here referred to amounted in the aggregate to 547,628 acres; and this large extent of country was expected in a few years to be inhibited by twenty thousand English people.
Elizabeth had set her heart upon the colonization of Munster. She sent Sir John Popham,* her Attorney-General down to Sommersetshire, to coax the gentry in that district to send over the junior members of their families as undertakers, and caused letters to be written to people of distinction in every shire in England with the same intent. To such as would come she offered the estates in fee, at twopence and threepence an acre. Rent not to commence until the end of the third year, and even then a half-year's rent was to be accepted in lieu of a whole for three years more. For every twelve thousand acres thus bestowed the undertaker was to plant eight-six English Protestant families upon the lands, and smaller or larger grants were to be peopled in the same ratio. He was to erect a suitable residence for each family. Three houses for freeholders,§ to each of whom was to be assigned three hundred acres at least , at the rate of sixteen feet and a-half to the lug or pole. Three houses for farmers, to each of whom was to be assigned four hundred acres of like measurement. Twenty-one for copyholders or other base tenures, to each of whom was to be assigned one hundred acres; and to the residue there was to be assigned fifty acres, twenty-five acres, or ten acres.
* Sir John Popham was descended from an ancient family that
was formerly seated at Popham in Hants. He was born in Somersetshire, in
1531. When about sixteen years old he entered Baliol College, Oxford; and,
upon obtaining his degree, and became a law student in the Middle Temple.
He was not at the bar many years before he enjoyed an extensive practice, and
had attained to great eminence. In 1570 he was made sergeant-at-law,.
He was appointed to the office of solicitor-general, and subsequently to that of
attorney-general; and in 1581 he was made Lord Chief-Justice of the Court of
Queen's Bench. His "Reports and Cases" display considerable ability and
great industry. In 1607 he died, leaving-besides seven daughters-one son,
Sir Francis; who married Annie, daughter of John Dudley, by whom he had five
sons and eight daughters. Amongst the sons were Alexander, one of
Cromwell's lords, and Edward, one of the "sea generals" of the parliamentary
fleet. Admiral Popham is described as a brave man, but violently attached
to independence. He died of fever at Dover, in 1651, and was interred in
St. John's Chapel, Westminster Abbey . At the restoration, his body was
dragged out of his grave, at the same time as that of Mrs. Elizabeth Cromwell,
the Lord Protector's mother , who had been buried with great state within the
abbey walls. Mrs. Cromwell remains were flung contemptuously into a hole
dug before the doorway of one of prebendaries of St. Margaret's; but through
some interest which the relatives of Admiral Popham's wife, Anne (daughter of
William Carre ), had with the government, his were given up to them, and his
monument was permitted to remain wary it was, but with this inscription
reversed. The Bandon Pophams claim descent from the same parent stock as
Sir John; and it is very probable that her Majesty's attorney-general, who
endeavoured to persuade the gentry of his native shire to send some of their
younger children over to this new colony, should also have induced some of his
own kindred to do the same.
Bogs and mountains were to pay no rent until improved, and were then only to be charged at the rate of a halfpenny an acre.
The planters were to be English, and their heirs were to marry none but of English birth. The settlers were not to permit any of "the meer Irish" to be maintained in any of their families.
§ Every freeholder, from the year 1590, was bound to furnish a horse and armed horseman; and a copyholder, an armed footman. An undertaker for 12,000 acres had to supply three horsemen and six footmen.
undertakers did not perform what they undertook. Most of them did not
bring over the stipulated number of tenants. Many of them made leases and
conveyances to the Irish, whom they were bound wholly to exclude. Some of
them became absentees; and several abandoned their seigniories to their former
possessors. In fine, it does not appear that a single one of the entire
number if patentees complied with the conditions of his patent excepting Phane
[Fane] Beecher, the founder of the colony of Bandon-bridge; who carried out the
intentions of his patent with such fidelity, as to elicit from one of his
contemporaries, who was engaged in an enterpise similar to his own, the
following high testimonial to his integrity, and to his disinterestedness and
"This Master Beecher," said he, "by means of his honest and plaine dealing, rather seeking to replenish his countrie with people, according to her Majesty's grant, than esteeming any great gain to himself, hath gotten more sufficient tennauntes into his saide countrie than any other two that doe attempte the like within the province of Munster. Soe wel doe oure countriemen esteem of his worde, that, of my own knowledge, a dossen gentlemen of good accompt have dealth with him for five hundreth acres apeace onley upon his report; none of which ever saweth same. But there is no hope of any more land to be had of him, for hath already, to pleasure his countrie, straighted his demeasnes, which, I suppose, he would have done if he had had half the Desmond's land; so many are desirous to inhabbitte with him."*
If ever other planter had executed the behests of his sovereign with the same honesty of purpose and assiduity as Master Beecher, South Munster would be to this day as loyal and devoted to the crown of England as any other portion of the British isles.
Among the confederates of the Earl of Desmond was Cnogher O'Mahony. This young chieftain entered warmly into the earl's designs, and lost both life and estate in his cause. His course was a brief one. At the early age of twenty-three, death overtook him in one of the many sanguinary engagements which took place between the Queen's troops and the rebels. But much injury may be inflicted upon an enemy, even in a short space of time, by an active and resolute leader; and it would seem that such a one was Cnogher O'Mahony, as not a single acre of the large inheritance he left behind him was ever restored to any of his kit or kin.
* A brief description of Ireland, made in the year 1589, by
Cnogher O'Mahony, of Castle-Mahon, was of royal extraction. He was descended form Mathgamhain, who derived his descent through a long line of ancestors form Cas, brother to Nadfroch, son of Corc, who was king of Munster; and who was hmself descended from Olioll Olum, who was also a king of Munster, and who died A..D. 234. The O'Mahonys of Castle-Mahon were not a powerful sept. The utmost that they at any time were able to bring into the field were twenty-six horse-no gallow glasses-and one hundred and twenty kern. When the Lord Deputy, Sir Henry Sidney, visited Cork in 1575, amongst those who came to pay their respects to him was O'Mahony, whom he represents as "a man if small force although a proper countrie." They came into this neighborurhood from Carbery in 1460-according to the report of an Inquisition held in Cork in 1584-and possessed themselves of lands at that time the property of the crown, but previously the property of the Barry Oges, by whom they were forfeited in 1399. That they did "intrude" upon this portion of Kinalmeaky in 1460, is very probable; but there can be no doubt whatever but the O'Mahonys owned this very country long before the Barrys ever set foot upon our shores. We know that the territories of the king of Rathleann, whose name was O'Mahony, were on both sides of the river Bandon. Even the very name of the barony itself, into which they are said to have illegally entered, Cineal-m-bece (the race of Bece), shows in what remote ages the O'Mahonys were connected with it; Bece being the name of one of their ancestors who lived there in the seventh century. O'Maghthamna, on of the O'Mahony kings, lived in Rathleann long prior to the English invasion. This royal residence-Rahtleann-was on the banks of the river Bandon, and its site is said to have been occupied by a castle subsequently erected upon on it by one of the O'Maghthamna's descendants , and called Castle-Mahon (now Castle Bernard). We are convinced that Castle-Mahon does cover the site of this old rath; for what place is there throughout the entire domain of the O'Mahony's in Kinalmeaky where a representative of that royal line would be more likely to erect a stately residence-particularly as it was the only one of the kind they had in Kinalmeaky-than upon the very spot where his forefathers loved for several centuries; which was associated with their greatness and their glory, and where they exercised kingly authority, and wore the crown? It was in Rathleann, Saint Fin Bar-who flourished between A.D. 600 and 630, and who is universally known as the founder of the Cork Cathedral-was born.
The forfeitures of O'Mahony included his residence at Castle-Mahon, and his lands-which lay for several miles on both sides of the river Bandon. The castle and a large portion of the lands, amounting in the aggregate to fourteen thousand acres, were conferred on Phane Beeacher, son of Alderman Henry Beecher, of London.
The patent, which is dated September the 30th, 1588, grants to "Phane Beecher, of London, the Castle of O'Mahony (alias Mahown's Castle), and the moiety of all the lands and hereditaments therein-14,000 acres-at the yearly rent of £66 13s. 4d." By the conditions of the patent, Beecher was bound "to erect, or cause to be erected, houses for fourscore and eleven-ninety-one families. One, the principal habitation for Henry Beecher; six others for freeholders, each of whom was to get three hundred acres of land, meadow, pasture, and wood; six more houses for farmers, to each of whom he was to assign four hundred acres of meadow, pasture, and wood; forty-two other houses for copyholders, each of whom was to be assigned one hundred acres of land similar to the former; and, to each of the rest of the householders, lots consisting of fifty acres, twenty-five acres, and ten acres. If houses were not made before seven years, then commissioners may take portion where assignment was not completed, and retain same until the houses were erected. If patentee, his heirs, assigns, &c., do at any time hereafter make any alienation, conveyance, or estate of the premises, or any part thereof, to any person or persons being meer Irish, not descended of an original English ancestor of name or blood, and shall not redeem the same within one year next after such alienation, then it shall be lawful to and for us, our heirs and successors, to re-enter such part as shall be alienated, as if the Letters Patent had not been made."
The 14,000 acres bestowed "were lands of all sorts, and allotted for one whole seigniory for twelve thousand acres." The overplus of 2,000 acres being allowed by the commissioners in respect of the waste bogs, heath, and mountains. The lands to be held in fee-farm, "as of our castle of Carriggroghane."
This seigniory was on the southern banks of the river, an included the site of the southern portion of the town of Bandon, Castle-Mahon, and the adjacent lands; stretching as far to the west as the western boundaries of Farrinashishery. Whilst, on the eastern side, it was terminated by the Bridewell river, at that time known as the Little river.
Another portion of O'Mahony's country was bestowed on Sir Bernard Grenville. This was on the northern bank of the river, and extended from the little rivulet,, adjoining which at present stands the Provincial Bank; and as far to the west as the stream which forms the eastern boundary of the village of Ballineen.
Beecher set to work with the energy of a man of business, He brought over many tenants to people some of lands; and more of them he disposed of in convenient lots to those who undertook to perform certain obligations; just as we have seen land companies in our own day, who, having obtained from the government a grant of a tract of country in Australia or New Zealand, part with it in suitable lots, and on certain conditions, to those who are willing to leave the old country to try their fortune in a new.
Shipload after shipload of the colonists arrived in Kinsale harbour, where they landed, and made their way along a bridle-path. The bridle-path led from Kinsale to Roche's Castle, at Poulnalonge; thence along the northern bank of the river to Downdaniel Castle; and from thence it continued its course still along the river's northern banks, until it reached a ford well-known in these days, the site of which may still be recognized by the rocks which appear above the surface of the water, a few yards to the west of the principal bridge of our town.
The country through which they passed was deeply wooded; and they struggled though it with more or less difficulty, until they reached Castle-Mahon. Many of the strangers had brought with them their wives and children, hazarding their all upon the venture; but more of them came alone, resolved on seeing and judging of the probabilities of getting on, before they left their peaceful homesteads in England for the swamps and the forests of a country where packs of wolves roamed about almost unmolested, and which a fierce and hardy native race claimed as their own.
Amongst those that settled here about this time-either being directly brought over by Beecher himself, or who procured lands from him and established little colonies of their own, or who came over to the infant settlement for purposes of trade and commerce- were the following:-
The country into which they had come did not lie in the track of communication between the towns already existing in the west of the county and its principal city. Should a traveller set out from Bantry, intent on reaching Cork, he should pass through a portion of O'Donovan's country, until he came to Ross. His route then lay through lands possessed by some sept of the Mac Carthys, until he arrived a Timoleague, from which place he journeyed through the territory of the Mac Carthy Reagh, to Kinsale. Upon leaving Kinsale, he made straight for Ballinahassig; and from thence over bare hills, and through an almost uninhabited district, until he approached the walls of Cork. The interior of the country-at least that region now occupied by the towns of Bandon, Clonakilty, and Dunmanway-was entirely unknown to the ordinary wayfarer. Indeed, so drseary and so insecure was the side up on which Bandon itself is built, that one who naturally took a great interest in the town's prosperity describes it as having been "a mere waste bog, erving as a retreat for woodkerns, rebels, thieves, and wolves." Whenever the Irish were worsted in a fight with the English at this side of Cork, they took to their heels in hot haste for this locality; well knowing that the latter were unable to pursue them "amongst the fastnesses of Kinalmeaky." And such was the unenviable pre-eminence those fastnesses had obtained for sheltering the worst kind of woodkern, and the meanest sort of rebel, that for many years-even after the colony had been firmly established-" You Kinalmeaky thieves"* was a term of bitter reproach , applied by an English settler to those who ravaged his homestead, or drove away his cattle.
* Even after the breaking out of the great rebellion of 1641, Lord Muskerry, who was one of the most conspicuous leaders in that great revolt, was so annoyed by the propensities of many of his followers, that he executed several of them, "and sent some of the Kinalmeaky thieves to Bandon." The townspeople-who were unable to leave a head of cattle outside the walls, less these nimble freebooters should make their own of it-understood the hint, and they hang them forthwith.
Although Kinalmeaky had its disadvantages, it
had its advantages also. A beautiful stream, gushing from the bosom of
Mount Owen, and swelled by tributary after tributary, wound its sinuous course
among meadows-rich with the sweetest pastures, and rivalling the emerald in its
hue. A grateful soil awaited the plough, ready to repay the husbandman for
his skill and his toil; and there was no country better adapted for breeding
horses, and for multiplying flocks and herds. A great deal of the rough
land on the northern side of the river, and which is now occupied by an
industrious and thriving tenantry, was at that time overspread with woods.
It was the same on the southern side. Lands, which now annually produce
oats and potatoes, were covered with timber for scores of miles. That
there were many acres of green meadow along the green banks of the Green river,*
and fertile lands in the glades and valleys, without a tree standing on them, is
true; but the numerous woods thickly scattered throughout gave the entire scene
the appearance of a vast force. And a vast
forest it resembled in more aspects than one.
The devastating wars, which had lately wasted the country of the O'Mahony and O'Crowley, had produced a solitude upon which no one intruded; unless when some half-naked savage who was owned by MacCarthy or a Hurly, came through the thicket in quest of a wounded deer. And the silence-deep and grave-was unbroken, save when the wild pigeon cooed its missing mate; or when the outlaw or the woodkern, brought to bay, shrieked for mercy from his pursuers.
* One of the ancient names of the Bandon was the Glassly,
or Green river.
Writing of Kinalmeaky, in 1589, Mr. Payne says, "In this countrie is greate woodes; the trees of wounderful length." "Twenty years past," writes Lord Cork (in 1606), "Bandon-bridge was a great many woods."
"Around the Bandon of fair woods."
"The pleasant Bandon crowned with many a wood"
Provisions to the Desmond rebellion, some parts of this country were fairly inhabited; and it would appear from the tombstone of Willowghby Turner, who died in 1531, and was buried in the Roman Catholic graveyard at Ballymodan, that even some English adventurers were living in it many years previous to the earl's revolt
About an English mile eastward of Castle-Mahon was a strip of
flat land called Inis-fraoc (the heather rich). The Bandon river flowed in
front of it. What is now known as the Bridewell river flowed in its rear
and on its eastern side; and a stream of water formed its western boundary.
Upon this strip of land, which is upwards of twenty-five acres in extent,
Beecher resolved to build the nucleus of a town. For this purpose it was
admirably adapted. The waters which surrounded it could furnish
mill-wheels with abundant water-power. The same waters could be rendered a
defense against the enemy in time of danger. And the proximity of the
proposed a settlement to Kinsale would give the settlers facilities for
exporting their grain, their hides, their wool, and their cattle; and returning
with salt, iron, and other rough requirements of a young colony.
The plantees went to work with the energy and perseverance of their race. The heather-inch was scarred in every direction with foundations. Quarries of the best building stone were discovered in the neighborhood, and were speedily availed of. The quivering ring of the axe, and the crash of falling timber, were heard from morn till night. The saw, and the other carpenters' tools they had brought with them, we're constantly in use in making doors and windows, and in shaping slabs for roofs and floors. The houses were constructed more with the design of affording immediate shelter than of being either durable or ornamental. A stone gable held the fire-place and flue; so that when the flames whisked up the chimney from the logs of wood that boiled the settler's supper, or around which he and his friends sat and talked of their prospects in the new country, they could do no injury. All the rest of the house was boards, laths, and plaster. Streets sprang up on every side of Inis-fraoc, and the dark green heather, which had often bent beneath the foot of the fugitive kern or the wolf, was gone; and its place was occupied by snug habitations, and an industrious people* One of the principal streets faced the principal river. Another faced the Bridewell river. Midway, in the rear of these two, was the Main Street, now known as the South Main Street.
* Increasingly the worldly wealth of his people was not the only solicitude of Mr. Beecher . "He took special care," says Mr. Payne, "that every inhabitor there should have as much libertie as a freeholder in England. He also had ordained for his countrie a learned preacher, of free-schoole, and a good yearly stipend for the relieving of mained souldiers, impotent and poore aged persons; and four perpetual continuance he hath abated every of his tennuantes at least twopence rent for every acrefor ever, which others take; and hath charged his owne demesnes with noe lesse; soe that if a few years be ended-if God blesses his proceedings-those partes will be more like a civil citie in England than a rude countrie, as late it was in Ireland.
Between these worse several streets. In fact, so numerous
had they become, that before many years the settlement on the inch was
officially recorded as "the town lately built on the southern side of the
Bandon." Sir Bernard Granville was the patentee upon whose grants
stands the northern side of the town of Bandon. He does not appear to have
made any effort at direct colonization himself, as he leased some of his lands
to John Richmond, and nearly all the rest to William Newce. Richmond
assigned to the latter, and thus Newce became owner of most of the interests
conveyed by Granville. (Grenville?)
Captain Newce* was anxious to build a town like his thriving neighbours on the other side of the river; and, with that object in view, he selected a central plot on his estate, and resolve to perpetuate his connection with a new settlement by giving it his name. He was diverted from this design, however, by an incident which showed the fierce hatred entertained by the native for the new comers. Whilst measuring the ground for various tenements and thoroughfares which were to grace Newcestown, he put his foot on the end of the line:-"Here," said he, "will be the end of this street." A petty chieftain, who stood immediately behind him, heard the remark; and suddenly stooping down, drove his skein with great force through the outstretched foot, into the ground. "May you end there yourself, too!" said O'Crowley, as he escaped unharmed to the surrounding woods.
This gross outrage, combined with the fears least the supply of water there would be insufficient for manufacturing purposes, and that he need accept no protection or favor from the Irish, induced him to renounce his pet project, and to adopt another; so that instead of erecting a town amongst the hills of Moragh, to rival the town lately built on the southern side of the river, he chose rather to join with it, by bringing his settlement to the river's northern side. He did so, and the ancient and loyal borough of Bandon-Bridge is the result.
* Subsequently Sir William Newce, Captain Newce commanded a
company of foot, under Sir George Carew, at the seige of Kinsale.
Newce, who is said to have been very kindly disposed to the Irish before this, from this out became their bitter enemy, and swore he would pursue them with fire and sword until the day of his death.
A village was subsequently erected there, and called Newcestown. It is now a mere hamlet, consisting of only a few houses.
The settlers on both sides of the river
having now all but one interest, and being, in fact, now members of the same
colony, determined, before a habitation arose in Coildarac (the old wood), on
being united by a substantial bridge. Great heaps of stones were brought
down to the water's edge; all the masons that could be collected were set to
work; and the great artery, through which coursed the commercial intercourse and
vitality of the settlement, was quickly completed. Running in the
north-easterly direction from the northern end of Bridge Street to the opposite
side of the river, the new bridge stood not many yards to the west of its
present and more commodious successor. It consisted of six arches, and was
built entirely of stone. Its parapets, however, were wooden railings,
which were composed of intersecting rails joined to uprights, and surmounted by
a hand-rail. Upon the hand-rail, where it was met by the uprights, were
large round balls of wood . These were about six feet apart from each
other; and, combined with a trellis-work underneath, gave the whole structure of
light and graceful appearance.
Newce granted long leases of the building ground, and at rents varying in amount form three pence and four pence to six and eight-pence yearly, together with a fat hen at Shrovetide. The tenants were also bound "to do service unto the Courts Baron and Leet as often as they shall be holden for the manor of Coolfadda. To take their corn to the mill or mills of the manor for the grinding thereof. To provide a man of the English nation, armed with a caliver, sufficiently furnished for the defence of the Fort of Coolfadda aforesaid; and upon the death of the tenant, one half-year's rent was to be paid to the landholder in lieu of a herriott. In addition to the land assigned the leases for the erection of his tenement, he was empowered to fell the timber that grew on it, and to fetch and carry away sufficient house-bote, hedge-bote, pale-bote, and fire-bote, without making any great waste or spoil; provided the same should be spent and employed on the said demised premises, and not elsewhere." A special clause forbade any of the tenants from cutting or carrying away timber from the woods of Coolfadda; they being reserved to the lord of the manor for his own use, or for any purpose of general utility he may deem desirable.
None of the "mere Irish' were allowed to live in the town, or even to reside within the bounds of the settlement. The great improvements which the colonists had been able to effect in a few years filled them with astonishment and hatred. Lands which they had themselves known for a great many years, and their forefathers had been acquainted with for centuries; and which lands-like those who preceded them-they only valued for the four-footed game which lurked in their coverts, of for the wild duck or the widgeon who built their nests in their bogs or swam on their lakes-were now occupied by a town, form which stretched farm after farm; embracing within its boundaries-paddocks, where horses were bred-rich meadows, whose sweet pastures were fed on by cows, who produced the sweetest cream-comfortable dwelling-houses, from whose chimney-tops the smoke curled all the day long-and orchards, already bright with the bloom of the apple and the cherry.
That this happiness should be enjoyed-that this wealth, almost fabulous in the eyes of a hungry wretch who had never tasted a comfortable meal since he was born, should belong to the stranger, and produced from their own soil-made them curse the accursed Saxon the more; and long for the time to arrive when they should drive away the settlers, and posses themselves of their homesteads.
Bandon-Bridge was the name given to the new town by the English, but the Irish would not listen to it. The town was there, no doubt, and so was the bridge; but then the country had belonged to the O'Mahonys from time out of mind, and they could not understand why a foreign people, who came from a foreign land and spoke a foreign tongue, should now call it theirs.* Drohid-Mahon (O'Mahon's-Bridge) was its name; and so long have they continued to so call it in remembrance of the old proprietors, the last of whom forfeited the site upon which it stands so far back as the reign of Elizabeth, that-despite history, geography, schools, banks, the post-office-it is not uncommon in the surrounding country, even yet, for a wayfarer, on his return from the fair or market at Bandon, to be asked-in the vernacular of former days-whether the prices of cattle or of pigs were high or low in Drohid-Mahon. Even the bog, from whence the inhabitants of Drohid-Mahon drew their turf when fire-bote was exhausted, bears the impress of its connection with the town-Mohn-Drohid (the turf of the bridge) being the name of an exhausted bog some few miles to the west of Bandon.
* Upon the death of Cnogher O'Mahony, Moil-mo-O'Maghon became chief of the O'Mahonys of Kinalmeaky. He attended as a freeholder at the general gaol delivery held in Cork, July 28, 1601, when he was arrested as one of those likely to succor the Spaniards upon their arrival in Ireland. He is described as "a man of turbulent spirit, discontented mind, and ill-affected to the English government." When Sir Richard Percy, on the 20th of the previous December, sent sixty men belonging to the Kinsale garrison into Kinalmeaky to make prey "of all the cows in the same," Moil-mo-O'Maghon, Dermod Mac Carthy, and his brother Florence, attacked them with three hundred foot and some horse, "not doubting but to have cut all their throats." After a hard fight, which continued two hours, the Irish retreated, "not finding the defendants to be chickens."
The present name of our town is Bandon, the word bridge having
gradually passed out of use for more than a century; as as Bandon it is now
universally known in commerce, in trade, in every-day life, and in every species of
official correspondence an procedure, save one:- when the high-sheriff reads the
writ which he had received from the Hanaper office, he invites the electors to
send a member to parliament to represent the borough of Bandon-Bridge.
Bandon is so called from the river of the same name, and upon whose banks it is built. The river Bandon has a history which poetry and tradition would fain connect with a very remote period. It is stated that when Partholanus* - who is said to have come over from Migdonia, in Greece, and, according to an old writer, landed in Ireland upwards of twenty years before the grandfather of the founder of the kingdom of Israel was born-travelled through our green isle, he found that it was wild and uninhabited; and that it contained only nine rivers and three lakes. Of the rivers two were in the county of Cork:-the Lagi or Lee, "which compasseth Cork with its divided flood;" and the Banna or Bandain, whose waters are described as flowing through the country lying between the Eille and the Lagi. The Banna, Bandain, Bandon, or Ban, was also called the Glaslyn or Green river By all these names it was formerly known. In a great battle fought in the fourteenth century, between Miles de Courcy,§ Baron of Kinsale, and Florence MacCarthy More, MacCarthy was beaten, "and a multitude of his followers were driven into the river Bandon, where many of them were drowned."
* Partholannus is supposed to have been the great grandson
of the great grandson of Noah, and is mentioned as having arrived in Ireland
three hundred years after the flood.
The Eille or Ilen flows through Skibbereen.
Probably from the great abundance in it of that graceful bright green plant, the renunculus aqualilis.
§ Miles was the grandson of John De Courcy, Baron of Kinsale, who was slain with his brother Patrick, in the island of Inchydonny, A.D.1295
In the song of O'Heerin, who died in 1420, he
"Cuiel-m-Bece of the land of cattle
Around the Bandain of fair woods."
In 1544 permission was given by Henry the
Eighth to Phillip Roche "to buylde a castell at Shepespool, neare unto the river
Glaslyn." When the Spanish fleet arrived at Kinsale in 1691, "the place at
which they put in was the harbour of Kinsale, at the mouth of the Green river of
Bandon." And later-in the same century-"the river of Ban," we are told,
separates the fort from the town of Kinsale; also that "the river of Ban doth
run through the town of Bandon-Bridge."
The river, as we have before said, rises in Mount Owen;* and, rushing down its rugged sides, hides her young face among the water-lilies of Cullinaugh. Lingering there awhile, as if to catch a last look, or to bid eternal farewell to her mother mountain, she sets out on her long journey to the sea. Struggling through the thick sedge and the tall stout grass which besets her path, she hurries over a stony bed, skipping from boulder to boulder and from rock to rock, until she comes to the castle of the Togher. Loitering there awhile, on the skirt of the grassy lawn which oft felt the pressure of the foot of the thrice hospitable Teige O'Downy, and where her smooth waters oft mirrored the stalwart figure of that great mountain chief, she tardily moves along until she reaches the flat ground on which Dunmanway stands. The Kaal and another wide stream await her here, and pour their tributary waters into her fair bosom. Strengthened by these additions she proceeds; passing the walls of the dismantled keep where Randal Oge Hurly bid defiance to the Saxon, and sweeping by the sombre groves of Kilcaskin and the pine-covered hills of Manch, she arrives at Carrigmore. Here the Duvawain, springing from the classic region of "the steeple." and roaring down one of the rough valleys of Kennagh, co-mingles her dark waters with its own. Leaving Ballineen and Enniskeane behind her, she noiselessly approaches the ivy-clad trees and the time-worn front of "sweet Palace Anne."
* About halfway up Mount Owen is a cave, anciently of
considerable notoriety called Leabuig Dearmida (Dermod's bed). Tradition
asserts that Diarmid O'Dyn, an Irish chieftain, held an important command
amongst the Fenians, or old Irish militia, under the great original head center,
Finn Mac Cuil, himself. Whilst engaged in active service under Finn's
orders , he had the misfortune to fall deeply in love with that officer's wife.
The fair-haired grana reciprocated the tender feelings which glowed in Diarmid's
breast; and turning her back upon the great militia captain, she fled to the
Dunmanway mountains with O'Dyn; and in this very cave she spent the honeymoon,
and resided some time in seclusion with her darling Diarmid. Dermod's bed
appears at one time to have been much frequented by visitors, as its sides are
literally covered with the names and initials of many of those who came to see
where Diarmid and Finn Mac Cuil's faithless wife conceal themselves from the
fury of the great Fenian.
There is a song which records the amorous exploits of one of the former owners of this fine old residence, A line must suffice:- "And she took her home in his flying coach to sweet Palace Anne."
From Palace Anne she flows on, past modest little country churches-past parsonages-county seats-past fields of corn-past grassy plains, echoing with the bleat of sheep and the low of cattle, until she tarries beneath the bridge at Carhue. Standing on the crest of an adjoining hill, and looking as far to the west as towering Sheehy and the lofty mountains of Dunmanway will permit, out beautiful river may be seen gleaming in the sun like a belt of burnished silver, as she slowly winds her way with graceful ease over a carpet of the brightest green, From Carhue to the town on which she has bestowed her name, "the pleasant Bandon" is once more among fair woods. Her course now lies through a wide valley, where huge oaks stretch out their gigantic arms, and fling broad shadows over many an acre of velvet turf; probably some of those oaks which the tourist, who visited this place when Elizabeth was still Queen of England, describes as trees of wonderful length. Herds of deer here bask on her verdant banks; and the waving willow dips the tips of its green tresses in her limpid stream. Flowing past that stately pile whose castellated walls enclose the site of the ride rath where St. Fin Bar* was born, she comes to Bandon. Refreshed by the waters of the Bridewell river, she again proceeds; and gliding by the riven walls of the mansion where Spenser's daughter dwelt, she flows into a wooden vale, and meets the Mugin at the Castle of Downdanial. Speeding past the ivyed bridge that spans that river's mouth and touching the very feet of the old fortalice of Barry Oge, she sweeps down between high hills draped to their very summit with the foliage of the oak and the beech; and entering a deeply-timbered dell, where tall dark trees spread gloom on her waters, she hurries again into the light, and, bending low, kisses the wavelets which the old ocean hath sent up to welcome her to its home.
* Saint Fin Bar, the patron saint of the diocese of Cork, was the offspring of parents who left Connaught, and, after tedious wanderings, at length settled at Rathleann; a residence over which a prince named Tygernach, one of the O'Mahonys, presided at the time. Amergen, St. Fin Bar's father, was a worker in iron or chief smith to Tygernach; and it was whilst in the employment of that prince at Rathleann that his son, the saint, was born.
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