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HISTORY OF BANDON
The history of a town, or of a locality, is often but the
history of a nation in miniature. It frequently happens that the same
passions, the same interests, the same aspirations, that are to be found in a
small community, are to be found in a large one-indeed, this is generally the
case where the same race occupies both. But when the two communities are
peopled by different races-when the conqueror comes to take up his abode on the
lands of the conquered-history is then very often but one protracted tale of the
conqueror's difficulties; of the foes that stood arrayed against him on every
side; of the circumstances that impeded his efforts to move forward; and of the
hostility-often the deadliest kind-the confronted him at every step.
Although some of the lands which our colonists rescued from the woods and the forests were almost worthless in the eyes of the former owners, and more of them, worse still, lying under stagnant waters, or were quagmires accessible only to the outlaw and the wolf, yet, when the settlers drained them, and when they were cultivated, then the original proprietor and his kern began to plot their restoration; consequently the colonist, who had to labour hard to create a farm, had then to fight to keep it. The Saxon plantee in O'Mahony's country had to handle the arquebus as well a the mattock-he was as familiar with powder and lead as he was with barley and seed oats. His Irish neighbours looked with longing eyes on the fruits of his toil. If they could but lay hands on his comfortable homestead-if they could but make their own of his cattle, and enjoy his cultivated fields-they could bask all day in the sun, and denounce the perfidious Saxon. But the Saxon, who won his fields and his home by dint of perseverance and hard work, had no idea of allowing others to possess them against his will. Hence the perpetual strife between the Saxon who had, and the Celt who had not, between the civilized Englishman, and the barbarous Irishman; between those who lived in cheerful homes, and who supplied their tables with beef and mutton, and those who dwelt in wretched cabins composed of wattles, plastered over with cow-dung and mud, and who live on roots and whey.
Our Bandon colonists came over in the latter half of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and they settled in a district escheated to the crown by the rebellion of a local chieftain. The country into which they had come had but little to recommend it. One who was alive at the time, and who subsequently became its possessor, describes the site of the new colony "as a mere waste bog and wood, serving for a retreat and harbour to woodkerns, rebels, thieves, and wolves." But, by the magic of their skill and industry, this was soon all changed. Not only did they alter the face of the country, but they built themselves a town, within whose walls they could shelter themselves in time of need, and they spread themselves about on every side for miles. The struck root in the earth, and now, like a brave old oak that stood at many a gust of wind and many a storm; whose head oft bent beneath the force of the blast; whose ponderous limbs have creaked as they swayed to and fro; whose branches have beat many a time wildly in the air; who's leaves have fallen thick and having upon the glade-yet after the laps of the three centuries its heart is as sound as ever; it still puts forth its young shoots; it's still blooms and all the pride of strength and maturity; and its vigorous grasp is still on the soil, and is as firm as of yore.
During the progress of our researches in connection with the colony whose history we have endeavored to trace, we have noted much interesting matter connected with various other settlements in the west riding of this county; and as the plantees in those settlements had to undergo toils and dangers similar to those of the Bandon colonists-and in some instances even greater, as they had no fortifications, or even outwork, to stay the rush of the great wave that would fain engulf them-they have judged that the recital of their struggles too, to overcome and to save themselves from the common danger, would be acceptable to our readers. We are also actuated by another motive-that of essaying to preserve some of those old legends which garb with a deep interest the moldering ruins of many an old keep, and some of those reminiscences-voices -which, as it were, speak to us from the grave, and tell us of the heroism of former days, and of scenes to many of which our age is happily a stranger.
To do this correctly; to relate any circumstance which we have thought may throw light on the social progress of our townsmen, their religious and political views, their passions; to described the contest between our colonists and the natives in the great fight for supremacy; to narrate how at one time the former overwhelmed the latter, and floated uppermost, and at another time how them nearly over whelmed and and sunk themselves; to portray the feelings and influences which a actuated both the contending parties; to accomplish all this fairly and dispassionately, is the aim of the following pages.
Hill House, Bandon.
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