Activities & Treasures
Ballydehob is known for being a hub of artistic endeavors since the 1960s. Evidence of this can be found in all corners of the village. More of the West Cork artist movement can be learned here
This gorgeous fox family lives in the playground at Ballydehob’s eastern approach. More creatures from artist Carol James adorn the yard of St Matthias National School and Scoil Muire in nearby Schull.
This mural by Patricia Carr marks the spot where O’Driscoll’s workshop once thrived. From 1929 to 1961, many young men served their three-year carpentry apprenticeship to Denis O’Driscoll making carts, wheels, stairs, chairs, tables, doors and windows by hand.
Micro Mural Project (in progress)- Under the theme The Rising Tide, each art work will fit on a small area within the surrounds of the village, e.g. a window pane, a door panel, shop plinth, corrugated iron panel etc. The creations will be sought out and lure the viewer in rather than overpower the viewer. Commissioned by the Ballydehob Jazz Festival
Flora & Fauna
The mild damp climate along the shores of Ballydehob Harbour encourages the growth of some unique plants such as the Irish Spurge (Saxifraga) and St Patrick’s Cabbage (Euphorbia). Keep a lookout for sea birds and waders both sheltering and feeding in the harbour such as the Heron, Cormorant and Little Egret. The Mallard Duck and Mute Swan are permanent residents between the viaduct and the 3-arch bridge. The call of Curlew and cackle of Gull will provide a vocal backdrop along the top of the 12 – arch bridge. The hedgerows offer examples of thorn bearing and herbaceous plants. Particularly notable are the Fuchsia, Whitethorn and Honeysuckle.
Wild flowers abound like the Primrose and Dandelion in spring and the Foxglove, Cornflower and Violet in summer. West Cork is justly famous for its wildflowers, including several that are only found on the south west. Use this Wildflower Brochure to help guide you!
Check out Fastnet Trails for a comprehensive collection of easy and difficult walks, hikes and cycling trails on the Mizen Peninsula.
Monuments to Local Heritage
Ballydehob Quay Like other small drying harbours, now long forgotten, Ballydehob was once a vital hub of coastal and cross-channel trade for its remote west Cork hinterland. Furthermore, it was for many years a port of departure for transatlantic emigrants fleeing poverty and hunger.
The quay and its warehouse were built in the second half of the eighteenth century to facilitate the export of corn and the landing of sea sand, the primary fertiliser used on the acid soils of this area. In the early nineteenth century, lead and copper ores were exported to Swansea and timber imported from New Brunswick. These timber ships took on emigrants for the return trip to Canada and were to become known as ‘coffin ships’, because of the high mortality rate among passengers. Emigration from Ballydehob directly to Canadian ports continued right through the Famine years. In the later decades of the eighteenth century and down to 1940, coal was imported from Newport in Wales and Merseyside, and costal trading vessels arrived once a week from Cork with commercial supplies. Sea sand continued to be landed here down to the late 1950s and the islanders of Roaringwater Bay came to sell fish, butter and eggs and stock up on household provisions.
The Twelve Arch Bridge – The 19th century saw the expansion of the railway system and with the Cork-Bandon Railway line extending to Bantry, Skibbereen and Baltimore plans were drawn-up to connect Crookhaven in the extreme west with Skibbereen. Completed in just 14 months the West Carbery Tramway and Light Railway line opened on 6th September 1886. Never a financial success and never being extended westwards to Crookhaven the last train ran on 27th January 1947. For most of its life there was a 15 mph (24kmh) speed limit on the railway.
The tramway, however, has left the village with the magnificent 12 -Arch Bridge still dominating the estuary.
Danno O’Mahony Memorial Statue -World wrestling champion Danno was born on 29th September 1912 to Daniel and Susan O’Mahony at the family farm in Dreenlomane, Ballydehob. While still in his teens Danno became known for his athletic ability. In 1933, Danno and his brother Flor enlisted in the national army. His sporting prowess soon attracted the attention of Jack McGrath, a wrestling promoter, who was looking for ‘a young wrestler who could beat the world’. Danno had a meteoric rise to stardom and eventually there was only one man standing between him and the world title, Ed Don George, a former title-winner himself. The title fight was held in Braves Field, Boston, on 30 July 1935 with over 60,000 fans attending. A bruising encounter saw Danno at the age of 22 declared the heavyweight all-in wrestling champion of the world and dubbed ‘The Irish Whip’. His triumphant return home in 1936 can still be viewed on YouTube. Crowds flocked to see him. His untimely death at the age of 38 in a car crash, while home on holidays in Ireland in 1950, is still vivid in folk memory. Photos and other memorabilia about the wrestler can be found in the Irish Whip Bar. More Danno history can be found HERE
Behind the Danno statue on Main Street are two plaques that memorialise two Ballydehob brushes with fame. One recalls Ballydehob’s Titanic Three– Bridget O’Driscoll, Annie Jane Jermyn and Mary Kelly- who sailed together on the ill-fated steamer and were saved together on the last lifeboat to escape the sunken liner. In 1912 emigration from Ireland to Britain and America was at its peak.. In Ballydehob the girls purchased their tickets, costing £7-15s.-0d. each from John Barry, who was the local White Star Line agent and whose premises were where Hudson’s Wholefood Shop is now located. Eventually, the survivors were picked up by another liner, the Carpathia, and conveyed safely to land. The ‘Ballydehob Three’ would, as far as we know, never meet again as their lives took very different paths.
The second plaque tells the story of the visit of the Ladies’ Land League founder and leader, Anna Parnell (1852-1911), sister of Charles Steward Parnell, to Ballydehob on Wednesday, 30th March 1881. The local branch of the Irish National Land League, led by Richard Hodnett, was extremely active in those years of agrarian unrest and over 4,000 supporters gathered in Ballydehob to hear Anna speak at a meeting banned by the authorities. She addressed the crowd from a rock overlooking the field on which Scoil Bhríde National School now stands. This rock became known as ‘Annie’s Rock’. The opening sentences of Anna’s speech were: ‘A month ago I did not know there was such a place as Ballydehob but now that I know there is such a place, I think it is the grandest place in the world. Do you know when I first heard of the name of Ballydehob? I thought to myself there is a sound about the name that looks as if there was some backbone in the place – there is a kind of fighting sound in the word Ballydehob and I am sure from what I have seen, that Ballydehob will not be the first place to go back of the Land League.’
Picturesquely situated on the road to Durrus is St. Matthias’ Church of Ireland. Described in Samuel Lewis’ ‘Topographical Dictionary of Ireland’ in 1837 as a handsome edifice in the early English style of architecture, without a tower. It was built in 1829 by means of a grant of £650, donated by the late Board of First Fruits. Ballydehob which was the eastern portion of the parish of Schull was made a separate parish in 1870, with the Rev. Robert Noble M.A. being appointed as the first Rector.
Among the memorials on the walls is a plaque with the names of parishioners who gave their lives in the First World War, 1914-1918. Beneath is a plaque recording the name of one who made the supreme sacrifice in the Second World War, 1939-1945. The most striking feature is the East Window with its deep rich colouring, the centrepiece being a reproduction of the painting ‘The Light of the World’ by Holman Hunt.
Ballydehob had its first post-penal chapel at Gurteenroe about a mile from the village, dated from around 1750. The present St. Brigid’s Roman Catholic Church was built by Father Florence O’Mahony and dedicated to St. Brigid. The date of erection is believed to have been 1826, in advance of the granting of Catholic Emancipation in 1829, on a site provided by a local Swanton landlord. Over the years there have been many changes to the building, the most recent being in the 1990s during the ministry of the late Fr. Jerome Hurley P.P. and Fr. Joseph Spillane, C.C.
The church’s unique altar, a large mass rock-like stone, its sanctuary designed by local artist John Verling with a single fish going astray from the rest of the shoal, and the Harry Clarke Studio rose window all help to make a visit a deep spiritual experience.
Vacation & Holidays in Ireland. Visit Ballydehob.