History of Bandon

Queen Elizabeth 1 reigned over Great Britain and Ireland from 1558 until her death in 1603. Not every one in Ireland was in favour of her so she made arrangements to colonise Ireland with people loyal to her. She invited applicants to take over large farms. One such applicant was Phane Beecher. Just north of Dunmanway are the Sheehy Mountains, and under one peak known as Mount Owen, a spring emerges which is the source of the River Bandon i.e. White Water. It flows for thirty miles before it reaches the sea at Kinsale. About two-thirds of its length from its source, in a valley surrounded by woods, where wolves roamed, and just ten miles from the south coast, was the area which was to become the birthplace of Bandon town.

Phane Beecher received 14,000 acres on the south side of the River and Hugh Worth got a similar acreage on the north side. Soon some immigrants arrived from England. They crossed the river in a coracle which was moored at the south side called Ballymodan or Ballbodane, which means the village of the ferry boat. After the Battle of Kinsale in 1601, Phane Beecher's son, Henry, leased some property to Captain William Newce and John Archdeacon, and later Archdeacon assigned his lands on the southern side to John Shipward. By 1611, Shipward had sublet 23 holdings to new English settlers who came from Somersetshire and Gloucestershire, and they built some houses and so a village was formed which rapidly grew in importance.

Those early residents brought more than looms and ploughs; they also brought the Bible. Under the guiding hand of Lord Cork, two churches were built; Christchurch on the north side in 1610 and St. Peters in the Parish of Ballymodan in 1614; a small plain building 45 feet long, built by contributions. Some people quarried stones and others drew them. Others cut down trees and fashioned the timber. This Church lasted until 1737. The first bridge was built in 1595 opposite Bridge Street and the town was then called Bandon Bridge as it is still known in Irish i.e. "Droicead Na Banndan". In January 1765 a big flood brought down a tree which blocked an archway and later held up a rick of hay. Then the pressure of the flood built up, and the bridge was swept away. A new bridge was erected in 1773 and is still standing.

In 1619, Richard Boyle, who later became the first Earl of Cork, acquired a large part of the south side of the town and arranged for more settlers to come from England, so by 1622 there were 250 houses in the town. By 1640 Boyle was one of the largest land holders in Ireland. He also owned land near Youghal which had been originally granted to Sir Walter Raleigh. Boyle never lived in Bandon but he prompted agricultural production, housing, trade, mining, quarrying and milling. Boyle also commenced building a wall around the town in 1620 which was completed in 1627, enclosing an area of 27 acres. The height varied from eight feet to twenty-five feet. There were four gates finished in 1630 and three castles. The castles are incorporated in the Bandon Coat of Arms.

Early Beare History

The origin of the Beares before they came to Bandon is unproven although it is believed that we originated in Somerset, England. In the early records for Christchurch, Kilbrogan, Bandon, now the West Cork Heritage Centre, the following Beares are listed: -

 

BURIALS

Abraham Beare, buried 18/1/1725

Isaac Bear, buried 19/4/1737

Elenor Bear, buried 11/12/1737

Mary Beare, buried 3/9/1759

Ann Beare, buried 20/11/1759

Beare, the wife of John, buried 15/10/1792

Cath. Beare, buried 1/12/1792

John Beare, buried 28/12/1796

 

BAPTISMS

John Beare, baptised 21/6/1793

 

In the records for St. Peter's Church, Ballymodan, Bandon, the following are the early Beares listed: -

 

BURIALS

Susana Beare, buried 19/9/1715

John Beare, buried 23/11/1765

George Beare, buried 15/1/1794

 

BAPTISMS

George Bear, son of John & Jane Bear, baptised 26/9/1750

Mary Bear, baptised 3/12/1755

Eliz. Beare, daughter of Joh. Beare, baptised _/3/1761

Mary Beare, daughter of Joh. Beare, baptised _/3/1761

Joh. Bear, son of Joh. Bear, baptised 11/5/1765

Isaac Bear, son of John Beare, baptised _/12/1784

Jane Beare, baptised 5/11/1789

Isaac Beare, son of George Beare, baptised 26/12/1790

Anne Beare, baptised 1/11/1791

John Beare, son of Isaac Beare, 24/2/1794

William Beare, son of Isaac & Eliz. Bear, baptised 17/7/1796

Mary Beare, baptised 28/12/1798