Dunmanway (Co. Cork / Southwest)
Dunmanway (Dún Mánmhaí – “the castle of the yellow river / yellow women” / “the fort of the gables / pinnacles” / “the fort on the little plain”) (pop: 2330) is a town scenically surrounded by hills at the geographical centre of the West Cork region, with no less than 23 pubs and more than a couple of good places to eat. (Photo – www.sammaguirehomestead.ie)
Founded in the late C17th to provide a resting place for troops marching between Bandon and Bantry, Dunmanway was a planned town, and the original two triangular squares still survive.
Under the patronage of the Sir Richard Cox (Lord Chancellor of Ireland from 1703-1707) and his descendants, the town became an important centre for the linen industry, which collapsed when protective tarriffs were removed in the early C19th.
The Great Famine devestated West Cork, A famine relief meeting chaired by U.S. Vice President George M. Dallas in Washington, D.C. On 9th February 1847 heard a letter from the women of Dunmanway addressed to the “Ladies of America” : “Oh! that our American sisters could see the labourers on our roads, able-bodied men, scarcely clad, famishing with hunger, with despair in their once cheerful faces, staggering at their work … oh! that they could see the dead father, mother or child, lying coffinless, and hear the screams of the survivors around them, caused not by sorrow, but by the agony of hunger.”
The War of Independence,saw numerous actions in and around Dunmanway, not least the notorious Kilmichael Ambush on 28th November 1920, when the IRA killed 17 Auxiliaries; the subsequent sacking and burning of Cork city by British forces is thought to have been in direct retaliation.
On 15th December 1920 an Auxiliary officer named Harte killed a Roman Catholic priest, Fr Magner, for refusing to toll his church’s bells on Armistice Day, and also killed a boy for no apparent motive whatsoever; he was discharged and declared insane by the British authorities.
After a truce was declared in July 1921, the local IRA killed a number of alleged informers.
The Dunmanway Massacre is the name given to the killing of 12 men in the spring of 1922, all of whom were Protestants. They included James Buttimer, an 82-year-old retired draper; Ralph Harbord, curate of Murragh; Alexander McKinley and Robert Nagle, both aged 16; and Jim Greenfield, a “feeble-minded” farm servant. The perpetrators of the killings were never identified or prosecuted, nor is it clear who ordered them. The view that they amounted to Yugoslav-style ethnic cleansing has been disputed; the matter is discussed here.
In the aftermath of the attacks, over 100 Protestant families fled West Cork.
Dunmanway is probably nowadays best known nationally as the birthplace of Sam Maguire, for whom the GAA‘s All-Ireland Senior Gaelic Football Championship Trophy is named. An annual festival is held here in his honour, and his statue graces the town centre.
Dunmanway Heritage Centre on Main St. has a number of interesting exhibits.
St Mary’s church (CoI) was erected in 1822 on the site of a previous church (1710) that had in turn replaced the old church at Fanlobbus / Fanlobish, two miles east of the town, the ruins of which can still be seen beside the famine burial ground.
St Patrick’s church (RC) dates from 1834, while St James’ church (RC) in nearby Togher was built in 1836.
The Model School, a non-denominational establishment founded in 1849, still operates on its founding principles under the aegis of the Minister for Education.
Dunmanway Town Park, on the shores of Dunmanway Lake, is a pleasant amenity with a landscaped garden and picnic area. (Photo – www.sammaguirehomestead.ie)
Immigration to the town in recent years has caused a massive growth in population – 52% from 2002 to 2006. The first immigrants in the 1970s were hippies from the UK, Germany and the Netherlands, and in recent years considerable numbers of Poles and Latvians, have arrived, along with smaller groups of Hungarians, Estonians, Chinese and individuals from many other countries. The British “New Ager” / “Crustie” population of Wurzel Gummidge lookalikes is particularly prominent; in 2008 this community came under police scrutiny after one of their number was murdered.
Dunmanway is predominantly Roman Catholic, with a large Protestant minority. Of the latter, the Church of Ireland congregation is by far the biggest, but Methodism has also been long established. Many of the British immigrants declare Paganism as their religion.
Just as a person from County Cork is Corkonian, a person living in Dunmanway is known as a Doheny, and the local GAA club is known as “The Dohenys”.
Dunmanway has a strong equestrian tradition, notably for sulky racing, and is the venue for Ballabuidhe Races & Horse Fair, held every August.
Dunmanway is connected via the Cousane Gap to Kealkill on ByRoute 4 and also Ballylickey on the Bantry Bay stretch of ByRoute 1.
Togher Castle is a five storey Tower House, built sometime between 1560 and 1590 by local chieftain Tadgh an Forsa MacCarthy, whose family crest is still visible in the entrance hall. (Photo by Mike Searle)
Scenic walks in the area include the Nowen Hill and Pipe Hill Trails.
Gurranes Lake, 3 miles SW of Dunmanway (off the road to Drimoleague) contains native trout and is also regularly stocked to give very good angling results.
Clashnacrona (“Valley of the Rosary / Huts”) is best known for its Woods; a forest walk crosses the river via an artistic wooden bridge, winding its way along the banks to a neighbouring height (250m) where there is a wooden viewing pedestal. This Coillte recreation site is very popular with competitive Mountain Bikers.
Other nearby beauty spots include Cullenagh Lake, Coolkellure Lake, Curraghalicky Lake and Aultagh Wood.
Drimologue (Co. Cork / Southwest)
Drimoleage (Drom-Dha-Liagh – “Ridge / Back of Two Flagstones”) is a small country village on the banks of the River Ruagagh, commanding some beautiful views.
The current village dates from 1851, although a small community known as Shrivane / Bothar Srufawn existed nearby, dedicated to Saint Srufawn, after whom a bridge and a Holy Well are named.
A Great Famine Memorial stands on the site of the local Famine Pit a few hundred yards from the village.
On 12th February 1920, at the height of the War of Independence, the local RIC barracks was attacked by “300 armed civilians“, repulsed with the aid of troops, who then forced the local male population at gunpoint to repair the damage, according to a contemporary report in the New York Times.
Barr na Carraige – “The top of the Rock”, a lofty eminence a quarter of a mile north of the current village, has traditional associations with Saint Finbarr, and until 1879 was the site of an annual “Big Fair”, famous for faction fighting. Ironically, the Fenian rabble-rouser O’Donovan Rossa was famously instrumental in preventing one such drunken affray.
Drimoleague Fair has beome less violent; now known as the Feile Beag (“Little Fair”), it is held in the village every September 25th.
Trotting races are held locally every St Stephen’s Day (December 26th).
The Old Corn Mills (for many years the home of Beamish’s Brewery) have been harmoniously renovated into a thriving Craft Centre, where Methuselah Stained Glass makes anything from earrings, necklaces and mirrors, through Art Deco lighted fans and Tiffany lamps up to full-scale stained glass windows.
St Matthew’s church (CoI) was erected in 1858 to replace a series of earlier structures.
All Saints church (RC) is a large modern structure, replacing the ruin in the Old Cemetery.
The Methodist church in Drimoleague.
Driminidy Lake offers attractive shore angling sites and good catches of brown and rainbow trout.
Drimoleague has its own website; the history section falls into the classic error of confusing Irish patriotism with the Roman Catholic religion.
Drimoleague is connected by roads to Skibbereen, Ballydehob and Bantry on ByRoute 1.