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The predecessor of the Cork Archives acquired the papers of the former firm of Wheeler Doherty, Bandon, Solicitors and Land Agents to the estate of the Earl of Bandon in 1971.  It is an enormous collection and part was recently archived the inventory runs to over 70 pages.

The Bandon Estate was somewhat unusual insofar as it was not acquired by conquest but on the earnings of Francis Bernard as a barrister in Dublin in the early 18th century and added to later by judicious marriages and purchase.


Reading the inventory it is possible to look at the estate as a commercial concern, the rents paid by the tenants supported a large organization employing many in Bandon in Castle Bernard.  At its height the estate ran to over 40,000 acres mainly in Co. Cork but  in Dublin and other parts of the country.  It was managed professionally from the late 18th century and was audited by Dublin accountants.  Apart from the Bandon/Bernard family it supported pensioners and endowed various worthy causes.

In the western estate it recovered the lands in Durrus from the Evansons (it seems it have bought the estate off them in the 1720s and leased it back) it demolished the village of Durrus then a collection of miserable mud cabins.  The Archive has rent receipts for the 1730 from the Bernards to Nathaniel Evanson and Jeremy (or Jeremiah) Coughlan, who married his sister around 1700. The Coughlans of Carrigmanus were a little unusual insofar as an old Gaelic family they had become Church of Ireland by 1600 and a long line of clergymen came from the family. It is probable that Jeremy was the grandfather of Frances Coghlan, Upper Clashadoo who married Thomas Dukelow from Cruttees in 1818 and he married in. Thus many of the Durrus Dukelow have a Coghlan descent line and have ancestors who would have ben on the Mizen and Muinter Mhaire Peninsula for perhaps 3,000 years. Jeremy Coughlan was an attorney, the Senescal of Dungarvan and was the Agent of the Devonshire Estates in Wesr Waterford with Andrew ??

The village was lid out with court house, shops, pubs, a hotel dispensary and housing and its present structure dates from this period.  The rental shows rent commencing for the houses from 1858.

The ledgers are sometimes difficult to read and names and townlands are not always clear.  This is a work in progress.

It might be noted that the estate moved tenants around within townlands or for example from Dromnera to Crottees, from Ballyourane in Caheragh to Clashadoo, from Carrigboy to the Mizen Townlands.  There is some evidence that families were moved from the Durrus area to vacant farms in the Bandon part of the estate.

In the 1890s and early 1900s Lord Bandon used Durrus Court as a summer house and enjoyed yachting in the Bay.   In the history of St James Church 200th anniversary edited by Francis Humphries there is a reference to Mrs. Roberts of Bandon recalling Lord Bandon in Durrus when she was a child.


In the Cork Archives 1854-8, ledger, U137/RL/A/026

1874-1, ledger, U137?Rl?B/005


1830 Tithe Aplottments from Skib Girl’s site


Griffith’s Valuation 1852


Lord Bandon

The Bernards of Bandon became the Earls of Bandon in 1800.  The first of the line originated in Westmoreland in the reign of Queen Elizabeth and his son was Lord of the Manor in Castle-Mahon, Bandon on the outbreak of the rebellion in 1641.  After 1702 Francis Bernard invested heavily in land forfeit during the Jacobite years which came onto the market.  On 1742 the Durrus lands were purchased from Charles Moore of Tipperary by Stephen Bernard in trust for Frances Bernard.  The lands included a fish palace at the Island/Brahalish. and included here are the Durrus lands.

Sometime in the 1850s they came into possession of estates in Durrus, on the expiration of the Evanson’s lease (this was rented at £540 a year), comprising townlands around the village and west to Ahakista referred to in various deeds as ‘six ploughlands of Coolnalong alias Four Mile Water with the sub-denominations of Dromenea and Brahalish. The current village was laid out replacing a collection of mud cabins and a weavers colony during their tenure and they built a hotel naming it the ‘Bandon Arms’, this later became the property of the Philips family. Lord Bandon is reputed to have built the folly at Droumnea, Kilcrohane as relief work in 1847.  Their efforts were praised in the local paper in November 1867 where it was said that every inducement is given to tenants to improve their holdings and the good results of liberal landlordism as in the case of the Bandons was to be seen in their estates in the west.

Captain Thomas the mining engineer produced a pamphlet in 1865 and said that a few years ago a few mud thatched cabins were the only habitations to be seen in Carrigbui.  In their place neat labourer’s cottages, good shops, police barracks, dispensary, post office and an ornamental and well built hotel under the patronage of the Earl of Bandon can be seen.  The exports weekly are some 40,000 eggs with quantities of butter and cattle

Mary Catherine Henrietta Bernard of Castle Bernard daughter of Lord Bandon married Colonel Aldworth on the 30th July 1863 and an address and copy of ‘God’s Holy Word’ was sent by Rev Freke and the tenantry of Durrus to which she returned thanks.  At Dreenlomane Mine (operating until c1920) owned by Lord Bandon, Captain Thomas set tar barrels alight on Mount Corrin which illuminated the sky all night and the 150 miners and their wives were treated to refreshments and similar celebrations were held in Carrigbui.

Lord Bandon was an enthuastic exponent of flax growing in the 1860s.  On the 22nd February 1864 he addressed a meeting at Carrigbui Courthouse attended by Rev James Freke, Richard Tonson Evanson, and a large assemblage of ‘the yeoman farmers’ of the neighbourhood. He addressed a similar meeting in Bantry a few days before. He mentioned the Munster Flax Society, the imminent coming of the railway, and the establishment of scutching mills to rebut charges of previous failure.  He suggested a reduction in the area devoted to potatoes and a little flax to be added.  Persons were appointed to do an assessment of what would be planted in each townland next season and bring this to a meeting to be held the following week.  Later the Royal Dublin Society appointed a Mr Wilson from the North to provide technical assistance and a flax market was functioning in Ballineen in 1865.  A full flax mill was established outside Bandon by James H Swanton in 1865.  it might be remembered that the American Civil war was raging at the time making cotton scarce, the growing of flax in West Cork had always thrived during was but declines after.  While there are numerous flax ponds in the area the crop never took off like it did in Northern Ireland.

James Francis Bernard (1850-1924) was the 4th earl of Bandon and Lord Lieutenant of County Cork.  May Roberts, Brahalish remembers Lord Bandon arriving in the area with a four wheeled car and the Coachman Timmy Burke on top a going to his hunting lodge at the present Durrus Court.  Lord Bandon was in Durrus in 22nd February 1864 to promote flax growing.  The large farm at Gearamin, Cummer now owned by a German was part of the hunting area.   There was some association between the Philips family and Lord Bandon.  They managed the estate and their home farm was extensive from Ahagouna to Rusheeniska taking in some of Clashadoo and Gearamin.

Much of the land in Durrus was owned by the Bandon Estate and was managed by the Wheeler Doherty Family (their estate papers are in the Cork Archive Institute but some are still  uncatalogued).  The previous managers of the estate Edward Appelby and Colonel Henry Boyle Bernard had left it heavily in debt and R.W. Doherty was appointed in 1877.  Colonel Bernard (of the Cork Light Infantry Militia) acquired an interest by way of family settlement of 1848 and mortgaged lands including those in Durrus in 1878. In July 1882 Richard Wheeler Doherty Jnr. complained that tenants ‘but principally those of Durrus near Bantry had paid no rent since 1880, his father had said in September 1881 ‘The Land Leagues are destroying the country and a lot of Protestants have joined them … the Protestants at Durrus would pay no rent unless allowed 25% off.  More like savages then human beings’.

In 1895 the West of England Insurance Company applied to have the Bandon estate sold to satisfy borrowings of 1814 and further advances in the 1870s.  Presumably this was settled as the Bandon Estate had title to sell to the various Durrus tenants under the Land Acts.

In the 19th Century the great land owning families of Co Cork such as the Bandons controlled the administration of the County with the Grand Jury which met as the time of the legal Assizes and decided on matters of policy.  When the County Council was established under the Local Government Act of 1898 power passed to the elected councillors and public officials.  A family which in 1870 has over 40,000 acres in Co Cork sold the vast bulk of it under the Land Acts to the tenants and now their successors have only a modest bungalow on the once extensive Castle Bernard Estate in Bandon.