The Sheehy Mountains, a barrier Intersected by Cousane Gap and the Pass of Keimineigh between two Culture Zones, Baronies of Carbery and Bantry and West Muskerry, Co. Cork.
West of Ballineen the land rises into the hills which link to the Cahas and separate the Carberies from northern Co. Cork. The hills are intersected by the Cousane Gap through which Sir Richard Griffith built the road to Bantry Bay from Cork in the late 1820 and the famous Pass of Keimaneigh.
Passing into West Muskerry an area of rock hill and mountain with scrub and forestry the coastal area of the Carberies of West Cork must appear like a land of milk and honey. Pre famine it had one of the highest rural a population density in the world compatible with China and India. This was supported by the potato with ample supplies of sea sand and seaweed. South West Cork was always a point of entry, legend has it that the first people to come to Ireland arrived at Donemark in Bantry. The last waves from the 1580s were the settlers from England, Scotland and Wales supplemented by Huguenots and some Germans. The present West Cork population has a genetic more complex than the headline surname would suggest. The lack of documentary records and destruction makes it difficult but recent DNA evidence would suggest a significant pattern of intermarriage in the late 17th and 18th centuries. West Muskerry had a small population and remained a stronghold of the old Gaelic Order. There were regular forays from there as Rapparees, Tories, Whiteboys and in the 20th century the War of Independence and Civil war raged.
The Gentry of West Cork were on the surface of predominant English planter stock but again the patterns of marriage are complex. Townsend/Barry/Galwey/Meade, Shouldham/McCarthy, Beecher/O’Donovan/O’Neill, Blair/O’Donovan/Cleary, White (Lord Bantry)/O’Brien/Guinness, Puxley/Lavellan (Norman Carrigaline old Catholic), Evans/Freke (Lord Carbery), O’Driscoll, Dowe/Coughlan, Jagoe/O’Connor.
the area is littered with monuments to past encounters on the Irish side. Apart from a mention of Smith a member of Crown forces at the Battle of Keimineagh there is no sign of any RIC/British Army Black and Tan casualties.