From the mid 17th to early 18th century something around 5,000 Huguenots moved to Ireland from religious persecution in France. The bulk arrived after the Revocation of the edict of Nantes in 1685. Dr. Alicia St. Ledger the historian of the Cork Huguenot community puts the number in Cork mid 18th century at around 300. In Cork City where many settled they had a French speaking church and minister. This group tended to be well educated, affluent, and involved as merchants, apothecaries, surgeons and as property developers reclaiming the Cork City marshes. Over time they became English speaking and drifted into the mainstream Church of Ireland and gradually into the wider Catholic community.
No one knows for definite when the various Huguenot families arrived in the Mizen/Durrus areas. In the main they were unlike their co religionists in Cork as they were artisans, small to medium farmers or labourers. Oral tradition has it that they arrived by boat to Dunmanus Bay. They arrived perhaps c 1750s co incident with various attempts throughout West Cork by Landlords to develop weaving, linen and flax. The old village of Carrigbui (Durrus) was sometimes described as a weaver’s colony.
About 1750 around 60 Huguenots arrived in Cork on board the galley ‘Redhead’ destined for Innishannon with their pastor Rev. Peter Cortes.
They may have been being involved in Thomas Addisons failed silk enterprises in Innishannon and left Kilmacsimon Quay for Dunmanus Bay.
1760. Peter Cortez, Licensed to Preach in French for French Congregation at Innishannon Church of Ireland. This is likely in connection with Adderly’s silk enterprise. Reputedly it attracted Huguenot artisans and may explain the later migration west of such families when the enterprise failed.
The late Mary Dukelow the Brahalish historian of the Dukelow family was told by Bernard O’Regan of Aughadown a local historian, that the Bernard family of Bandon had great sympathy for them. The Bernards (later Lord Bandon) were the head landlords of the Durrus and some Mizen townlands.
The Durrus Evanson family came c 1690 and after getting into financial difficulty sold their estate to Francis Bernard, ancestor to Lord Bandon. They later had another estate across Dunmanus Bay centered on Ardgoena House. It seems that on their estate were a number of weaver colonies at Crottees, Durrus, Ahagouna, Brahalish and Droumreagh with possibly Coolculaghta on the Blair estate.