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Béal an Dá Chab
Main Street
Main Street
Ballydehob is located in Ireland
Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 51°33′N 9°28′W / 51.550°N 9.467°W / 51.550; -9.467
Country Ireland
Province Munster
County County Cork
Barony Carbery West
Parish Schull
 • Total 4 km2 (2 sq mi)
 • Land 3.61 km2 (1.39 sq mi)
Elevation 10 m (33 ft)
Population (2006)
 • Total 810
 • Density 202/km2 (520/sq mi)
Time zone WET (UTC+0)
 • Summer (DST) IST (WEST) (UTC-1)

Ballydehob (Irish: Béal an Dá Chab, meaning "mouth of the two river fords") is a coastal village in the southwest of County Cork, Ireland, located on the N71 national secondary road.


At the dawn of the Bronze Age (2200-600 B.C.), copper was mined on Mount Gabriel, just west of the village. About the same time stone circles, wedge and boulder tombs were constructed in the area. The Celts arrived at some later time and in the early historic period various clans fought for dominance, until the eventual emergence of the McCarthys and O'Mahonys as the rulers of the region. A string of castles along the coastline bear testament to their strength, and to the strategic importance of this area. Kilcoe Castle was the McCarthy's most westerly stronghold and their only coastal foothold; it was probably West Cork's best preserved castle, which has in recent years been extensively Disneyfied by the actor Jeremy Irons).

In 1602 soldiers led by Sir George Carew, Lord President of Munster, descended on the area in a successful bid to break the power of the Gaelic chieftains. Their passage through West Cork was described in "Pacata Hibernia" by Thomas Stafford, told of course from the invaders point of view, but interestingly, and probably uniquely for the time, a contemporary Irish account can also be found in Historicae Catolicae Iberniae Compenium by Don Philip O'Sullivan.

The 17th century saw an influx of settlers mainly from England, but a significant number were Protestants (Huguenots) fleeing persecution in Catholic France. The Swantons from Norfolk emerged as the most prominent family in the locality, and by the late 18th century they had succeeded in changing the name of Ballydehob to Swanton's Town. (The last known use of the name Swanton's Town was in the census of 1821).

In the 1820s copper mining developed again in the region. The Cappagh mine, the most productive of several, was financed by Lord Audley; its 20-metre chimney survived until February 2002, when it was destroyed by a lightning strike. An interesting feature of this mining era was the introduction to Ballydehob of a police constabulary and barracks, some 6 years before the first London police force. By the 1840s the population of the area had swelled to nearly 20,000. Then disaster struck when the potato crop failed and the Great Irish Famine resulted. This affected Ballydehob and the whole of West Cork in a most devastating way; thousands died and thousands more emigrated. Between 1841 and 1851 the population of the area fell by 42%, a decline which was much higher than the national average. At present Ballydehob has a resident population of about 300.

In the 1880s amid growing agitation over land reform, the Ballydehob branch of the Irish National Land League hosted a visit by Anna Parnell, sister of Charles Stewart Parnell, to address a public meeting on the subject; this was held in the field where St. Brigit's school now stands, and is commemorated by a plaque.

In the 1960s Ballydehob saw an influx of artists, writers and craftspeople, attracted by the village's peaceful coastal setting. Also for a brief period a number of "Hippy" communes were established in the area. One house was decorated with painted flowers, becoming well known as the "Flower House".

In common with the rest of West Cork, Ballydehob is a popular holiday venue, and the area contains a number of guest-houses, as well as private holiday homes. The traditional village shops have largely been replaced by a range of eating-places.

Near Ballydehob at Cooragurteen there is a Chapel of the Antiochan Orthodox Church, where Saturday evening vespers and Sunday morning readings are regularly held. Divine Liturgy is also celebrated at the Chapel at various times throughout the year. This chapel is reputed to be the most westerly Othodox chapel in Western Europe.


Ballydehob also enjoys four annual festivals.

Ballydehob Traditional Music Weekend is the annual traditional music, song, and dance festival.

The Ballydehob Jazz Festival is an annual event.

Ballydehob Summer Festival.

Ballydehob Old Time Threshing & Vintage Weekend - celebrates the historic traditions of rural Ireland and West Cork in particular. The vintage weekend generally takes place in October.


12 Arch Bridge

On 6 September 1886 Ballydehob railway station opened[1] on the narrow gauge Schull and Skibbereen Railway with a huge sports event held in Ballydehob to mark the occasion. At the time there was a 15 m.p.h. speed limit on the railway. The magnificent 12 arch bridge, which dominates the estuary of Ballydehob, was the major engineering achievement of the line. Mounting losses, coal shortages and the arrival of buses and motor cars eventually brought the closure of the line. The final train ran on 27 January 1947 and the station finally closed altogether on 1 June 1953.[1] Ballydehob was the main intermediate station on the railway.


The village's most famous former inhabitant was the wrestler Danno O'Mahony. He won the NWA World Championship from Jim Londos in Boston on 30 June 1935, and was known as the "Irish Whip" in celebration of his famous throwing technique. He was also a champion hammer thrower. He died in a traffic accident in 1950. One of the village's many pubs, "The Irish Whip", is named after him. In the centre of the village is a bronze statue erected in his honour in 2000.

Kay Summersby, who served as chauffeur and personal assistant for General Dwight D. Eisenhower while he was Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in London, was born here in 1908.

Actor Jeremy Irons and his wife, actress Sinead Cusack, purchased the historic 13th century Kilcoe Castle near Ballydehob. Irons aroused some controversy when he chose to paint the exterior of the castle pink.

International relations[edit]

Twin towns — Sister cities[edit]

Ballydehob is twinned with the town of Cléden-Cap-Sizun in France.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Ballydehob station" (PDF). Railscot - Irish Railways. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-10. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°33′N 9°28′W / 51.550°N 9.467°W / 51.550; -9.467