BANDON, or BANDONBRIDGE, a borough, market, and post-town, partly in the parish of KILBROGAN, barony of KINALMEAKY, but chiefly in that of BALLYMODAN, partly in the barony of KINALMEAKY, and partly in the East Division of the barony of EAST CARBERY, county of CORK, and province of MUNSTER, 15 1/2 miles (S. W.) from Cork, and 141 1/2 (S. W. by S.) from Dublin; containing 9917 inhabitants. This place derives its name from the erection of a bridge over the river Bandon, and owes its origin to the English planters on the great Desmond forfeitures in the reign of Elizabeth. It is first noticed in 1609, when Jas. I. granted to Henry Becher, Esq., the privilege of a Saturday's market and two fairs at the town lately built on the south side of the river Bandon, near the bridge; and in the grant made to Becher, in 1612, of a moiety of the territory of Kinalmeaky, which was erected into the manor of "Castle Mahowne," power was given to him and his heirs to appoint a clerk of the market in the newly erected town called Bandon-Bridge, or in any other town within the said territory, with the privilege of licensing all tradesmen and artisans settling therein. These grants were shortly afterwards purchased by the first Earl of Cork, whose exertions in promoting its growth and prosperity entitle him to be regarded as the founder of the town, which he peopled with a colony of Protestants from Bristol, and which in a few years, from a mere waste of bog and wood, became a spacious, handsome, and well fortified place, continuing to flourish and to increase in extent and importance. At the commencement of the civil war in 1641, the town was placed under the government of Lord Kinalmeaky, son of the Earl of Cork, who took possession of it in January 1642, and mustering all the inhabitants put it into an excellent state of defence. As it was the only walled town in this part of the country, it became an asylum for the English of the surrounding district, and by its own resources maintained four companies of foot, raised a corps of volunteers, and made every preparation both for offensive and defensive warfare. On the 18th of February a party of Irish under McCarty Reagh approached, when Lord Kinalmeaky sallying out with 200 foot and 60 horse, a severe conflict ensued, in which, without the loss of a single townsman, more than 100 of the assailants were killed. The inhabitants soon afterwards, in conjunction with a troop from Kinsale, defeated another party that had lain in ambush to surprise them, and in a short time took several forts in the adjacent territory which had been held by the Irish; they also killed fifty who had made an attempt to carry off their cattle; but on Cromwell's approach in 1649, they declared for the parliament. In 1688, hearing that the Earl of Clancarty was advancing with six companies of foot of the army of Jas. II., to reinforce the two companies of foot and the troop of horse already stationed here, the inhabitants disarmed the garrison, killed several of the soldiers, took possession of their arms and horses, and shut the gates against the Earl. At length, however, they were obliged to yield for want of provisions, but refused to give up any of their leaders, and consented to pay £1000 as the price of their pardon; on their submission the walls were razed to the ground and have never been rebuilt.
The town is situated on the river Bandon, and on the mail coach road from Cork to Bantry; the principal part lies in a valley environed with lofty hills and watered by the river, which separates the parishes of Ballymodan and Kilbrogan, the former on the south and the latter on the north bank, and near the bridge receives a tributary stream called the Bridewell. Under the various names of Boyle-street, Shannon-street, and Main-street it extends on the south side for about 1 1/2 mile parallel with the river, and on the north for about half that distance; it is also built partly on the acclivities of the hills on both sides of the river, which are agreeably wooded and are ornamented with several mansions, villas, and cottages, that give to the environs a pleasing and picturesque appearance. The old town is built on the estate of the Duke of Devonshire, who repairs its streets and is reimbursed by a poundage of five per cent, on the rent reserved in all leases of houses in this part; what is called the Irish town, including Boyle, Shannon, and Main streets, with an estate adjoining, belongs to the Earl of Shannon; and the western portion is the property of the Earls of Cork and Bandon. The total number of houses, in 1831, was 1580, of which about 1170 were slated and the remainder thatched: many respectable private houses have been built in the more elevated parts of the town, chiefly of a durable freestone of a light brown colour found in the neighbourhood. The streets are very indifferently paved and only partially flagged: the inhabitants are supplied with water principally from wells and public pumps, the latter erected and kept in repair by the Duke of Devonshire and the Earl of Shannon on their respective estates; and in 1835 a company was formed for lighting the town with gas, which, under the provisions of the general paving act, has likewise power to watch and cleanse the town, and for these purposes has appointed watchmen and scavengers and commenced the erection of gas-works. A public library was established in 1825 by a proprietary of £5 shareholders, who pay a subscription of 10s. annually, and annual subscribers of £1 are admitted by ballot: it contains several hundred volumes, including a copy of Rees's Encyclopaedia presented by the Duke of Devonshire, and one of Rymer's Foedera presented by the Government in 1835. The parochial library, under the management of the Protestant clergy, was established in 1823, and contains several hundred volumes on divinity and other subjects; and a similar library was formed by the Wesleyan Methodists in 1830. There are also two reading-rooms supported by annual subscribers; and a third has been recently opened for poor Protestants, who pay a penny per month and are supplied with newspapers a day or two after their arrival by gift or loan from the neighbouring gentry. Assemblies are held at the Devonshire Arms hotel, a large and well-conducted inn and posting-house, containing a spacious ball-room, in which also concerts and music meetings occasionally take place. The barracks, a neat and commodious building on the north side of the town, afford accommodation for 8 officers and 119 non-commissioned officers and men, with stabling for 61 horses, and are under the inspection of the barrack-master at Kinsale. Near the town is Castle Bernard, the seat of the Earl of Bandon, also many other gentlemen's seats, which are noticed in their respective parishes. These, with their extensive woods and plantations, particularly the hanging woods to the east of the town and extending two miles beyond Innishannon (noticed by Spenser), impart to the scenery of the neighbourhood a high degree of richness and luxuriance of character.
The manufacture of camlets, stuffs, and other woollen goods prevailed here to a great extent at the close of the last and beginning of the present centuries, and was succeeded by the spinning and weaving of cotton, which continued to flourish till 1825; spinning-mills were erected on a large scale, and more than 1000 persons were employed in weaving, but both branches have fallen off, insomuch that the mills are in ruins and not more than 100 weavers are employed. A manufacture of fine stuffs was introduced in 1835 by Mr. Scott, who has erected a steam-engine for preparing the wool and spinning the yarn: this establishment affords employment to nearly 100 persons, exclusively of 100 weavers in the town and neighbourhood, and its produce has already obtained considerable celebrity for its superior texture. Here are five ale and porter breweries, three of which are extensive and produce 25,000 barrels annually: also two very large distilleries, one of which, the property of Messrs. Allman and Co., is capable of producing 200,000 gallons of whiskey annually; the other was built by Maurice Fitzgerald, Esq., in 1835, and consumes annually 1400 barrels of malt and 5800 barrels of oats and barley, yielding 60,000 gallons of whiskey. Connected with the latter is a large flour-mill, and there is also another on an extensive scale. This place has long been noted for the tanning of leather, which is in great demand: there are nine lanyards in active operation, employing more than 100 men. From the great consumption of the breweries, distilleries, and mills, very little grain is exported: the imports are coal, culm, timber (in which a considerable trade is carried on direct with St. John's, New Brunswick, and Quebec), and iron, which are brought in sloops to Colliers' Quay, three miles from the town, and thence by land carriage; articles of domestic consumption are brought by land carriage principally from Cork. A canal from Colliers' Quay to Dunmanway has been at different times contemplated, and surveys have been made, but the design has not yet been carried into effect; and a railway has been lately projected from Rockpoint, four miles to the east, which, if brought through the town, would be of great benefit to its trade. Branches of the Provincial Bank of Ireland and of the Agricultural and Commercial Banking Company have been established here. The markets are on Wednesday and Saturday, of which the latter is the principal, and is abundantly supplied with provisions of all kinds; and fairs are held on May 6th, Holy Thursday, Oct. 29th, and Nov. 8th, for livestock and general merchandise. There are three convenient market-places, built at the expense of the Duke of Devonshire: the meat and fish markets, on the north side of the river, are held in a commodious building in the form of a polygon, surrounded by stalls and forming a piazza for the market people: the potatoe, corn, and egg markets, on the south side, are held in an oblong edifice conveniently fitted up and well adapted to its several uses; more than 20,000 eggs are sold here every week during the spring, and are conveyed to Cork to be shipped for England. The tolls of the town belong to the Duke of Devonshire, and, after the determination of a demise of them to the corporation in 1806, were paid until 1830, when His Grace suspended the collection of them until some arrangement should be effected by the legislature. A regular and extensive intercourse is maintained between this town and Cork, for which city several stage coaches leave daily and return the same evening; the Cork and Bantry mail passes and re-passes daily, and every alternate day a stage coach from Skibbereen to Cork passes through the town: there are also mail coaches every day to Kinsale, Dunmanway, and Timoleague. Here is a chief station of the constabulary police.
The inhabitants were incorporated by charter of the 11th of Jas. I. (1614), and, by letters patent of the 19th of Chas. II. (1667) received a grant of lands in the baronies of Ibane and Barryroe. Jas. II., in the 4th of his reign, granted a new charter founded on a seizure of the franchises, which soon became inoperative. The corporation is styled "The Provost, Free Burgesses, and Commonalty of the Borough of Bandon-Bridge;" and consists of a provost, 12 burgesses, and an unlimited number of freemen, assisted by a town-clerk and two serjeants-at-mace. The common council is a body not mentioned in the charter, but constituted by a by-law of the corporation made in 1621: it consists of twelve members, who are elected from the freemen by the corporation at large, as vacancies occur. The burgesses are chosen from the common council, on vacancies occurring, by the provost and burgesses; and the provost is elected annually from and by the burgesses at Midsummer, and enters upon his office at Michaelmas: the provost and burgesses also appoint the town-clerk and serjeants-at-mace. The freedom is at present acquired by grace, birth for the eldest son of a freeman, and nomination of the provost, who during the year of his office has the privilege of naming one; the freemen are elected by a majority of the body at large assembled in a court of D'Oyer Hundred; neither residence nor any other qualification is considered necessary. The borough sent two members to the Irish parliament prior to the Union, since which period it has returned one to the Imperial parliament: the right of election was formerly vested in the provost and burgesses only, but by the act of the 2nd of Wm. IV., cap. 88, has been extended to the £10 householders; and a new boundary was formed for electoral purposes closely encircling the town, and comprising an area of 439 acres, which is minutely described in the Appendix. The number of voters registered in March 1836 was 367, of whom 355 were £10 householders and 12 burgesses: the provost is the returning officer. He is also by charter a justice of the peace within the borough, and is named in all commissions of the peace for the county. A court of record was formerly held every Thursday, with jurisdiction to the amount of £3. 6. 8., but has been discontinued of late years. The quarter sessions for the West Riding are held here in October; and petty sessions for the division are also held here every Monday by the county magistrates, who by courtesy have concurrent jurisdiction with the provost within the borough. The courthouse is a neat substantial building; and not far from it is a commodious county bridewell. Manorial courts for the recovery of debts under 40s. are held once in three weeks respectively by the seneschals of the different manors: the manor of Castle Mahon or Castle Bernard belongs to the Earl of Bandon; Coolfadda, to the Duke of Devonshire; and Claugh McSimon, to the Earl of Shannon. The corporation formerly possessed lands under the patent of Chas. II. amounting to about 1340 statute acres, which having mortgaged at different periods, they finally disposed of with a view to pay certain debts in 1809, since which period they have had no income or property of any kind.
The parish churches of Ballymodan and Kilbrogan are both in the town: the former is not distinguished by any architectural details of importance; it contains a handsome monument to Eras. Bernard, Esq., one of the justices of the court of common pleas, and an ancestor of the Earl of Bandon. The church of Kilbrogan, commonly called Christchurch, was begun in 1610 by Henry Becher, Esq., and finished by the first Earl of Cork in 1625, as appears by a date on a stone in the south wall: it is a cruciform structure, and occupies the site of a Danish encampment: in the churchyard are the graves of three of Clancarty's soldiers, who were slain in the attempt to take the town for Jas. II. In the R. C. divisions this place is the head of a union or district which comprises the parishes of Ballymodan and Kilbrogan, and part of that of Desertserges: the chapel is a spacious and handsome edifice, built by subscription in 1796, and situated on an eminence in the south part of the town: there is also a chapel at Agrohil in Kilbrogan. On an elevated site in the north part of the town is a convent of the Presentation order, established in 1829, to which are attached a domestic chapel and a spacious school-room, in which, according to the season, from 200 to 400 poor female children are gratuitously instructed. There is a meeting-house for Presbyterians in connection with the Synod of Munster; also places of worship for Primitive and Wesleyan Methodists, of which that for the latter is a large and handsome edifice. The classical school was founded by the Earl of Burlington: the master has a commodious residence, with suitable offices and a large play-ground attached, and receives a salary of £40 per ann. from the Duke of Devonshire. A suitable building in the old Cork road, comprising separate school-rooms for boys and girls, an infants' school, and apartments for the master and mistress, was erected at the expense of the Duke of Devonshire: the former, containing about 100 children, is supported by the trustees of Erasmus Smith's foundation; and the latter, in which are 90 infants, is supported by the joint contributions of the Duke and the rector of the parish. A large and handsome school in Shannon-street, in which 120 girls and 100 infants are gratuitously taught, was built in 1814 by the proceeds of a repository and by contributions, and is supported by subscriptions of the Duke of Devonshire and others. His Grace has also built a handsome school on Cavendish quay, towards the support of which he subscribes £50 per ann., and the remainder of the expenses are defrayed by local contributions; about 100 children are gratuitously taught in this school. Adjoining the R. C. chapel is a school aided by a subscription of £30 per ann. from the Duke, in which 200 boys are taught. The Wesleyan Methodists have three schools, in which 70 boys, 65 girls, and 80 infants receive instruction; one for boys is supported by H. Cornwall, Esq. An infirmary, fever hospital, and a dispensary are maintained in the customary manner. A savings' bank was established in 1817, and a handsome building was erected from the surplus funds in 1835: the deposits, in 1836, amounted to more than £22,000. Several bequests have been made "for the benefit of the poor. Sir Richard Cox, an eminent statesman and historian, born in 1650; Dr. Nicholas Brady, who assisted Tate in composing a new version of the Psalms, born in 1659; and Sir William Jumper, a distinguished naval officer, were natives of this place. The town gives the titles of Earl, Viscount, and Baron to the family of Bernard, Earls of Bandon; and the inferior title of Baron of Bandon-Bridge to the family of Boyle, Earls of Cork and Orrery.--See BALLYMODAN and KILBROGAN.