by Samuel Lewis
WHIDDY ISLAND, in the parish of KILMACOMOGUE, barony of BANTRY, county of CORK, and province of MUNSTER, 1 3/4 mile (W.) from Bantry; containing 714 inhabitants. It is situated near the inner extremity of the bay of Bantry, and extends from N. E. to S. W. nearly three miles, having an average breadth of about one mile, and comprising 1218 statute acres of excellent land, chiefly under an improved system of cultivation. It is remarkable for the variety of its soil, which in some places consists of a rich loam, and in others of rock, sand, and stiff clay: on the north side are extensive rocks of a black shaly substance, soft and unctuous, and much resembling black lead: it is called Lapis Hibernicus, and was formerly given medicinally in cases of inward bruises, but is now chiefly used by carpenters as black chalk. There are both a fresh and a salt water lake on the island. Three batteries, each consisting of a circular tower surrounded by a deep fosse, and together mounting 18 guns, were built subsequently to the descent of the French fleet here in 1796: there were barracks for seven officers and 188 non-commissioned officers and men of the engineer and artillery departments, but the whole are now entrusted to the care of one man. Along the eastern shore of the island are five small islets, between which and the mainland on the east is the best anchorage in the bay, in five or six fathoms, quite landlocked, and secure from all winds. On an eminence near the eastern point of the island are the ruins of a castle, built by O'Sullivan Bear in the reign of Hen. VI. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth it was in the possession of Sir George Carew, Lord-President of Munster, and it was ultimately destroyed by Ireton during the civil war of the 17th century. There are also some vestiges of an ancient church, with a cemetery attached. The island forms part of the estate of the Earl of Bantry.