Spirit of Love, Bantry

This statue has to be my favourite throughout all of West Cork.  It is called ‘Spirit of Love’ and was  installed in 2006.  It is situated at the foot of the graveyard, the Abbey, overlooking the scenic inner harbour, as you come into Bantry town on the N71, Cork side. 

Spirit of Love, Bantry

Spirit of Love depicts two large bronze figures encircling a bronze mast and stands 5m high.  It was  commissioned by the Cork County Council to remember all those who have lost their lives at sea. It signifies both letting go and remembering. It was funded by the Per Cent for Art Scheme (a practical scheme established in 2004 to fund visual arts in Ireland).  

Spirit of Love – signifies both letting go and remembering.

Commissioned artist, Paddy Campbell , was first a successful business man in Ireland, Britain and America where he ran a thriving  catering-to-coffee business.  However, in 1996, he returned to his artistic roots via Florence Academy of Art and took various courses in drawing, painting and sculpture.   

Spirit of Love, Paddy Campbell

In 2005, Paddy Campbell established a studio in Florence and earned recognition as a sculptor of note.  He had many public commissions including the official portrait of the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese in 2007.

Spirit of Love, Bantry

Paddy’s works which aim to capture a moment in contemporary life ‘something you knew, but didn’t know you knew…..’   have been acquired by international collectors in Ireland, Portugal, France, Turkey, UK, USA, Canada and Australia.  A solo exhibition called “Un Altro Mondo” (Another World) at the Palazzo  Comunale in Fiesole, Italy, 2009, attracted over 3500 visitors. 

To admire more of Paddy’s work – visit his website here.

Bantry House and Gardens, Bantry

Bantry House is a warm and friendly family home owned and run by the Shelswell-White family.  It was built in 1700, and overlooks the waters of Bantry Bay and to the Caha Mountain range beyond. From the house, Bantry Bay looks like a private lake which in summer is dotted with sailboats.

Bantry House

The house is open to the public and self-guided tours of the 3 floors including the drawing rooms, dining rooms and library are available.  Complimentary information sheets are available at the house reception.  Guided tours are daily at 2pm included in admission prices or can be booked with the owners in advance for an extra fee.

Bantry House with view of Whiddy Island in the distance

Bantry House is very forward thinking in their approach and host a  number of stimulating cultural events throughout the year. The annual  West Cork Chamber Music Festival, a world renowned event, is hosted  by Bantry House each year.  A number of readings and gatherings for the West Cork Literary Festival are also held at Bantry House which makes a beautiful venue for a literary event. A wing of the house has been converted into guest accommodation of the highest standard. It is also possible to hire Bantry House for a private party or independent music events and concerts, civil weddings, corporate events or special birthday parties.

Bantry House and Gardens

Interesting History:

It is interesting to note that in 1920 during the civil war, the Bantry Hospital which was run by the nuns from the Convent of Mercy, was burnt to the ground. At that time, the then owner, Edward Leigh-White had passed away and his wife Arethusa generously offered Bantry House as a  temporary substitute hospital which offer was greatly appreciated. The nuns moved the patients in and a chapel was sanctified in the library. For the next five years, Bantry House served as a hospital for the local community.

Testing the cannon at Bantry House

Bantry House Gardens: Bantry House gardens, which extend to 45 acres, are home to many subtropical plants and shrubs which all thrive in the warm gulf-stream climate. Features in the gardens are a wonderful blend of both formal and informal creating a space of expansion and enjoyment. In our opinion the most amazing feature in the gardens has to be the ancient Wisteria Circle which circles a water fountain. There are always children kneeling at the waterside inspecting the water for frogs or tadpoles. Benches are available to sit and soak up the atmosphere or to simply rest before attempting the climb of the famed 100 steps.

At the foot of the famous flight of stone stairs

From the top of the steps:

There are stunning views over the house and gardens, across Bantry Bay and out to the Caha mountains which form the border of Co. Kerry.The garden, which is arranged over 7 terraces, has gone from creation by Richard White, the 2nd Earl of Bantry, through neglect (from the 1930s–1970s) to restoration which began in 1997. There are several loop walks within the grounds making them perfect for exploration with children.

Bantry House

There is a nominal fee or a once-off annual ticket purchase permitting re-entry for the entire season for sale at the main entrance.

For more information visit www.bantryhouse.