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Garryvurcha, Bantry

Ruined church and graveyard

This was the first Protestant church built in Bantry and may date from as early as the 1720s. It was certainly in use by 1749 but superseded by St Brendan's church in the square in 1820. It continued to be used for burials until the 1980s and gets its unusual name Garryvurcha (Garraidhe Uí Mhurchadha), meaning Murphy's Garden, from the Famine era when the Reverend Murphy worked closed with Father Barry to help those suffering. Unusually both Catholics and Protestant were buried here. The church is a fairly simple building but boasts a fine Hiberno-Romanesque revival archway, part of a memorial to William, the 3rd  Earl of Bantry who died in 1884.  Many of the graves are unmarked but others are elaborate an interesting. The whole site underwent a restoration in 2011 and is now open to the public.

On the left heading up Main Street into Church Street, Bantry. Gates unlocked during the day.

The first time I visited the whole place was looking very sorry for itself, most monuments and the church itself swathed in vegetation. After extensive restoration the site was opened to the public in 2012. It is a fascinating place, full of interesting tombs and memorials from the modest and anonymous stone marker to great chest shaped vaults, like small houses. A variety of stone work delights the eye and tells different  family stories, a place where 19 year old private Thomas Andrew is commemorated with a simple stone, where the Vickery family lie forever in their vaulted tomb, and where the 3rd Earl of Bantry lies remembered by an impressive arch resplendent with marble and zigzag motifs.  An atmospheric place, full of history.