about town

This town, considered the friendly heart and geographical centre of the region known as West Cork is located in the centre of region and is sheltered by mountains on three sides. Dunmanway is a 17th century planned town and the original two triangular squares still survive. Dunmanway is a former winner of the National Tidy Towns Competition.

The town is encompassed by spectacular scenery, with hills and lakes to the North, South and West. Dunmanway can lay claim to being “The Gateway to The Mountains” and is ideal for hill walking, fishing and horse-riding.

Dunmanway is also known for Ballabuidhe Races & Horse Fair held every August. The race days comprise about 30 races, varying between trotting and sulky. There will also be flat races for ponies and horses. Horses are not the only attraction during Ballabuidhe. Selling and buying of wares, along with free entertainment and sideshows for children are a part of this festival.

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Dunmanway has been inhabited since prehistoric times, as testified by a Bronze Age trumpet in the British Museum. 19th century references date the founding of Dunmanway to the late 17th century, when the English crown settled a colony there to provide a resting place for troops marching between Bandon and Bantry. By 1700, about thirty families lived in the town.

West Cork was hit hard by the 1840s Great Famine. On 9 February 1847, U.S. Vice President George M. Dallas chaired a famine relief meeting in Washington, D.C. where attendees heard a letter addressed to the “Ladies of America” from the women of Dunmanway:

“Oh! that our American sisters could see the labourers on our roads, able-bodied men, scarcely clad, famishing with hunger, with despair in their once cheerful faces, staggering at their work … oh! that they could see the dead father, mother or child, lying coffinless and hear the screams of the survivors around them, caused not by sorrow, but by the agony of hunger.”

In the early 1850s, following the migrations and evictions which characterized the famine’s upheavals, more than seventy percent of Dunmanway residents did not own any land.