Bantry Town Commissioners / Bantry Town Council 1896 – 2014

Below is the Introduction taken from the 60 page Summary of the Minutes of Bantry Town Commissioners / Bantry Town Council over its 118 year lifespan. To read the full summary of the Minutes then please CLICK HERE.


I was Town Engineer in Bantry from March 1987 to May 2009. When I realised that the Town Council would cease to exist after 31 May 2014 I volunteered to do a quick summary of the Minutes of the Town Commissioners / Town Council over the 118 year lifespan. My compilation is a brief summary, from the Minutes, of the work of the public representatives.
I have endeavoured, as much as possible, to use text from the Minutes and avoid colouring any part of my summary with my own impressions.       

Hopefully, what follows will give the reader a flavour of events in particular times in Bantry. However, in this page I will give my impression, that standard throughout the lifetime of the Body was (1). writing / receiving several letters at meetings, (2). expressing votes of sympathy, (3). the odd skirmish with employees and officials was to be found too.

The Town Commissioners received invoices and decided at meetings how much they would pay. They often paid the supplier less that was invoiced and you will see examples later.
Then in 1942 a Town Manager was appointed and amongst his executive functions was to handle payments. So from then onwards payments were no longer the duty of the Commissioners. The first Town Manager was James O’Mahony from Kilbrogan Hill, Bandon. (note: I knew him , as other Bandonians did, as Seamus O’Mahony – well really he was ‘Mr O’Mahony’ to me!).

In the first 60 years or so it was amazing the number of planned meetings which did not take place because of the lack of a quorum.

I am confident that some of the officials listed in the document did not actually attend meetings. This applies in particular to Town Managers who would be covering for holiday periods, etc. and would be appointed as Town Manager for technical reasons but would not necessarily attend at a meeting or other duty. A few Town Engineers are listed who too would have covered holiday periods. The Town Clerks listed all covered a number of meetings. I think that they did use their discretion at times in their wording of minutes.

I ponder if we have a national record in Bantry? The first Town Clerk was John O’Callaghan and he served for a total of 37 years, which is a long term in itself. Then his daughter, Mary, took over and she served for 46 years, so between father and daughter they held, on a continuous basis, the position of Town Clerk for 83 years – surely a record ! I have to comment that their excellent handwriting was of enormous help to me.

Unusual that we had two Commissioners named Charles O’Donovan at the same time. Again a little later we have two named Daniel McCarthy at the same time. Finally we did have two Commissioners named Justin McCarthy, but at different times.

A few terms used are Assistant County Engineer sometimes abbreviated to ACE; Assistant County Manager abbreviated to ACM. We may read of an event being organised but the details of what it was about are sometimes not included in the Minutes.

I hope you will find at least parts of the document of interest and you will get an impression of what was happening in Bantry over the decades.

Frank O’Donovan