The Emerald Isle

burned down by a mob in 1598: Spenser and his wife escaped the fire, but their infant son did not. The horse is still king in this part of County Cork, with Buttevant, a market town 4 miles (6km) west of Doneraile, hosting the large Cahirmee Horse Fair each July. Both Buttevant and Doneraile hold important places in the history of Irish horse racing, for the first recognized steeplechase took place here in 1752, starting at Buttevant Church and finishing at St. Leger Church in Doneraile, the latter church’s steeple providing a marker for the riders. Mallow, on the Blackwater, has one of the four important racecourses in the southwest, the other three being at Listowel, Tralee, and Killarney. Much further west, where Cork assumes the increasingly wild and far more elemental landscape typical of Ireland’s southwest, Bantry House, overlooking the superb natural harbor of Bantry Bay, is another fine example of Irish Georgian architecture, still inhabited by the descendants of the earls of Bantry by whom it was built. From Bantry House’s superb gardens, visitors can look across Bantry Bay to the Beara Peninsula where, beyond the Caha Mountains, County Kerry lies. The Emerald Isle OPPOSITE: Sheep’s Head Peninsula is situated between Bantry Bay and Dunmanus Bay in County Cork. ABOVE: The attractive town of Bantry lies at the head of Bantry Bay in Cork. OVERLEAF: Bantry Bay is a deep-water gulf extending for approximately 22 miles (35 km) from northeast to southwest. It flows into the Atlantic Ocean. The Beara Peninsula is to the northwest, with Sheep’s Head also nearby, situated on the peninsula south of Bantry Bay. 213