While on an Ireland vacation in West Cork, you may be surprised to discover a hidden and quite unexpected gem… Garnish Island. The island is home to a garden of unique beauty, so much so, that garden lovers from all over the globe make the trip to Ireland to see it for themselves. The island is ideally located and sheltered within the harbour of Glengarriff in Bantry Bay, West Cork.
The gardens of Ilnacullin owe their existence to the creative partnership, some seventy years ago, of Annan Bryce, then owner of the island and Harold Peto, architect and garden designer. The island was bequeathed to the Irish people in 1953, and was subsequently entrusted to the care of the Commissioners of Public Works. Today management of the island is in the hands of the Office of Public Works.
Due to a combination of the islands sheltered location and the Gulf Stream’s warming oceanic influence, the climate is almost subtropical and so favourable to the growth of ornamental plants from many parts of the world. Ilnacullin is renowned for its richness of plant form and colour, changing continuously with the seasons.
The vivid colours of rhododendrons and azaleas reach their peak during May and June, whilst the hundreds of cultivars of climbing plants, herbaceous perennials and choice shrubs dominate the midsummer period from June to August.
The Island can be accessed thanks to a small ferry as well as licensed 60 seater water buses. It is worth noting that there is a small admission fee with limited access for visitors with disabilities to the island. With an abundance of places to stay in West Cork there is no better time to visit the stunningly beautiful Garnish Island.