Last Updated: 30th March, 2019
Garnish Island, Ilnacullin, an Island Garden, located in the sheltered harbour of Glengarriff in Bantry Bay, in Southwest Ireland, Ilnacullin is a small island of 15 hectares (37 acres) known to horticulturists and lovers of trees and shrubs all around the world as an island garden of rare beauty.
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. To-day management of the island is in the hands of the Office of Public Works.
Visiting the Island: The island is open to visitors each day from 1st March to 31st October. During the winter months, from November to February, it is closed to visitors except by special arrangement. Ilnacullin is reached from Glengarriff by privately operated boats. A charge for admission to Ilnacullin is made by the Office of Public Works on arrival at the island. This charge is quite separate from the fares collected by boat owners.
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. Autumn colour, particularly on the magnificent heather bank, is rich during the usually mild early autumn months of September and October.
Because of its sheltered situation and the warming oceanic influence of the Gulf Stream the climate is in some respect almost subtropical, and is favourable to the growth of ornamental plants from many parts of the world. Winters are mild, and frosts are light and of short duration.
Average rainfall and humidity levels are high, the mean annual rainfall being 1850 mm (73 inches) with annual totals as high as 2540 mm (100 inches) on record. Even for those who are not particularly interested in gardens, Ilnacullin is an attractive place to visit. There are many attractive views of the scenery of the surrounding district from the island. Ilnacullin and its surrounding waters are quite rich in wildlife, the seals which frequent the rocks on the southern shore being of particular interest to many visitors.
Glengarriff - Things to see and do: