Garnish Island


Garnish Island (sometimes Garinish Island, or Garinis in Irish), is an island in Glengarriff harbour, part of Bantry Bay in southwest Ireland, which is a popular tourist attraction. The Office of Public Works, which maintains the gardens on the island, uses the name Ilnacullin (from the Irish Oileán an Chulinn, meaning 'island of holly') to differentiate it from Garinish Island in County Cork.


The garden was designed by Harold Peto, (1854–1933), for its owner John Annan Bryce, (1841–1923), a native of Belfast, who, with his wife Violet, purchased the island from the War Office in 1910. Violet died in 1939 and their son Roland bequeathed the island to the Irish nation in 1953. It was taken over and is still maintained by the Office of Public Works. Renowned for its gardens and architecture (a mansion was designed by Peto but was never built), the island has played host to writers including George Bernard Shaw and George William Russell.

There is a restored Martello tower on the island dating from the time of the Napoleonic Wars. The Garnish tower, like others in Cork, but unlike other Irish Martello towers, has a straight cylindrical shape that does not splay out at its base.

Mains electricity was brought to the island in the early 1950s via overhead cable

The Gardens

The island of Ilnacullin extends to 15 hectares (37 acres) and is renowned for its gardens which flourish in the mild humid micro-climate of Glengarriff harbour assisted by a mainly pine shelter belt. Structures include a clock tower, a Grecian temple, a Martello Tower, and an Italian casita.

Getting there

Access is by one of several ferry services to the island from the village of Glengarriff. These ferries generally include a tour of the nearby seal colony. The island is paywalled, as of 2017 the admission charge is €5.00 per person. Landing by private craft is also possible at the main landing point used by ferries. A private slipway is used by staff working on the island.

See also

  • Historic Cork Gardens

Further reading

  • R. Whalley, The Great Edwardian Gardens of Harold Peto (2007)
  • Ilnacullin (1989. - National Parks and Monument Service) ISBN 0-7076-0034-0
  • M. George & P. Bowe, The Gardens of Ireland (1986. Hutchinson) ISBN 0-09-167100-0






Lat: 51.736389160 - Lng: -9.541110992