Many visitors head to Glengarriff because of that Irish Eden, Ilnacullin. On Garnish Island, offshore from Glengarriff and beyond islets populated by comical-looking basking seals, you can find one of the country's horticultural wonders. In 1910 a Belfast businessman, John Annan Bryce, purchased this rocky isle, and, with the help of famed English architect Howard Peto and Scottish plantsman Murdo Mackenzie, transformed it into a botanical Disneyland. The main showpiece is a wisteria-covered "Casita"—a rather strange-looking half-shed, half-mansion that overlooks a sunken Italian garden. Ilnacullin has a little bit of everything, from a Grecian temple to a Martello tower to a Happy Valley, all bedded with extraordinary shrubs, trees, and many unusual subtropical flowers.
You get to Ilnacullin by taking a Blue Pool ferry (10 minutes), which departs for the island from Glengarriff. George Bernard Shaw found Ilnacullin peaceful enough to allow him to begin his St. Joan here; maybe you'll find Garnish inspiring, too.
Garnish Island, Co. Cork, Ireland