Ilnacullin (Garinish Island)

sights / Parks & gardens

Ilnacullin (Garinish Island) information

adult/child €4/2
Opening hours
9.30am-5.30pm Mon-Fri & Sun, to 6pm Sat Jul & Aug, shorter hrs Apr-Jun, Sep & Oct, closed Nov-Mar
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This horticultural miracle of an island was created in the early 20th century when the island's owner commissioned architect Harold Peto to design a garden on the then-barren outcrop. Topsoil was shipped in, landscaped gardens laid out, and subtropical species planted; camellias, magnolias and rhododendrons provide a seasonal blaze of colour. The 10-minute boat trip to the island departs from the village pier, and passes colonies of basking seals and a nesting site for white-tailed eagles, which were re-introduced to Ireland in 2007.

The centrepiece of the island is a magical Italianate garden ; nearby a cypress avenue leads to a faux-Grecian temple with a stunning view of Sugarloaf Mountain. There are more views from the island's highest point, a 19th-century Martello tower , one of hundreds built around the coast to watch out for a possible Napoleonic invasion.