Garnish Island: History, facts, & visit info

Nestled in the heart of Bantry Bay in beautiful County Cork, Garnish Island is an Irish paradise. Check out our handy guide before you visit.

Garnish Island: History, facts, & visit info.
Credits: Chris Hill; Paul Lindsay

Garnish Island attracts many international and local visitors captivated by the beauty of the gardens and landscape while learning about the fascinating history behind the area.

Here is your mini guide on how to plan your visit to Garnish Island in County Cork.

Ireland Before You Die’s top tips for visiting Garnish Island:

  • The island is easily accessible by ferry from Glengarriff, and it is wise to check the schedules and operators before your visit.
  • You will likely spot some local seals on the short journey across.
  • Admission to the gardens is €5 for adults, €4 for seniors, €3 for students/children, and €13 for a family ticket.
  • It is advised to allow at least two hours to enjoy this wonderful place: there is a self-guiding booklet and plenty of signs to read around the gardens. Bryce House is accessible by guided tour only.
  • The island is cash only, so make sure you bring enough to pay for your admission, enjoy food at the onsite café, or book a guided tour.
  • On the first Wednesday of each month, admission is free to Garnish Island (the ferry is still payable), and tickets will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
  • You must obtain a licence to take photos on Garnish Island. See contact details at the end of this article.

Interesting facts about Garnish Island:

  • Garnish Island is steeped in history and dates back to the 19th century. In 1910, Harold Peto transformed the island into a garden paradise.
  • The highlight is the gardens, which comprise 37 acres of intricate pathways, vibrant colours, and diverse plant species, with lots of signage to read along the way.
  • The Island is a haven for nature enthusiasts, and here you will find a wide variety of exotic plants and various native and migratory bird species. Each corner of the garden is a surprise regarding the flora and fauna that thrive there.
  • The house was gifted to the Irish people by the Bryce Family in 1953 and is now managed by the Office of Public Works (OPW).

What’s nearby

Food and drink: Garnish Island has an onsite café for drinks and snacks; however, you might consider visiting the Blue Loo Pub or Bernard Harrington’s Bar in Glengarriff for more substantial meals and beverages.

Other Attractions: The Garnish Island ferry includes a side trip over to see the local seal population, and you can spot over 250 of them basking on the rocks.

You could also visit Bantry House & Gardens for history, grandeur, and a stunning palazzo-style garden.

The Beara Peninsula gives the Ring of Kerry a run for its money yet has far fewer crowds and more wild and rugged beauty, making it ideal for a scenic drive or a hike.

Your questions answered about Garnish Island

How do you get to Garnish Island?

A few ferry companies leave from Glengarriff, and the journey is just fifteen minutes to the island.

Is there an entry fee for Garnish Island?

Yes, you must pay an admission fee by cash on arrival. Prices are as follows: €5 for adults, €4 for seniors, €3 for students/children, and €13 for a family ticket.

Are dogs allowed on Garnish Island?

Small dogs can be taken on the ferry and are permitted on a leash in the gardens.

Contact and more info

Address: Garinish Island (Ilnacullin), Glengariff, Bantry, Co. Cork

Phone: +353 27 63040

Email: [email protected]


2023 opening hours:

April–June, 10 am–5:30 pm daily

July–August, 9:30 am–5:30 pm daily

September, 10 am–5:30 pm daily

October–5 November, 10 am–4:30 pm daily

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