20 May Gerinish Island, County Cork
Also known as Ilnacullin, this small island was turned into an exotic garden in 1910 by Harold Peto for Annan Bryce, a Belfast businessman. Framed by views of Bantry Bay, the gardens are landscaped with Neo-Classical follies and planted with rich subtropical flora. The micro-climate and peaty soil provide the damp, warm conditions needed for these ornamental plants to flourish.
Exotic shrubberies abound especially during the summer months. Throughout May and June, visitors can admire the beautiful camellia beds, azaleas and rhododendrons. There is also a New Zealand fernery and a Japanese rockery, as well as a rare collection of Bonsai trees. A Martello tower crowns the island and among the follies are a clock tower and a Grecian temple.
The centrepiece is a colonnaded Italianate garden, with a Classical folly and ornamental lily pool. Much of its charm resides in the contrast between the cultivated lushness of the garden and the glimpses of wild seascape and barren mountains beyond. An added attraction of the boat trip across to this Gulf Stream paradise is the chance to see cavorting seals in Bantry Bay.
Gerinish Island is a hidden gem that is off the beaten track, contact Ireland & Scotland Luxury Tours now to organise your private chauffeur tour.