The east pier was used by the British Army to build the Martello Tower and the adjacent fortification around 1805 (works probably until around 1815, men living there for approximately ten years). Like the East Garden (which is probably completely overgrown) it is closed to the public. There are plans though for it to be repaired so the works on the ‘Gardner’s Cottage’ (Violet and Roland Bryce’s home from the early 20ies till 1953 and Murdo Mackenzie’s and Maggie Sullivan’s home till 1999) can be done by this entrance to the island. On this old postcard (probably taken around 1905 by Robert French for the ‘Lawrence Collection’) you can clearly see that Garinish Island wasn’t a ‘bare rock’ as often stated. A widow and her four sons lived in the cottage at the East Pier, they had cattle (seen on the headers left sepia photograph) and grew (probably) their got their livelihood from those fields below the tower. All of that part of the Garinish Island is unaccessible for the public (what a shame, so much space for the many tourists visiting the island).
From there you had lovely views towards Reenmeen, Dromgarriff and Hollyhill – on this old postcard you can see Glengarriff Castle. How the pier looks these days can be seen here.
Maggie O’Sullivan (right photograph in the header above) was the last permanent inhabitant of Garinish Island. She was the Bryce’s housemaid since the early twenties and “cooked tea for all Irish presidents except one” and had been living in the so called Gardener’s cottage together with Roland Bryce and later with the head gardener Murdo Mackenzie. She was born in November 1908 and died in Bantryview Private Nursing Home in August of 1999.
Was very lucky today to be taken on a boat trip by Kevin Ger and getting close to the old pier. The bathing box appears to be in good shape, and we even spotted the old farmer´s cottage the Sullivan family lived in 1911, bevor the Bryces came to the island.
Remember: An Irish family, the Sullivans, lived on Garinish Island, before the British family of the Bryces bought it in 1910? The interesting story unfolds thereafter: What happened to the bog, the cows, the potato ridges of the Sullivans on Garinish Island after 1910? Anything you know about it? The clipping is from The Southern Star 25th July 1896.
According to oral tradition Garinish Island has been the home of farmer as Mike Garinish. Mike Garinish may have been expelled from the island in the early 20th century. It is said the poor farmer took his life but he might as well have died on a fishing accident much later. According to the Census 1911 papers he and his three brothers as well as their widowed mother still lived on the island in 1911. Mike Garnish’s story is not in any history book. Is it time to honour Mike Garinish and the Irish people who created Garinish Island?