garinish island – once regarded as Heaven

Garinish IslandBernard Harrington remembers in ‘A History of Glengarriff’*:

I have been led to believe that Glengarriff, Killarney and Bundoran are the three oldest tourist resorts in Ireland. From the day when business people, retired people and honeymooners used to come and stay for a week, there have been some enormous changes in patterns of holidaying. …

When I was a boy, the traditional family run Hotel was the heart and soul of the Tourist Industry. Some of our hotels were known and respected for their food and hospitality all over the British Isles, the Continent and the ‘States. They were at their peak in the late ’40s and early ’50s – remember “Rationing was still enforced in England but you got plenty of food in Glengarriff” was the saying. …

The Eccles was owned by the McDonnell family and some very famous people stayed there. The story goes that George Bernard Shaw stayed there in 1923 and he used to go daily to visit Garnish Island, where apparently he got inspiration for writing his famous play “St. Joan”. On the day he was leaving Garnish, Lady Bryce came to the slip way to say goodbye. “Goodbye Shaw” she said “I hope me meet in Heaven”. He looked at her and said “Madam, are we not already?”

The old postcard shows George Bernard Shaw posing between Homer and the young Garinish IslandNero at the Sunken Garden (‘Italian Garden’) on Garinish Island – or rather Ilnacullin as Violet Bryce wanted her Heaven to be named. Shaw was probably inspired by the Bryce’s daughter Marjory, who led a procession on horseback dressed as Joan of Arc at the Women’s Coronation Procession in London in the year 1911. She led some fourty thousand women from almost thirty suffrage organisations whose members celebrated Joan as a perfect symbol to lead women in their appeal for formal admission into the councils of the nation. Marjory’s father Annan Bryce was strongly against suffrage.
*In the Bantry Anthology “It Might Have Been But Yesterday” by GP Denis Cotter

glengarriff as ireland’s garden haven

Garinish Island GlengarriffGlengarriff Tourism Association has now decided to promote Glengarriff as “Ireland´s Garden Haven”. Makes big sense, I guess: Glengarriff has Garinish Island, The Bamboo Park, The Ewe Sculpture Garden, The Nature Reserve – and not to forget: The phantastic old arboretum at Ardnagashel – an outstanding old tree park that still wants to be saved from oblivion (as well as The Castle). So much more than in times of Violet Bryce. She didn’t become tired of promoting Glengarriff as a worthy tourist destination. Her son Roland was the chairman of the GTA for quite some time.

the blue pool ferry

Garinish Island GlengarriffThe Blue Pool Ferry leaves from the most beautiful Blue Pool in Glengarriff to Garinish Island. The name reflects the amazing colour of the water on sunny a day. The boatmen Tony, John Henry and Peter did their very best to prepare the boats for the summer season. While the “Blue Pool I” started services to Garinish Island on April 2, the “Blue Pool 2” got an extra paint finish from John Henry O´Sullian (photo) in “dry dock”.

press release garinish 100

Garinish Island GlengarriffThis is the press release Andrew O’Shea sent out to the media these days:
A major event to celebrate the centenary of the development of the garden paradise of Garinish Island is scheduled to begin shortly in Glengarriff. The island was a barren rock outcrop when purchased from the British War Office by Mr. Annan Bryce in 1910 and he immediately embarked on the task of creating it into the world-renowned attraction that it has become. The Bryce family developed and managed the island over the course of the next 40 years and in 1954 Roland Bryce handed over ownership of it to the Irish Nation. Since then it has been in the stewardship of the OPW who have continued to maintain and develop it. Visitor numbers to the island are in the region of 60,000 annually and this figure was achieved even in the difficult season of 2009. Now Glengarriff Tourism and Development together with the OPW and other interests locally are embarking on an ambitious programme of events to highlight this important milestone. Plans are advanced in a number of areas including development of further facilities on the island, a promotional leaflet on the event, street banners and signage, a series of talks on related topics- together with an anniversary exhibition relating to the story of the development of the garden. Further details will appear as available in this publication and events will also be listed on the official website for Glengarriff.