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Tucked away in the sheltered harbour of Glengarriff in Bantry Bay is a tiny island paradise so pretty it could be a Game of Thrones set.

Teeming with exotic plants, thanks to the warm Gulf Stream waters that surround it, it boasts a Grecian Temple, a clock tower and an Italian Tea House.

Garnish Island is the kind of place you were probably brought as a kid when you were too young to appreciate giant rhododendrons, oak trees and babbling brooks.

Trust us, it deserves another visit.

Designed by architect and landscaper Harold Peto for the Scottish businessman John Annan Bryce and his wife Violet, a cousin of Countess Markievicz, the gardens were to provide the magical surrounds of a mansion in which the couple and their family would live.

Sadly, the family fortune was lost before their dream was realised, but their bad luck was our gain and the island was left to the Irish people on the death of John and Violet’s son Roland Bryce in 1953.

Here are 12 reasons Garnish Island is one of the most beautiful places in Ireland:

1. The lily pond

2. The romantic archways (proposal, anyone?)

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3. The shaded porticos and walkways of the Casita (Italian Tea House)

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4. The insane views

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5. The proud old clock tower

6. The mind-blowing exotic plants

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7. The seascape from the Martello Tower

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8. The feeling you’re in another time, long, long ago…

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9. The unique micro climate

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10. The top-notch selfie backgrounds…

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11. The garden inspiration at every turn

12. The idea that it’s all there waiting for you, come spring…

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Getting there

A ferry service operates every 30 minutes between March and October, leaving from the centre of Glengarriff Village. The 15-minute boat trip offers an up-close-and-personal audience with one of the country’s largest seal colonies.


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