Glengariff and Garinish/Ilnacullin Island
From Kenmare to Glengarriff is not that far in km but it takes awhile as you are going over mountains. That was our path today as we traveled to Garinish/Ilnacullin Island in Bantry Bay.
As we started on our way we greeted one of the two donkeys that inhabited a little field just down the street from our self-catering. They were very friendly so we always stopped to say hello.
The scenery on the drive to Glengarriff was stunning. The light as the sun was rising just kissed the hills and patches of blue could be seen in the sky.
Lakes, distant mountains, and rocky outcroppings made up some of the scenery on our drive. There really wasn't a boring moment. In fact I was clutching anything I could clutch as the roads are narrow and you travel really near to the edge. We stopped at Molly Gallivan's Cottage which is part museum and part gift shop. It was interesting but we didn't spend much time there as we wanted to catch the ferry to the island of Garinish.
There are a couple of ferry companies that make the run so you do have a choice. Either one is fine. The trip to the island is about 20 minutes and you can see the seals sunning on the rocks as you go by. It's beautiful scenery and makes for a short trip. Your Heritage Pass gives you free admission to the island but you have to pay for the ferry trip separately.
Allow plenty of time to see the Island. It is beautiful and has some plants from subtropical climates that can only be grown here. It's a unique ecosystem -- not too harsh in winter or to warm in summer and it's sheltered from the Atlantic winds. It was just a rocky island when Harold Peto (gardener) turned the uninhabited space into an exotic subtropical wonder complete with Neo-Classical follies. There is also a Martello tower on the grounds that is remarkably well-preserved and whose tower is accessed by a winding flight of stairs once you enter the main tower room.
The gardens are a plant lover's dream come true so I'm going to include a few pictures.
Martello towers are scattered all over the coastline of Ireland and England. They were watch towers established in Napoleonic times to alert inhabitants to an invasion by sea. The one on the island is thought to be the first and -- the most complete one that we saw.
There is a Japanese Garden that includes a small stream with stepping stones and a sleeping dragon.
We spent most of the day on the Island enjoying all of the walks, flowers, the Greek Temple and the clock tower. You can also take a tour of the owner's home. That's included with your Heritage Pass.
Returning to Glengarriff we stopped at Casey's Bar for seafood. It is definitely worth a stop. Delicious food and really friendly service.
I had the Mussels which were served with a small salad and homemade brown bread. It was cooked in a wine sauce and was terrific. The portions are really large and the Mussels are fresh from the surrounding bay.
As I've mentioned before, the roads in Ireland are part of the charm and the adventure. This one was good as it was paved and wide enough for your car. Roads often narrow to one car for tunnels and bridges. Makes for interesting driving.
We were treated to more stunning views on the return trip. There aren't enough adjectives to describe what you see. Each view seems more incredible than the one before.
We drove back to our self-catering and walked into town for dinner and some music at The Coachman's. We enjoyed a few beers and I tasted Roundstone which is a local beer. It was the only place I found it and it was my absolute favorite.
The musical duo was very good and we enjoyed how they interacted with the crowd composed of young children all the way to retired people.
The dessert was great, too and we really enjoyed the evening. Then we walked to our temporary home after another super day in Ireland.