18 June 2024

An island photograph
illustrates February
in a calendar from
Glengarriff for 2025

Bryce House at the east end of Garnish Island … my illustration for February 2025 in a new calendar produced in Glengarriff, Co Cork (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

It is three years since I visited Garnish Island in 2021 during a road trip or ‘staycation’ that included three stopovers: two nights each in Dingle, Co Kerry, the West Cork Hotel in Skibbereen and Casey’s Hotel Glengarriff on the Beara Peninsula in West Cork.

It was also a three-island road holiday, with visits to the Great Blasket Island, Cape Clear Island, and then, from Glengarriff, to Garinish Island.

Glengarriff is about 20 km west of Bantry and 30 km east of Castletownbere, and the economy is heavily dependent on tourism. It is the gateway to the Beara Peninsula, connecting Bantry and Kenmare and there is a variety of shops, galleries, hotels, restaurants and pubs.

During that stay in Glengarriff, I took the Harbour Queen ferry from Glengarriff Pier on 18 June 2021 to visit Garnish Island in Bantry Bay. Garnish Island extends to 15 hectares (37 acres) and is also known by the alternative names of Garinish Island, Ilnacullin and Illaunacullin (‘island of holly’).

The island is renowned for its gardens, laid out in beautiful walks and it has specimen plants that are rare in this climate. The ferry trip came close to seal island, with its tame seal colony, and offered a sighting of an eagle’s nest.

It was my first and – so far – my only visit to the island. But now, three years later, in June 2024, one of my photographs on the island has been used in a calendar for 2025 produced in Glengarriff by Deirdre Goyvaerts as a fundraiser, with the proceeds going to a local school, Scoil Fhiachna National School.

Garnish Island owes its present attractive presentation to John Annan Bryce, (1841-1923) a Belfast-born Scottish politician who bought the island from the War Office in 1910, and his wife Violet L’Estrange. John Bryce and the architect and garden designer Harold Peto (1854-1933) were a creative partnership, and left us with an island that is now renowned for its gardens and buildings and the richness of plant form and colour that changes continuously with the seasons.

Bryce House, the gardens and the island have been open to the public since 2015 and are cared for the Office of Public Works.

The Goyvaerts family came to Glengarriff almost 60 years ago when Deirdre’s grandparents, Theo and Maria Goyvaerts moved from Belgium with their 11 children in 1965. Deirdre Goyvaerts has assembled a collection of 12 photographs by seven photographers for her Garnish Island Calendar 2025, which also tells the story of Bryace House and the island.

My photograph of Bryce House is her chosen image for February 2025, and also appears in the collage of photographs on the back of the calendar. The other photographs are by: Chris Hill (January, April, June, July and December), Robert Harding (March), Katharina Scnitzer (May, August), Lyne Media (September), Eoin Fealy (October) and Tim Squire (November).

The Garnish Calendar 2025 is produced by Deirdre Goyvaerts and sells at €10. It is available in most shops in Glengarriff.

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