“One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides”. -W.E. Johns-
Before we even arrived, Yvonne had figured out a touring schedule to cover the nearby attractions. As part of that she had built in some unplanned time in case we wanted to just hang out at her house -or in case we had ideas of our own. As we got up and were eating breakfast on Wednesday, I could tell she was sort of trying to decide what we should do for the day, which was one of the days she hadn’t made plans in advance for. Her cousin Bernie was tossing out a few ideas and between them they decided that a trip to nearby Garinish Island and then a drive through Healey Pass would be perfect. Great idea!
Garinish Island is located a short 10 minute boat ride into the bay that the nearby village of Glengarriff is located on. We’d passed through Glengarriff on our way to other places more than once, but this time we stopped and took a stroll through town. It is very cute – along the lines of, say, Pentwater, but a bit more historic looking!
We bought our tickets and walked down to the dock to wait for the boat. I’d actually been in the restroom when the tickets were purchased and Mike tells me I missed out on an interesting non-conversation with the ticket seller because even though the man was speaking English neither Mike nor Yvonne understood everything he said!
The boat dock was located in a very small outlet to the bay called the Blue Hole. It is where a large creek (or small river) forms a pool just before it joins the bay after a small thrill ride over some rather large looking rapids.
Yvonne said that the water in there does appear quite blue in certain conditions -but obviously the cloudy/rainy day we were having wasn’t the right conditions.
On the way out to the island, we passed by some rocky protrusions in the bay and were interested to see some harbor seals lounging around on the rocks. I only was able to get a couple of good pictures of them.
The attraction on Garinish Island is the gardens. It is 37 acres and was purchased in 1910 by John Annan after being “prompted” by his wife. That line in the brochure made me laugh because a lot of the things we’ve purchased over the years were because of “prompting” by me. I thought it was a nicer way to say it than using words like… “nagged” or “browbeat”…etc.
There was an existing Martello Tower (the name for a type of small defensive fort) on the island that had been built in the late 1700s by the British after an attempt by the French to invade. Otherwise, it was essentially a blank slate. They set about creating a garden that would be a display of many non-native plants from all over the world. The unique climate in the area gave them confidence that the plants would flourish there. They originally planned to build a mansion incorporating the Martello tower, but it never was built. The Annans devoted themselves to achieving their visions until their deaths. He in 1923 and she in 1932. Their son continued with the project until his death in the 1950’s at which time the island was turned over to the people of Ireland. The unsung hero of this story might be Murdo Mackenzie, the gardener who most likely did (or supervised) all the work to make the gardens what they are today. He devoted more than 40 years of his life to Garinish Island.
We wandered through the walled garden and then slipped through a side door to the “jungle” garden.
This seemed to lead us toward the Martello Tower.
Then we walked back the opposite way and found a greek style folly that overlooked the view on that side of the island.
Another side path led us to a really lovely formal pool with an Italian style pavilion at the far end and a small building anchoring the other (which I did not photograph).
While enjoying the peacefulness of the formal pool, Yvonne offered to take a picture of Mike and me at the far end… Just don’t zoom in too much, I cautioned her. It had been raining off and on and I was sure I looked a fright. (And everyone knows I hate to have my picture taken)
After she took our photo and we were walking back toward her, another couple asked her to take theirs and handed her their phone and walked to the same spot where we’d posed. Just as she finished with them, another couple arrived and I think she offered to take theirs too. As soon as they got to the other end, I said to Yvonne, “OK RUN! I think you can take off with the phone and make a clean getaway!” She laughed and said, “I could -but he’d catch me while I was waiting for the boat to get off the island!” We proclaimed her the official photographer of Garinish Island.
We soon found ourselves back at the dock area just as a boat was arriving -so we jumped on for a trip back to Glengarriff.
Next up was a drive to Healy Pass. Healy Pass is the dividing line between County Cork and County Kerry, a total of 12K (about 7 or so miles) of winding roads and hairpin turns. It was an interesting drive because it is one of those roads that has a million curves as it criss-crosses up the hillside -or should I say mountain? Most hills don’t have a “pass” associated with them.
The valley was wide and open, dotted with sheep, and very rocky with small waterfalls and streams of water running downhill willy nilly. The sheep were not show offs…so I wasn’t able to catch one doing anything interesting.
We drove to the top of the pass and stopped at a small gift store there.
Yvonne drove just over the pass so we could see the view on the other side
and then we went back down the way we’d come. It was interesting to be able to look up and see the store we’d just been in only moments before and it was almost a dot in the sky!
We stopped for dinner in a town called Bantry.
It is the largest of the towns/villages in the area where Yvonne lives (as far as I could tell). It seemed like most days we had to pass through Bantry on our way to and from the day’s destinations.
We couldn’t get a table at the place she had in mind, so we went to her second choice, which we enjoyed very much. It was a pub that didn’t possess an ounce of “modern” really. It was quite small and we sat at one of maybe 4 or 5 wooden tables. The wooden tables are something I particularly noticed because my brother would have loved them. The legs were made of tree limbs – and still looked like they could leaf out at any minute and the table tops were just slabs of wood in somewhat natural shapes. (From big trees though!)
Very cute and cozy. I had lasagna and Mike had a seafood chowder.