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Ilnacullin, or sometimes Illaunacullin known locally as Garnish Island is a very tranquil yet popular tourist attraction in Ireland, located in the small harbour of Glengarriff, Beara Peninsula County Cork which forms part of Bantry Bay. Ilnacullin is the name used by the National Parks and Monuments Service to differentiate it from Garinish Island in Co Kerry.
The island of Ilnacullin extends to 15 hectares and is renowned for its gardens which flourish in the mild humid micro-climate of Glengarriff harbour assisted by a mainly pine shelter belt. Structures include a clock tower, Grecian Temple, Martello Tower, and an Italian Temple. Although noted for the "Italian" gardens, there is a strong Japanese influence running throughout the design. This is particularly evident at the Grecian Temple which frames the Sugarloaf Mountain in a manner which is highly suggestive of Mount Fuji in Japan. The Italian Tea House or "Casita" seems close in style to a Japanese tea house while potted dwarf trees resemble bonsai. The planting of South American and Oriental trees and shrubs is a delight - such as the fine example of Chilean myrtle which can be seen in the glade known as "Happy Valley".
Garinish Island is renowned for its richness of plant form and colour, changing continuously with the seasons. The vivid colours of Rhododendrons and Azaleas reach their peak during May and June, whilst the hundreds of cultivars of climbing plants, herbaceous perennials and choice shrubs dominate the midsummer period from June to August. Autumn colour, particularly on the magnificent heather bank, is rich during the usually mild early autumn months of September and October.
Because of its sheltered situation and the warming oceanic influence of the Gulf Stream the climate is in some respect almost subtropical, and is favourable to the growth of ornamental plants from many parts of the world. Winters are mild, and frosts are light and of short duration.
Even for those who are not particularly interested in gardens, Garinish Island is an attractive place to visit. There are many attractive views of the scenery of the surrounding district from the island. Ilnacullin and its surrounding waters are quite rich in wildlife, the seals which frequent the rocks on the southern shore being of particular interest to many visitors.
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