The Bamboo Park in Glengarriff is a charming place to visit. Families love it for two main reasons, it is safe and it has a policy of FREE entry to all children. This makes it an affordable and popular destination especially for anyone travelling with lots of children. It is also easy to find and well signposted on the N71 as you leave Glengarriff and head towards Bantry.
The little romantic pathways take you past bamboo plantations and through exotic gardens where palm trees, ferns, hydrangea, fuschia, cosmos and woodlands thrive. The pathways wind their way down from the entrance at the main road right down to the shoreline where there are many beautiful spots to stop and admire the view of Glengarriff Harbour.
The Bamboo Park is now open for the season from 9am-6pm. Bring a picnic for a truly tropical experience or indulge yourself with homemade cakes and refreshments in the coffee shop.
Mystery: On the waterfront are 13 stone pillars which are of unknown origin. Some say they are ancient and their religious significance can only be guessed at. However you decide to spend your time at the Bamboo Park, you will have a memorable day. For more information, follow Bamboo Park on facebook, here.
On a clear day, a walk to the Beacon of Baltimore is a great leg-stretcher which will reward you with exquisite views over Baltimore Harbour and out to Sherkin Island and beyond.
You can park just out of the village near the brown sign for the Beacon and then walk up to the top car park (which has limited parking).
From there, there is a steep scramble to reach the top and so the walk is not buggy friendly and parents should be cautious of allowing their children to race ahead as there are unguarded cliffs.
The Beacon of Baltimore is one of the most iconic maritime landmarks in the area and was built as a series of warning systems all along the coast after the 1798 rebellion.
Baltimore’s history has been shaped by the sea and was once ransacked by Pirates in an attack known as the Sack of Baltimore. White and circular in shape and standing about 15m high,the beacon is known locally as ‘Lot’s Wife’.
Saint Gobnait is one of Ireland’s early saints who can be dated back to the 6th century. Her memory, as a healer and helper of the innocent, has been kept alive and many devout believers still visit her shrine to this day. Gobnait’s shrine is near the site where she first built her nunnery on the outskirts of Ballyvourney (Town of the Beloved) and is easily accessible by road – or by a short woodland walk.
Legend has it that Naomh Gobnait chose Ballyvourney as she was told by an angel that she was to travel until she came to a place where there were nine white deer grazing together. Her quest eventually led her to cross the River Sullane and to climb up the wooded hillside before her. There, at the top, she came across nine white deer grazing and she knelt down, thanked God and began to establish her nunnery in faith.
Saint Gobnait is known as the patron saint of bees and had a remarkable relationship with them. She was aware of the healing properties of honey and used it to treat a range of illnesses and wounds. In some regards, she truly was a woman way ahead of her time.
Just when you think you have discovered every gem that West Cork has to offer, you will be pleasantly surprised to know that the Glenview Gardens are worth their weight in gold to visit. Children – and parents – will be enthralled by the garden which is just ‘bursting’ with personality. Owned and lovingly tended by David and Mary Tanner of Desert, Enniskeane, the gardens are a complete credit to them for originality and charm.
Bursting with colour and beautiful objects to discover, the gardens spread over 3 acres and include a fairy-house trail, Ireland’s only Hobbit House and a bird aviary full of exotic birds. It was so surreal on a warm summer afternoon to come across a beautiful wildflower meadow with the aroma of wood-smoke from the Hobbit’s fire drifting gently on the breeze.
The Hobbit House is a joy to visit and even has a tiny Hobbit bed and bedroom in a little tunnel underground. The lounge has a cheerful fire and a table with the Hobbit’s tobacco pipes and tea-sets and it does not take a huge stretch of imagination to expect Bilbo Baggins himself to walk in at any minute.
Aside from the Hobbit house and the beautiful flowers which are a riot of colour, there is a beautiful sunken white garden, an Italianate canal, a bog garden, a woodland area as well as a Japanese, Chinese and Mediterranean garden. There is also a walled garden with seasonal vegetables.
The Fairy Trail is accessed via a beautiful Pergola walk and there are so many fairy houses to discover (as well as two mean looking trolls).
We took about 500 photos of us having fun visiting the ponds which are dripping with Koi, having our biscuits in the Glenview Self Service Cafe (a clean, wonderful facility) and running on the huge circular lawn, but cant post them all on here. The best thing is to visit it when you are passing Enniskeane and savour the experience first hand.
Directions: From Bandon. Follow the R856 Dunmanway road west for 10km. Turn left at Murragh. Continue for 1km until you reach a crossroad. Turn right and continue to the 4th house on the left.
From Clonakilty: Follow the N71 Bandon Road east and take the 2nd left hand turn 1km after Ballinascarthy. Continue for 7km to the 3rd crossroad. Turn left and continue to the 4th house on the left.
The Clerke Sisters, Ellen and Agnes, are two very fascinating women who were streaks ahead of their time. Born in Skibbereen in 1840 and 1842 respectively, they became very respected astronomers and writers during their lifespan. In an era where women traditionally received little education, these two sisters, who were entirely home-schooled, went on to write several acclaimed articles and essays, an accomplishment that any parent would be proud of.
Agnes was interested in astronomy from an early age and had begun to write essays on the topic before she turned 15. In 1861, her family moved to Dublin and then onwards to Italy where Agnes remained until 1877 when she moved to London. By 1885, she had achieved worldwide recognition for her writings, especially a piece called ‘Popular History of Astronomy during the Nineteenth Century.’ By 1892, she was awarded the ‘Actonian Prize’ by the Royal Institution and in 1903 was elected as an honorary member of the Royal Astronomical Society.
Ellen, also wrote about astronomy and was considered a gifted and accomplished writer. For many years she was an editorial writers for the London ‘Tablet’. From her seven year stay in Italy, she had gathered remarkable insight and understanding of the religious and political problems of continental Europe at the time. She contributed regularly to periodicals in Florence and was fluent in Italian. Her writings on ‘Jupiter and His System’ and ‘The Planet Venus’ were valuable additions to the literature of popular astronomy. In 1899, Ellen published ‘Fable and Song in Italy’ which was a well-received collection of essays and studies translated in original metre into English. The novel ‘Flowers of Fire’ published in 1902 was her last work of fiction.
What an outstanding achievement and credit to Skibbereen by two young girls born on the brink of the onset of the potato famine of 1845 to lead their lives in such a shining way that the lunar crater, Clerke, is named after them.