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Poetry from Garinish Island

A poem by Nigel Bryce who died at the age of seventeen - he was the son of Violet and John Annan Bryce who bought the island in 1910. In Gaelic, gar means near and inis means island, therefore 'near island,' although it is also known as Ilnacullin meaning 'island of holly.' Often spelled as 'Garnish,' the island is situated near the beautiful village of Glengarriff and the surrounding Caha Mountains including Hungry Hill.

Glengarriff and Garnish

There is a bay, girt round by mountains wild,

And wooded to the very margin of the shore,

Where boulders lie upon each other piled,

Which from the heights some ancient glacier bore.

Out in the middle of this bay, so dear

To me and mine, a rugged Island lies,

With grassy slopes beset with boulders; there

A Castle stands - the apple of our eyes.

The walls are ten feet thick withal; the keep

Tho' battered by the heavy hand of time,

Still stands secure, with windows thin and deep,

That glisten, whitened with devouring lime.

In Summer, when the sun shines overhead,

The water ripples gently round the Isle,

Whose cliffs drop sheer to meet the ocean bed,

Whose crevices with sunny wild flow'rs smile.

Slieve Ghoil and Shrone are purple in the haze,

Their shelter'd vales are cast in shadow dim,

As disappear the sun's erstwhile bright rays

O'er the black rugged mountain's clear-cut rim.

The stealthy darkness creeps from off the shore,

As one by one lights blink across the bay;

The silence magnifies the splashing oar,

As Hungry hides the late departing day.

In Winter when the tempest roars and blows,

And towering billows rush towards the shore,

Lone sea-gulls sit along the rocks in rows,

And listen to the surge's thund'ring roar.

The waves come crashing o'er the dripping rocks,

To hurl themselves against that granite wall,

But shall it never move until the Shocks

of Doom and dire Destruction cause its fall.

The storm has passed - the wind now gently lulls

The waves, so lately on destruction bent,

Firm Garnish stands, while round it sweep the gulls,

Magnificent in every element.

Eton, 4th December, 1909

A photo of Nigel Bryce from the Bryce House

Musician Brendan Ring playing on Garinish Island as part of the Jim Dowling Festival, June 2018.

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