MORE than 12,000 people have visited Bryce House on Garinish Island in its first year of business.
The Office of Public Works, the OPW, has confirmed that both the house, which officially opened in October 2015, and the island were among the top tourism attractions in West Cork in a year when the number of visitors to OPW heritage sites has hit a record high.
The number of people visiting the island and gardens increased from 58,557 in 2015 to 67,065 last year, but, in its first year of business, 12,224 visitors have also taken a tour of the beautifully restored Bryce House.
Meanwhile, Charles Fort in Kinsale is another OPW Heritage site that has increased its visitor numbers.
Last year, 86,849 people visited the region’s best-known historical attraction, and the number increased to 94,363 in 2016.
A spokesperson for the OPW said 2016 was ‘a very successful year’ after a recorded 6.6 million people visited OPW-managed heritage sites throughout the country.
Bryce House on Garinish Island is very much ‘a living story’ about how John Annan Bryce, a Belfast-born MP, and his wife Violet, decided to buy the island and create a retreat away from their 10-bedroom home in London.
The death of their youngest son may also have influenced their decision to buy the 37-acre island and create a garden unlike any other with the help and inspiration of the Edwardian landscape architect and garden designer, Harold Peto.
The refurbished house tells their story, how they came to live there full-time and how they created a unique garden despite the salt-laden conditions, but it also tells the stories of the people who lived on the island until their dying days.