CELT document T840000-001

Travels in Ireland

Johann Georg Kohl

Reisen in Irland

Travels in Ireland


1. Dublin

Stormy Voyage—Irish Sea—Ireland's Eye—Royal Footprints—Travels of Sovereigns—“Your Honours!”—Irish Carriages—The three Capitals—Increase of Dublin—Architecture of the City—Monuments—Churches

Those who have been little at sea are always more anxious than they need be in an uproar of the elements. This was the case with my solitary fellow-passenger and myself, during the storm which assailed us on board her Majesty's mail-packet, whilst on her voyage from Anglesea to Dublin, on the night of the 22d September, 1842. Throughout the entire night we were expecting to hear our sailors call, as in Shakspere, “All lost! to prayers, to prayers! all lost!” But on awaking, towards morning, from a very restless and by no means pleasant slumber, which, in spite of sea-sickness, had stolen upon us, we perceived that the engine of our steamer was at rest, and that we were lying quietly at anchor in Kingstown harbour, on the coast of Ireland; a coast at which no one arrives in a more agreeable manner than that in which King Alonzo arrived at his enchanted island. For this Erin, this Isle of Saints, this Holy Isle, this Emerald Isle, as it is styled alike in the most ancient and modern times: this isle of fairies and witches—this isle of misery and quarrels, as it might be called at the present day—this land, infinitely rich in peculiarities unknown in the rest of Europe, may be fairly called, like Prospero's, an isle of wonders.

The Irish Sea, which separates England from Ireland, has been described, alike by ancient and modern writers, as particularly rough and stormy. Solinus1 expresses himself as follows: — “Mare quod Hiberniam et Britaniam interluit, undosum inquietumque, toto in anno non nisi paucis diebus est navigabile.” (The sea which flows between Great Britain and Ireland is billowy and boisterous, so that it is navigable but for a few days in the whole year.) Giraldus agrees with him, for he says,  p.10 “Hibernicum mare concurrentibus fluetibus undosissimum, fere temper est inquietum, ita ut vix etiam aestivo tempore paucis diebus se navigantibus tranquillum praebeat.” (The Irish Sea runs high, and is almost always rough, on account of the currents which meet there; so much so, that even in summer-time it seldom favours those who navigate it with a smooth voyage.)

Many have doubted the peculiar boisterousness of the Irish Sea. But I am greatly inclined to concur with old Giraldus, partly because I both arrived in Ireland with a storm, and was borne back again on the wings of another; and partly, too, because the position of the sea is such as allows its restlessness to be explained from very natural causes. The oval island of Ireland lies with its greatest length opposed, on the west, to the Atlantic Ocean, from which tides rise twice every day, and rush towards the western coasts of Ireland, the southern coasts of England, and the north of Scotland. Driven back from Scotland, as well as from England, they here change their direction, and run from the south, through St. George's Channel, northwards into the Irish Sea, and also into the straits between Portpatrick and Belfast. Thus there arises many times every day a repeated warring of the waters, which, at the confluence of the two currents, causes a troubled sea. This roughness is of course particularly great in the narrower parts—in the north, between Portpatrick and Belfast; in the south, between St. David's in Wales and Carnsore Point in Ireland; and in the middle, between Anglesea and Dublin. Between these three points, said our sailors, it is seldom smooth.

The Bay of Dublin—though it may give but little joy to the mariner, being shallow and unprotected by nature, and exposed to every wind—presents a beautiful sight to the stranger, especially if he contemplates it on a cheerful morning, from the deck of a steamer in which he has passed a stormy night. The land, stretching out in two peninsulas, extends both its arms to meet him. In the southern hand it bears the harbour and town of Kingstown, and in the northern the harbour and town of Howth; while in the centre of its deep bosom it cherishes the capital itself, called Ballagh-Ath-Cliath by the ancient Irish (a name it bears even to the present day). By Ptolemeus it was erroneously called Eblana; and to all the non-Irish part of the world it is known by the name of Dublin.

On the left side, near Kingstown, lies the little island of Dalkey; and on the right, near Howth, the equally little island named Ireland's Eye. This name is characteristic: since it is here, in the middle of her eastern coast, that Ireland has opened  p.11 her eye on England; and one might claim this name of the little isle for the city of Dublin itself. For here is Ireland's face, and Dublin is the eye with which she watches the rest of the world, and especially England herself. I say Ireland has here opened her eye. It might, perhaps, be better to say, it has here been placed by violence, or torn open by force. For had Ireland her own way—were she freed from her proximity to, and her dependence upon England—could she disclaim all knowledge of England, turn her back upon her, and wheel round on her centre, she would have opened her eye in quite another direction. O'Connell, the great Irish Patriot, has his summer residence in the far west of the island, on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, into which he is fonder of looking than into the Irish Sea, over towards England. Perhaps all the Irish, if they were left to their own free will, would run over to the west, and remove their capital, their seat of government, the eye of their land, to the shores of the Atlantic. For 600 years, however, the English have turned round her refractory head, and taught her attentively and obediently to direct her eye towards England, and not unpolitely to turn her back upon it.

The old capital of Ireland, if such an expression may be used here, was Tara, in the interior of the country. Dublin is not the capital which the Irish have chosen for themselves, but that which the English have built and thrust upon them. Richard I. built a castle here first in 1204: where he also established the superior courts of justice, and fixed the seat of his chief governor of Ireland. From that period, demonstrations of favour and titles of magistrates, charters and corporations, public edifices, statues of kings, and Wellington testimonials, have poured upon this city, which grew ever greater, and more beautiful than London and Edinburgh; while in return, ever since that year, the loyal armed citizens of Dublin, under their provosts and lord mayors, and the English armies under their lords deputies, and lords lieutenant, and bishops' excommunications, and royal threats, have poured down upon the rest of Ireland, which thus, through the medium of Dublin, became every day more dependent and more English. 2


We (my fellow-passenger and I) set our feet on shore in Kingstown close beside two illustrious footprints cut in the rock on the quay of this harbour; namely, the footprints of George IV., who, on his visit to Ireland in the year 1821, landed here, and to whose honour a monument was raised on the spot, while beside the monument the two footsteps were chiselled in the rock. I could never have believed that the art of flattery was so well understood in Great Britain. The footsteps of a king chiselled out on his visit! and columns raised to commemorate the event! Would it not lead one to imagine Ireland was some little island, far, far removed beyond the usual paths of men; perhaps one of the Orkney or Faroe isles—a perfect “out-of-the-way place” as the English say—that the visit of her ruler should be deemed a remarkable and never-to-be-forgotten occurrence? And, in fact, when one considers that Ireland, although comparatively so near London, was never visited either by George III., George II., nor George I., nor by any one of her kings throughout the whole of the past century: nay, that no other English king ever before came to Ireland, except with arms in his hands, and when war, rebellion, or foreign enemies required his presence, one may justly say that Ireland looks like a little despised shallop, or a dismasted and conquered cutter, taken in tow by the line-of-battle-ship England.

Our Kings of Prussia often rejoice the various provinces of their kingdom with their visits. Lithuania alone they seldom visit. The Emperors of Russia are almost always travelling in the various countries of their empire, and show themselves, now in Moscow, now in St. Petersburgh, now in Odessa, now in Warsaw; to Siberia alone they rarely go—they send a friend there now and then. The Emperors of Austria, on their accession, receive homage in all their various provinces, and at other times also frequently show their gracious countenances to the various cities of their empire. To their Wallachian and Hungarian possessions alone they seldom go. But Ireland, this important third of the Trinity of the British Empire, like the Prussian Lithuania, the Russian Siberia, and the Austrian Wallachia, has been passed by on the left; and, on all English accessions to the throne, has had nothing to do but to waft her applause across the Channel, as well as she could with her wounded and manacled hands.

But even though a man be no king, yet in Ireland he attains a due share of honour as soon as he has set foot on shore. “Your honours,” said a Dublin car-driver to us, “since 'tis yet very early, and the train from Kingstown to Dublin will not be ready to start this hour and a half to come, your honours couldn't do  p.13 better than hire my car; besides, I will drive your honours up straight to your hotel, and that's what the railroad won't do for you.”

Since the reasons were valid, we accepted this offer which honoured us so much, and set off for Dublin in a little coach, which, from its strange and comical appearance, seemed very inviting. It was a kind of four-cornered box, fixed upon two wheels, and provided with glasses in front. We crept into it from behind. Methinks I have seen pictures of such carriages in books of Chinese travels. The driver sits in front of this box, with his feet on the shafts. The shafts are not attached to the axle of the wheels, but to the box-carriage itself, and they are even fastened to it without any hinge. Behind the horse's tail is a little board on the shafts, like a tray. It is intended for the feet of the driver, but is regularly used by the horse at certain intervals for a very different purpose. This little board must appear to all who have travelled in Ireland to be a strange invention of Paddy's. Since the horse holds the carriage by the stiff shafts, it follows all his hopping motions, and one sits in the shaking equipage just as if it were tied on the horse's back. All Irish carriages, covered and not covered, whether used for the purposes of agriculture or for pleasure, are built upon this principle. The character of a people expresses itself in their inventions and the peculiarities of them.

In such an invention, then, we seated ourselves, and galloped and hopped with it along the shore of the bay of Dublin, till we at last drew up before our hotel, where our little equipage made the following manoeuvre. The driver ran the vehicle obliquely across the street, and then backed the horse till the wheels struck the curb-stone directly opposite the hall door; and now our little coach gave out from behind its entire contents, passengers and luggage, as a hen lays eggs.

Of all the three capitals of the three united kingdoms, Dublin is the youngest. Ptolemaeus, it is true, mentions this city; it is also true that no less than 25 Ostman (Danish) kings resided here from the 9th till the 12th century; and who knows how many kings of Leinster before? But the city, at that time, was a town as unknown to the rest of the world as the other capitals of the numerous Danish and Norwegian sea-kings, or those of the countless Irish sovereigns. Its houses were built of hurdles and clay, and its entire circumference was scarce an English mile. Nor did it attain any importance until the English viceroys took up their residence here; and even then its progress was, at first, slow and inconsiderable. It was not until  p.14 Elizabeth's time that houses began to be built of timber; and stone did not take the place of wood until the reign of James I. Even so late as in 1610, the walls and boundaries of the city, properly so called, did not exceed their old circle of one mile. It is now ten miles in circumference. Its increase and prosperity may be dated from William III., who once more subdued Ireland, in the battle of the Boyne against James II. His statue is accordingly the oldest royal statue in Dublin. Edinburgh and London both date their greatness from a more remote period. Both were long the seats of the governments of kingdoms which played a part in the affairs of Europe; while Dublin was but the provincial capital of that disputed and frequently invaded district called “The Pale.” Hence Dublin has neither an old, narrow-streeted, crook-cornered City, like London, nor an antique, many-laned quarter, speaking of by-gone centuries, like Edinburgh.

Dublin, whilst it is the second city of the United Kingdom, is at the same time one of the first and largest cities in Europe; for, in respect of number of inhabitants, it approaches St. Petersburgh, Moscow, and Vienna; rivals Berlin and Lisbon; and exceeds Brussels, Stockholm, Rome, Milan, or Pesth. But few of those capitals have so quickly raised themselves from comparative insignificance to so high a rank. In this respect, St. Petersburgh alone surpasses it.

Dublin is, in its exterior, an entirely English city. Except its miserably poor, filthy suburbs, and its lanes so thickly peopled with beggars, it possesses nothing which the great English cities do not also possess, and which it has not received from the other side of the Channel. The private houses of the wealthy are just as small, neat, unornamented, and precisely of the same cut and design, as private houses in all English towns. And the public buildings are just as rich in ornaments and columns, as full of rotundas, colonnades, and porticos, as the public buildings of English cities, like the houses of Pericles on the Acropolis of Athens. Beautiful moles and harbours—lighthouses, docks, and patent slips, such as are seen in Liverpool, London, and other English seaports. The sumptuous Custom-house—the Post-office, with columns of the Ionic order—the Four Courts, with columns of the Corinthian, “highly ornamental! remarkably beautiful! exceedingly fine!” as the English say—are met with just as they are found in every English city. Moreover, there are just such wide streets, and wide convenient footways, as in London; just such charming green squares in the middle of the city as in the middle of English cities; except perhaps that the squares are something more beautiful, and the buildings something “more  p.15 ornamental.” This word “ornamental” which the English use so much, is characteristic of their cities. As the French are always talking about “villes monumentales,” so the English are continually speaking of “ornamental” and “very ornamental towns,” by which they mean towns which have a great many columned edifices. Only the Russian, and next to them the American towns, can be compared with the English in regard to richness in columns. In this respect our continental towns appear to the English very “unornamental.” We Germans speak more of “antique and picturesque towns,” and we have them; while the English, notwithstanding all their columns, have them not: there are of course a few exceptions to this rule.

Nelson's Pillar (a lofty, handsome column) stands in the middle of Sackville-street, the most splendid street in Dublin; whilst Wellington Testimonials and King George's Statues are as plentiful in this city as in English towns. Trinity College (the Dublin University) has its beautiful walled-in garden, like the Oxford colleges; and the Castle, the seat of the Viceroy, is a repetition of many similar castles to be found in England. You must not however imagine, because you are now in a Catholic country, that this its capital possesses anything peculiar in the way of old churches and cloisters, splendid Catholic cathedrals, or many-coloured chapels at the street corners. One remarks as little of Catholicism in Dublin as of Protestantism in Prague—just as little as in all the other towns of the British empire. Although in Ireland there are five Catholics for one Protestant, yet there is scarce a trace of the Catholics in the capital of the country. No processions, no monks, no priests, are to be seen in the streets. The Catholic buildings (here called merely “Catholic chapels”) set apart for the worship of God are very small and few in number, and concealed in I know-not what by-lanes of the city. Till the middle of the last century, the Irish Catholics could only hear mass within the walls of their own houses, and the religious wants of the poor were satisfied by some travelling priest, in some spacious stable, or ruined, uninhabited house. It was only in 1745 that they dared again to open some of their old chapels. Now, it is true, they have several, but, as I have said before, a stranger scarcely remarks them; whilst the twenty-two or twenty-three Episcopal churches (among which St. Patrick's, Christ Church, and the chapel of the Viceregal Castle are the most worthy of notice,) resemble the Protestant churches of the Established Church in England. The famed St. Patrick's, which is the most distinguished old ecclesiastical structure in Ireland, is, in its entire style of architecture, only the  p.16 counterpart of the old cathedrals in the west of England, those of Chester, Carlisle, &c. At first I could not reconcile it to myself when I found no Catholic service in churches called St. Patrick's, St. Kevin's, St. Audeon's, St. Michan's—all national names of Irish Catholics and saints, which can have scarcely any meaning for Protestant Englishmen.

As I had not braved a storm in her Majesty's mail-packet to find myself again in England, and as I came to see Ireland—national Ireland—which is not to be found in her great cities, I made but a short stay in the beautiful and (as it is called) “merry capital” of the island. I resolved to make a tour through the West and South, and then return to Dublin, in order to prosecute my inquiries concerning matters characteristic of the country and generally interesting.

2. From Dublin to Edgeworthtown

Stage-Coaches and Post-Cars—Outside Passengers— “All's right!”—Meath, Westmeath!—Appearance of the Country—Tillage—Look through the Roofs—Brown Waters—Mullingar—Lakes

A person must now travel pretty far on the English railroads, and even cross over to Ireland, to see such old-world stage-coaches and stage-coach establishments as were in former days found in all parts of the land, and which have been so humorously described by English travellers. Such an establishment I saw for the first time, in Dublin, on the 26th of September, on which day I prepared to commence my journey into the interior of the country. The spectacle, at a first glance, was not calculated to give much pleasure. The numerous long printed bills which hang on the walls contain plain protests from the proprietors against the appeals of the passengers, and give notice that they will not be answerable for the loss or injury of property, nor even guarantee a seat once taken, should the passenger himself not look after it. Thus, in observing where and how his luggage is stowed, the traveller is kept in a state of perpetual terror, either for himself or his effects. It is in vain that he seeks where to sit most comfortably on the coach. In the inside, which is as narrow as a herring-barrel, he thinks himself in danger of suffocation; and on the outside, where nothing but a single slight iron rail, four inches high, separates him from an abyss of fifteen  p.17 feet, he grows dizzy. In fact, the seats, whether inside or out, of the English stage and mail-coaches, are the most uncomfortable to be found on earth; and it was at first very difficult for me to discover how those seats are consistent with the great love of comfort which characterizes the English nation. But I think I have found the solution of this problem. The English are a people who, in every undertaking, keep the principal object only in view. In their dwellings, in their chambers, domestic comfort is their greatest wish: these consequently are so full of it, that out of England one cannot find perfection in this point. So also, in travelling, the chief object is accomplished in a style of excellence not to be surpassed. The coaches, even the largest, are as light as feathers, yet as strong as steel or iron can make them; the horses as fleet as birds, yet strong withal and lasting; and the coachman, in fine, such a master of his art, that any one of the 3000 public drivers to be found in the United Kingdom might win a prize in our country. But you must not look for a comfortable seat: for that purpose you have your domestic conveniences at home. Much luggage, or articles easily injured, you should not venture to carry with you. Whoever wishes to travel with speed, should leave the vanity of his fine clothes at home. This much only will we promise you: dry, or drenched to the skin— clean, or splashed with mud from top to toe—with or without your effects—with fractured or sound limbs—we will bring you, at the appointed hour, to the right place. Every thing else is a matter of mere secondary importance, especially for men of business; and ninety out of every hundred of the travellers in public conveyances in England are of this class.

I naturally chose an outside place, for there one can sit as if in an observatory, and at his ease survey the entire country, far and wide, right and left, before and behind; provided that he does not lose his head at setting out, and thus fortunately avoid the fate which threatens every British outside passenger, at the first step the horses take. The gateways of most posting establishments in the United Kingdom (and this again is a problem) are built so low, that the outside passengers would to a certainty leave their heads hanging on the architrave, if they did not attend to the warning of the guard, who in a loud voice directs them to stoop their heads. I think I have discovered the true explanation of this problem, namely, that the existence of outside passengers is of later date than the erection of most posting houses. Those were built at a time when the throng of travellers was not so great, and when the coachman only had to risk his neck; and since then, the owners of posting houses have not had  p.18 time or inclination to alter their gateways for the convenience of outside passengers. Should not this be the true cause, nothing remains but to accuse the English police of unpardonable negligence.

“All right!” at length cried the guard, as the clock struck six, or rather pointed to it; for in English towns the clocks which simply point the hour, and even those which, by means of illuminated dials, show the time by night, are much more numerous than those which, as in our cities, announce the hours in far-sounding tones from lofty towers. “All right!” cried the guard. “Stoop your heads, gentlemen!” We ducked, all sixteen of us, like a company of soldiers when a cannon-ball flies over their heads; and when we had again set ourselves to rights, and were in some degree at ease, we rolled from the city of Dublin into the county of the same name.

Our road led through the middle of Ireland, and its best-inhabited and most populous provinces, including the rich and level counties of Dublin, Kildare, Meath, Westmeath, and Longford; and the end of my journey was Edgeworthtown, a place to which I had been warmly invited by one whose name is so highly honoured and valued in Germany. I intended to remain there a short time, in order, if possible, to collect my thoughts, and prepare myself beforehand for the object I had in view. Every one, on arriving in a new country, finds himself, in relation to most matters, in the situation of one who suddenly enters a dark chamber. Many things he entirely overlooks, whilst others he views through a false medium, at least until his eyes have become somewhat accustomed to the new light, and to many peculiarities which in the first instance distract the attention. I do not, however, mean to say, that no one should venture to inform others with respect to a strange country, until he has altogether familiarized and naturalized himself, and learned to look on things precisely as a native inhabitant. On the contrary, the process of his familiarizing may be very characteristic of the land, for even his errors and mistakes may be induced by some national peculiarity.

The before-mentioned counties to the west of Dublin are the most fertile in Ireland, and the most famed for their fine crops; and the poor people in Clare, Kerry, and the other western pads of the island, look on those tracts as on a holy land. Meath! Westmeath! At a later period I learned to set a high value on these names: they sound almost as sweet as “meat;” and this rhyme seems to suggest to one's mind a land flowing with true milk and honey. With the exception perhaps of Wexford, in the south, there are no parts in which so little land is untilled, or lies waste in morasses, rocks, and forests as in these counties. Here  p.19 the finest cattle, and the best and most abundant harvests, are produced; and here all the improvements in cultivation which have penetrated from England into Ireland have made the greatest advances. These level midland districts, lying exactly opposite England, are always open to the greatest influx of English population, English language, habits, &c.; consequently the Irish language, with the ancient customs and superstitions, are here almost exploded, and English life and manners have taken root in their place. These are facts proved by statistics, and are undeniable matters of history. Yet they appear almost incredible to the traveller who passes through those districts for the first time. At first he probably supposes himself already arrived at the worst part of Ireland; for until he has seen the West, he can have no conception that human beings can live more miserably and poorly than those in this most fruitful district in the neighbourhood of Dublin, or that an inhabited and cultivated land can present a still wilder aspect than the rich corn plains of Meath, Kildare, and Westmeath. In the west of Ireland there are tracts where one might often suppose himself in a wilderness, deserted by God and man—where all around is but rock, morass, and ruggedness; and every object appears clothed in a sad melancholy-brown colour. He thinks himself in a land given up by men to wild beasts. But when he looks more narrowly between the rocks and bogs, he perceives, to his astonishment, something green, like potato plants. His curiosity induces him to approach the spot: he steps unexpectedly on a soft, yielding sod, and plunges—into an abyss? a cavern? a slough? No! into a hut, a man's dwelling, whose existence he had not remarked, because the roof was at one side as low as the ground, and appeared to the eye just as black, turfy, and heathy as the ground around it. Perhaps he cautiously draws back his foot at the right time; and looking about him, perceives that the surrounding country is thickly strewed (krümeln und wimmeln) [tr.] with huts, potatoes, and men.

But although it is thus in the West, it is not quite so bad here in the blessed East. Yet even these districts exhibit nothing which appears like, (I will not say well cultivated, but) cultivated lands. I form to myself the following idea of a well-cultivated country: the farms are all divided into handsome, regular, four-cornered fields, which are enclosed with hedges, ditches, and regularly planted trees, or marked by other boundaries and fences. Between those fields, which show neatness and order, lie the simple cottages of the peasantry, and the villages. The houses are not neglected, and the roofs are in good order; or at least  p.20 they do not lie in ruins, and some care is taken to prevent rain, dung, and streams of water—yard, stall, and house floor, from mixing together in one chaos. The house stands high and dry, and near it lies a little garden, neat, if not beautiful, in which the peasant has a small portion reserved for his orchard, where, in his leisure hours, he indulges his taste for grafting and rearing pear, apple, and peach trees. The clean vessels in his dairy, and the bright utensils in his kitchen, gratify the visitor, whether of his every-day apartment, or his parlour furnished for extraordinary occasions. Yet why should I call to mind things which exist, it is true, in other lands, but of which all trace is almost entirely left behind by the traveller who goes farther than Dublin?

Of enclosures, walls, hedges, or of regular divisions of the fields, I could discover nothing worthy of the name, and of pretty gardens and fruit trees, or even flower beds for the girls, I found none. It was at first even difficult to distinguish the uncultivated from the cultivated grounds. Instead of cheerful farm-houses, I saw fallen huts and ruined cottages between the fields. As often as possible, wherever we stopped, I surveyed the interior of the houses, which excited my astonishment. I was now in the most highly praised provinces of Ireland, and on a well-frequented road, yet I found every where dwellings which bore traces of the most shocking ruin and neglect. How must it have appeared in more remote districts, and still farther from the road! Sometimes I had no occasion to get off the coach; for from my elevated seat I could perceive, through holes in the roofs, the interior of the dwellings we passed. The broken plates in the kitchen, the potato pot on the hearth, the damp straw bed in one corner, the pigsty in another—all this I could well distinguish through the open roof.

“The landlords in Ireland,” says Spenser, who wrote a book on Ireland 300 years ago, “take good care to make their poor tenants pay their rents; but they give them no help in building their houses, in tilling their fields, in improving their roads. Did they do this, they would themselves derive as much advantage from it as their tenants. But they leave every thing in the state in which chance has placed it, and let their tenants help themselves, and bear their miseries, as they best may.” Spenser then draws a picture of the farm-houses of the Irish, which in his day bore a close resemblance to the huts of our times. In like manner, the landlords of the present day take almost all from the tenant, but will give him nothing in return. The Irish landlords are in this respect, it would seem, still worse than the great Polish and Russian proprietors; for they so far take an interest in the  p.21 affairs of their dependents, as to assist the peasant in the repair of his cabin; and are also compelled to furnish him with sustenance in time of famine. But this is not done by the Irish landlord. Yet his tenant is a free man: he can go away whenever he chooses. He has almost all the inconveniences of slavery (he is entirely dependent on his master; the lash only is wanting—a fact which must be thankfully acknowledged,) without enjoying the advantages resulting from the sympathy and kind foresight of his master. So, also, he has all the inconveniences of freedom, (want, care, hunger,) without being able to enjoy one of its advantages.

The country is here a dead flat, without picturesque rocks or vallies, without castles or ruins; and, therefore, one of the most uninteresting parts of Ireland for the traveller, who misses not only the sight of beautiful scenery, but also those works of man's care and industry with which unadorned plains usually recompense him. Even the waters have a melancholy colouring. The Liffey, which we twice crossed, has, like most of the Irish rivers, a decided brown colour, caused by the numerous tributaries which it receives from the great “Bog of Allen,” the most extensive turf-bog in Ireland. It is remarkable that this brown colour does not make the water dull and turbid; it appears to be rather a clear dye from the vegetable matter of the bogs, than the boggy filaments themselves; and a person may often see to the bottom of the deepest water. Brown is as much the colour of one half of Ireland as green is of the other, and therefore it may as truly be called the Smoke-Topaz 3 Island, (its waters have sometimes precisely the colour of this stone,) as the Emerald Isle.

The famous Catholic College of Maynooth, the only one of the kind in Ireland, lay in our road, which became interesting and picturesque for the first time at Mullingar. This little town is known in Ireland in a proverb. People are wont to say, in reference to a matter of the occurrence of which there is little likelihood, “That will take place when the king comes to Mullingar.” I do not clearly understand why Mullingar has been chosen for this proverb, since there are without doubt many places in Ireland far more neglected, and which it is much more improbable that the king should ever visit. Indeed, this proverb may shortly be put to shame, and many events unhoped for in Ireland be turned into certainty: for should the queen visit Ireland, she will certainly not fail to behold, first, the beauties of the county of Wicklow; and, secondly, the largest and fairest stream of  p.22 her entire European dominions, the Shannon. The road to Mullingar leads right to the central point of the latter. At Mullingar, also, the traveller from Dublin meets with the first Irish lake, Lough Owel; and from hence, towards the north and west, an extraordinary number of lakes are found. There are no lakes in a large circle round Dublin, and especially in the wide district between Dublin and Cork. A very great proportion of them lie in the north-west part of the island. All the lakes of Ireland cover a surface of 455,000 acres, which is about 1/48 of the entire surface of the island. Only 32,000 acres of lake, or 1/14 of the whole, lie in the east, or in the province of Leinster; 45,000 acres, or 1/10 in the south, or in Munster; 183,000 acres, or 2/5, in the north, or in Ulster; and 194,000 acres, or somewhat more than 2/5, in the west, or in Connaught. Since, then, 1/48 part of Ireland is under lakes of the whole surface there is
In Leinster but 1/160 lake;
Munster … 1/140;
Ulster 1/30;
Connaught 1/20.
Of the twelve counties of Leinster, there are nine which have not the smallest lake. Of the five counties of Connaught, there is not one without a lake. The Irish call all lakes, “loughs,” which word is doubtless connected with the Latin “rend="ital">lacus” the Italian “lago, laguna,” and the German “Lache, Loch”. The English have applied this word to most of the Irish lakes, but not to all of them; as, for instance, the famed “lakes of Killarney,” which are never called “the loughs of Killarney.”

We left Lough Owel and Lough Iron on the left, Lough Deveragh on the right, and Lough Glyn again on the left, without much regret; for lakes in a plain, in which there are no rocks to be reflected in the waters, have in themselves as little beauty as a mirror which reflects no lovely face. Towards evening we arrived at Edgeworthtown, where we passed some agreeable days in a delightful circle.



“They came over.”—Abbé de Firmont—Erection of a Steeple—The Edgeworths—Farm-Houses—The Driver—Division of Farms—Potato Gardens—Partnership—Middlemen—Subletting—Leases at Will—Hereditary Possession—Ownership of the Soil—Titles of Irish Landowners—Irish Language—Arming of the rich Farmers—“We could not do without them”—Conspiracies—Forcible Possession—Irish Reapers—Their Wanderings—Wanderings of Reapers in Europe—The Bogs—Kinds of Turf—Influence of the Bogs—Drainage—The Moat of Lisserdowling—Naghten's Lane—The Moat of Ward—Danes Mounts—Objects of their Erection—The Pews—The Reckoning Board—A Murder Story—Italian Poplars—Bog Wood—Irish Farm-Carts—Late Harvests—Little Fair—Mountebank Merchants—Gipsies—Jews

Edgeworthtown is a cheerful little place, in the county of Longford, in the centre of Ireland, and has received its name from the Edgeworth family—a name which the amiable authoress, Maria Edgeworth, has made celebrated throughout the whole world. This family “came over”—that is, from England, whence almost the whole of the landed proprietary of Ireland derive their origin; and this expression they often use to inform each other, and strangers who may be their guests, at what time and on what occasion their family first came over. In England this “came over” refers to the Continent—to Normandy—from whence so many English families derive their descent. The Edgeworths, then, came over in 1583, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. They were previously established at Edgeworth, a gentleman's seat in Middlesex. In Ireland they became possessed of several considerable estates and castles, including Castle Crarallagh, Castle Lissard, and others. The village of Fairymount, which they also possess, has, in modern times, become well known throughout the world under a slight change of name. Fairymount, which derives its name from a hill in the neighbourhood, was afterward shortened into Firmount; and the Abbé Edgeworth, who attended Louis XVI. to the scaffold as his confessor, called himself Monsieur de Firmont, after this mount and village.

Besides this Abbé de Firmont, Richard Lovell Edgeworth, and his daughter Maria, are well known to the world; the former by a series of little essays, nearly all of which treat of subjects in mechanics; and the latter by her so universally admired, pleasing, and talented tales, works on education, and juvenile works. As  p.24 evidence of the inventive mechanical genius of her father, there still exist in Edgeworthtown many interesting little works: for instance, doors which can be easily opened with the foot or the knee, so that the servants, laden with viands or other matters, require no assistance to open them. But what more especially attracts attention is a remarkable iron church-steeple, which was erected in a very easy, ingenious, and economical manner. The lower, square half of this steeple was built of stone in the usual way, inside of which the upper round and pointed portion was constructed of iron bars and plates; and when it was completed to the very last nail, by a very simple contrivance it was drawn out from the lower part—just as one part of a telescope is drawn out of the other—and in a few minutes fixed and screwed on to the masonry. All costly external scaffolding was thus avoided: and a large company who were invited to witness it, enjoyed the pleasure of seeing the whole steeple rise, as if out of the ground, to the accompaniment of music.

Mr. Edgeworth wrote several works jointly with his daughter Maria; for instance, the Essay on Practical Education, and the humorous Essay on Irish Bulls. And now, I suppose, many of my German readers will expect from me a perfect picture of the life and habits of the amiable, cheerful, and talented authoress whom they esteem so highly, and that I should minutely describe the little spot near the window of the pretty library, her customary sitting-room, with the little writing-table, and all the comfortable and agreeable environments, in which the Moral Tales, the Popular Tales, Belinda, Leonora, Griselda, Castle Rackrent, Helen, and all her other charming works, were conceived and written. No doubt all this would be extremely interesting to many; but I feel so great an aversion to speak of those living persons who have received me under their roofs, that, adhering to my old rule, I will keep all this to myself, and entreat my readers to accompany me in my walks in the neighbourhood of Edgeworthtown, where they will probably find much that is generally characteristic of the country and of the people, with whom I am always fonder of employing myself than with personalities.

The Edgeworths have been long resident in the country—that is, they are not absentees, but live upon their property, attending to its improvement, and to the well-being of their dependents. Many other gentle and noble families who have property in the neighbourhood, (among others the Tuites,) also reside upon their estates. I had therefore the opportunity of here experiencing the remarkable effects of the presence and attention of a  p.25 resident proprietary, and of seeing in how great a degree those Irish landlords who devote no attention to their tenantry are answerable for the misery of their country. I would never have believed that such good, such solid farmers and farms could exist in Ireland, as I saw here, upon the estates of the two families I have mentioned. And since, even in English authors, such expressions may be found as the following from Wakefield, who says, “With the exception of those which belong to the gentry, there is nothing throughout Ireland that deserves the name of a farmhouse;” it will be worth the trouble to show that this declaration has its exceptions.

Upon my many excursions into the country about Edgeworthtown, I saw farm-houses which were just as substantial and as stately as the best in England. Every thing was in the neatest and most perfect condition: the rooms were as comfortable as any one could desire, the stairs and the rooms were carpeted, and I was offered wine and refreshments. On the property of Mr. Tuite I visited a whole series of farm-houses which were all equally neat, and in as good order; each had sides of bacon hanging in the vestibule; the kitchen utensils all bright and shining, and the furniture and beds in the chambers all as excellent as in the houses of the wealthier peasants in Germany. The Tuite family, I was told, had resided on their property for more than three hundred years, had always managed it themselves, and the present possessor is a particularly zealous and active agriculturist. As it is extremely rare to see any thing like this in Ireland, it is therefore the more interesting. But the fact that it is sometimes to be seen shows it is possible, with care and loving kindness, to raise the Irish peasantry from their misery—an improvement which those who could best effect are usually least inclined to believe, whilst they attribute the entire blame to the want of order, the dirty and drunken habits, and the improvidence of the people. In the memoirs of her father, Miss Edgeworth gives a description of an intelligent landlord, animated by a wish to better the condition of his tenantry; a description which is at this moment very applicable and full of interest, since the relations of landlord and tenant have remained pretty much the same.

Farms which were originally sufficient for the support of a man and his family, have, in many cases, been divided from generation to generation, the father always giving a bit of land to each of his sons, to set them up in the world. This subdivision of farms is universally prevalent in Ireland, and is one of the many sources of her great poverty. Every one is anxious to possess a bit of ground to till for himself; and however praiseworthy this desire  p.26 may be, yet when carried too far, as in Ireland, it causes the greatest mischief. Irish parents are too fond of their children: they cannot bring themselves to favour one more than another, and always endeavour to divide their farms, for whatever term they may possess them, between their sons in equal shares. From this endless division it arises that every one at last possesses a piece of ground so small, that the occupier and his family are always in a slate between bare existence and starvation. Were the extent of the farms fixed, and were they made indivisible, and the younger sons sent out to make their own fortunes, the elder would have a greater interest in the improvement and good cultivation of the land that feeds them; whilst the younger, being sent out into the world, would manifest more industry and speculation.

With this progressive minuteness and subdivision of farms into smaller and smaller potato gardens for the poor peasants, the preservation of the estates of the landowners in their original size stands in sad contrast. For, since the landlords inherit their lands, not according to the custom of Ireland, but the old Norman feudal laws, the great mass of each estate descends to one individual. Had the law countenanced the division of property, the smaller landlords would by degrees have approached nearer to the farmers, and the division of estates would have set a limit to the division of farms. As matters were, and are, there is no country in Europe where the property of the peasant in the land he cultivates bears so small a proportion to that of the proprietor of the soil. In Russia, individuals possess vast tracts; but there the peasants also have extensive districts. In Ireland, there are estates as large as dukedoms in Thuringia, and farms, if one may apply this expression to a potato garden, scarcely as big as the piece of ground which an English gentleman sets apart for his rabbits in a corner of his park. In the county of Tipperary, out of 3400 farms, 280 are less than one acre, 1056 between one and five acres, and the remainder are above five acres.

The careful landlord should therefore do every thing to counteract this propensity of his tenant for a little potato garden of his own, which he can till without much exertion of mind or body; and, on the expiration of leases, by uniting several of the smaller farms, which are now scarcely capable of supporting their possessors, gradually introduce an able, active, and wealthy class of farmers. The provident and thrifty landlord will not (as in Ireland is unhappily too often the case, by reason of the general propensity to prodigality and extravagance,) be in want of ready money, and will not be therefore compelled to let his farms to  p.27 the highest bidders. He will, on the contrary, prefer the farmer who has industry and a good character to him who offers most. Just as little will he be influenced by party-prejudice or election interests—(many gentlemen divide their lands, solely for this purpose, into the smallest possible lots, in order to have a greater number of votes at forthcoming elections,)—and will not reject this or that individual merely on account of his religious convictions. If he offers his land on reasonable conditions, he will find the competence of the bidders sufficiently great to determine his choice. In many farm-leases one of the principal conditions was, and I believe is partly at the present day, the delivery of a certain number of game, fish, cattle, and the performance of a certain amount of labour (duty-fowl, duty-work, as it was called). But most good landlords have abandoned this custom as pernicious.

Another pernicious custom in Ireland is the letting the land in partnership, as it is called, often to whole villages, the members of the partnership being jointly and severally liable for the rent. These community-farms the good landlord will oppose, from the same motives which, in modern times, have operated in Germany and other countries, to dissolve and divide the commons of tillage and pasture grounds. Unfortunately this is still so much the case in many districts of Ireland, that, according to the report of Mr. Nicholls, one of the Poor-law Commissioners, the commons of pasture grounds are to be seen continually over-stocked with cattle, and the people are for ever disputing with each other as to who is entitled to send the greatest number of wretched animals to pasture there. If the piece of ground thus let in common is arable, they share it among themselves in little lots. But these divisions lead to continual quarrels and law-suits, each selfishly insisting on his right to some inch of miserable land, and each in continual fear of being overreached by his neighbour. In these divisions, should the land permit it, two roods of good ground, two of stony, and two of bog, are appropriated to each tenant; and for the sake of this small allotment, each one becomes responsible for the defalcations of the whole.

One of the greatest evils beneath which the Irish agricultural system groans, is the existence of middlemen. To this the good landlord will direct his attention. In order to avoid the trouble of a number of small tenants, and to receive the revenues of their estates (on which they never reside,) in one large sum, many landowners have introduced the custom of letting entire tracts of land together, to persons possessing some capital; these again let it in lots to others, either to the real tillers of the soil, or to other middlemen possessing less capital than themselves,  p.28 who then let it to the actual cultivators. Thus there often stand between the landlord and the cultivator a series of middlemen, not one of whom has any natural interest in the improvement of the soil, and whose only aim is to make the peasant pay as high a rent as possible, in order the more easily to pay to the landlord his moderate chief-rent. The most pernicious, unjust, and disgraceful part of this system, however, is, that in case the middleman becomes bankrupt, or spends the money, or does not satisfy the head landlord, the latter can come down on the occupier, and make him pay his rent over again, although he has already paid the middleman. An act of parliament, entitled The Subletting Act, passed, I believe, in the year 1830, has entirely forbidden subletting; but of course this can only apply to contracts made subsequent to that date; and as there are districts which have been let for terms of from 20 to 30 years to undertenants, and tenants under them again, nay, even in perpetuity, upon these this law can operate but slowly, if at all. Besides, such a law can always be evaded, and an evil practice of long standing can hardly be at once removed by legislation. The tyranny and the misery to which the poor undertenants were (and, I must add, still are) subjected by this system of middlemen can scarcely be credited. It often happens that if the first middleman, either through knavery or extravagance, or any other cause, be unwilling, or unable to pay, the landlord has no other means of obtaining his rents but by going to the land itself, i. e. by sending his driver to seize, impound, and sell, for the payment of the rent, the cattle, or whatever produce may be found on the farm. Instances of this shameful injustice were (and are?) not unfrequent.

These are, no doubt, things unheard-of in the rest of Europe. But just as unheard-of things present themselves in their mode of agriculture, and the implements employed. There are localities where the people do not know how to form a threshing-floor, and where they use any hard spot of ground, or even a piece of a macadamized road, for that purpose. Even at the present day, cars with wheels without spokes, nay, cars without wheels, called “slide cars” are in existence in some quarters.

The term for which leases are granted is also very important. Great numbers of Irish farmers are “tenants at will,” i. e. they hold their farms only so long as it pleases their landlords to permit them, and can therefore have no great interest in the improvement of their lands, since they are never certain that they may not be turned out at a moment's notice. It is of course entirely at the option of the landlord to let his ground for as long or as short a period as he pleases. But the terms most used in  p.29 Ireland are, for ever, for ninety-nine years, for thirty-one years, for twenty-one years, and leases “for three lives,” as they are called. I have been informed, I am sorry to say not falsely, that “tenants at will” are much on the increase, in consequence of the late extension of the electoral franchise, and of the O'Connell agitation. The landlords, who have found by experience that tenants secured in their farms by long leases are self-willed, and often vote contrary to their (the landlords') interests, prefer granting only short terms, that they may keep them in dependence by the fear of expulsion. These “tenancies at will” should, if possible, be entirely forbidden, and the landlords compelled by law to give leases for longer terms. This is the universal wish of the agricultural class in Ireland, by whom it is termed “fixity of tenure;” but no one sees any means of effecting this change, by which the tenants at will would be converted into hereditary tenants of the soil.

The Irish being so much behind in every thing, it has not of course occurred to any one to inquire by what step this object may be accomplished. Even the daring O'Connell, I believe, has not once thought or spoken of this. And it is the more remarkable, since it shows how far the cause of the agricultural population—the most important and first class of society, upon which rests the whole fabric of the state, as upon its base—has advanced in the other states of Europe beyond the condition of the Irish peasantry. In most of the civilized countries of Europe—in France by a revolution, in almost all the states of Germany by wise reforms—the nobility have been deprived of their old feudal rights over the oppressed and subjugated peasantry; and these, from serfs and slaves, have been turned into small free proprietors of the soil. Nay, even in Russia, within the last ten years, many introductory measures have been taken towards making the peasants more independent of their lords, and gradually to give them the ownership of the land which they till. In England and Ireland only, people have not ventured even to think on the question, whether it would not be very wise to grant the poor serfish Irish farmers the freehold of their soil; or, if this could not be effected without a revolution, at least to follow the example of Prussia, Saxony, &c., and by reforms and measures introductory to changing the tenants at will into hereditary possessors, to regulate and reduce the rents of these tenants by law, and then to permit, and finally to insist on the tenant's right to purchase his land; and by these means to form a class of free peasants and small independent landowners. No one has for a moment thought of inquiring, as has been done in France and  p.30 Germany, nay, even in the Baltic provinces of Russia, whether the peasant has not an older and a better right to the soil than the noble landowner, who grew over his head gradually by force and oppression, and took away from him by degrees the land of his fathers. There is in England so holy an awe of interfering with the rights of property as recognized by the state, that no one is capable of taking so comprehensive and elevated a view of the subject as would enable him to perceive, that, under certain circumstances, it would be the highest wisdom for the state herself to violate these rights.

The titles by which the landed nobility in the various states of Europe hold their property and serfs, are of various kinds. Generally speaking, they are held by possession from time immemorial. Among the original inhabitants, individuals had raised themselves to power by cunning or bodily strength; and these, partly by just and legal treaties, and partly by force, gradually obtained their soil from others, and made them their dependents. In many countries, however, the peasants were deprived of their property and independence by conquest, and the partition of their country amongst the conquerors. Almost everywhere this period of conquest goes so far back into the times of gray antiquity, that the injustice to which they owe their titles is well-nigh wholly forgotten; nay, even the descendants of the unjust conquerors are, for the most part, long since dead and extinct, and new families have succeeded to their possessions by purchase, or other just titles. Could the original conquerors or their descendants be found, the state might justly say to them, “You possess your estates by an unjust title; we will therefore take them away from you, and restore them to the poor peasants from whom your forefathers wrested them.” Prussia and other countries not only did this, but, since they could not distinguish the just possessors from the unjust, they treated both alike, and compelled them, willing or unwilling, with or without title, to resign their pernicious and foolish privileges, and to accept a certain moderate indemnity. What Prussia and other countries have done towards a nobility with much better titles, people in Ireland do not dare even to think of doing with respect to a nobility with the worst of all possible titles. Landowners growing as it were out of the people themselves, and possessing their estates from time immemorial, may be said not to exist in Ireland; for the old national-Irish nobles and landlords have, with a few exceptions, been completely destroyed. The most honourable and best title an Irish family can show is force and conquest. This force, however, almost never goes beyond the memory of man; for although in the time of  p.31 Henry II., about the middle of the twelfth century, all Ireland was claimed by the English, by virtue of a grant from the Pope, it was not till the time of Henry VIII. and Elizabeth, that they fixed themselves firmly in a small portion of the country, and became the rulers of not more than a third or fourth part of the island, called “The Pale.”

The conquest of Ireland, properly so called, was first completed by Elizabeth, and after her by Cromwell, which was in a measure once more repeated by William III. All these conquests, of comparatively modern date, were followed by the expulsion of the old immemorial proprietors from their estates, and the investiture of new lords and masters; so that fully nine-tenths of the soil are the property of families of English descent, almost all of whom can still point out the date when their ancestors obtained their forcible possession. I have said that force and conquest are the most honourable and best titles which the Irish landlords can show, for many obtained them by procuring confiscations in their favour, surreptitiously, by treachery and fraud. One can easily imagine by what villanies estates were acquired in a land where, for a long time, there existed a law by which a younger brother, on turning protestant, could deprive his elder brother, or a son his father, of his estates. And to these villanies, and frauds of their ancestors, most of the landowning families of Ireland can be proved to owe their estates. When lands are held by such titles as these, might not any reasonable government justly interpose, and, if it could not be accomplished without a revolution, yet at least by gradual reform, convert the poor tenants at will and leaseholders into freeholders, so that the suffering millions may not for ever live in misery for the advantage of a few oligarchs?

On one of our excursions to the farmers of Sunna, we found an old woman who understood Irish, and spoke very bad English. She said that in her youth, some fifty years ago, almost nothing else but Irish was spoken or understood here, in the centre of Ireland; but that many who understood it in their youth had now entirely forgotten it, and the children were no longer taught Irish. “There are but very few,” she said, “who can even bless themselves in Irish.” She told us the old Irish name of Edgeworthtown, but I have unfortunately forgotten it.

It is worthy of notice, that nearly throughout Ireland, even in the most Anglicized or Saxonized districts, the original names of the divisions of the country have been retained, and particularly those of the smallest divisions, called townships. This is the more remarkable, as many of them must sound very strange to the Saxon ear of Englishmen, such as Camliskbey, Agadonagh,  p.32 and Ballinloughtagh, which are the names of some townships in the neighbourhood of Edgeworthtown. Several of these townships united make a parish, and several parishes a barony. The names of these baronies are in part English, but in the west of Ireland they are entirely Irish, as for instance, Truchanakmy, Doskacuiny, Iricticonnor, Mucunchy, &c. From six to eight baronies form a county, of which there are thirty-two, many of which have English names, as Waterford, Longford, Down, Queen's County, King's County; whilst many yet retain the old Irish appellations, as Monaghan, Fermanagh, Donegal, and others. Of these counties, again, four provinces are formed, which are the largest divisions of the country, and in former days were Irish kingdoms.

The nobility and gentry in this part of Ireland know nothing of the Irish language; nay, there are but few places where the landowners can converse in Irish with their peasantry. In the vicinity of Galway alone, the most completely national Irish town, do the gentry understand and sometimes speak the language. Here, too, the priests are bound to preach in Irish every Sunday. The best Irish scholars also dwell here; among these the most distinguished are Dr. M'Hale, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Tuam, and his Vicar-General, Dr. Loftus. The former is now publishing a translation of the Iliad in Irish—a language which, as it possesses numerous epic and elegiac poems, is certainly not a little suited for such a translation. The same scholar has also lately published an Irish version of the poems of Thomas Moore, which has been much praised.

Most of the farmers whom we visited had arms in their possession—guns, sabres, and bayonets. “We could not do without them,” said they. With regard to the Peelers, 4 a species of police force, armed like soldiers, and very numerous in every part of Ireland, they also said, “We could not do without them.” These rich farmers express the same opinions as their landlords, and to a man stand on their side; for since, as middlemen, they often have their under-tenants, so also they have as much to apprehend from the peasantry as their landlords. Many conspiracies are constantly formed among the poor farmers and labourers; and as these conspiracies are said to be as plentiful as the grievances complained of, they must, indeed, be numberless. Almost every regulation which an Irish landlord adopts, even those which are for the advantage and comfort of the tenants  p.33 themselves, are sure to be opposed and resisted by his tenantry, either by means of an open or concealed conspiracy. Thus, for instance, should a landlord wish to reclaim a bog, from which, whether entitled to it or not, the neighbouring tenants have been accustomed to obtain a scanty supply of fuel, those who have an interest in the preservation of the bog immediately conspire against all the works undertaken by the landlord—destroying and throwing down his fences, scattering or removing the lime and manure which he has collected for the improvement of the land, and otherwise annoying him, until he abandons all intention of continuing his projected improvement. Or if a landlord, by raising his rents, has brought down on himself the hatred of his tenants, a conspiracy is frequently formed among the neighbouring farmers, who mutually pledge themselves to pay no higher rent in future, or perhaps no rent at all, and not even to permit others to do so. By this means the landlord is, of course, much embarrassed, as his income is lessened, or often entirely cut off. For even if he should find any one to take the ground, the new tenant is exposed to so many annoyances from the conspirators—(who give him no neighbourly assistance, but evince their hostility by frequently quarrelling with him, sometimes beating or even murdering him)—that he must give up his farm, and the landlord is forced to accede to the wishes of his refractory tenantry. When leases expire, it is often difficult for the landlord, should he wish to dispose of his farms in any other way, to remove the tenants, who are naturally inclined to overhold what they have so long possessed, and accordingly retain forcible possession. A compulsory removal, however necessary, has here so much the appearance of injustice, that the farmer has many to sympathize with him, and thus another conspiracy is formed. Threats are now held out against the landlord, in case he attempts to eject the tenant by force or by law. If he is not thus deterred, but appeals to the law, the conspiracy again meets him in the shape of a jury composed mostly of farmers, who are united in the determination, as they say, not to give a verdict against themselves. Should the landlord, however, gain his suit, set the threats at defiance, discover and prosecute those who threatened him—should he escape their waylayings and their bullets—he obtains his farm, it is true, but in a very altered and good-for-nothing state; for the farmer has done his best “to wear out the ground, and to break it up.” These conspirators often go so far as to murder a landlord, or one of his chief middlemen; and then it is usually impossible to discover the murderer, because all concerned are pledged to inviolable secrecy. Nearly all the great and widespread  p.34 combinations and conspiracies among the Irish people, of which we have so frequently heard, owe their origin not so much to political feeling as to the complicated and unfortunate agricultural relations of the country, which, however, are very closely connected with politics. The Whiteboys, the Defenders, the Heart of Oak Boys, the Peep-o'-day Boys, the Ribbonmen, and those bands which are known by the assumed names of their leaders, as John Doe, Richard Roe, Captain Dreadnought, Captain Moonshine, Captain Starlight, Captain Rock—all these conspiracies, and the like, start up and disappear one after another, and emerge again under a different name. Of many, however, it is impossible to say that they ever disappear, for they are heard of everywhere, and are everywhere feared.

Numerous parties of poor Irish reapers and labourers passed through Edgeworthtown during my sojourn there, and excited compassion by their miserable appearance. On my way from Dublin I had already met with vast swarms of them, who all complained of the little they had earned in England. They were mostly of that class of labourers who wander every year chiefly from the western parts of Ireland, and principally from Connaught, in order to assist the rich English farmers in their harvest. The last year's harvest was very good, but there were so many unemployed hands to be hired at low wages in England, that the Irish emigrants found themselves badly off: hungry and in rags, they crossed over to England; and in the very same plight they came back, since they had scarcely earned enough to pay the expenses of the journey. The wanderings of the Irish labourers, backwards and forwards, between England and Ireland, take place every year as regularly as the migrations of birds of passage. As the price of labour is twice as much in England as in Ireland, (it is here between 6d. and 8d. per diem; there it varies between 1s. and 1s. 6d.) the poor Irish, who live on the cheapest food, are able to pay the expenses of their journey, and generally to bring back some small savings. These people are called “Irish harvesters.” The period of these migrations is from June to October. In Donegal, Clare, Mayo, Connemara, and other quarters of this mountainous rocky province, each peasant has a little plot of ground; and as soon as they have ploughed their field and sown their seed, leaving their families behind, they set off towards the eastern ports—Dublin, Belfast, Dundalk, &c.,—in little parties, from whence they cross over to England and Scotland. Their own little harvest is, meanwhile, attended to by their wives; or, as every thing ripens slowly in the temperate climate of Ireland, and particularly in the mountains of western Connaught, they may be  p.35 back themselves time enough to save their own harvests. During the haymaking and harvest in England and Scotland, the services of these reapers are of considerable importance, and in many districts the crops could not be secured without their aid. They are, generally speaking, sober, well-behaved, and peaceable, hard-working, and easily fed. They usually return, year after year, to those places in which they are known; and as the English farmer generally engages the same labourers he employed during the preceding year, in certain districts of England the fields are reaped every year by labourers from the same districts of Ireland.

In consequence of the cheapness and facility of the communication between England and Ireland, produced by steamers, these migrations are every year becoming more extensive. The Irish labourer, since he can cross over into England for a few shillings and in a few hours, is able to seek employment there with as much convenience as the English, and to take advantage of every favourable conjuncture. It is only when they have come from so great a distance as Connaught that it must often disappoint them bitterly to find themselves deceived in their expectations. It is the more affecting to see Paddy with a rueful look, since he is usually quite free from care, whilst all who returned across the Channel this year had care depicted in their countenances. Some of them complained that the riotous manufacturers had robbed them of all they possessed. They thought of their wives at home, who were anxiously looking out for their return with their earnings, and to whom they were now bringing no “harvest-money,” to pay the rent and satisfy a few pressing wants. Their only hope was placed on their little potato garden, which this year promised a crop large enough at least to save them from starvation. How they got over the winter, with the “Driver,” and with the middleman demanding the rent, Heaven only knows. Such wanderings of reapers I have seen in various countries of Europe, but none made so sad an impression on my mind as these Irish swarms— neither those who march from the heath-tracts and moors of northern Germany into the rich marshes of Holland; nor the poor Croats, Bohemians, and Styrians, who, for the same purpose, wander from Hungary, Bohemia, and Styria, towards the fertile lowlands of the Danube; nor those who, from the Alps, descend to the abundant plains of the Po; nor, in fine, the mowers, who, from the interior of Russia, yearly swarm to the uninhabited steppes of the south.

I visited, while at Edgeworthtown, a neighbouring bog, and here saw, for the first time, the various sorts and states of the Irish  p.36 moors, as also the way in which the turf is cut for fuel. Turf is one of the chief productions of Ireland; and the whole country being more boggy, morassy, and turfy than any in the world, it is quite impossible that this peculiar feature can fail in attracting the traveller's attention. The hills, the tops of rocks, the valleys, the plains, and even sometimes the caves of this island are one and all covered with bog; so much so, that where the spade, the plough, the stone of the highways, or cultivation ceases, the moor immediately begins; nay, one may say that the entire island is a moor with interruptions. There are, indeed, other countries in the northern temperate zone, northern Germany, France, the Netherlands, &c., which are much inclined to produce bog, but none in so great a degree as Ireland. In the north of Germany we have tracts, just as little cultivated as many in Ireland, and yet they show little and often no bog. Our north German mountain ranges, as the Harz, have, to be sure, some bog; but in Ireland, the very summits of such mountains, if the plough has not been there, are quite covered with it. Wherever human cultivation is not ever active, there the bog (for the luxuriant and ceaseless production of which nature seems to have gifted Ireland with an extraordinary propensity,) immediately begins to prevail. These bogs arise from the decay of plants in the neighbourhood of springs, where the deposit of moisture from the atmosphere is greatest, and the extreme humidity of Ireland is, I believe, the chief, though perhaps not the only cause of this phenomenon. In drier countries, the decayed plants and grasses are changed into dust and earth, and hence no bogs are there formed. But in Ireland the process of the decay of plants is different and slower; and a considerable residuum, which in other countries would fly away in dust, is here always kept moist and consequently fixed. In course of time, from the continued processes of fermentation and decay, it would resolve itself into air and water; but as new plants grow and new residua are deposited upon it year after year, the progress of turning into air, dust, and water is interrupted; the deposit is preserved; and thus are gradually formed those immense compact masses of half-decayed plants which the Irish call bogs. A young bog which is yet growing, and in which the plants are yet loose, is called a “quaking bog.” But when the bog grows older, and the entire mass is penetrated by the deposit and slime of the water, a compact mass is formed, which assumes a black colour, and this is termed a “turf bog,” or a “peat bog.” The plants being of various descriptions, their half-decayed residua, and their product, the bog, are also different in their character. Thus there is a vast number of various kinds of mosses in Ireland,  p.37 which, as they decay, form a very loose, spongy mass, often so tough and elastic that the turf-spade can scarcely cut it; and this, in some localities, is called “old wife's tow.” Sometimes these mosses, united with other vegetables, form a bog; sometimes, however, they predominate so much as to be its sole composition. Hence arise two principal distinctions of morasses in Ireland: the so-called red or dry bogs; and the green, black, or wet bogs. The former yield a light, spongy, rapidly-burning species of turf; the latter, a black, heavy, solid species. Some of these wet bogs are unfit for yielding turf at all.

The turf which is obtained from the dry bog, by simply cutting it with a turf-spade, or slane, is called “slane-turf,” or “slane-peat,” for it is as often called peat as turf in Ireland. The upper strata of the bog being less dense than the lower, they yield each a different sort of turf; and that obtained from the upper is called “brown-turf;” that from the lower, “stone-turf.” The turf obtained from the wet bog is called “hand-turf,” because it is shaped with the hand. The process is as follows:—A place in the middle of the bog, to which there is a moderately dry and firm approach, is first selected, and pits are dug, in order to draw off a portion of the water from the spot in which they intend to work. The mud-like boggy substance is now shovelled up in heaps beside the pits, where it is mixed and worked up over again, and large troughs, called “lossels,” are filled with the turf. These troughs are then drawn by ropes to some drier spot, where it is the women's business to work and shape it with their hands. They usually mould it into little pyramidal forms, pointed above and wide below, and then leave it to dry.

The bogs are thus at once a source of wealth and of poverty; for whilst they supply fuel, they at the same time cover much fertile soil, which they withhold from cultivation; they spoil the waters of the rivers, fill the entire atmosphere with a turfy smell, and infect the air with foul exhalations; are an impediment to traffic, and have long supplied a protection and a refuge to the thieves and robbers of Ireland, who, as Boate remarks, could not live without them. The exertions of the Irish should therefore be equally directed to the reasonable preservation and the reasonable draining of these bogs. All those which promise good fuel should be worked with economy; whilst all which are not of this description should be drained and cultivated. But hitherto neither the one nor the other has been done. An economical system of cutting turf has not been adopted, because the supply was deemed inexhaustible; whilst draining has been neglected, because the morasses were regarded as the best defences against conquest by the  p.38 English. Even when this conquest was completed, the cabins were still built in the neighbourhood of the bogs, not so much through negligence and inattention to their own interests as from a slight remaining fear of the conquerors. The English, “the introducers of all that is good into Ireland,” as Boate calls them, (he might with equal justice have designated them the introducers of much that is evil,) have for centuries laboured at the draining of these bogs; and a company has lately been formed in London for the purpose of reclaiming them, by pumping out the water by means of steam-engines, in those places where a sufficient fall to carry it off cannot be obtained. But compared with the mass of bog in Ireland, and with what has been done in England and Scotland, very little has yet been accomplished, and at the present day a traveller in Ireland is rarely unable to see a bog within his horizon. In some places it seems as if there had once been a time when some parts of Ireland, if not the whole of it, were better cultivated and loss boggy than at present; for large tracts of bog are known, beneath which the ground bears the most evident traces of former cultivation with the plough. Nay, some Irish writers even prove that certain districts, after having been systematically and thoroughly wasted by this or that English general or leader, became converted into swamps and morasses.

I heard the people in this quarter speak much of the centre of Ireland; and a farmer one day led me to a great artificial mound, which he informed me the people look upon as that centre. This mound is called “The Moat of Lisserdowling.” Although we were undoubtedly near the centre of the island, yet I feel certain that this hill is not that centre, which it would be somewhat difficult to determine. But I would like to know what gave rise to the idea among the people. The celebrated hill of Usneagh, mentioned by Thomas Moore, lies not far from here, in the neighbouring county of Westmeath. On its summit the boundaries of all the provinces of Ireland meet, and near it the old national conventions of Ireland were often held. The Moat of Lisserdowling is a circular, conically-pointed hill, about 40 feet high, and 500 feet in circumference. It stands in the middle of a plain, and is surrounded by arable land. At a distance from it of about 100 paces, and again of about 200, it is encircled by traces of not very deep trenches, and not very high walls. The mound itself is planted with trees and whitethorn bushes, so that it presents a stately appearance on the naked plain. On the summit it is flat, with a slight hollow in the centre, and covered all over with a beautiful green sward. In the centre of that indentation on the summit a few naked stones only were to be seen, as if mason-work  p.39 was concealed beneath the turf. The farmer told me that there was a tradition among the people, that on this mound, and within its walls, dwelt an ancient Irish chief, named Naghten O'Donnell, and a little by-road, not far from the mound, is called, after him, “Naghten's-lane.” The hill is highly revered by the people, particularly in the twilight and the night-time. On fine holidays, hundreds of people come and sit on its sloping sides, and enjoy its shade and the prospect. But not one remains till dusk, at least no peasant or peasant's child; for they believe that the “good people,” i. e. the fairies, dwell in it. Hence, too, Naghten's-lane is much feared, and no one ventures to enter it after nightfall. Nor will any one touch stick or stone on the hill, “unless they dreamt,” said my farmer, “and have a commission to do so from the good people.” On the slope of the mount I saw the stump of an old whitethorn. The bush itself, the farmer informed me, was blown down one stormy night, some years since; it lay for a long time where it fell, and no one ventured to touch it, although the people are much inclined to make free with any thing in the shape of fuel they may find; at last it decayed away. Plantations they frequently rob; but the wood growing wild on these fairy mounts they never touch.

On the following day I made an excursion to a similar hill, called the “Monte-o'-Ward.” It was also covered with old whitethorn bushes, and has a beautiful prospect from its summit. The embankments and trenches which surround it were not so completely separated from the hill as in the former case, but mingled with the hill itself. I afterwards saw a vast number of such mounds, with which Ireland is more thickly sown than England or Scotland. In Ireland people call them “moats,” an English word meaning the ditch of a fortress; in Irish they are called “raths,” which has the same meaning. With reference to the people by whom they are supposed to have been built, they are also called “Danes' mounts;” for as, in Ireland, the destruction of every old work is attributed to Cromwell, so the erection of every ancient structure is ascribed to the Danes. The people are quite unanimous in saying that the Danish captains built these mounds for fortresses, in which they dwelt with their warriors, holding the whole country in subjection; and when the Danes were expelled, some Irish chieftain took possession of the deserted fortress. The learned are not so unanimous as the people. Some ascribe them to the Danes; others again—the patriotic Irish—agree with Thomas Moore, that they were the dwellings of the old Irish kings and chieftains, and that their erection belongs to a period in which towns were not yet known. In the north of  p.40 Ireland is one of these hill-fortresses, of enormous size, supposed to be the former seat of a very ancient Irish King of Ulster.

It is highly probable that all these hill-shaped structures, called Danes' mounts, raths, or moats, and which are widely diffused throughout Ireland, were built at very different periods, by different races, and for very different purposes. Not only did the Danes or Scandinavians erect artificial mounds, but, as it appears, all the nations of Europe, in the first period of their architecture. The whole of Southern Russia is filled with them. In Hungary, in European Turkey, and in Asia Minor, we find artificial hills, built of stone and earth; also in the north of Europe, in the Baltic countries, in Scandinavia, Denmark, and England; but in none of these countries are they so numerous as in Ireland. It is therefore probable that they were not built by the Danes, but were thrown up at a much more remote period by the ancient Irish themselves, for a variety of purposes. We know that mounds were erected for boundary-marks where provinces met, and also as monuments over the graves of heroes and chieftains. From these hills the ancient judges and legislators of the Irish proclaimed their decisions and laws to the people; on some of them their kings were anointed and crowned; and on others their national assemblies were held. The Druids also required sacred hills upon which to offer their sacrifices, and for this purpose artificial as well as natural hills were used. Finally, many may have been erected as fortresses. Hence, these hills, which the Irish are unanimous in calling fortresses, (raths, moats), were partly monuments, partly boundary-marks, partly political or religious structures, and, finally, partly fortresses. The original use of many is, however, quite unknown, and in fact remains an enigma yet to be solved. In the interior of several have been found little passages and cells, which are too small for storehouses, while they cannot have been tombs, since they have no resemblance to those in which bones have been found. Such as are like Lisserdowling, with a high pyramid in the centre of a low rampart, seem to be much more suited for a religious monument than for a fortress. For if intended as a fortress, would not the extraordinary labour bestowed in giving it a conical form have been more likely to be expended in increasing the height of the surrounding ramparts? As a fortress, it would be the strangest and most unsuitable in the world. The space on its summit is so small as scarcely to allow room for two huts; and if we suppose that it was intended as a place of safety for the women and children—the heart and citadel of the entire fortress—it must be confessed that no form worse adapted for that purpose  p.41 than the conical could have been devised; since, if the exterior bulwarks and walls were stormed by an enemy, the defenders could do nothing but either retreat, fighting backwards up the steep side of the cone, or at once turn their backs to their assailants; and in either case they would soon discover that their labour, and earth, and stones might have been used with greater advantage in constructing a ditch and rampart. Probably the ramparts and ditches which surround these conical hills have given rise to the belief that they had served as fortresses; but we find that other hills, manifestly religious, were encircled in a similar manner, as Stonehenge, which no one ever took to be the wall of a fortress. These circumvallations were probably merely intended to mark the boundaries of the holy place, and to cut it off from all connexion with profane soil.

So much for the Danes' mounts and Irish moats. I will proceed with matters which may be of more general interest, and characteristic of the country and its inhabitants.

In the little Protestant church of Edgeworthtown I found a wooden gallery, which, as an inscription informed me, was erected sixty years ago, by a vicar of the place, and was open to the public at large, without distinction. The small space below was occupied almost entirely by the “pews” of the wealthy, and left but little room for those who could not pay for them. This is also usually the case in the Protestant churches of England. The pews produce a considerable income, and have gradually become so numerous, that no place remains for the poor. Some well-meaning clergymen have often opposed this increase of pews, and many have, at their own expense, provided a place for the poor. I was told that it cost the clergyman I have mentioned much trouble to obtain the “act of vestry” permitting him to erect his gallery. At the present day the Puseyites have raised a great opposition against the monopoly of pews, which it is to be hoped will be attended with beneficial consequences.

There are 800 Roman Catholics in Edgeworthtown, and 300 Protestants. Yet the latter do not progress so rapidly as the former, who have increased much in wealth and power, as well as in numbers, since the passing of the Emancipation Act. This remark, I was every where assured, applies to the whole of Ireland, where the Roman Catholics are now endeavouring to induce members of better families than was formerly the case to enter their priesthood.

I also visited the boys' and girls' schools at Edgeworthtown. The use of the Chinese-Mongolian-Russian reckoning-board was the most remarkable thing I found there. It was introduced  p.42 into the Irish national schools two years before, and was found so serviceable that its use will be continued. The teacher informed me that it was first made known in Ireland by a Russian gentleman. It is also possible that the English may have brought it direct from China. But I am somewhat surprised that it has only so recently occurred to our European teachers to introduce an instrument of so much practical utility in instruction, and which has been in use in Asia from time immemorial. The Chinese are doubtless its inventors, and from them the Monguls and Russians have received it. The latter have introduced it into Poland, and, about nine years since, into all the German schools in their Baltic provinces—Courland, Livonia, and Esthonia The Japanese have likewise adopted this reckoning-board: so that, from Japan to Ireland, this Chinese invention has been spread through the world on the wings of the nation-connecting traffic of modern times.

The farmers of the neighbourhood told me some interesting murder-stories, such as the following:—An Irishman was hired, probably by Ribbon-men or Peep-o'-day Boys, to murder a certain gentleman. Whilst in search of his victim, he was overtaken by a terrific storm. A gentleman found him unprotected and moaning on the road, and took him home in his carriage to his residence, where he sent him into the servants' hall to dry himself and obtain refreshment. When the man heard the name of his benefactor, he discovered that he was the gentleman whom he was employed to murder, and he accordingly returned without having perpetrated the deed. An associate who had received a similar commission for the destruction of another gentleman, proposed an exchange of victims. To this the murderer assented; and his conscience being thus freed from any scruple on the score of ingratitude, both assassins perpetrated their crimes.

At Edgeworthtown I saw some Italian poplars, which are somewhat rare in Ireland as well as in England, at least compared with some parts of Germany and France, where whole alleys and roads are planted with them. The bog-wood, too, which the Irish dig out of their morasses, and use for a variety of purposes, interested me much. At first it is somewhat soft and wet, but afterwards becomes hard as iron, and is then extensively used in their buildings and furniture. Some of it, however, retains so much softness and elasticity, that the people make ropes of it. The ropes they call “deal ropes,” and a network is formed of them, on which they lay the bags of straw that compose their beds. Sometimes this bog-wood is made into furniture, particularly when it consists of oak or yew, in which  p.43 case it is very hard, takes a high polish, and is of a beautiful brown colour. I saw a table-leaf of yew, in which the rings of the yearly growths might be reckoned by hundreds, with the aid of a microscope. Besides ropes and fuel, light is also procured from the bogs. Candles being an expensive article, most of the Irish cabins are lighted with rushes, from which they peel the outer rind, and soak them in fresh butter, (which is much more common than oil,) or in a pale yellow fatty substance which is often found in the bogs. 5

The slowness with which all kinds of grain ripens in Ireland was to me a matter of continual surprise. The winter corn is sown in November, and the spring corn in February; yet no one thinks of reaping wheat till the middle of September. Oats, which is the principal grain, are still later. Rye there is none. When the summer is cold and wet, the wheat is frequently not cut till the middle of October, and the oats in November. In the south of Germany, on the Rhine, rye is got in about the 22nd of July, and wheat, barley, and oats follow at short intervals. In Courland and Lithuania, countries that lie nearly under the same latitude with Ireland, (the 55th degree passes through Lithuania and the north of Ireland,) the harvest is gathered about the end of July or the beginning of August, though the summer corn is not sown till April, when the winter snow first leaves the ground. Thus, corn which ripens in three or four months in those countries, takes seven or eight months in Ireland.

While I was in the neighbourhood of Edgeworthtown, a little fair was held, which afforded me an opportunity of observing the conduct of the Irish market-people in selling their wares. Some of them, such as those who sold fruit, meat, and the like, sat beside their wares, and waited for purchasers; but those who sold knives, scissors, and innumerable other little articles, acted in a more mountebanklike manner than I had ever seen in any other country out of Great Britain. They had their wares arranged on a booth that moved on wheels, or on a cart turned into a booth, and ornamented with their goods. To one side of the cart was attached a kind of little gallery, on which the merchant stood, exhibiting some articles to the surrounding public, to whom he praised them in the manner of an Italian dealer in medicines, with extraordinary volubility of speech, accompanied with frequent jokes, not devoid of wit. He then named the price. The people laughed, and offered him a few pence. They then outbade each other till the offer seemed sufficient to the merchant, who all the time continued speaking in a loud  p.44 voice, or, if the offer did not satisfy him, till he laid by the article and produced another. In England, such merchants are frequently to be seen at fairs, selling their wares in this way; and even in many English towns, as well as in London itself, there are those who dispose of their goods by means of a perpetual auction.

Neither at this fair, nor at any other in Ireland, did I see any gipseys. Indeed, I was every where told that there never had been any in the country. I have been unable to obtain any information on this subject from books on Ireland; for unfortunately authors too often forget to notice what is not in a country, and yet it is frequently as interesting to know this as to learn what is in it. Wonderful as it may seem that gipseys, who have found their way into every country of Europe, even into England, where they have spread themselves through the whole kingdom, should not have crossed over into Ireland, many Irishmen have assured me that it is the fact; and as Ireland is distinguished from all other countries by so many peculiarities, (as the absence of toads, serpents, and other venomous creatures, which are found in every other part of Europe,) I am inclined, a priori, to believe the fact. Perhaps some gipseys may have come over now and then; but finding a race almost as barbarous and wretched as themselves, they have turned back again, without spreading themselves through the country. Even the Romans, who once occupied all the rest of Europe, never went over to Ireland.

It is a fact equally remarkable, and not less strange, that there are no Jews in Ireland; at least there does not exist a single synagogue in the whole island, not even in Dublin, although it contains 270,000 inhabitants. Jews came to Ireland with Cromwell; and in 1746 there were 200 individuals, or 40 families, of that nation in Dublin, where they had a synagogue and a burial-ground; but this number, in 1821, had decreased to nine individuals! In this respect Ireland and Dublin probably stand alone in Europe. In England, and in Scotland also, gipseys and Jews are every where to be met with. Even in China there are Jews. In Ireland alone there are none. What a short distance we need travel to find the marvellous!


4. From Edgeworthtown to the Shannon

Irish Jaunting-Cars—Prices—The Interior of Ireland—Ruins—“As it Happens, so he Leaves it”—Rags—The Dress Coat—The Frieze Coat—Paddy's Head-dress—Laughing and Weeping—Wallachian and Irish Pigs—Who pays the Rent—Plantations—Egg Markets—Athlone —The Bog of Allen—Coal Fields—Reproduction of Turf—Bog Eruptions—Bog Butter—Shannon Harbour—The “Good People” and English Civilization—Milesian Families—Irish and Indian Antiquity—Old Celtic Family Names—Number of Ruins—Struggle of the Irish with the English—The Saxons—Climate

Having received the congratulations of all my valued friends in Edgeworthtown on the fine weather which seemed to smile upon my journey, I took my departure with regret from a place where I would gladly have lingered; and rolled on, through the centre of Ireland, towards that main artery of the land, the glorious Shannon, which, flowing from the north, pours its waters in a south-west direction. The usual method of travelling in Ireland, on those roads where no stage-coaches run, is on a jaunting-car. These jaunting-cars, or outside cars, as they are also called, are constructed on precisely the same plan as those we found in Dublin. They are two-wheeled, have a seat for two persons on each side, and are drawn by one horse. In the centre, between those two seats, is a recess for luggage, called “the well.” The shafts are fixed to the body of the car, without any hinge; so that when the horse gallops, the comical and violent motion affords much pleasantry to some, whilst in others it produces something akin to sea-sickness. The cars are, of course, without covers; and since it is usually raining in Ireland, the traveller must not neglect to envelope himself and his effects in a waterproof of English invention. The horse, driver and all, are hired at the post-station, at the rate of sixpence per English mile, exactly one-half what is paid in England for a one-horse carriage. Since the horse, the oats which feed him, the plain wooden car, the obliging driver, and his food, which consists of bread and potatoes—in a word, all that you pay for—is produced in the country, this proportion of Irish to English prices probably extends to all the necessaries of life—that is, as one to two. To a traveller who desires to see the country, these cars are much to be recommended. They allow him the most delightful independence; and as he is bound to no particular route, he can go about the country  p.46 in any direction by paying his sixpence for every mile: and his legs being half out of the vehicle, he can readily jump off and on, and need pass nothing unexamined. Besides, in the driver he has a talkative Paddy, who, for the sake of the counterpoise, usually sits, not on his own box-seat, but on the other side-seat, dos-à-dos with his passenger. He is not disinclined, however, to turn this dos-à-dos into a vis-à-vis, and enter into conversation with the traveller, and “show him the country.” Being himself full of curiosity, he does all in his power to satisfy that of his passenger; he stops whenever the latter wishes it, drives more slowly when he perceives that he is observing any thing; and often adds, when he believes he has said something clever, “Will your honour plase to put that down?”

On one of the many lovely sunny days which even Ireland enjoyed in the autumn of 1842, I rolled away, in a conveyance such as I have described, towards the Shannon, in order, by means of this beautiful river, to pursue my travels in the south-west of the island. In this most central part of Ireland, from its eastern shores to the Shannon, there are no natural beauties to admire. The country is flat, and the attention is therefore more directed to man and his works. Alas! they can afford him no pleasure, for the former appears mostly in rags, and the latter are generally in ruins. Ruins should not be suffered in any country where order is prized. They should be removed, either because the materials of which they are composed might be applied in new, useful buildings, and the room which they occupy can be turned to a better use; or because, by their total downfall, they threaten the safety of men, and are besides disagreeable objects to look at. Ireland, however, is the first country in Europe for ruins; and here you have them from all periods of history, from the oldest times of the Phoenicians, down to the present day. Some of these ruins are supposed to be the remains of temples erected by fire-worshippers from the East; 6 others are looked upon as Druidical remains, or castles of the old Celtic kings of the island. Portions of the churches built on the introduction of Christianity are numerous. The period of the Danish dominion has also bestowed on the land another extremely rich collection; and down to our own days each century, nay, every decade, has left its ruins here. For multitudes of dilapidated buildings are to be seen in every direction—of buildings that seem not only to have recently fallen into decay, but also to have been but recently built. During my journey I did not see a single village or town entirely free from such recent ruins. In many places we found whole rows of desolated and falling houses, standing side by side, in tens and  p.47 twelves. As melancholy tales of war and poetic legends are wont to be associated in the minds of the people with the ruins of old castles and churches, so to each of these more modern ruins of dwelling-houses is attached a still sadder tale of wrong committed in times of peace. The cruel ejectment of a tenant by his landlord, the mournful emigration of the poor inhabitants, brought on by necessity, or the want of means to repair their houses, are usually assigned as causes for their decay. Generally speaking, the people are not very communicative on this subject. “Oh, it is a very sad story, sir,” say they: “it is better not to speak of it;” or, “It seems, the landlord does not care much about it — just as it happens, so he leaves it.”

The painter is better off; for as there are multitudes of plants in Ireland, especially on the walls, Irish ruins are usually very picturesque. The most beautiful ivy climbs all over them; while wild roses, yews, beeches, and similar plants and trees, nestle every where between the walls. In some countries of Europe, as Livonia, Courland, and Poland, the ruins are almost entirely naked; but in green Ireland it is quite the reverse. Often have I seen the most wretched huts, mantled in a beautiful robe of full, rich ivy, worthy to clothe the ruined walls of a royal castle of by-gone days; and I am convinced that many a cabin is now made habitable only by the ivy, and would surely fall asunder if it were destroyed.

Another phenomenon, not less remarkable than the ruins, is the rags. As the Irishman inhabits his house as long as possible without giving it any repair, and then deserts it as soon as it has become wholly untenable; so he wears his clothes as long as a single thread of them will hold together, never giving the tailor an opportunity of earning a penny by repairing them. In other lands there are poor people enough, who, though rarely able to exchange their old clothes for new ones, yet do all they can to keep them in a wearable condition. Thus, in Russia, the peasants, forced by their climate, stitch patch upon patch over the holes of their old sheep-skins, and even the very poorest rarely exhibits his bare skin, which, in Ireland, is freely exposed even by persons far above the condition of beggars, and whose circumstances may be called comfortable. To wear the very coarsest clothes is in no country deemed disgraceful; but (except in Ireland, where a naked elbow or a bare arm seems to offend no one,) to appear in rags is no where allowed, save only to those whom the extreme of misery has plunged into such deep despair as to make them despise all sense of decency and feeling. The Irish rag-garments have something quite peculiar about them. Rags so completely rubbed away by  p.48 wear and labour, so reduced to their original threads of wool, nay, so totally reduced to dust, are no where else to be seen on a human body. On the elbows and the other angular parts of the body, the clothes hang like leaves dropping from a withered rose. The edges of the coat hang down, fringed, as it were, with tatters; and it is often impossible to distinguish either the outside of a garment from the inside, the top from the bottom, or the sleeves from the body. Legs and arms no longer find their accustomed places. Every morning the drapery is arranged in a different manner; and were it not pretty much the same in the end whether the breeches be used as a coat, or the coat as breeches, it might appear quite a wonder how such a heap of various rags, held together by mere threads, can be put on at all. The rags of the Irish appear the more comical, since the cut of the national costume is that of our dress-coat. With us, the lower orders wear only the long frock-coat, enveloping the body all round, or, when at work, short round jackets. In Belgium, France, and other countries, the labouring classes wear very convenient blouses. In England, too, blouses, (or smock-frocks) are worn in many counties, and amongst these may be found numerous excellent models of garments most suitable for a working agriculturist. Paddy, it is probable, does not find any of these genteel enough; for he has chosen the French dress-coat, with its high useless collar, its swallow-tail hanging down behind, and its open breast. To this he adds short knee-breeches, with shoes and stockings, or gaiters; so that, as regards the cut of his clothes, he is from head to foot “a rale gintleman.” Such a dress is the least suitable and the most ridiculous that could be chosen by a working man. It affords him no protection against the inclemency of the weather, and is much in his way when at work; yet it is quite universal in Ireland. It is almost inexplicable how this has happened, since the Irish labourers are alone in the world in this respect. It is said that vast numbers of old coats are constantly imported from England, where the farmers wear them, but not the labourers. Perhaps the low price at which these old garments are sold, may have induced the Irish to lay aside their national garb, which has now completely disappeared, and which was probably much more suited for them, and to mount their dunghills in a coarse and tattered ball-dress. The greater part of these coats are, however, made in the country itself, out of a coarse gray woollen cloth, which they call “frieze;” and hence these coats are also termed “frieze-coats.”

It is on Sundays only, and then amongst the more comfortable class of peasants, that the frieze-coat is to be seen in its complete  p.49 perfection, with its full complement of four buttons behind and six before. On week days, not only are the buttons sometimes wanting, but it often falls into that strange condition I have described. Sometimes one of the swallow-tails is totally wanting, while the remaining one hangs dangling down quite melancholy looking, mourning, as it were, over its departed comrade. Not unfrequently are these long-pointed laps seen dangling by one or two threads, yet it does not occur to Paddy to keep them up by a few stitches, or to release them from their painful situation by one final cut. Every morning he draws on his dress-coat, with its dangling tails, and wears it until it drops off of its own accord, and then “just as it happens, so he leaves it.” These long tails being usually the first part to separate from the coat, Paddy should long since have taken the hint, and adopted the more convenient jacket. He would then no longer find it necessary, as he does whilst the coat is yet new, to turn up these tails while at work, and tie them with a piece of cord.

His head-dress also quite harmonizes with this dress-coat. It consists, not, as it ought to do, of a light waterproof cap, but of a most comical, miserable, and disfigured hat of felt or silk, which, Heaven alone knows how often! has been resolved by the rain to its original pulp, and then dried again. That the higher and independent classes should be content with a head-dress so unsuitable and inconvenient as our hat, and be prevented from laying it aside by fashion, is quite intelligible; but that among millions of the labouring classes so ridiculous an article of dress should remain in vogue for years is to me inconceivable, and irreconcilable with that sound common sense which is the peculiar characteristic of the masses. Paddy, however, arranges the thing after his own fashion, and in time makes the stiff hat pretty soft, and low like a cap. The brim he mostly turns up away from his face in front, and bends it down behind. The crown soon falls in; but as this is an important part, it is retained in its place by twine, until it will no longer hold together; and even after the crown is completely gone, and the hat has become, properly speaking, totally useless, Paddy still wears it for some years longer, merely for the sake of ornament. The very sight of such peasants at work in the fields or the farm-yards appears highly comical, for they look less like peasants than broken-down dancing-masters, who have been cruelly treated by Dame Fortune. I say comical, for even in his deepest misery Paddy has always so much that is whimsical about him, that one is often more disposed to laugh at than to weep for him.

Nothing presents a greater contrast to this tattered, poor, and  p.50 meagre Irishman, than that animal which is usually the inmate of his house—the pig. This animal you meet every where, and so well fed, so fat, so round, and plump, as you will scarcely see it any where else. There is a legend among the Irish, that, as the first foreign conquerors were approaching the island, the enchanters, magicians, and priests, in order to frighten away the invaders, transformed the entire country into an enormous pig. In fact, if you contemplate the figure which the coasts of the island describe, you may discover, in its graceful oval, some similarity to the round form of an Irish pig. At all events, the legend seems to indicate that the pig was in old times an animal highly valued in Ireland. So much is this the case now, that I know but one other country in Europe where it is equally esteemed—I mean Wallachia. There, as in Ireland, you see every house surrounded by a multitude of swine; and from thence, too, numbers are yearly exported to the neighbouring countries, as they are from Ireland to England and Scotland. The Wallachian pigs, which grow up in the woods, are much wilder than the Irish pigs, which are literally reared up with the family of their owner. As the Arab has his horse, the Greenlander his dog, so has the Irishman his pig. It may, perhaps, sound strange, but it is not the less true, that he feeds it quite as well as his children. It is admitted into his dwelling-room, in which it lives, either roaming at large like the rest, or it has its own corner, as the children have theirs. He shares with it his best potatoes, his milk, and, if he has any, his bread too, for he knows that the pig will indirectly repay him twofold. On the pig rest the best hopes of every poor Irish peasant, for it frees him from his greatest load and anxiety. “The pig pays the rint,” is the expression you hear constantly repeated. If you hurt a pig, they say, “Let the poor thing alone, it must pay the rint for us;” or if you praise one, “Yes, it is a useful beast, it pays our rint,”—that source of all the poor Irishman's cares. The high rent which he has to pay his landlord is the worst of all his earthly sorrows. It is said that the goat, which is more easily fed, has lately been taking the place of the pig; but this can only be true of some single district, for the pig is still the predominant animal throughout Ireland.

In front of most of the farm-houses that I passed I saw a couple of hawthorn bushes, clipped into crosses, pyramids, and other shapes, as is the fashion in England. All along the road too they were very common, and the trunks of some of them were extremely thick, and apparently of a much more advanced age than they are to be found in Germany. These thorn-bushes, when in spring they are laden with thousands of lovely white blossoms, are  p.51 the delight of the country people. The accounts given by English authors of the vastness of the ancient Irish forests seem almost incredible; but be this as it may, there are now districts in Ireland where these hawthorns are the only remains of the trees and woods in which they were once so rich, and in many large tracts no other species of tree is to be met with. Of all the countries of Europe which have been reduced to great poverty in timber, through bad management of their forests, Ireland has suffered most. But as in the Swiss cantons, in southern Russia, in Greece, in the Baltic provinces, and in England, so in Ireland it is hoped to compensate for former bad management by re-planting trees. The larch seems to be the object of special attention, and I saw numerous young plantations of this beautiful and useful tree, but always in little patches, and never in such extensive tracts as we find the pine and other trees in our own well-wooded fatherland. As the English require much timber for their famed “wooden walls,” it is with them infinitely more costly than with us; and there being in Ireland so many acres lying waste, on which beautiful oaks or silver firs might be produced, it is incomprehensible why more energetic exertions have not been made to plant these tracts, now remaining perfectly useless, with the trees I have mentioned.

Ballimahon, the second place at which we changed horses, is a little town, known throughout the surrounding country, like Lanesborough, and other places in the county of Longford, for its great egg-market. People are constantly to be seen with baskets on their heads, going about from cabin to cabin purchasing eggs, which they then take to the market, from whence they are shipped by the canal to Dublin, and from thence to England. Liverpool, and even London, are in a great measure supplied with Irish eggs.

Through narrow and crooked bye-ways, where ivy-mantled cabins, hawthorns, and numberless fields badly cultivated by rag-clothed Paddies, frequently met my view, I arrived at Athlone. All the principal towns of the first and second classes, as Dublin, Belfast, Waterford, Cork, Limerick, Galway, Sligo, Londonderry, &c., lie on the coast; the towns in the interior of the island are of the third class only. One of these is Athlone, which is almost in the very centre of the island, and seems, on this account, entitled to be the capital. Indeed, it was at one time contemplated to make it the seat of government; and it is at present the chief military station, from whence, in case of internal disturbances, or foreign invasion, any given point may be most speedily reached. It is fortified, and contains in its barracks troops of every description—artillery, cavalry, and infantry.


South of Athlone, we crossed a portion of the Bog of Allen. This great bog composes, under various names, a considerable part of the extensive plain which runs from east to west, from Dublin to Galway, dividing the island into two parts, a mountainous south and a mountainous north. Cultivation, and consumption of the turf, have already removed considerable portions of this morass; but the hollows and valleys are often entirely filled with it, and here and there are to be seen vast, wide tracts, covered with this fruitless bog, which generally presents the appearance of a reddish, unvaried, uniform surface. On its borders stand pretty clumps of trees, and the cultivated fields often come down close to the edge of the turf, as in Switzerland the flowery meadows extend to the very edge of the glaciers. From these bogs vast quantities of turf are sent to Limerick by the Shannon, and to Dublin by the canals; for, with the exception of the wealthy in the seaport towns, all the people of Ireland yet burn turf, which is more easily obtained from the surface of the ground than the hard stone-coal from the depths of the earth. The size and extent of the Irish coal-fields are yet unknown, they having hitherto been very imperfectly worked. When all the turf is consumed, the coal-fields will attract more attention; but although many districts already experience a scarcity of the ordinary fuel, some centuries must elapse before it is entirely exhausted. In the northern plains of Germany, where there are many turf-bogs, the people have a regular plan for reproducing the turf. They cut it in square holes of a certain size, in which the bog-water collects. In this water, marsh-plants spring up, and by their decay and deposits new layers of turf are gradually formed, which, after thirty or forty years, can be cut again. Thus they possess an inexhaustible source of profit and fuel. In Ireland they know nothing of this. The turf is always cut away, wherever nature has placed it, without any regard to its reproduction. Many villages already weep over their last sod of turf; and it is a melancholy sight to see, here and there behind the houses, very diminutive mounds of fuel, pared away all round, and which one can easily calculate will not last beyond a limited time.

The Irish call their turf-fields “bogs”, as the English call them “mosses” or “moors.” Bog is probably an old Celtic word, as it also appears in the French “bogue.” The turf they call “peat.”

One of the most remarkable phenomena connected with these bogs is, that they develope themselves from their centres, and burst over their sides. The edges and sides often become dry, and form a kind of wall around the central mass, where, as it continues moist, the growth of the marsh-plants is greatest. The  p.53 centre, therefore, soon rises higher than the edges, and this greater elevation is quite apparent if you look over the surface. Now there are usually a number of little brooks and streamlets through which the surplus water of the bog flows off; but it sometimes happens that these streams are choked up, and then the moisture increases in the centre, until the bog at last overflows its borders, wasting fertile fields, overwhelming houses, covering trees, and the property of men; like the Schmutzlawines in Switzerland, or the lava-streams of volcanoes. This has frequently happened both in the present and in former times; and in this way the bogs may have extended themselves over so large a portion of Ireland. Many interesting articles, which are often dug up, afford strong evidence of such sudden eruptions; as trunks of trees, implements of labour, skeletons of men, and those of animals which no longer exist in Ireland. One of the most remarkable of these articles is what is called the bog-butter. This substance looks like meerschaum, is of the same pale colour, and about as hard as a dry cheese. Some contend that it is real butter, which has been thus altered by the bog-water; but if this is the true explanation, one is inclined to ask why bog-cheese or bog-bread is not also found? The most probable conjecture is, that it is produced by some process of fermentation in the bogs.

Shannon Harbour, where we arrived in the evening, is a little place near the junction of the Grand Canal with the Shannon. As this canal goes direct to Dublin, and the Shannon is navigable from hence to Limerick, Shannon Harbour is the centre point of the traffic between those two cities. At present it consists only of a good hotel, and a row of stores alongside the canal, with an appendix of cabins for Irish labourers. A branch of the canal also leads towards Galway; so that Shannon Harbour, by reason of its central position, may yet become a place of some importance. At present this internal trade of Ireland is very inconsiderable. In the warehouses I saw little else beyond a large quantity of Galway oysters; and as these did not greatly interest me, I turned to the past, which lay near me in the shape of a ruined castle, once the abode of a celebrated Irish hero and leader against the English, of the name of Mac Oghlan, who possessed six castles in this neighbourhood. One of these we had already passed on the road. Although on the outside it appeared a perfect castle of the middle ages, and was completely covered with ivy, yet it is inhabited by its present proprietor, who seems to have converted it into a very comfortable dwelling. I have met with many instances in Ireland of old ruined castles, which are still partially inhabited.


Another lay about a mile and a half distant, and a young man accompanied me to show me the way. It was dusk when we reached it; and when I made a movement to leap over a ditch to go up to the castle, which was on the other side in the middle of a potato field, my guide remained behind. I desired him to follow me; but he shook his head, saying, he would rather wait upon the road until I returned. I soon discovered that the cause of his lingering behind was his fear of the “good people,” of which the Irish are as much in dread as of the Evil One himself. I was, however, curious to see how far his fears went, and pretended to compel him to attend me to the castle, at the same time informing him that, unless he did so, I would not give him the shilling I had promised him. “Oh, I don't care about it!” muttered he to himself. I therefore inspected the castle by myself, but it contained nothing but window-holes, fallen vaults, and loop-holes, without anything remarkable. Not far off stood a small house which had been pointed out to me at Shannon Harbour, and whose inhabitants I was told knew many traditions concerning the old castle. I now directed my steps thither, and called a woman whom I saw at the door. At first, she seemed to consider whether she should obey my call, and asked what I wanted; but when I approached her, she commenced shrieking and ran off at full speed across the fields, to a cabin at some distance. The direction in which I came through the potato field from the castle may have seemed rather suspicious to her, and my foreign accent may have completed her terrors. My guide I met again in Shannon Harbour. He had run without stopping all the way, and did not think himself safe till he was sitting in his mother's house, beside the turf fire. His mother scolded him, it is true; but who knows whether she would have gone to the castle herself! Wherever English civilization penetrates, there the “good people” gradually disappear. It appears to me, however, that they disappear very slowly indeed; for in whatever part of Anglicized Ireland I happened to be abroad in the twilight, I have invariably found myself surrounded by crowds of “good people.”

Not far from Shannon Harbour, a few miles up the river, are the very interesting ruins called the “Seven Churches.” This place is held sacred since the first introduction of Christianity. The ruins of the churches are situated near the beautiful bank of the river, and among them, it is said, are the graves of many Irish kings. I had opportunities, afterwards, of seeing many holy places of this kind, and will return to the subject.

As Shannon Harbour has its Mac Oghlan, so has every locality its famous hero, who once ruled the surrounding country as king  p.55 or chief—who still lives in the legends of the people, and whose descendants one frequently meets with. For almost every Irishman of respectability prides himself on being descended from some King of Munster, Leinster, Connaught, or Ulster. Many even still assert that they are the true representatives of these ancient kings, and are also looked upon and treated as such by their friends. A great number of “forfeited titles” are still maintained “par courtoisie,” in the families and among the friends of those claiming them; and there are persons who, though their names are not to be met with in the peerage, either as lords or peers, are yet in private life looked upon as higher than either, and called princes. The most ancient of these genuine Irish families, who do not derive their nobility from the English peerage, are the so-called “Milesian families,” who trace their pedigree from Miletius, the conqueror of Ireland, the second son of Heremon, King of Spain, who came over to Ireland, some say 500, and others 1000 years before Christ. Some assert that most of the Irish names which begin with O, as O'Connell, O'Donnell, O'Sullivan, indicate such a Milesian antiquity. There are historians enough, however, who reject as mere fables all these old legends of Heremon Miletius, of the Tuatha-de-Danaans who inhabited Ireland before the time of Miletius and his Spaniards, and of the Firbolgs, who lived before the Tuatha-de-Danaans, and many years prior to the birth of Christ. A few, among whom is Moore, partially believe them; but it is certain that, even to the present day, the common people repose the utmost confidence in these old traditions, and will probably continue to do so for many ages. Every Irishman has the history of Miletius, Heremon, the Phoenicians, Spaniards, Tuatha-de-Danaans, &c., as completely by rote as a German schoolboy has the history of Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, &c. Therefore, even supposing there may not be a particle of truth in these stories, it is still a remarkable fact, first, that the Irish, like the Indians, should have built up for themselves a system of traditions whose roots descend into the grayest antiquity; and, secondly, be the problem solved as it may, that an entire people should, at the present day, suffer itself to be led by imagined legends and feigned names, and speak of them with as much clearness and confidence as if they had only happened yesterday. If this is not an historical, it is at least an ethnographical and psychological problem; and I believe that nothing similar to it is to be found in any other part of Europe. In Italy there are no living and talked-of traditions of the kingdom of Janus, or the sovereignty  p.56 of Saturn; nor in Germany or Scandinavia are there to be found, except in books, any sagas of Odin, or of our immigrations from the East. In France, also, Caesar has silenced all the old Druidical and Celtic traditions; yet the “Saxons” have not been able to banish Miletius and his companions from Ireland; for here old primaeval traditions are every where hopping about, as fresh and lively as if they were children gifted with perpetual youth and immortality.

Even under Norman and Saxon family-names in Ireland, old Celtic races often lie hid: these families having, in times of persecution, laid aside their ancient national names, and assumed new Normanized or Saxonized appellations. Thus, the real old Irish name of the well-known family of Fitz-Patrick is “Mac Guillo Phatrick,” i. e. the son of the servant of St. Patrick: the Irish “Mac” being changed for the Norman “Fitz” (fils, in French,) which also means a son. The old name, however, is always handed down from generation to generation by means of such expressions as “we are properly called so and so;” and the people prefer calling these old families by their genuine ancient names.

I met, at Shannon Harbour, a member of one of these old Irish families; and as, notwithstanding their pride of extensive and celebrated ancestry, they are very social and communicative, we spent the evening very pleasantly in conversation. The most interesting communication of my friend was the plan of an estate, which, he said, his family had possessed for 1800 years, first as independent princes, and afterwards as vassals of the English under an altered name. On this territory, of perhaps forty English square miles, there are no less than eighteen old ruined castles, and two ruined towers—a ruin for every two square miles. If this might be taken as a standard for all Ireland, there must be in that country, since it contains 32,000 square miles, some 16,000 ruins of castles and towers; and perhaps this number is not much over the truth. My friend and his map were from Connemara—the Irish “highlands”—a wild, mountainous district in the western part of Connaught. He praised beyond measure the hospitality of the gentry of that country, particularly the O'Flahertys, which is the most extensive family there, and the descendants of the ancient kings or sovereigns. There the gentry live very “stylishly”, as my friend expressed himself, are extravagant, and give parties and banquets as in the olden times; for the Irish, especially in those western parts, are in general fond of show. Hence it is that their estates are so heavily mortgaged,  p.57 and so badly managed. These mortgages, the consequence of extravagance, are every where adduced as one of the chief causes of the decline of Irish agriculture.

Connaught, and especially the mountainous Connemara, was the principal refuge of the old Celtic Irish, when driven by the English from the eastern parts of the island. It may therefore be compared with Wales, whither the ancient Britons were driven by the Saxons. The Irish language is most spoken in these western districts, and the English least understood. In the eastern parts of the island, therefore, “a western” is almost synonymous with a barbarian, or a savage. Leinster, on whose borders we were now standing, is almost completely Anglicized, and only in some inconsiderable localities is the Irish the prevailing language of the people. It is the same with a great part of Munster, although there the Irish language is more frequently heard. The largest portion of Ulster has been Scotticized, yet Irish is still spoken in some districts. The greatest part of Connaught alone remains purely Irish. Leinster is the province of light, Connaught is yet in darkness: there is the greatest cultivation, and the paradisiacal land of Wicklow; here, the greatest poverty, barbarism, and superstition, and the wilds of Connemara. These differences are often observable in trifles: for instance, in Leinster, as in England, the common people eat the entrails of sheep, but never those of the swine; the latter, on the other hand, are eaten all through Connaught, according to the old Irish usage, but the former never. The inhabitants of Connaught, too, often call the people of LeinsterSaxons”; but this distinction is current in Ireland only, for in England they all indiscriminately pass for Irishmen, and a Saxon from Leinster is never considered an Englishman. He has, it is true, adopted the English language, and many English habits; but he has at the same time taken so much from the Irish, and has so invested himself with their original character, that the English proverb with respect to those Saxon Irish, “Hibernis ipsis Hiberniores,” contains a good deal of truth.

As between the population, so there is also, in the opinion of the natives, a remarkable difference in the climate of the East and the West, slight as their distance from each other may appear. The West is deemed far more rainy than the East, and in the mountains of Connemara it is said never to cease raining. Now since Ireland, as every body knows, is yet more foggy and rainy than England, while we North Germans justly decry the latter for its humidity, there seems to be a continued  p.58 increase in the moisture of the atmosphere all the way from Holland to the western coasts of Ireland.

The next morning we embarked in the steamboat which navigates the Shannon, by which river and its lakes we intended to proceed to Limerick.

5. The Shannon and the Irish Fairies

“the Royal Shannon”—Course of the River—Canals—Navigation of the Shannon—Canal-boats—Hamburgh Oxen—Cattle Trade—The Kingdom of Kerry—Princess Seinin—Classes of Spirits—Stories of them—Facts—The Favourites of the Fairies—The Fairies of Counties—Influence of the Belief in Fairies—The Apostle of Temperance—Total Abstinence—The Blessed Man—Miracles—Further Voyage on the Shannon—Lough Derg and its Islands—Innis-caltra—St. Patrick's Purgatory—The Devil's Bite—Sweet Balley Valley—New Steamboat Construction—Odd Manner of Travelling—Aristotle In Ireland—Old Manuscripts

The Shannon is the largest river in Ireland, and justly is it called by the people “The Royal Shannon,” although a foreigner may deem the epithet hyperbolical, when he remembers the great continental rivers. But one must have travelled on this glorious stream, to be convinced that in rivers, as well as in kings, royal majesty does not depend on great length or extent. This much is certain, that, in the British Islands, there is no second stream, that, for length and breadth, and the charms of its banks, can be compared with the Shannon. From his birth he is vast and broad, for with mighty veins he springs from a lake, (Lough Allen,) and flows through the middle of Ireland, from north-east to south-west. Three times he again widens into a lake; first, in his upper territory, in the little Lough Boffin; then, farther down, into the larger Lough Ree; and, in the middle of his course, into the still larger Lough Derg. Below Limerick he once more spreads himself out like a lake; but as this extension continues to the ocean, this part of the river has received no particular name. The whole length of this beautiful piece of water, from its rise to the ocean, is 214 English miles. The greater portion of the Shannon runs through the central plain of Ireland, which divides the mountainous south from the mountainous  p.59 north. A similar plain runs through England, in the same direction, from Hull to Bristol; and a third again, from east to west, through Scotland, from Edinburgh to Glasgow. The former separates the southern highlands of England, Cornwall, Wiltshire, &c., from the northern, Wales, Westmoreland, Cumberland, &c.; while the latter separates the mountains of the Scottish border from the Highlands. The Shannon may therefore be compared with the Severn and the Clyde. The chief canals of England and Scotland also pass through these central plains.

As the Shannon waters no less than thirteen of the thirty-two counties of Ireland, its navigability has been long an important question in that country. More than 100 years ago, it was believed, that, by an outlay of from 60,000l. to 80,000l., it would be possible to remove the obstacles to its navigation, including several banks of rocks and shallows which unfortunately crossed its bed in several places. The celebrated Lord Wentworth, Earl of Stafford, who was for a long time Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, first proposed a plan for this purpose, but it was never carried into effect. Several plans were afterwards projected in England, (where nearly all the speculations for the improvement of Ireland originate,) and some of these were partly executed. But the introduction of steam navigation, which has been so advantageously applied upon numerous other rivers, in overcoming the opposition of the currents, had had the most decisive effect on the navigation of the Shannon. A steam-navigation company has been formed; and although the works are not yet completed, twelve steamers are now employed upon the river, while fifteen years ago there was only one.

As there are no railroads in Ireland, except one or two small ones, which there seems no intention of extending, the canals are much used for travelling, and regular passage-boats traverse them in every direction. They are drawn like the trekschuiten in Holland, by horses, which proceed at a quick trot; and this mode of conveyance affords the traveller the best opportunities of becoming acquainted with the interesting people of Ireland.

It was on a delightful, clear, warm day that we embarked on the Shannon, which appeared as beautiful as any other river in the world. Flowing out of a lake, and having frequent opportunities of resting itself in wide basins, its water is extremely clear and lucent, and its movement is very equable and slow, except in a few places where there are rapids, which are avoided by means of canals. The banks, too, are agreeable and pleasing. Broad, fresh-green meadows stretch along its sides, and little hamlets alternate with charming country-seats, surrounded by their parks.  p.60 Herons are frequently to be seen on its borders, and many of these beautiful birds were gyrating in the sunshine.

On board the steamboat were many packages from the Dublin circulating libraries, in which was contained spiritual food for the residents in the country; but our most remarkable freight was a few oxen and cows from Hamburgh, which had found their way hither by the operation of Sir Robert Peel's new tariff. This not a little alarmed the people, as Ireland had hitherto been always accustomed to export cattle of this description, and to receive money for them, instead of paying high prices for foreign animals. Immediately after the promulgation of this tariff, nothing was spoken of in England, but the cattle that were sure to be imported into the United Kingdom from Hamburgh, Holstein, Holland, Sweden, and even from Spain and Africa. But, as is sufficiently proved by the trifling importations which have taken place, all this was a mere invention of the newspapers, to excite the public against the tariff. With regard to the Hamburgh cattle, our own eyes bore witness to their importation; and when we consider the speculating spirit of the English, which extends itself to all the four quarters of the world, and attempts every thing, it is not improbable that Spanish and Swedish cattle will also be imported. These Hamburgh beasts, however, caused much anxiety to the Irish, whose chief source of income consists in the exportation of cattle. “Our woollen manufactures,” said one to me, “that once flourished in Kilkenny, Dublin, and other places, have been destroyed by the English; our linen manufactures at Belfast and Drogheda are threatened with ruin; no branch of manufactures can rise among us, on account of the enormous privileges enjoyed by English industry; and now, if our farmers and graziers are to be made bankrupts, our prospects are totally destroyed.” As the tariff was introduced by the English ministry chiefly for the advantage of the manufacturing districts, the indignation of the Irish was much increased against the English manufacturers, whom they regard as their greatest enemies. It is strange that these manufacturing towns give rise to so much angry feeling, which is not confined to Ireland, for whilst the Irish complain that their manufacturing industry is checked by the English, so do the English and Scotch complain that the Irish labourers, who throng the manufacturing towns, and work for less wages, destroy their market. Some connoisseurs stood around the Hamburgh cattle, and shaking their heads, gave it as their opinion, that if no better were imported, they could scarcely vie with the Irish cattle, be the tariff ever so low. “There is nothing kind about them; they are very coarse, but strong for working,” Such was the opinion of a  p.61 bystander, who said he had been a long time in Hamburgh; but as we, in the interior of Germany, are wont to consider the roast-beef of Hamburgh as something particularly delicate and good, I could not bring myself to coincide in this opinion.

Our party on board the steamer was divided into two—one silent, through conceit and etiquette; the other talkative and natural. The former paced up and down the quarter-deck, busied with itself; the latter sat chatting in the forecastle. After having in vain made some attempts to break the ice among the former, I preferred to join the latter, where I was soon successful, and became engaged in a conversation from which I derived much instructive and interesting information. A man from the “kingdom” of Kerry, as the Irish call it, I suppose “par courtoisie” took me under his especial protection. These Kerrymen are famous in Ireland for their great, though somewhat antiquated, learning. “Even the cow-boys and the poor farmers' sons know Latin there,” is a common saying. My Kerryman was the son of a peasant; he was about thirty years of age, talkative, animated, and richly imaginative, like all the lower orders of the Irish. He narrated to me a multitude of stories and traditions, all of which unfortunately I did not understand, on account of his peculiar dialect. Of the Shannon, and the origin of its name, he told me one. There was long ago, he said, one Princess Seinin, the daughter of a King of Munster, and in beauty and virtue a queen among the daughters of the land. She was once bathing in a lonely part of the Shannon, when she was surprised by some men. Her delicate and virgin feelings were hereupon seized with such shame and horror, that she immediately sunk and disappeared beneath the waves. “Even before the blush of shame could rise into her cheeks, she disappeared beneath the waves,” was the expression of the narrator, which was much applauded by the bystanders. In honour of her the Shannon received its name.

I was also told of an Irish king, who fell in with fairies and elves, with whom he lived a hundred years, and thought they were but two days. Among the old ruins at Shannon Harbour I had seen how much invisible spirits are feared by the Irish. Here upon the charming Shannon, in the fairest sunshine, I had now an opportunity of seeing with what zeal and interest they can talk of them by day: and I do not exaggerate, when I say that they put their heads together, and talked as eagerly as merchants on 'Change, when settling some important business. They call all fairies and unterrestrial spirits, the “good people.” But there are also particular classes, as the Leprahauns, and the Lechrigauns. I asked what difference there was between the “good people” and  p.62 these, and was informed that the entire world is full of the former, while of the latter there were but few. The Leprahauns are a species of spirits who dwell in the earth, and are wont to show treasures to those who have courage enough to follow them. It is therefore essential that a person should not look round, but keep his eye steadily fixed upon the Leprahaun, who precedes him. If you take your eye off him but for an instant, he disappears, and you are left alone in a wilderness, where evils of all sorts may befal you. This is usually the case, and the Leprahauns take great delight in tormenting men in this way. On the other hand, whoever follows him courageously and keeps his eye steadily fixed upon the little goblin, go where he may, is sure to win the game. When he perceives that the man does not lose sight of him, he begins to bargain with him. If the man now looks at him with a steady eye, the spirit is completely in his power, and begins to make the most pitiable entreaties, and the most golden promises, to be let go. The man can then do with him what he will; and make his fortune for life. I thought of the spirit Ariel, whom Prospero had in his service, and there seemed to me, in this tale, to be a beautiful symbol of the power of the human mind and will, which, by perseverance and energy, conquers all hinderances, and bends even spirits to do its pleasure; whilst those who rule it with less energy, it torments and makes miserable. But Paddy, though he has invented the legend, finds himself, I fear, generally in the latter condition.

In Germany, too, we speak of apparitions and the like; but in general it is only very indefinitely said that “people” or that “somebody” has seen them; and it is difficult to find any one who has beheld them with his own eyes. In Ireland, however, it is otherwise; for persons are to be met every where who have themselves experienced and seen them. “Your honour won't believe our stories about the fairies,” said one of my companions to me, as I shook my head while he was telling one of his tales; “but I'd lay a wager there are many among us here who have experienced the most wonderful things, which sound almost incredible, but which one must believe because they are simple, indisputable facts. I will bring one to you in a moment.” He took a man by the arm, who was standing near, and led him into the middle of the circle. “See, here is Tom Sullivan, the son of Patrick O'Sullivan, the son of Phelim Fad: he is my friend, and one of the best pipers in Kerry, though he was thirty years old before he touched the pipes. But it happened that as he was once wandering among the mountains he felt tired, and laid himself down and fell asleep, without knowing that the place was  p.63 sacred to the 'good people,' and there are many such places in our country. Now, in his sleep the fairies appeared to him, and after playing the most beautiful tunes in the world, on the bagpipes, laid down the pipes beside him. When he awoke he felt about him in the grass, and found a set of the beautifulest pipes, and took them home with him—and that's a fact. He tried to play them, when lo and behold you! he knew how to play of himself, and without any trouble, all the fine tunes the fairies had played to him in his dream; and since then, as I said before, he is the best piper in our part of the country. That's a fact, your honour! Is it not so, Tom?” “Is it, Tom?” asked I of the musician.
“It is just so, your honour, and very nice little people they were that taught me; and though it is thirty years since they gave me the pipes, I have them ever since, and they play just as well now as they did the first day. That's a fact, sir! And where's the wonder? Haven't I a friend of my own in Kerry, to whom more than this same happened—one Phin Mac Shane, the son of Hugh Mac Shane, who has fallen in with the fairies oftener than I. The Kerry fairies had once a quarrel with the Limerick fairies, and fought many battles. In these combats they used to take into their service such mortals as were distinguished for their strength and dexterity, and place them in the front of the battle. Well, this happened to my friend Phin. The Kerry fairies and the Limerick fairies were pretty equal in all their battles, and neither party could conquer the other, till at last the Kerry fairies happened to surprise my friend Phin on one of their meeting-places, where they have power over men, and forced him into their service. They gave him a cap that made him seven times stronger than ever he was before, and then he marched into the front of the battle, and beat the Limerick fairies from the field. To reward him they made him a present of the cap, and he possesses it to this very moment. And when he puts it on, there's not a man in the whole village would dare lay a finger on him, for he is stronger than them all. That's another fact, your honour! And when you come to Kerry, I will show you my pipes, and Phin shall show you his cap.”

“You don't believe it, sir,” said an old woman, who now joined in the conversation. “But haven't I seen the good people dancing on their meeting-ground with my own eyes, and heard their beautiful music with my own ears; and that, too, but a couple of days since, as my husband and I were coming from Galway, across, the bog near Ballinasloe, in the county of Roscommon. We were both tired, and lay down by the side of a well after we had taken  p.64 a drink. My husband soon fell asleep, but I remained awake, and after a while I heard the most wonderful music. At first I believed there was a piper near me, and I got up to look for him; but when I didn't find him I awoke my husband, and bade him listen to the sounds. They seemed to me to come up out of the well; and when I was going to look down into it my husband pulled me back, and “come along,” says he; “it's the good people plays,” says he; and so up we got out of the dust, without looking round us; and in the hurry I forgot a beautiful new silk handkerchief that I had bought in Galway, and had taken out by the well to look at.”

“That is again a fact,” remarked my Kerry friend. The English, who are great lovers of facts, have many “Books of Facts” for their children; but I believe facts of this description are not to be found in them.

When a person has been listening for some time to these Irish fact-men, his fancy becomes so heated with their fairy tales that he cannot help occasionally feeling for his nose or chin, in order to satisfy himself of his corporeal existence. Paddy is, in this respect, one of the most believing fellows I have ever met with. The Irish have numbers of yet more beautiful and wonderful stories than those I have related, but I have only given those which I heard with my own ears from believing eye-witnesses, as being much more characteristic of the people than the most poetical legends, which are generally too highly finished by the decorating hand of the professional story-writer.

It is characteristic of the Irish to divide their fairies according to the counties into which the country is divided. Thus there are Tipperary fairies, and Donegal fairies, as well as Kerry or Limerick fairies, all of which have their fights and quarrels with, one another, as well as the human inhabitants of these counties. But in Tipperary there is a place where all the fairies of Ireland hold their meetings. Another striking characteristic of these fairies is, that they are quite as anxious to receive mortals into their service, as mortals are to make a mighty spirit subject to themselves. “They have always some in their service,” my Kerry friend assured me; and little children they are particularly desirous of obtaining. Those which the fairies cast their eyes on grow sickly, and at last die, and then the fairies take and bring them up, and they grow big and beautiful, and at last become the most distinguished amongst them. But they are fondest of “red-haired children, and 'tis they are the most in danger.”

Though all this sounds poetical, yet it would surely be a great piece of good fortune for Paddy if English cultivation could drive  p.65 all his fairies out of his head. He might then, perhaps, be more careful and industrious, like the Scottish and English farmers. He would not then ascribe all his misfortunes to supernatural influences; and would not always, like Goethe's treasure-seeker, be expecting independence, riches, and happiness from fairies and elves, but from his own diligence and industry. To how many superstitious Irishmen would I have gladly translated this verse of Goethe's—

  1. Komm mit ängstlicher Beschwörung,
    Nicht zurück an diesen Ort.
    Grabe hier nicht mehr vergebens.
    Tages Arbeit, Abend's Gäste,
    Saure Wochen, frohe Feste,
    Sei dein künftig Zauberwort.

But I must return to my “bred-and-born Kerry man,” who was most eager to open his heart to me, and to entrust me with the secrets of his country. The fairies and their wonders employed us not more than that new wonder of the day, which now moves all Ireland—the temperance question. I mean the wonders which the Apostle of Temperance, Father Mathew, is said to have performed. With great attention I listened to the expressions of the people concerning this remarkable man, and especially to their various conceptions of the temperance question, and the opinions concerning Father Mathew held by the Protestants in the north of Ireland, and by the Catholics in the west and south.

The Protestants, on the one hand, look at the question quite soberly, simply, and reasonably. Temperance, they think, is an excellent and truly Christian virtue, and intemperance an immoral and pernicious vice. It is good to preach in favour of the one and against the other, and hail to the virtuous man who does so. It may also be proper to form societies to promote this useful object, in which, to set an example to our inferiors, we may refrain from the excessive use of intoxicating liquors. But as wine and other spirituous liquors do no injury when enjoyed in moderation, but may frequently be rather beneficial both to the  p.66 body and mind, it is unnecessary to give a sacred promise to abstain from them altogether. The Roman Catholics, on the contrary, who are by far the most numerous party in Ireland, look at the subject in quite a different light. They desire, in the first place, a complete renunciation of all spirituous drinks, in like manner as they carry the enjoinments of moderation on their fastdays to the utmost degree of strictness. As they do not feel themselves so secure as the Protestants, who have a greater command over their passions, they would root out the evil altogether, by denying themselves all opportunity to sin. Besides, they behold, in this “total abstinence,” a meritorious work—a sure sanctification of their lives—a species of salvation. And in the great advocate of abstinence—the Apostle of Temperance, as they call him—they see a species of miracle-worker, who not only commands temperance, but also by his blessings, or by bestowing the “pledge,” exercises a particular influence over the lives and welfare of the members of the society. Thus he not only keeps them sober and frugal, but also works out the salvation of their souls, and frees them from purgatory.

Father Mathew is a blessed man! The Almighty, glory be to his name! gave him the power which flows from him.” Such were the expressions of my companions.

“You mean,” said I, “that he possesses a particular persuasive power of eloquence, a peculiar strength of conviction, and is in himself a beautiful virtuous example to imitate.”

“No, no, it's not that. There is a particular grace in receiving the pledge from him, and in obtaining his blessing. There is something in it, sir, which you cannot so easily understand—a grace, a power that no one knows but he who has experienced it in himself. Hence, from his hands only can the true and effective 'pledge' be received. The vow one takes from the hands of other priests has not the same binding power.”

“That is perfectly true, sir,” said another, “for does he not cure even the most confirmed drunkards? And when they have taken the pledge, are they not the most faithful in abstinence, the very best of 'Temperance-men?' How, then, can this be, except with the particular and immediate co-operation of Heaven? Nay, does he not even cure the lame and the blind? and could we not give you a hundred instances, plain facts, how he has healed the lame and the blind even against their own wills? But Father Mathew is too modest to own he possesses this power: he denies that it is in him; but we know well he has it, for all that.”

Here we had hit upon another inexhaustible theme of conversation, which actually ended with the citing of many instances of  p.67 cures of the worst diseases through the miraculous power of Father Mathew. In former days, Ireland had her St. Patrick, who banished toads and serpents from the island. At the present day she has her Father Mathew, who is banishing the spirit of drunkenness from her shores. Between both, there has been a multitude of miracle-workers of a similar kind. By these remarks I do not wish in the least to blot the fame of this worthy man, but only to show how the Irish are wont to encircle such individuals with the halo of saints.

Engaged in conversations such as I have related we sailed down the beautiful clear Shannon, and passed the little town of Banagher, which is fortified—a rare sight in the United Kingdom, yet less rare in Ireland (threatened as she is both by internal and external foes,) than in England and Scotland. Farther down, we passed Redwood Castle on the right, and the beautiful meadows of Portumna on the left; at last the town of Portumna itself, and then we came to Lough Derg. The steamboat which had hitherto conveyed us had her paddles behind, on account of the narrowness of some of the canal passages; but on the broad lake we now entered, we were met by one of larger dimensions. We approached one another sweeping round in a semicircle, and then the two vessels lay side by side, and exchanged passengers. This little manoeuvre looked very pretty in the centre of the clear mirror-like lake.

Of the various lakes, which are strung like pearls on the silver thread of the Shannon, the two middle ones, Lough Ree, near Athlone, and Lough Bodarrig, are the least pleasing, as they lie in the central plain of the island, and are partly surrounded by bog-land. The shores of the northern half of Lough Derg are also quite flat and unpicturesque. But the upper lake, Lough Allen, is in the northern mountainous part of Ireland; and the southern half of Lough Derg, which is twenty-four miles long, is surrounded by a portion of the mountains of the south, and the charms of a beautiful and picturesque landscape. There are also the valleys of the mountains of Inchiquin, the Arra mountains, the Slievh Boughty, and the Slievh 8 Bernagh, which here stretches its numerous arms far into the lake. Like all the Irish lakes, Lough Derg is filled with a number of little green islands, which give it a particularly attractive appearance. Small as these are, each one has its name, as Crow Island, Hare Island, Cow Island, &c. Many of them afford excellent pasturage.


The most celebrated of these islands is Innis-caltra (Innis Island), which is an ancient holy place, containing the “Seven Churches,” and one of those pillar-like structures called “round towers,” of which some account will be found in the sequel. We saw this island in the centre of a bay at the distance of a mile and a half, and by the aid of a telescope could distinctly perceive the most remarkable buildings. A dispute arose among the Irish as to whether the famed “St. Patrick's Purgatory” was to be found on this island or on another in one of the northern lakes, but opinions were much divided on the subject. It may be that the people relate this tradition of several islands; but that the purgatory of the holy St. Patrick, once so famous through the half of Christendom, was situated in one of these little islands of Lough Derg, is acknowledged and satisfactorily proved by all Irish antiquarians. The people once imagined that here was to be found the suburbs of purgatory, or, in a word, the entrance to the lower world. St. Patrick, who converted the Irish to the Christian faith, is said to have obtained permission from God that the entrance to the lower world should be opened in Ireland itself, in order to convince unbelievers of the immortality of the soul, and of the punishments and sufferings the wicked must endure after death.

Boate, an old Irish writer, relates, that two monks formerly dwelt in the neighbourhood of the cavern which represented this entrance. Any one who came to the island with the intention of descending to the world below, was compelled to watch, fast, and pray for a considerable time, under the pretext of strengthening him for his perilous journey, but in reality to weaken him, and allow his imagination to overpower his judgment, for which purpose his mind was excited by all manner of wonderful tales. Thus prepared, he was lowered into the cave, which was immediately closed above. After the lapse of some hours he was drawn out again, half dead, and upon recovering failed not to intermix with the reality the monkish stories and his own dreamings, and thus related the most marvellous tales about the world below. In the reign of James II. the monks were driven from the place, and the dark cavern broken up.

This legend struck me as unusual, and at the same time extremely characteristic of the Irish. They are, I believe, the only Christian people who have discovered, here on earth, an entrance to purgatory and the lower regions; and it is extraordinary that they should not only have ventured to place it among themselves, in the middle of their own country, but that their faith was so firm, and their imagination so strong, that the jugglery of the  p.69 monks was never discovered. The Greeks had their entrance to the infernal regions, into which the curious among them sometimes descended; but Homer places it far away from Greece, and Ulysses did not find it till after many years of wandering.

Like all Irish lakes, with the exception of the great Lough Neagh, Lough Derg is of a very irregular form, with a multitude of bays and creeks, and side branches. Its southern part narrows to a point, and at last ends abruptly in a little cul-de-sac. The mountains nearest the lake, Slievh Bernagh, Knockermaun, &c. are very beautiful, and covered with grass, trees, and houses. Somewhat farther off, towards the right, Mount Inchiquin, and to the left the Keeper, which is about 25,000 feet high, tower above them; while among these mountains the traveller perceives the famous Devil's Bite, a very strange and deep cut in the ridge of a mountain, the origin of which the Irish can explain in no other way than by a somewhat humorous attack made by the devil, who probably mistook the ridges for the back of a fat Irish pig. He, however, spat out the bite again, for there is to be found, somewhere in Ireland, a piece of a rock that exactly fits the aforesaid cut. At the very end of the cul-de-sac lies the little town of Killaloe.

One of the little glens on the right side of the lake is called Balley Valley, and the charming seat of the proprietor of the valley, which is situated in it, bears the same name. The last proprietor, an old man who had lived many years in this delightful corner, had lately died. The people told me how grieved he was at the approach of death; and that shortly before he died, when he felt his end drawing nigh, he caused himself to be rowed across to the other side of the lake, from whence he contemplated his property, the charming valley, the green leafy mountains, his beautifully situated house, which lay mirrored in the clear waters of the lake, which was all bathed in the warmest and most lovely sunshine of 1842. The natural charms and beauty of the surrounding country, which he had so long ruled as its owner, brought the tears into his eyes, and in despair he exclaimed: “O sweet Balley Valley! sweet Balley Valley! how can I leave thee!” He then sank back on his seat, and once more he sighed, “O sweet Balley Valley! how can I leave thee!” and passed away. Of a truth the earth has here such charms, particularly for an independent landowner, that such a sigh may be unavoidable in the hour of death. In such an hour one ought rather to wish he were a poor dweller in an Irish bog; for to him it must be much easier to exchange his black, swampy, charmless bit of ground, for the beauteous blue star-bespangled heaven.


Lough Derg, the boatmen told me, is from six to seven feet higher in winter than in summer, a very considerable increase for so large a piece of water. Although it lies under the same degree of latitude with the Prussian lakes, and the Curische Haff, which are frozen almost every winter, yet it is seldom entirely covered with ice, and is usually quite free from it. It is often frozen about the shores only, and the boatmen mentioned some severe winters in which the ice was “even four inches thick.” It is forty years since the entire lake was frozen over so that carriages could drive across it.

A small steamer, which came alongside our vessel, was making its first experimental trip, and had on board some members of the Shannon Steam Navigation Company. It was built on a new plan, and consisted of two round boats shaped like cigars, and connected above by a common deck. The steam-engine was fixed upon deck, and the paddles struck the water quickly but not deeply. The people termed it “the cigar boat.” The invention was highly extolled, and it was expected to float over the most shallow parts of the lakes and rivers. A dozen or two similar boats would be of great value upon the shallow and useless lakes of Germany.

Beyond Killaloe the rocks and rapids in the river again commence; and as the portion of the canal which is to avoid these unnavigable places was not yet completed, we had here the entertaining change of being transferred from the vessel, sack and pack, to a row of Irish cars, in which we proceeded to that part of the canal from whence the navigation to Limerick is uninterrupted. Our captain and his men galloped beside us on horseback, commanding and directing the procession. Having passed over some miles in this manner, we again embarked; but this time it was in a long canal-boat, drawn by a pair of horses. All this may appear somewhat wild and Irish, as such motley and changing modes of conveyance are no longer to be found in England. Our boat was divided into two parts. In the stern sat the passengers of quality, opposite each other, on two rows of seats; while in the forward part, on long benches, chatting and smoking, were squatted the Kerry and Tipperary men, and the temperance people—those who put faith in wonders, and feared fairies and spectres. I overcame my aversion to the rather uncleanly exterior of the latter, for the sake of the bud of the national Psyche, which in this class displays itself more unreservedly than among the former.

I have already mentioned the somewhat antiquated learning, even of the lower classes of the people of Kerry; and I now met  p.71 with a remarkable instance of it. In the bow of the boat sat a Kerryman, reading an old manuscript, which was written in the Irish language, and in the Celtic character. The manuscript consisted of several small and large sheets stitched together, which, to judge from the various colours and antiquity of the paper, must have been united to each other at very different periods. It was all, however, neatly and regularly written. Some, the man told me, he had added himself; some he had inherited from his father and grandfather; and some had, in all probability, been in his family long before them. I asked him what were its contents? “They are,” answered he, “the most beautiful old Irish poems, histories of wonderful events, and stories and treatises of antiquity; for instance, the translation of a treatise by Aristotle on some subject of natural history!” In all these matters I was yet a novice, and could hardly trust my ears; but I had afterwards ample opportunities of observing how interesting and unique all traditions are among the Irish—a people who believe that their written characters are the very same that the Phoenicians brought with them into the country; who ascribe a part of their ruins to the Eastern fire-worshippers; who in one breath tell all sorts of sayings of Aristotle, and anecdotes of George III.— (twice, methought, I heard them speak of Aristotle as a wise and mighty king of Greece, as if they had the same conception of him as of King Solomon)—a people who think that a Scythian king, who had wedded a daughter of the same Pharoah who drove out the Jews, conquered Spain, and from thence sailed over to Ireland. I inquired if there were any others on board who had manuscripts with them; when a man from the county of Clare opened his travelling chest, striped with blue paint, and from beneath nightshirts and boots drew out an old manuscript. I asked why they carried these writings about with them? They replied that they did not like to part from them, and they were fond of reading portions of them on their journeys. I afterwards saw several such manuscripts in the hands of the lower classes. Some are said to be written on parchment, and these are probably older than those I saw, which were always on paper.

From the narrow canal we now once more entered the beautiful broad Shannon, and just as evening approached, were landed on the quay of the city of Limerick.


6. Limerick and the Irish Saturdays

Trade of Limerick—English and Irish Towns—Limerick Lasses and Lancashire Witches—Pawnbrokers—Saturday in Ireland—Repeal—Bagpipe-Players—Galway—German Colonists in Ireland

Limerick, the third city of Ireland, now contains nearly 75,000 inhabitants. Dublin is the first, with 270,000; and Cork the second, with 110,000 inhabitants. The trade of Limerick, like that of all Irish cities, has increased astonishingly during the last twenty years. The export trade is said to have trebled since 1820. In the year 1822 the exports amounted to 479,000l., in 1830 to 720,000l., in 1832 to 1,005,000l.; and in 1841, according to the official returns, the duties alone, paid on imported commodities, amounted to 246,000l., or about 1,700,000 Prussian thalers. The inhabitants are therefore full of hope that they will soon see their port, hitherto a third-class one, raised to the second rank. In the more modern part of the city the effect of these millions is extremely visible; for it is beautifully built, has fine, nay, one may say, with regard to their breadth, and the size of the houses, imposing streets, which are not equalled in the capital itself. St. George's-street may be compared with Sackville-street in Dublin. St. George is an English saint, and the whole of this modern part of the town is called “The English Town,” and forms a most agreeable contrast with that portion which is known as “The Irish Town.” Galway and other Irish cities are similarly divided into English and Irish towns. The Irish portions are full of dirt, disorder, and ruin; the English, on the contrary, are built entirely after the models of the best parts of London. The population of these two divisions live in a kind of opposition to each other.

As the English have furnished all Irish cities with a clean and comfortable quarter, so the Irish, (who number 60,000 in Manchester, 50,000 in Glasgow, 40,000 in Liverpool, 25,000 in Birmingham, and 12,000 in Leeds, and of whom there are probably more than 100,000 in London,) have furnished most English towns with an appendix of a filthy and disorderly Helot-quarter. Such an Irish quarter as St. Giles's, in London, is to be found in every large English town. It is, therefore, no wonder that the English often complain of the Irish. The Irish, on the other hand, in all their complaints against the English, ought to  p.73 remember the numerous advantages in which, through their agency, they participate. Are they not Englishmen who speculate on rendering the Shannon, and other Irish rivers, navigable? Are they not Englishmen who plan the draining and cultivation of the Irish bogs? Are they not Englishmen who drive the Irish fairies and witches into the sea? Have they not furnished Ireland with handsome towns and country seats? Is it not the English, again, in whom lies the soul and marrow of British power, and through whom the Irish participate in the trade of the British with the whole world, and in all the thousand advantages which stand open to British subjects? It is the strong, speculative, persevering Anglo-Saxons, who drag on (sometimes, it is true, by the hair,) the indolent Celts, in the race of fame and national greatness!

The fairest thing in Limerick, however, is the fair sex. “The Limerick lasses” are as famous in Ireland as the “Lancashire witches” and the Welch women are in England. It is worthy of remark that both these places so renowned for the beauty of their women, are situated in the west, and, indeed, in the more Celtic wests of both islands. Can it be that the greater mixture of the Saxon with the Celtic race has here produced this greater degree of beauty? In western and southern Ireland, Spanish blood, too, has been mixed with that of the people; and perhaps it is this admixture of southern fire with northern tenderness which has produced so beneficial a result. Or is it the neighbourhood of the ocean, breathing fresh breezes from the west, that is the cause of this phenomenon? Yet who can fathom all the mysteries which are to be found in the formation and rearing of beautiful women!

Leaning on the arm of an O'Rourke, the descendant of a royal race, I surveyed the town. It is well known that an O'Rourke was one of the most renowned of the Irish princes who at first favoured the conquest of Ireland by the English, and was afterwards deprived of his life by them. The family subsequently fell into decay, and there are now but very few of the name. It was Saturday evening; and therefore the shops of the pawnbrokers, which are always numerous in Irish towns, were full of life. We saw many of them as crowded as market-places on market-days. All this throng of people were redeeming their best clothes, in order to be well dressed on the Sunday; to this purpose a portion of their weekly wages was devoted, and the remainder of their earnings would probably be spent this very evening or the following day; so that on Monday the Sunday dress would without doubt be obliged to return to the pawnbroker. Thousands of poor people live in this way in Ireland,—during the week, in rags, hunger, and misery; on Sunday, in finery. Of  p.74 course this is a very costly mode of living, as all the pawnbrokers and their assistants must subsist at their expense. Saturday is, in all Irish towns, nay, generally throughout the entire of the United Kingdom, a day of the greatest noise and bustle. As it precedes the quiet and joyless Sunday, the labours of the week being now ended, and money plentiful, half of the population may be seen in the streets, busy, talking, joking, buying, and drinking. Shops and markets are open till midnight, particularly those of the provision-dealers and hucksters, who then do most business, as the poorest buy something better than usual for their Sunday's dinner, and at the same time supply other little domestic wants. Even the beggars make most on that day, as was lately admitted by one of them, when examined before a court of justice in Dublin; for it is on Saturday that the labouring classes, who are fond of giving to beggars, have most to spare.

When first I arrived in an English town on a Saturday, I imagined that a riot had either lately taken place, or was on the point of breaking out; for the people in the streets, mostly the lower classes, are then crowded together in such dense masses, that one would suppose it required only a spark to fall among such inflammable matter to produce a general conflagration. Yet not only sparks, but even large torches, are seen lying quite harmlessly beside this inflammable material. Thus, at Limerick, on that very Saturday evening, I saw posted up on every gate, and beneath the lamps of the city, a proclamation by the friends of O'Connell to the Irish people, in the name of this great agitator, who was in a few days to make his appearance there, hold a meeting, and harangue them. Over it was printed, in large letters—
“Up, citizens and people of Limerick, and all Irishmen! Up for a separation from England! Up for your birthright of a separate parliament! The immortal (sic!) O'Connell will appear among you. He calls upon you. He requires your aid in Erin's cause. Be firm and united, and, like him, cease not to watch over the welfare of your native land, and to be ever active in our common, great, and patriotic cause!”

In this and still stronger language, the people were exhorted to unite, and, on the day of O'Connell's appearance, which was fixed beforehand, to assemble in numbers, provided with warm patriotism, and especially not to be sparing in their contributions to the tribute. The people stood around, reading this proclamation by the lamp-light, and having probably considered how many pence or shillings they could contribute, then went quietly home.


Some of them, however, followed an Irish piper, who, surrounded by hundreds of listeners, went through the streets, stopping now and then at the door of some respectable-looking house, and playing his old Celtic melodies. In general, notwithstanding the melancholy sadness that breathed through his minstrelsy, the doors remained closed against him. At length, however, one opened; a liveried servant made his appearance, the piper was called in, and the gaping multitude dispersed. The Irish pipers appear to me to be the most skilful in the world; and though, like my travelling acquaintance, they have not all learned their music from fairies, yet they know how to put as much sweetness as possible into this disagreeable instrument, and I believe they are often engaged to play at evening parties in the houses of the wealthy, especially those of the south of Ireland, who are celebrated for their skill.

The city of Limerick possesses many handsome buildings and elegant public institutions. Yet they are all, as well as the entire importance of the place, of modern origin, and resemble those which are to be seen in all Irish and English towns of the same class. Much more peculiar is its neighbour and sister, Galway, the capital of the wild Irish west, and a colony from Hesperia. This town has a look of remarkable antiquity, not elsewhere to be found in Ireland. A traveller who had been in Spain, describes it as entirely Spanish in its style of architecture. He found there the wide entrance-doors, (it is the English fashion to build them very small,) the broad steps, the arched door-ways of Cadiz and Malaga; whilst the grotesque architecture and ornamented window-piers (things strikingly wanting in most Irish and English private houses), carried back his imagination to the Moorish towns of Grenada and Valencia. The town has also quite a catholic and ecclesiastical air, with its monks, numerous churches, and convents, which are visited by believers every hour of the day. The population of the neighbourhood, too, which collects in the marketplace of the town, wears a very picturesque costume, (a thing of which there is no trace any where else in Ireland or England,) and appears in bright-coloured jackets and gowns. The political constitution of Galway displays as many antique singularities as its outward appearances. For ages the inhabitants have been divided into thirteen separate tribes, each having its peculiar privileges and name, such as Butkins, Burkes, Kirdeens, Blakes, &c. The antiquity, the interesting history, and the peculiarities of this town, some years ago induced a gentleman to devote himself to the study of these matters, and the result has been an excellent and circumstantial history of the community, and of the thirteen  p.76 remarkable tribes into which it is divided. 9 The name of Galway, too, is remarkable, for the word Gal seems to have some connexion with the Celts, (Gaels,) and must be placed in the same category with Gallia, Wales, Walles, and Gallicia.

Unfortunately I was unable to behold all these things with my own eyes; and I was also obliged to deny myself the pleasure of examining the condition of a colony of German peasants, established in the county of Limerick. An Irish lady informed me that they were driven out of the Palatinate in the beginning of the last century, and founded a few colonies here. They are still distinguished from the rest of the population by the name of “Palatinates.” They possess the character of good husbandmen and honest people. “They are most respectable people,” said a man with whom I conversed respecting them; “and besides, they are better off and more comfortable than their Irish neighbours.” Hence it would appear that the Irish themselves, with more assiduity, industry, and energy, could also much improve their condition. It is an everlasting subject of controversy in Ireland, between the friends of the Irish and the adherents of the English, between the Celtomanes and the Anglomanes, whether the misery and the poverty of Ireland is attributable to the English and their tyranny alone, or in a still greater measure to the indolence and torpidity of the Irish character. These Germans, flourishing on the same soil, and under the same political relations, seem to decide this question not much in favour of the friends of the Celts. The Germans are not numerous in Ireland. In the southern cities, even in Dublin, there are very few. The greatest number ever in Ireland was probably in 1798, on the suppression of the rebellion; at which period some regiments of Hanoverian troops were in the country, and these I believe did not find much favour with the people, since they served as tools in the hands of the English.

7. From Limerick to Edenvale

Germany in Ireland—Norisheen—O'Connell and Norisheen—Potato-digging—Clare and Ennis—The O'Briens

The county of Clare extends to the west of Limerick. Between the wide, long mouth of the Shannon and the Atlantic Ocean it  p.77 stretches out in a long tongue of land, at first very broad, then gradually narrowing to a point, and at last ending in a small peninsula, and the rugged promontory of Loop Head. The river Fergus, and the broad bay at its mouth, which joins the Shannon, divides this county into two parts, a western and an eastern: the former is fertile and level; the latter, which is next the sea, is mountainous, desolate, and barren. 10

Accompanied by an Irishman whom I joined in the hire of a car, I drove, on the following day, a beautiful Sunday morning, through the fertile part of the county, to visit a friend of mine who possesses an estate in the vicinity of Ennis. Our road led us at first along the Shannon, and then through the middle of a plain which is said to be the most fertile in Ireland. The aspect of the country is pleasing, and wherever there is a rising ground the traveller gets a view of the beautiful landscape, and a great part of the splendid Shannon and its islands. On the shore of the Shannon, and partly surrounded by water, is the rock Carrigogunal, celebrated for its fairies, who take pleasure in surprising mortals on the rock, and making them partake of their hospitality.

At no great distance from this spot the road passes Bunratty Castle, almost half of which stands on the road itself. It is covered with the most charming mantle of ivy, and we saw whole flocks of ravens take their flight from its walls. Farther on, we saw the celebrated Quin Abbey in the distance. “In short,” said my companion, “you see that we do not want for ruins here in Ireland. The country was once divided among a multitude of petty chieftains, who dwelt in these castles, and were continually making war on one another. In fact, it was at that time here just as, I believe, it is now in your own country: it was the very prototype of your country.” (This expression pleased him much, and he repeated it twice.) “Murder and assassination were then still more the order of the day than at present, and for the life of a nobleman forty shillings were paid, but for that of a peasant only six. This also is, I believe, an old German law. But you have no Milesian families in Germany? Is not that true? This is a descent on which we Irish alone may pride ourselves. It is something quite peculiar to belong to such a family, the members of which can live forty days without once taking food. This is the general belief of the people in Ireland. Look! there is a person who, though she is not of a royal race, can yet fast even longer than forty days. It is Norisheen, driver, is it not?” “No doubt, your worship, who else should it be but Norisheen?” exclaimed the driver in a cheerful tone.

“See, sir, this Norisheen is a legislator: we might consult her  p.78 how to better the condition of our country. She knows still more than a legislator; she knows the future.”

I beheld an old woman covered with rags, clinging to a wall beside a ruined cabin. She was busy repairing her turf-wall, for the Irish usually surround their cabins with high and thick walls of turf, which thus warms them twice, first, by protecting them from the wintry blasts, and, secondly, by burning on the hearth. If a wall happens to surround their yard, the turf is piled up on it, and thus a higher wall is raised. To such a turf-wall Norisheen clung, with a foot in one cleft and holding on by her hand in another—the luxury of a ladder, her establishment doubtless could not boast of—and was employed in arranging the pieces of turf on the wall. My companion and the driver called to her as we passed: “Norisheen! Norisheen!” She turned round, and, still clinging to the wall, waved her right arm, as she replied with the same cry, “Norisheen! Norisheen!”

“There's a woman that's learned for you!” said the driver; “she knows the history of every family in Ireland, and even what passed here before the birth of Christ. And what's more, she'll prophesy the future for you, just as easily as the past. She knows every person in the country far and wide, and is herself well known to all the world here. They say she knows a great deal of Carrigogunal, and what takes place at times on that lonely rock.”

My companions then related to me, half in jest and half in earnest, so much that is wonderful of this woman, that I was afterwards sorry I had not made her acquaintance. I asked my companions whether they believed O'Connell knew Norisheen. “It was probable enough,” they replied, “that O'Connell had heard of her; but that she of course knew O'Connell before his birth, because in the last century she had prophesied that such an O'Connell would come; and even now she daily speaks and prophesies about him. She is without doubt, even though she does not contribute to the rent, and receives no pay from him, one of his greatest helpers, for she plays many a trick for him; and I assure you it is of no small importance to O'Connell that the witches and fairies should think well of him.” Ireland is full of old women of this description.

If, as I have said, the people wander about the streets on Saturday evening, after having received their week's wages, they are also again to be seen there in crowds on Sunday, but with an altered appearance, being now attired in their Sunday clothes, although on the look-out for employment. In every place through which we passed numbers of men stood in the market-places and near the churches, usually with their spades in their hands, waiting  p.79 to be hired. It was now the time of the greatest and most important harvest of Ireland, the potato-digging; and I was astonished and alarmed by the multitudes of serious and melancholy-looking men, who must all have been out of employment, since they so anxiously sought for work. With the uncommon predilection of the Irish for potatoes, this harvest must be one of their most agreeable labours. It is not severe, and does not require very great exertion; and what joy must Paddy feel at every red, thick lump of a potato which he digs up out of the boggy clay!

The poor and ruinous aspect of Clare reminded me of the Lithuanian and Polish cities. Though it bears the name of the county, and lies at the mouth of the river Fergus, which is here navigable, it is not the chief town. The principal town is Ennis, some miles further up, which presents a much more orderly and thriving appearance. This town is chiefly remarkable for the extraordinary excitement which occurred there in 1828, on O'Connell's election, and which has almost made it famous in history. At that period the Irish dared not to elect Catholics as members of parliament. Nevertheless, O'Connell became a candidate for the county of Clare, and carried his election in spite of the extraordinary exertions of his adversaries. Being a Catholic, he was rejected by the parliament, but was, notwithstanding, three times re-chosen by the county. This produced a violent encounter between the opposing parties. The Irish people, instead of wishing to send Roman Catholics to parliament, DID so, and taught the English nation that the Catholics had plenty of adherents in Ireland. Thus the ice was broken on both sides; and the Clare election, which preceded the Emancipation Bill, and mainly contributed to its passing into a law, was therefore, in its consequences, the most important election in the history of Ireland. Ever since this event, Clare has been O'Connell's favourite county. It is also the favourite seat of a very celebrated Irish family, the O'Briens; for although O'Briens are to be met with all over Ireland, this is their proper home, and here there are hundreds of the name, and the old seats of all the most distinguished branches of this family. Here also is the beautiful pile, Drummolent Castle, which belongs to one of the most wealthy of the O'Briens; and here, too, once stood Kincora, the castle of the most celebrated of all the O'Briens, the great king Brian Boru, the pride not only of his race, but of his country. He lived about the year 1000, (1014,) and fought no fewer than fifty battles with the Danes, which are celebrated at the present day in the poems and traditions of the people. After him many O'Briens were kings of Munster. Now they are only members of parliament. As Clare has its O'Briens, so almost every other county has its great family, whose  p.80 influence is predominant, and whose name is found in every place, great and small. We shall have frequent opportunities of describing such districts and families.

8. Edenvale

The Glen—Nature and Art—Pleasure Grounds—Evergreens—Rooks—Rookeries—English and Irish Servants—Old Women and Visionaries—Fairy Dancing Ground—Absentees and their Houses

Edenvale is one of the prettiest country-seats in the county of Clare; and its proprietor is an influential Protestant landowner, from whom I received, and accepted with pleasure, an invitation to spend some days in his Eden. The British, including the Irish, understand better than any other people how to select a site for a country house, and to encircle it with a little Eden: perhaps, therefore, this will be a sufficient inducement to my readers to accompany me thither, especially when I add that Edenvale has obtained some celebrity in Ireland for its charming situation. The house is situated upon the steep slope of a little glen, and is approached by a slight ascent from the Ennis road. In the bosom of the glen is a small oblong lake, in which its leafy shores are mirrored. I found my hospitable host in his garden, busied with his trees and flowers, and immediately set out with him to inspect his charming property.

The French and the Dutch drive almost every charm of wild, uncultivated nature from their gardens, in which nothing but art is to be seen. We Germans, on the contrary, have too much of this wildness in some of our country-seats. The English alone know best how to unite art and nature; and in their parks and ornamental grounds the grace and beauty of the former are better blended with the wild strength and magic charms of the latter, than in the landscape-gardening of any other nation.

The glen of Edenvale has two declivities or sides: the one is rugged, the other gently sloping to the lake. The former has been allowed to retain its original character, except that it is closely planted with the most beautiful forest trees, above which project steep cliffs, partly covered with the thickest ivy. Footpaths lead along the lake and over the rocks; and on a projecting cliff which juts out into the lake, is a little wooden hermitage. This wild part, as opposed to the garden, is called par excellence “the Glen.” A portion of the Glen, which affords good pasture,  p.81 is set apart for the deer; and on another the cattle graze. In a third is the rabbit-warren, which no English park is without. As on terra firma the deer mingle with the cows, even so on the waters of the lake, amid the graceful, slow, tame swans, swim wild ducks, and other waterfowl, which have not yet been induced to breed in the neighbourhood of our dwellings, nor even in the midst of our pleasure grounds. The English enjoy so little of the pleasures of hunting and shooting, that they are very fond of those animals which afford occasional sport, and are careful not to drive them entirely from their neighbourhoods.

Such is the wild side of the valley. Opposite to it lies the cultivated side. First, the pretty dwelling-house, with its “pleasure grounds,” as the English term those which immediately surround the mansion, the beautifully-kept grass plot, and the “shrubberies,” through which serpentine walks meander. Further on, the gardens, properly so called, are seen—fruit, vegetable, and flower gardens— the latter displaying the most beautiful profusion of flowers on its several terraces, which run down close to the lake, while its many-coloured tints form a charming contrast with the simple green of the opposite side. Taken on the whole, landscape gardening has not attained such perfection in wild Ireland as in England; yet as the climate of this country is much more favourable to plants and trees, when, as is sometimes the case, Irish art does its best, Irish gardens far exceed those of England in beauty.

The chief charm of English gardens consists in their richness in evergreens, and of those the Irish have still more, as the climate of the latter is milder than that of the former. In the gardens of the north of France there is scarcely an evergreen to be met with, although many attempts have been made to introduce some of the species into that country; the holly, for instance, which is quite common in England and Ireland. The list of English evergreens comprises no fewer than thirty-six genera, many of which, as the holly, possess an almost infinite number of species. Those which are to be seen in almost every garden in great numbers, and in complete thickets, are many species of cistus, cytisus, lauristinus, juniper, ivy, lignum vitae, rhododendron, magnolia, cypress, cedar, the most beautiful hollies, laurels in the greatest abundance, (whole hedges and walls of them,) numerous evergreen oaks, roses, and jasmines. To these, in Ireland, is added the arbutus, (which here even grows wild,) and several others which do not flourish in England. These evergreens are found in every part of Ireland; and most of them, if not the whole, grow in the extreme north of the island, beyond the 55th degree of latitude, and beneath the parallels of the northern parts of Poland and Lithuania, where  p.82 there is not a single evergreen, with the exception of the silver fir.

The most remarkable thing I saw in this charming glen was an obscuration of the sun, towards evening, caused by an immense flock of rooks. Never, at any time of my life, have I seen so many birds collected together. It seemed as if all the twenty thousand ruins of Ireland had at once assembled and sent forth their troops of feathered inmates. The air appeared literally to be filled with them up to the stars. The cawing of these myriads occasioned an uproar in the lately so quiet glen, beyond any I had ever heard, and their droppings rained down like a shower of hail. Their number was beyond computation. At first I thought, as I have said, of the many castles of the old chieftains and of the Danes, who themselves have a rook in their national standard; but these castles are inhabited chiefly by owls and “Jack Daws,” while the objects of my astonishment were rooks only. My friends at Edenvale assured me that this phenomenon was quite common, and that the glen was one of their chief gathering-places. I can only compare these flights of myriads upon myriads of rooks with what we read of the migrations and associations of the wild pigeons in America. After continuing their thousand-voiced concert for a considerable time, they gradually dispersed; and when the air was again cleared of them, I breathed more freely. These rooks generally build their nests about large farm-yards, in the neighbourhood of churchyards and old mansions; and these settlements are by the English termed “rookeries.”

For what purpose these birds collect in immense suffocating masses, is to me a riddle. Even in the very heart of London there are many well-known rookeries. Rook-shooting is one of the “rural sports” of the English; and as all their sports are cultivated in the minutest details, “Jackson's patent steel crossbow” is greatly recommended and used for this particular pastime. The English make of these birds the well-known rook-pies, which we do not envy them. The Irish do not eat them, and, when the numerous flocks are seen, will deridingly say to the foreigner, “the English soldiers here shoot them, and make pies of them.” I know not why these birds are so numerous in Ireland. They feed partly on the wheat in the fields, and thus may be supposed to diminish the produce. At the same time, however, they devour the larvae of many insects which are injurious to the seed, and are therefore so far a benefit. It has been remarked that, on the destruction of extensive rookeries, certain larvae have so much increased as entirely to destroy the corn; and the failure of the grain-crops in Ireland, in 1747, is ascribed to this cause.


In England, where servants are always kept at a proper distance, they seldom display that impertinent familiarity which is so often met with in Ireland, and of which the coachman of my friend, a well-fed, good-humoured-looking fellow, who attended us through the stables and farm-buildings, was a striking instance. Although his master was present during the whole time, the servant never ceased talking, and he ever preceded his master, who followed silently and modestly behind us. “This stable we finished only last year,” said the coachman to me. “It has given us a deal of trouble, for we had first to blow away the whole of that great rock. May it please your honour to remark how much we had to blast there. But we shall have a beautiful view when those trees there are felled. Look down there, your honour, all that are his dominions,” continued he, pointing to his master. “In two months he'll have finished the new building he has begun.” No English servant would have presumed thus to conduct himself towards his master, and yet these Irish servants are taken from a tenantry infinitely more dependent than the peasantry of England. There is, however, a great deal of familiarity in the character of the Irishman, which enables him readily to assume an equality with his superiors; and as with this familiarity he also unites wit and humour, he is enabled, like the fools of the middle ages, to take more liberties with his master. Despotism, too, has the effect of making its slaves insolent and forward. Domestic fools were kept only by the despots of the middle ages, but not by the Roman consuls, the presidents of America, or constitutional kings.

Whilst at Edenvale I heard of another old crone, named Consideen, to whom the people ascribed supernatural powers. During a short excursion into the country, I met her in a neighbour's house which I happened to enter. The cabin of this neighbour stood quite alone, on a desolate rocky hill, which formed a dismal contrast to the beautiful bushy glen. The old octogenarian dame sat leaning on a stick, by the turf fire of her friend. She told me she had often seen Death, supported upon two crutches, standing at the end of the meadow, when any one of her family was going to die. She knew for certain, too, that, old as she was, she was not to die yet a while, as Death would first come and give her notice.

There are few old women in Ireland who have not visions of some kind or other, in which they inflexibly and firmly believe. “Oh, if your honour could only hear these two women talking together,” said my guide who had brought me to Consideen, “you'd then be astonished at the hundreds of beautiful stories they can tell; but you are strange to them now, and they have not the courage to speak out.”


I had been informed that in the same neighbourhood was a spot which the people regarded as a meeting-ground of the fairies; and after some entreaty I was conducted to the place. Passing across the rough rocky crown of the hill, we gained its extreme edge, where I found a round grass-plot, some two hundred paces in circumference, which, they said, was sacred to the “good people.” I inquired whether they had themselves ever actually seen the fairies. “Very often, in whole troops,” they replied. “However,” remarked one, “I am always on my guard against them, for they once led me on a bad road, where I went astray, tumbled over something I took for the root of a tree, and broke my little finger.”
“But,” said I, “I cannot conceive why you call such folk, good people. If they treated me this way, I would call them bad people.”
“That may be, your honour; but may be I annoyed them in some way or other, unknown to myself, and sure it was very good of them to break my little finger only; but I should not like to vex them by calling them what your honour calls them.”
“See what a brain these people have!” whispered my companion in my ear. Wondrous indeed are the contrasts and strange the thoughts which present themselves to the mind when standing on a bare, rocky, boggy fairy-haunted hill, with a few smoky turf-cabins sticking to it, and inhabited by a couple of old visionaries, whilst opposite to it is another hill, beautiful, flowery, bushy, park-like, with enlightened inhabitants.

On my return to Edenvale I visited some of the splendid mansions in its neighbourhood. They appeared to me not less spectral than that fairy-ground, for not a human being was to be found in them. The white window-blinds were drawn down, and all was still and silent as the grave. Their proprietors were “absentees” in England, where they spend their Irish revenues. Such spectral deserted palaces are, alas! like the fairy-grounds and ruins, but too often to be seen in Ireland. The wealthy Protestant proprietors have a hundred reasons for not finding themselves at home among their poor Roman Catholic tenants. The wild and uncultivated country, which is not so easily remedied—the barbarism of the people, who sometimes make attempts on the lives of their landlords—the greater attractions of English society—the unfortunate division of the Irish community into a number of hostile parties—and perhaps a certain feeling of shame and remorse for the injustice of the legalized tyranny which the rich Irish landlords exercise over the poor;—all this may have driven many wealthy persons from the country, and produced the  p.85 evil called “absenteeism.” There are many families, also, who possess estates both in Ireland and England; and all these prefer residing in the latter. The more to be praised, therefore, are those landlords who remain at home, live on good terms with their tenantry, and, by ruling them in person, heal many of their wounds. There are many who make themselves, in a certain degree, voluntary martyrs; and as my hospitable host of Edenvale was one of these, I returned to his house with stronger feelings of esteem for his character, and unwillingly took leave of him on the following day.

9. Kilrush and Father Mathew

Melancholy Aspect of the Country—Irish Dwellings—Nakedness and Misery—Contrasts—No Prospect—Murky Atmosphere—Effects—The Scare-crow—The Letter-bags—The Gleaming Bit of Turf—The Fairy-land—Thousand-and-one Nights—Travellers' Tails—Temperance Halls—Temperance Society—“Sobriety! Domestic Comfort! And National Independence!”—“Craft dignified by Royalty”—Father Mathew Expected—He comes! He comes!—Temperance Bands—Father Mathew's Appearance—Growth of the Society—Miracle-working—Difficulties—Rapid Progress of Temperance—Means and Motives—Influence of Temperance—Further Details of the Meeting—Father Mathew's Fluency of Speech—Its Effects—Father Mathew's Plans extend beyond Ireland—Beautiful Picture—“Order! Order!”—The Temperance Medal—Application of its Proceeds—Total Abstinence—Meaning of the Words “teetotaller” and “teetotalism”—Duration of Temperance—Improved Condition—Future Benefits—Consumption of spirituous Liquors in Ireland, England, and Scotland—Proportion to the Population

The country which extends westward from Ennis and Edenvale is the dark side of the county of Clare—the wildest, poorest, and most unfruitful part of it. Two reasons induced me to travel through this wretched country. First, I had heard that the celebrated Father Mathew was expected at Kilrush, which is the most easterly town on the Shannon; and, secondly, in the neighbourhood of this town is one of the most beautiful of the “Round Towers” of Ireland, and the ruins of the “Seven Churches,” which I was anxious to see. The distance from Edenvale to Kilrush is about sixteen English miles; yet along this whole district,  p.86 although the eastern main-road of the county passes through it, I did not find a village, nay, not even a single, I will not say regular, but even tolerable human habitation. The landscape was every where bare, and devoid of foliage of any kind; the colour of the land, so far as I could perceive, was the most melancholy in the world, namely, brown, and dirty red or black; the whole surface even of the mountains and rocks is covered with bog-stuff; no alternation of green meadows, sparkling streams, and wooded hills, but all peat and moor; and even when a rising ground afforded an extensive prospect, still nothing was to be seen but a greater extent of peat and moor, yet more barren rocks, black mountains, and ruined cabins. It made me melancholy to travel through this country. But how much more melancholy must it be, to live here as a glebae adscriptus, a dependent on a hard master, and, moreover, the father of a row of ragged children! In Hungary, Esthonia, Lithuania, and the neighbouring countries, dwellings are to be seen miserable enough in appearance; but such wretched hovels as present themselves to the view of the traveller here, and, I am sorry to say, in many other parts of Ireland, can scarcely be met with in any of the countries I have named. It is a piece of good fortune, that the sky is here in general so dull, and the air so full of the smoke and smell of turf, that all this misery is not distinctly visible. Could one see every thing fully, and in detail, it would be almost beyond endurance.

The fields adjoining the cabins are in the most disorderly state, and evidently tilled in the most negligent manner; they are usually without any fences, so that the desolate turf-bog mixes with them, or they are only surrounded by walls, the stones of which have all tumbled down one over another. I remember that I once pitied the poor Lettes, in Livonia, because they possess dwellings formed merely of round tree-stumps, with the interstices stuffed with moss. I pitied them especially on account of their low doors, and their small windows, and glad would I have been to see their chimneys better constructed. How many melancholy reflections arose in my mind when I beheld their scanty, rude, and wretched household! Now, may Heaven forgive me for my ignorance! I might have spared myself all this, had I known, as I now do, that it has pleased God to lay far greater privations on another people. Since I have seen Ireland, I find that even the poorest of the Lettes, Esthonians, and Finlanders dwell and live very respectably; and that, in ninety cases out of a hundred, Paddy would think himself as well off as a king, if he were dressed, lodged, and fed like these people. To him who has seen Ireland, no mode of life, in any other part of Europe, however wretched, will seem  p.87 pitiable. Nay, even the condition of savages will appear endurable, and to be preferred.

A log hut carefully stuffed with moss—what comfort! Paddy's house is usually built only of clay; and how? Why, one shovelful of earth heaped upon another, with some field stones mixed up in it, till the walls are sufficiently high. A house regularly roofed with straw or bark—how delightful! But Paddy covers his cabin only with sods taken from his bogs. Small windows in the walls, neatly fitted with glass panes, or even half-transparent bladder, or talc, as here and there in Wallachia, and in some parts of Russia—bladders, good heavens, what a luxury! Paddy has houses enough in which there is not even the semblance of a window, and only one single square hole in the front, which serves at once for window, chimney, house-door, and stable-door, since light, smoke, men, pigs, all pass in and out through this hole.

An intelligent French writer, De Beaumont, who has been in Ireland, and also among the North American Indians, assures us that the wants of these wild barbarians are in general better supplied than those of the poor Irish; and truly one might almost believe, that greater physical privations are endured by the Irish, than by the people of any other country, not only in Europe, but throughout the whole world. Indeed, look in whatever direction we may for a comparison, the Irishman stands alone, and his misery is without an equal. This can never be placed in too strong a light: for if it is true, that the misery of the Irishman is unique on this globe, every friend of humanity must feel himself called upon to devote his thoughts and his exertions to provide a remedy for the evil.

The Russian, it is true, is often the bondsman of a harder master than the Irishman; but his food and lodging are as good as he would wish, and there is no trace of Irish beggary about him. He feels happy in his bondage too, and is not, like the Irishman in his yearnings for freedom, continually biting his chains, or vainly attempting to break them. The Hungarians, also, do not belong to the nations which are most delicately lodged; but what good white bread does not the very lowest of them eat, and what wine does he not drink? Would the Hungarian for a moment believe that there are people enough in a Christian land who can afford to eat nothing but potatoes, day after day? The Servians and the Bosnians are reckoned among the poorest and most pitiable people of Europe, and the appearance of their villages is certainly not very inviting. But how well dressed these people are! If Paddy could only peep into a Servian dwelling, and see a Servian woman sitting there in her gala dress, and the men  p.88 beside her with their arms, he would be apt to tell his countrymen that the “good people” had taken him to a land where all the women looked like queens, and all the men like princes. Among the Tartars in the Crimea, little of luxury, wealth, or comfort is to be found; and this they seem to know, since they are for ever emigrating in vast numbers to Asia Minor. We pity them for being poor, we inveigh against them for being uncivilized, but still the men look like men. They have form, and shape, and a regular national costume; their huts are neat and clean, and kept in good repair. In what order are their orchards—how well kept their little steeds and their harness! The Irish, on the contrary, appear altogether without form or shape, all edge and trimming. Except their rags, they have no national dress. Their dwellings are neither built nor arranged after any universal national plan, but as if thrown together by chance. Their entire household seems without order or method. There nowhere exists an old fixed form in any thing. As the Irishman clothes himself with rags, picked up here and there, so he has for a chair, now a real chair, now a block of wood, now a barrel; and for dishes he uses potsherds, now of one shape, and again of another. We have all this in Germany, it is true, among our beggars and poor, who are unable to comply with the demands of nationality. But with us and other nations lawless beggary is only the exception, in Ireland, on the contrary, it is the rule. Here is to be seen a people of beggars, the wealthy alone forming the exception; and this it is which is unique in its kind in Ireland, and to be found nowhere else.

The African negroes are naked, but they have a hot sun. The Irish are not only without clothes, but they have also a wet and cool climate, if not a cold one. The American Indians live sometimes wretchedly enough, but they know not a better state of existence; and then, as they are hunters, they obtain many a good joint of roast meat, and make themselves many a feast day in the year. Christmas-day is the Irishman's only festival throughout the whole year, for on every other day he eats nothing but potatoes. This is not living like a human being, to whom nature has given an appetite and a stomach for various kinds of food; but rather resembles those inferior animals which are appointed to be fed exclusively on one root, or one species of berry or plant.

As there are nations who go naked, but who have also a hot sun to keep them warm, so there are others who are slaves, but to whom this slavery has been necessary for their existence; others who are poor, but who wish for nothing else, since they know nothing better; and others, again, whom a famine sometimes  p.89 surprises, as it does the Irish, but who also possess a wild, tough nature, and, like wolves, can either endure a lengthened fast, or occasionally consume vast quantities of food. The Irish, on the contrary, are not slaves, sunk in such brutal, unfeeling resignation. They have a strong relish for freedom, and therefore feel the yoke more galling. They are an intelligent nation, and know well how to estimate the injustice inflicted upon them by the distorted laws of their country. They have not the brutish, tough constitutions of Hottentots, and if a famine arises in the land they either die of hunger or suffer the most appalling distress; whilst that they may still better understand, and thoroughly feel, all their misery and privation, they have before their eyes the greatest luxury and the most refined human condition the world has ever yet beheld— that of a wealthy English landowner.

The estates indeed are by no means so extensive as in England. The largest are those of the Duke of Leinster and some other wealthy individuals, whose yearly income is from £50,000 to £70,000; the latter is the highest amount in Ireland; and we may assume the former as more common. Now if we take the wages of an Irish labourer to be, as at present, sixpence a day, and suppose that his wife earns in addition fourpence daily, and that upon this pittance they and their family can exist, we have, for the year of three hundred working-days, a total product of three thousand pence, or £12, as the income upon which a labourer's family must support life. A single individual, worth £50,000 a year, therefore consumes as much as four thousand poor families, who have constant work and feed themselves in the Irish manner. But if we calculate the days, many-numbered, of anxiety and care, on which no work is to be had—if we take these into account, the income of the poor Irishman, whose labour is his only means of support, must be still considerably lessened; and the proportion of four thousand to one, which poverty bears to wealth, will be much increased.

It is most discouraging to travel through one of these melancholy rocky, boggy districts, abounding only in ruins; whilst, whether you look to the past or the future, a more beautiful prospect or a more cheerful retrospect nowhere opens on the view. There is no trace that a better system of cultivation, a happier race, or a higher social condition of the population, has ever existed here. Every thing wears the aspect of a misery old as the world itself; and it causes an oppressive feeling to find that here nothing has ever been produced but rags from rags, rocks upon rocks, ruins upon ruins, morass upon morass, and beggars from beggars. One cannot even look into the future with pleasure. There was more  p.90 hope for the poor Greeks, under the domination of the Turks than for the Irish under the English. The Turks occupied Greece only by their camps and fortresses; but the English have struck the deepest roots into Ireland, and thus so perpetuated and secured the conquest and subjection of the people, that it is not pleasing to think in what way all this may be undone. What a revolution would ensue, if all those families who have become rich by disgraceful confiscations, by injustice, by force, by the very worst crimes, were again to become poor! O'Connell is not backward in naming such families in his speeches; and as the descendants of the ancient owners have not yet forgotten that they have lost all that the present possessors gained, and are for ever reckoning what rightfully belongs to them, and what the others wrongfully enjoy—what a revolution, I say, must ensue before this still unforgotten injustice could be all redressed! A restoration of the old rightful condition, if indeed such a restoration were possible, would reduce so many thousands to the most abject state of want and misery, that every one must wish to see these reminiscences of independence, of possessions gained or lost, for ever buried in the depths of oblivion by the all-levelling hand of time. Moreover, as the English and their unjust regulations are not alone to blame, but as a main root of Irish misery lies in the indolent, fickle, extravagant, and inactive character of the people, the question is, how can a new and better mind be infused into such a people? How will it be possible to fill them with industrious activity, with zeal and perseverance, and how to wean them from their wild, fight-loving, revengeful nature, which makes them refractory, turbulent, rebellious, and tempts them to murder and slay their tyrants, whereby they only increase their misery and strengthen their bonds?

In the temperance movement, in Catholic emancipation, and in many other things, may be perceived some rays of light and some progress, which have already, here and there, produced a good effect on the poor man in his cabin; but so inconsiderable a portion of these beams has as yet penetrated through the murky atmosphere of the county of Clare, and into the melancholy hovels of its inhabitants, that I almost imagined this dawn did not yet exist for Ireland.

The walls of the little inns at which we stopped to change horses were generally placarded with numerous government proclamations, offering rewards for the discovery of criminals. Fifty pounds were offered for the discovery of the persons who attacked and murdered Farmer So-and-so, on the 15th of May; thirty pounds for information concerning the persons who burned a mill  p.91 on such and such a day in July, and maltreated the miller and his family to such a degree that two of them died in consequence; and another thirty pounds for whoever would inform against, and prosecute to conviction, “a party of armed persons unknown, who last Sunday evening, in disguise, forcibly entered the house of Patrick Claney, at Burrir, in the county of Clare, but who were beaten off by the aforesaid Patrick Claney and his people, and two guns and a great stick taken from them.” I had not time to read all these long placards, instructive as they were respecting the state of the country, and replete with information on various matters which came under my own observation during my sojourn in the land.

In passing a field I saw what I imagined to be a figure, such as in Germany is dressed up and placed in the gardens, or beanfields, &c., to scare away the birds. The rags and shreds were fluttering in the wind; the tattered hat was set on the spot where the head should be; I fancied I saw the sticks which were to represent the legs, and the entire object was standing stiff in the field. All at once, however, it began to move, and came towards us begging for alms. I now perceived that a head was really there, and that the sticks were real legs; and I immediately thought of the celebrated apparition, which was once exhibited in England under the name of the Living Skeleton, and which was literally composed of nothing but skin, sinews, and bones, the muscles and all trace of fat having entirely vanished. This Living Skeleton also came from Ireland; and perhaps the eternal hunger and distress of this people more frequently produce such morbid phenomena.

We carried with us the letter-bags for those villages and seats which lay adjacent to our line of road. At every stage a similar pitiable scarecrow presented himself with a letter-bag, which he strove at times to protect from the wet, by so arranging the rags which danced about him, that a portion of them covered the bag. What a contrast to the fellows who, in Saxony and Prussia, are entrusted with the not unimportant business of forwarding the letters of the public from village to village!

During the entire journey of sixteen miles our carriage was the only one I saw, except an innumerable multitude of two-wheeled cars, drawn by donkeys, which slowly crept along the road, taking home the winter's supply of fuel, accompanied by Paddies in a continually changing rag-metamorphosis. Although, probably, not one in a hundred of those who look like beggars actually beg, yet abundance of those who make a trade of mendicancy are every where to be seen. In these wild and poor western regions, how ever, they are perhaps somewhat less numerous than elsewhere,  p.92 as the limited intercourse between these districts and the rest of the country affords a scanty field for the successful pursuit of their vocation. The beggars of Ireland now frequently join the temperance societies, and adorn themselves with the temperance medals which Father Mathew distributes; and those who show this medal have a better chance of receiving alms, since it is supposed that they are more likely to make a good use of the money.

A very frequent spectacle on the road is a little moveable box upon wheels, in which dwells some miserably poor involuntary Diogenes, with a glowing, smoking piece of turf usually lying near him. The hucksters and market women have always a similar bit of burning turf beside them on the pavement, at which they occasionally warm their fingers and light their pipes, and sometimes share it with others in a neighbourly manner.

A couple of very small lakes formed the only feature of variety in our journey. These were covered with a species of wild duck, called “Puffins” by the Irish. It was formerly very difficult to shoot these ducks, on account of their rapid disappearance beneath the water; but the introduction of percussion guns has rendered the feat more easy of accomplishment, and the birds are consequently now becoming scarcer. 11

To a mere pleasure-hunting traveller in this desert, I can readily imagine that a couple of hours would appear like a hundred years, or exactly the reverse of Paddy's stories of the fairy country, in which a hundred years seem but two hours. The Irish, in common with all depressed nations, have their dreams of a fairy-land of wonderful beauty, and the man who drove me the last stage to Kilrush was full of them. Whilst we were rolling down the hills in the twilight, and drawing nigh the little town, he told me of a king who was carried by a fairy lady into that charming land, where he led a splendid and delightful life, till one day he wished himself back on the earth, among men. The fairies then gave him a magic horse, at the same time warning him, as he valued his eternal youth, not to touch the ground with his foot, although he might gallop about the earth on the horse as long as he pleased. He had already spent two hundred years among the fairies, by whose enchantment his youth and strength had been preserved; but on touching the earth this spell would be instantly broken. The king rode forth on the earth, and was greatly rejoiced at again saluting this dear old mother of all mankind. Approaching his own palace, where he had once been used to command, and riding up the court-yard, he saw there another king, ordering arrangements which were not pleasing to him; whereupon he forgot himself for an instant, and, with a  p.93 view to remonstrate with his successor, leapt from his horse in a rage. Remembering, while he still hovered in the air, the warning of the fairies, he uttered a shriek of despair, and as he touched the ground his youthful and vigorous form was instantly shrivelled up into that of a man two hundred years old; laden with this weight of years, he could not live a single moment, and with a sigh he gave up the ghost. The magic horse instantly vanished; and the new king, who recognised the body of his long-vanished predecessor by a golden medal which he wore round his neck, had him buried, and erected a monument to his memory.

I am convinced that a diligent collector could find matter enough in Ireland for more than a thousand-and-one nights, and that an Irish Scheherazade could by her tales preserve her life as long as the Arabian did with hers. It is surprising that so little is known throughout Europe of the treasures of Irish popular poetry. Don Quixote and Gil Blas have acquired universal celebrity as tales of Spanish adventurers and enthusiasts; and it is inconceivable why similar tales of Irish adventurers and enthusiasts have not been produced, since there are so many of them actually to be found in Ireland; and as Paddy, as an English colonist or emigrant, often wanders over the whole world, the subject would seem to be inexhaustible.

As O'Connell has always his tail of followers about him in Ireland, so likewise is the traveller in that country attended by a similar tail, wherever he goes. Should he visit any thing remarkable, twelve Ciceroni accompany his steps instead of one. Does he roll along the high road in a carriage, he is followed by a tail of children and beggars. And when he enters a village, this tail is farther increased by the innkeepers and their servants. In short, in Ireland all stars are magnified into comets. As I entered Kilrush, at least twenty adults and twice as many children ran after our car—some to beg, others to recommend particular inns, and others from curiosity, but still more for the mere sport of the thing. Some even obtrusively seated themselves on the car; and with this little triumphal procession I entered Kilrush.


Kilrush is a little seaport town, and, like all Irish seaports, has fewer ruins, and a more fresh and agreeable aspect, than the towns of the interior. It enjoys some trade on the Shannon. Having quartered myself with an old sailor who had fought under Lord Nelson, and who keeps the only tolerable inn here, I hastened to the place prepared for the reception of Father Mathew.

In every town in Ireland, the temperance societies have  p.94 their assembly-rooms, and houses called “Temperance Halls.” That of Kilrush lay in a little by-street. Before it was a narrow court-yard, and a few steps led up to the hall-door. The room itself, I believe, served as a national school by day, the temperance men holding their meetings in the evenings only. Some wealthy societies have built halls for their sole use. A shilling is paid for admittance, which also entitles the visitor to partake of the soirée in the evening. An inhabitant of the town, one of the most distinguished among the temperance men, whose acquaintance I had made, showed me the decorated hall, which was yet empty. Around the walls hung the banners of the various guilds, covered with inscriptions, which were all in Paddy's usual style. On that of the cabinetmakers, for instance, was “Sobriety! Domestic Comfort! and National Independence!” This inscription appeared to me the most remarkable, and I immediately asked myself what national independence had to do with temperance, which I had hitherto deemed a purely moral question. But I am now disposed to believe it has more to do with it than is generally allowed; and I often thought that all these temperance men were joined in a common conspiracy against England.

The cause of temperance has no where more adherents than in Ireland; nay, it has actually originated here, and here also it has its strong-hold. Almost every Irishman wears the temperance medal, and no less than five millions (this number I have from his own mouth,) are said to have taken the pledge from Father Mathew. The Apostle of Temperance has given to this society its peculiar sanctity and dignity, and hence the Irish themselves acknowledge no other. “Our temperance society is the only genuine one,” said my guide: “elsewhere, in America for instance, there were temperance societies previous to ours, but they are not of the right sort. They hav'n't generally adopted total abstinence, and they break the pledge very often. With us it is quite the contrary. When Father Mathew has once laid his hands on a man's head, and blessed him, and hung the medal around his neck, he is dedicated to temperance for his entire life: from that moment he hates all intoxicating liquors, and can no longer endure those who are given to drinking. So great is the effect of the blessing of our Apostle of Temperance.”

The Roman Catholic priesthood of Ireland, though, at first, they beheld with jealousy the movement originated by the exertions of a simple monk, have allowed themselves to be borne along by the stream; nay, have even partially placed themselves at its head; and the entire matter has thus assumed a catholic-religious character. Every mighty movement in a nation, and every widely-branching  p.95 confederation, be its object what it may, will of itself assume a political character. O'Connell and his fellow-patriots, therefore, could not overlook the temperance movement, and the political weight it obtained by the accession of great masses; they have, consequently, sanctioned it by their approbation, and hence it has obtained its patriotic anti-English character. Temperance gives to the Irish greater domestic comfort, more order and moral strength, and stronger claims and hopes of “National Independence.” Perhaps the temperance conspiracy and the independence conspiracy will yet merge into one. The shoemakers had as a motto on their banner the words “Craft dignified by Royalty.” What pompous idea cobbling Paddy associates with these fine words I could never rightly make out.

Garlands and wreaths of flowers encircled the banners and the hall. A large table, in the form of a horseshoe, stood in the middle of the room; and long boards, laid on blocks of wood and barrels, served as seats. At the top of the horseshoe two arm-chairs were placed—one for Father Mathew, and the other for the principal Catholic priest of the town, who was to preside at the meeting. Behind these arm-chairs, on the wall, was suspended a gigantic cornucopia, from which a number of shamrocks were represented as falling,—another allusion to Irish nationality. On side tables stood vast numbers of teacups, and large piles of bread and butter; for at all the festive meetings of the temperance men, tea is the only drink, and bread and butter their only food. In London, the temperance tea-houses are very numerous; and in many of the towns and villages of England and Ireland, where a beer-jug or a whisky bottle was once displayed, a teapot and a few cups and saucers are now to be seen in the window.

My friend having still many arrangements to complete, I returned to the street. The night was pitchy dark, and two dim tallow candles, fixed upon the door-posts, threw a weak flickering gleam upon the crowd that was assembled outside the hall. The people were shouting one to another; and I heard some say that Father Mathew had already arrived; that a deputation of the principal temperance men had gone to meet him with music, and conducted him in; that he had alighted at the priest's, to refresh himself a little after his journey, and would shortly make his appearance. The contemplation of this scene produced something like a religious effect on my mind, and I thought of those scenes in the history of the Apostles, in which they describe their journeys, and the little towns they visited.

Father Mathew founded the Irish Temperance Society on the 10th of April, 1838, since which time he has been constantly  p.96 travelling about Ireland, like the Apostles in Greece and Asia Minor, partly by his presence, eloquence, and encouragement, to strengthen the fidelity of those societies already formed, partly to recruit for new disciples, and to administer the pledge and award the medal and his blessing to such as wish to enrol themselves in the society. During that portion of the year not spent in travelling, he resides in Cork.

Suddenly arose the cry, “He comes! he comes!” and I heard at the other end of the street a burst of that most horrible—(this term I ought not to use, since the instruments were blown in so estimable a cause)—music, with which the temperance men open all their public meetings and processions. All the temperance associations have taken music into their especial service, and at their own expense have formed bands, which accompany their processions and enliven their soirées. At times they go in procession through the towns and their environs, and on these occasions, which generally occupy the whole day, all the adherents of the cause are invited. These excursions, for which in London steam-boats are frequently hired, are undertaken partly to promote suitable and beneficial temperance pleasures, and partly to show themselves to the public, for all which purposes the temperance bands may be requisite. In the Irish towns, however, it is also usual for these bands to promenade the streets on Sunday evenings. This is probably done to denote their existence, as well as to advance the cause, and stimulate the zeal of their adherents. But I must confess that my ear was not so attuned as to find any soothing harmony in their music; and were all their trumpets, clarionets, cornets-à-piston, and drums, blown and beat at random, I do not believe the discord could be much greater. It is a pity that better taste is not united with such a cause.

At the cry of “He comes! he comes!” I betook myself to my place, and seated myself at the end of a bench near my teacup, which had been kindly placed exactly opposite Father Mathew. All the other friends of temperance, young men, old men, women, and girls, also took their places. Young persons composed the majority of our assemblage.

He came—the great man, the Apostle of Temperance, who, after O'Connell, may be deemed the most prominent character in Ireland, since the great phenomenon of five millions of people joining hands in a noble cause is to be looked upon as entirely his work. As O'Connell rules the entire repeal association, and stands at the head of all repealers like a dictator, so the temperance cause almost entirely depends upon Father Mathew, who guides the whole vast association, and exercises a controlling influence  p.97 which, under certain circumstances, may become of the greatest importance. He advanced slowly through the crowd, for every one wished to shake hands with him, and this he had to do right and left. At length he stood immediately before me, and sat down in his festooned arm-chair. My friend presented me to the priestly chairman, by whom I was introduced to Father Mathew, who addressed to me some friendly words of welcome. I found him a man of a decidedly distinguished appearance, and at once comprehended the influence which he cannot fail to have over the people. The public require, in the individual whom they are to obey, an imposing figure and appearance, and Father Mathew is really a handsome man. He is about the same height and figure as Napoleon, and is withal thoroughly well-proportioned, and well-built. Though not corpulent, his person is well-rounded, and displays nothing of the meagre, pale, sunken-cheeked, deep-eyed Franciscan monk. His complexion is very healthy, and fresh. His movements and manner are simple and without affectation; and in his tout ensemble there is something that demands and wins the good-will of all. His features are perfectly regular, well defined, and in the highest degree noble, with an expression of mildness accompanied by great decision of character, yet with more of the latter than of the former. His eyes are large, his glance calm, and he often keeps his eye steadily fixed for a long time on one object. His forehead is straight, high, and commanding; and his nose—a feature which often displays so much vulgarity, and at other times so much delicacy and nobleness—is particularly handsome, though perhaps a little too much arched in the middle. His mouth is small and well-proportioned; and his chin round, projecting, firm, and large, like Napoleon's. His whole face, though a little more round, has yet something of Napoleon in it. Though already in his fifty-fourth year, he appears in the fullest strength and vigour of life. He was born at Cork in 1789, where, till 1838, he lived almost entirely unknown, a simple Franciscan monk, highly esteemed in his own circle, and beloved as a distinguished speaker by his congregation, which was wholly devoted to him, especially the poor, amongst whom he distributed help, consolation, and advice, potatoes, and turf. Over their minds he even then exercised a perceptible influence. Out of Cork, and out of Ireland, his excellent properties, or even his name, were comparatively unknown.

In the year 1838, some Quakers, struck by the misery produced among the lower classes by drunkenness, resolved to found a temperance society in Cork; but their efforts proving unsuccessful, they begged Father Mathew to devote his talents and his powers  p.98 of oratory to the cause. He did so, and on the 10th of April, in the same year, formed the first Total Abstinence Society. Having thus proved that he was equally capable of acquiring distinction in great matters as in those minor pursuits to which he had been hitherto confined, in a couple of years he became the influential man he now is, and the temperance cause sprung up beside him like a vast tree produced by magic, loaded from top to bottom with the choicest fruits. In 1838, three months after its formation, the society numbered five hundred members; in 1840, a million; and, in 1842, according to Father Mathew's own report, five millions!

It may be doubted whether history furnishes an example of so great a moral revolution, accomplished in so short a time, and whether any man ever so quickly obtained so great and bright a name as Father Mathew. In point of fact, there is something altogether unparalleled in the Irish Temperance Society. We have, indeed, often beheld old, decayed political fabrics tumbled down in a short time; we have even sometimes seen religious systems and principles of belief quickly vanish; but not till they had been previously undermined and warred against for centuries. Such sudden revolutions and rapid reformations were in these cases merely the visible and manifested effects of causes which had been long at work, although their operation was silent and unseen. But where is to be found a similar example of a people, wholly without preparation, without previous instruction, rising unanimously at the call of a single individual, in the very plenitude of their vices, (for the Irish were the greatest and most habitual drunkards in the world,) 12 contending against itself, against its own passions, (not against the privileged classes, or its powerful priesthood,) tearing up sweet old habits by the roots, and confining itself to strict and rigorous abstinence! Here is an entire people doing what, in the middle ages, but a few pious monks were able to accomplish! How hard it is to fulfil that saying of Christ, that we should put off the old man and put on the new! Yet here we see the wonderful phenomenon of five millions of men fulfilling this command in one particular. They have put off an old man, worn out with diseases which have hitherto resisted the medicine of every physician, and have suddenly put on a new, vigorous, abstinent, and sober man.

In all reforms and revolutions there have ever been thousands of men who derived some accession of wealth or territory by the change. In Luther's reformation many princes took a willing  p.99 part, because there were convents, fat prebends, and church property to be confiscated. In the French Revolution the conquerors divided among themselves the property of the nobles. The labour of these revolutionary heroes was also comparatively easy, as they sailed with the great stream, which carried men away with it to enrich them at the expense of others. But in this Irish temperance reform every one of its most zealous promoters seems to be a loser from the beginning—from Father Mathew its author, up to the English Government. One of Father Mathew's brothers was the proprietor of a large distillery, in which two other brothers had considerable shares. His sister was married to another great distiller, named Hackett: in short, all his relations were in some way connected with whisky-making, it having hitherto been difficult to find a person in Ireland who was not related to a distiller. All these people, therefore, have been deeply injured in their worldly prosperity by this reform, brought about by the exertions of their relative, who did not allow himself to be deterred from prosecuting what he deemed generally beneficial, by regard for private interests. The distillers, publicans, and hotel-keepers, were more numerous in Ireland than in any other country, and exercised a very direct influence over the lowest classes of the populace. It was therefore against this influential body, who held the sweet poison ever in their hands, as the goddess Hebe held the divine nectar—against men, the business of whose lives it was to strive to lull to sleep the good guardian angels of the people— it was against them the storm arose. The nobility and the clergy must also have been heavy losers, whilst the government revenue was materially diminished. All these losers could only behold in the distant perspective those advantages which would be derived from more sober and orderly subjects, and must therefore have been interested in the continuance of the old order of things. And as to the people themselves, who were to abstain from drink, what had they to gain by this reform? Were they not rather called upon to subject themselves to what they deemed the hardest of privations? Were they not required to renounce that which they considered their only consolation in all their deep misery? They were to be unfaithful to the dram-glass, which was to them the Lethean draught of forgetfulness, to wash away all their oppressive woes! They were to devote themselves to a sobriety, which, at its very beginning, would render them more keenly alive to all that was oppressive in their condition, and which only showed them a few fair and profitable results in the far distance.

All classes seemed thus to be interested in opposing the progress of temperance, and the cause had to struggle against the strong  p.100 current created by the interests, the inclinations, and the passions of men. Benefits were, it is true, held out; but these were of so peculiar, I might almost say, of so unearthly, a nature, as rarely to have any charms for sinful men. Order, industry, virtue, peace with all men, domestic happiness—these were the fruits which the Apostle of Temperance affirmed would be produced by sobriety and abstinence. Nor was this all. Increased domestic comfort was to be the reward of the poor; the more punctual payment of rents was promised to the landlords in return for the aid to be derived from their example and influence; whilst to the government the hope was held out of better and more loyal subjects. These advantages, however, were all uncertain and remote, and required great sacrifices on every side, before they could be realised. Yet the people flocked together passionately, even madly, by thousands, nay, by hundreds of thousands, made all these sacrifices, and allowed themselves to be converted by the great Apostle, whose glorious triumph has scarcely ever been equalled. In one day Father Mathew frequently admitted from 4,000 to 8,000, and upon one occasion 13,000 persons, into the temperance society. On his first visit to Galway, no fewer than 200,000 individuals flocked together to see and hear him, and, for the most part, to be enrolled on the list of teetotalism. As the Irish Temperance Society has been five years in existence, and as it now numbers five millions of members, it must, on an average, have received nearly 3,000 daily. These are extraordinary occurrences, for which the historian can hardly find a parallel; and the affair is more honourable to the Irish nation than any thing else that has hitherto been known of it. For the rest, it is natural, and consistent with human nature, that the whole reform was by no means solely effected by purely spiritual and virtuous means; and it is equally conceivable that all who favoured the cause were not alike influenced by pure enthusiasm for the weal of mankind or the love of temperance.

As to the means by which the temperance movement was created and kept in motion, they were nearly similar to those by which all theories, principles, and parties are promulgated and extended in Great Britain. I have already mentioned that the teetotallers, like the Chartists and other political societies, have their public demonstrations, their great processions, their numerous meetings, and festive parties. On these occasions speeches are listened to, frequently interspersed with noise, tumult, and tasteless music; and it has often occurred to me, that the intemperate zeal with which the British people advocate the principles which they have once adopted, (not excepting even temperance  p.101 itself,) must frequently lead to extravagances, which is only an intemperance of another description. Their music is loud and without taste, the speeches declamatory and vaunting, the meetings often continue till the night is far advanced, and, by the temperance people, are concluded with dancing and noise. Like all other parties, the temperance men avail themselves of the services of those great declamatory organs, the daily and weekly journals, in which eulogistic and frequently exaggerated reports of their proceedings are inserted. “The Life of the Very Reverend Father Mathew, with an account of his miraculous labours in favour of Teetotalism,” has also been written, and printed over and over again, and tens of thousands of copies distributed among the people. In these memoirs are set forth, in prominent characters, the multitudes who have assembled around him each day, and the thousands to whom he has administered the pledge on each occasion. Innumerable tracts have been written on the pernicious effects of intoxicating liquors, on the benefits of temperance, on the future prospects of Ireland, and on a hundred other subjects connected with it. Unlike the letters of Father Mathew, which are written in an animated evangelic style, these tracts frequently display that boasting, diffuse, and exaggerated language which is peculiar to all English parties. Even for the popular theatres tasteless pieces are written, such as “The Life of a Drunkard,” in which the drunkard becomes a murderer, and is hanged on the stage itself. Such are the adjuncts which accompany the beautiful and truly inspired speeches and acts of Father Mathew, and many other sincere friends of the noble cause; and all this he is obliged to permit, nay, even to sanction, because it is usual with men, and especially with Englishmen, to do nothing without noise and show.

Nor are the motives by which individuals are induced to enter the temperance societies all alike pure and disinterested. I have already mentioned that the Irish beggars sometimes adorn themselves with the medal, because they know that it gives them a better chance of receiving alms. Many of the upper classes are said to have taken the pledge merely to set an example to their inferiors, and in the hope that sober tenants will be better able to pay their rents than drunkards. Many have also joined the societies as an excuse for their niggardliness and avarice; for many niggards think themselves extremely fortunate in having found in temperance an excellent and praiseworthy pretext to conceal their avarice and spare their guineas. These now give their families and guests water instead of wine, and tea instead of punch; and since temperance has become the order of the day in Ireland, nobody dares to grumble at the substitution. Others have been led, as I before  p.102 stated, to become teetotallers, not from a love of temperance, but through a species of fanaticism and superstition; and these not only hope by this means to secure their salvation in the next world, but also ascribe certain beneficial and protecting powers to the blessing of Father Mathew, as well as to the medal, which they make a sort of talisman.

All these things are, I repeat, extremely natural and not to be avoided; for not only are they based in the nature of man, and would therefore show themselves any where, but they are also a portion of the Irish character, and unavoidable in Ireland; whilst in other countries they either display themselves in a different manner, or not at all. In Germany, the temperance cause would take quite a different course, and very different means would be made use of for its advancement. There, teetotalism could hardly succeed: it would not be taken up with the same religious, almost fanatical, enthusiasm; few would be found to hang the medal round their necks; and the tumultuous meetings and soirées would not take the same shape. In a word, German temperance would assume a completely different physiognomy. So much is connected with the diffusion of temperance, that one may almost safely predict from its adoption a complete reform of the whole social condition of the Irish, since it chiefly aims at the infusing into the people a taste for a description of pleasure and enjoyments widely differing from those they formerly enjoyed in the whisky-shops.

As temperance tea-parties, such as that which I attended, are now almost daily given in all places in England and Ireland, it may be interesting to my readers to learn how it was conducted. The chairman opened the meeting by congratulating himself and this little town on its being deemed worthy of a visit from the great Apostle of Temperance. As often as he mentioned Father Mathew he bowed reverentially to him, designating him as “the great Apostle of Temperance,” “the great god-gifted man,” and by other equally high-flown titles. I thought of Christ, who, when his disciples praised him, said that no one was good but God in heaven; and I fancied that Father Mathew, who repudiates the miracles which the people ascribe to him, should likewise have disclaimed the gross flatteries which the orator uttered in his presence. Such a course would unquestionably add greatly to his other merits. But pompous and exaggerated expressions are so generally characteristic of the Irish, that incense of this nature, sprinkled upon him by his friends, may perhaps be necessary to maintain his reputation and influence with the people. (I forgot to mention that on his entering the room the band struck up the  p.103 English triumphal air, “See, the conquering hero comes!” How is it possible to countenance such arrant flattery!)

Father Mathew then rose, and expressed his joy at finding himself again in Kilrush, and at seeing assembled around him so many of those who on his first visit had taken the pledge, and were still faithful to their vow. He then detailed (amid the continual cheers of the meeting, and ceaseless cries of “hear! hear!”) the most recent results of their great cause. In particular he gave an account of his last journey across the Channel to Glasgow, where, he said, no fewer than 80,000 persons of all religious persuasions assembled to meet him, and where he had shaken hands with thousands upon thousands: and though he was but a powerless straw on the great stream of temperance, he was received in Glasgow as if he were an angel come down from heaven (ipsissima verba). There are in Glasgow alone 50,000 Irish, and to these his visit must indeed have been particularly acceptable.

Father Mathew's eloquence is one of those endowments for which he is particularly admired. In point of fact, he possesses a sonorous voice, and, what is much more important, a glowing enthusiasm, and a firm conviction of the success of the cause. He occasionally hesitates, and even stammers. After he has been speaking for some time quite fluently and rapidly, he seems all at once unable to find some suitable word, or to express an idea sufficiently quick. His speech stops short, his tongue no longer obeys him, the construction of his sentences becomes entangled, his thoughts grow confused, he stops for a moment, he grows red, his regularly beautiful countenance becomes even distorted, he begins to make some convulsive efforts, and to help out his meaning with some movements of his hands, till at length the knot is suddenly unloosed, the thoughts again begin to flow, the new idea is born, the tongue again recovers its volubility, and the speech rushes along, sonorous and copious as before. I believe that this stopping and hesitation, which might seem to be a defect in an orator, often increases the interest with which Father Mathew is listened to. It is said that Alexander the Great, though a handsome man, had a stiff wry neck; and this, as Plutarch informs us, all his courtiers imitated, because in him they found it particularly interesting. When the figure or the language is generally beautiful, sundry little defects and irregularities only render this beauty still more interesting; and this, I believe, is the case with the occasional hesitation of Father Mathew. At first I imagined he was a little affected in this respect but I afterwards found it was a natural defect.


Father Mathew has a very pretty and delicate hand, and dresses well, almost elegantly. He usually wears a fine black great-coat, and his linen is dazzlingly white. There is something particularly distinguished and gentlemanlike in his entire person and appearance, which is the more remarkable, as he has ever been a man, of the people, has laboured and spoken for the humble and poor alone, and is beloved by them especially. Men of the people not unfrequently endeavour to increase their popularity by an affectation of cynicism, of which O'Connell is an instance, there being nothing elegant or gentlemanlike either in his person or appearance.

Father Mathew concluded his address amid universal and long-continued applause, the noise being equally as great as when he first entered the room. The people clapped their hands, stamped their feet, shouted, whistled, and the tumult was still farther swelled by the noise of the trumpets. A corpulent old man, one of the leading personages of the society, from whose brow the tea he had drunk was rolling down in big drops of perspiration, (Theeschweißtropfen,) continually waved his handkerchief, exclaiming, “Again! again!” at the same time looking at Father Mathew with a sort of triumphant air, in order to read in his countenance an expression of joy and satisfaction. All this seems to be an indispensable appendage to temperance in Ireland.

In the intervals between the speeches the band in the gallery played Irish or English national melodies, but without the least regard to time, although the leader kept beating it most diligently. In the meantime we emptied cup after cup, and conversation became general around the table. On each of the cups and plates there was a portrait of Father Mathew, in the act of giving his blessing and the medal to the people—another addition to my list of overstrained Irish flatteries.

I asked Father Mathew whether he had any intention of extending his labours beyond Ireland and Scotland. He replied that he had long thought of visiting some parts of Germany in particular, but had hitherto been deterred by his ignorance of the language, which he feared would prove the greatest obstacle to his success. As an inspired apostle of temperance, he would be of use in almost every country, especially if he took the field against all kinds of intemperance. But to qualify him for this, the gift of tongues must descend upon him, as it did upon the Apostles of the New Testament; and I do not think it probable that he will ever extend his mission beyond his own island, and those towns of England in which his countrymen are most numerous. He will always find ample employment at home in keeping alive and regulating  p.105 the motions of the society he has formed. I believe prudence alone prevents him from going to London, which he has not yet visited. Should he, however, make his appearance in the capital, the commotion would be great, and many would probably be crushed to death in the crowd. 13 Even here, in the little town of Kilrush, the throng was great enough. The fair sex, in particular, had forced their way close up to the table, and with the exception of the chairman, Father Mathew was wholly surrounded by young women, and in truth, most lovely and bright-eyed ones they were. The fame of the Limerick lasses doubtless extends to those of Kilrush. A charming little girl, about eleven or twelve years of age, sat at the feet of the apostle; by his side were some older ones, who at times caught his hand and pressed it. Some were sitting in each other's laps, merely for the sake of being near and occasionally looking at the holy man.

In some of the intervals old Irish melodies were sung by the young people. Many of these were very beautiful; for although, in the early ages, Ireland was but little esteemed among the other nations of Europe, she has received from those remote periods, melodies more enchanting and exquisite than are to be found any where else in the world. At this meeting, as in all British festivities, there was no lack of toasts, prefaced by long speeches. The toast proposed with the most elaborate speech, though by no means received with the greatest enthusiasm, was “The Irish Clergy.”

At the commencement of the proceedings, Father Mathew had cautioned the speakers to refrain from all political allusions. “The only question which occupied them,” he said, “was the cause of temperance, and the slightest allusions to religious and political differences (which they, as temperance men, ought to consider as not existing at all,) should be totally avoided.” This admonition, however, was disregarded by one of the speakers, who alluded to O'Connell and his exertions in a manner that could not fail to be displeasing to every one who was not a partisan of this tribune of the people. “Order! order!” exclaimed Father Mathew to this individual, with a commanding voice. This was, properly speaking, the duty of the chairman; but as he neglected it, Father Mathew immediately grasped the reins; and the quick and zealous manner in which he did so, and the promptness with  p.106 which he was obeyed, satisfied me of his ability to preserve strict order at his meetings, and of his firm adherence to the rule whereby no discordant tone of the political parties, by which Ireland is rent asunder, is permitted to destroy the harmony of this pure and evangelic cause.

Towards midnight, after innumerable speeches and replies, toasts and counter-toasts, Father Mathew left the meeting. The tables and teapots were now removed, and a merry dance commenced, which must have continued some hours, as it was morning when I heard the temperance band playing their melodies through the street as they returned home.

At nine o'clock on the following morning, Father Mathew was again at his post. This time, however, the scene of his labours was the church, where he read mass, and then distributed temperance medals to some hundreds of persons who presented themselves for that purpose. This medal is a round piece of pewter, about the size of a five-franc piece. Upon it are stamped the words of the pledge, which are to the effect, that the holder will abstain from all intoxicating liquors, and do all in his power to dissuade others from using them. Some persons, as I have said, wear them constantly as a kind of amulet. They frequently hang them round the necks of their children, who are admitted into the society long before they know any thing of intoxicating liquors, evidently for the same reason that the Russians and other nations cause the sacrament to be administered to their children, before they know any thing of its signification. The wealthy have silver medals, which they wear on festive occasions. Along with this medal each person receives a paper, a sort of diploma, or certificate of admission into the society. In Ireland this medal is called “the pledge,” and to “take the pledge” means the same as to become a member of the society. On the other hand, “to break the pledge” means to break the vow, and again return to intemperance. This of course is frequently the case, and it is not unusual to hear expressions of regret that so many have broken the pledge. Nor is this surprising. On the contrary, it is a wonder that so many millions conscientiously and faithfully confine themselves within the narrow bounds to which the temperance pledge confines them. It often happens that individuals come to Father Mathew with repentant confessions, return him their broken pledge, and entreat him to administer it once more. This he usually does, after inflicting on them some slight ecclesiastical punishment for breaking their vow. Frequently, too, people give him back the pledge, and entreat him entirely to release them from their vow, which circumstances make it impossible for them to keep. Thus, some  p.107 time ago, a soldier of the 88th Regiment, who returned his pledge, assigned as his reason for so doing, that his colonel would not permit any soldier in the regiment to be a teetotaller. There are some officers who yet adhere to the old system, and imagine that a sober, water and tea-drinking soldier cannot be as efficient as one who drinks whisky and beer. Other officers, on the contrary, (and this class, I believe, are the most numerous,) are of opinion that the Irish temperance soldier is much more orderly and obedient, and more generally serviceable.

There are numbers, also, who have manifold ways of evading their vow. Many, I was informed, allege that they only pledged themselves not to drink intoxicating liquors in any wine, beer, or whisky shop, but that they may fill their glass in the house and drink it in the street. Such cases may occur, but they are, I have little doubt, extremely rare. Father Mathew himself related to me a strange case of an old colonel, who was much tormented by the gout. He had not personally taken the pledge, but two of his sons were teetotallers. He sometimes used to resolve, probably when he was suffering from his disorder, to devote himself to temperance. At such times he would borrow a medal from one of his sons, and wear it as an amulet to counteract his wish for intoxicating liquors. But no sooner had the gout disappeared, than his love for the bottle again returned, and the medal was forthwith restored to his son. As long, however, as he wore it, he strictly refrained from drinking a single drop; and his conduct in the matter may be regarded as not a little characteristic of the manner in which the Irish frequently appreciate both the medal and the pledge.

A circumstance which I will now mention ought not to be passed over in silence. For every medal which Father Mathew distributes he receives thirteen pence. This is confessedly more than the actual cost of the medal, which is probably obtained for a very small part of that sum. But assuming that it costs one-half, and that Father Mathew (as, according to his own account, is the case,) has distributed five millions of medals, these have produced him a clear gain of 2,500,000 shillings, or more than £100,000. It is, however, universally asserted that the motives by which Father Mathew is influenced, are too noble and elevated to permit him to apply to his own private use any portion of the vast sums which he has thus received, and that the whole amount is devoted to purposes of general utility. He makes frequent gifts of £50, £60, or £80 to charitable institutions, and every where privately assists the poor. He is also building a handsome and costly church in Cork for which, it is true, he makes special collections, but on  p.108 which he likewise expends a portion of the produce of the medals. Besides this, his continual journeys are attended with heavy expenses, which are incurred not for himself, but for the great common cause. Though this is the view generally taken of the matter—and I am firmly convinced it is the correct one—still I cannot suppress the wish, that Father Mathew would have nothing to do with this money. Could not some wealthy friends be found to contribute the cost of these medals? And would a Franciscan monk lose aught of his influence if he were to travel on foot, like the Apostles of old, and, like Christ, avail himself of the hospitality of his friends? He could not then, it is true, fly with such speed and activity from one end of the country to the other; but his fame would be still greater, and he would stand without blemish, not only before God, but altogether beyond the reach of evil and censorious tongues. His exertions would thus, perhaps, be still more salutary and useful, and his blessing would certainly be still more highly prized by the people. Or, is it come to this, that in our money-hunting age, those men only are revered, prophets and apostles though they may be, who know how to make money as well as how to spend it? In this respect Father Mathew has some distant resemblance to O'Connell.

The chief object of the Irish Temperance Society may be expressed in two words, “total abstinence”—perfect, unlimited, and unconditional renunciation of all intoxicating liquors. There are some temperance societies which only require abstinence from whisky, and permit the use of other less pernicious liquors, as beer, wine, &c., and only forbid excess and intoxication. The Irish, especially Father Mathew, contend that this degree of abstinence is insufficient, at least for Ireland; since, if any avenue to the bottle were left, the whole broad path to intoxication would again be speedily opened, and a relapse to drunkenness the all too frequent consequence. They therefore devote themselves to “total abstinence,” or, as they designate it in one word, to “teetotalism,” and call themselves “teetotallers,” in contradistinction to other temperance people. At first I imagined that this strange title had something to do with tea, and meant nothing but tea. “Teetotal” is, however, an old Irish word in general use, which signifies entirely, as, “he is teetotally ruined.”

Rejoicing in the good fortune which had given me an opportunity of seeing so closely the great Apostle of Teetotalism, “the gifted divine,” “the God-gifted,” as he is also called, and with silent wishes for his future success, and a long life, I left the little town of Kilrush. Whether this reformation, so victoriously commenced, will continue and prosper, may perhaps be doubted; but  p.109 it is at all events certain, that much of its success depends upon Father Mathew and his personal exertions. It is he in whom the people confide. He alone it is from whom they will receive the pledge; and his blessing alone, in the minds of the people, has strength to bind and to protect. His great eloquence, his restless and devoted activity, his energetic enthusiasm for the great cause, unite the whole together, and give strength and power to the remarkable spell beneath which so great a part of Ireland's evil spirits lie in chains. Should he be prematurely removed, which may God forbid, it cannot be doubted that the young giant-work would be in the greatest danger, just as the repeal cause would receive a fatal blow from O'Connell's death. On the shoulders of these two individuals rests a vast load of responsibility; and where could two men be found possessing qualifications equal to those of O'Connell and Mathew? Who then can wish too often that the life of the virtuous, eloquent, and talented Father Mathew may be prolonged! But his parting-hour will arrive; and will his work survive his death—will it last? Or will the Irish people again sink into their old drunkenness and torpidity? It is in vain that we look back to the history of the Irish people for a solution of this question: the phenomenon is unique, and we have nothing to compare it with. Nothing remains for us therefore but to turn to the character of the people, and the nature of the cause itself. The former affords us less ground for hope than the latter. The Irish are and ever have been addicted to extravagance and dissipation; they are thoroughly lazy, and in addition, they feel themselves oppressed and in bondage. All these circumstances are calculated to seduce them back to the path of dissipation. The principal features of a nation's character are not easily changed; nay, they seem to be eternal and indestructible. The Irishman will therefore probably find, in his character and in his political condition, continual temptations to intemperance and drunkenness. Besides, he is inclined to superstition; and as there is too much reason to believe that his faith in the divine mission and endowments of Father Mathew, rather than his own strong resolves and firm wishes to reform, are the bonds which at present confine him within the limits of temperance; it is therefore to be feared, that as soon as this magician quits the stage every thing will again sink back into its old weakness and sluggishness.

On the other hand, if we consider the temperance cause itself, there is no doubt that at this moment it restrains the greatest part of the nation within salutary bounds, and has kept it there for four years. This space of time is long enough to make the people feel and acknowledge the many advantages of their altered mode of  p.110 life. Better health, greater domestic peace, diminished expenses, increased prosperity, are blessings perceived by the temperance man very soon after he has taken the pledge. But other advantages result from it which are not equally appreciable or so speedily perceptible, and whose fruits can only ripen in the distant future. Amongst these may be enumerated an increased taste for instruction and information; better education of children, and, ultimately, of the entire people; an increased feeling of independence, and a wish for freedom; and, finally, the emancipation of the oppressed inferior classes.

The leisure hours which the drunkard passed in a state of brutal insensibility, the temperance man spends in reading. Since he thus gains time and taste for the cultivation of his mind, he will pay more attention to the education of his children, and thus the civilization of the people will be improved. The drunkard is the most helpless being in the world, and always dependant upon others. Hence it is quite usual for those who wish to make others their dependants, to accustom them to the use of intoxicating liquors. The sober man alone is capable of governing himself, and a feeling of independence will arise among the hitherto deeply subjected Irish. They will be raised in their own esteem, and consequently in that of others. Intelligence and knowledge, which are also power, and the acquisition of property, which produces greater independence, will increase that desire for freedom which is inseparable from a manly character, and ultimately produce a freer political constitution. Much of what O'Connell, at the head of his Helots, now fiercely and vainly demands, mast be granted to a sober, intelligent, thriving, and freedom-loving people.

Still greater than any kind of knowledge, and still stronger than all good or bad resolves, is the power of habit. Should Father Mathew survive, and retain his activity and his influence, until the Irish are led by temperance to adopt other manners and habits, and consequently to change their national character, the battle will then be gained, and success secured for ever. The body can so accustom itself to water as no longer to be able to do without it, and no longer wish to touch intoxicating liquors. Five millions of people are at this moment employed (by suddenly interrupting the progress of their old customs, and adopting those which are entirely new,) in thoroughly changing their inclinations and dispositions, in making themselves quite new beings. They are becoming acquainted with feelings of the existence of which they had before no idea; they have invented new pleasures and social joys, which did not, for them, previously exist; in a word, the threads of better and improved habits have been spun, and the  p.111 further development, strengthening, and permanence of these must be the most ardent wish of every friend of man.

It is curious that Christianity also spread through Ireland with a rapidity similar to that which has marked the progress of temperance. It burst forth, says Thomas Moore, on receiving the first beam of the apostolic light, and, with the sudden maturity of a northern summer, at once covered the entire land with fruits and blossoms. The foundation of this phenomenon Moore finds in the versatility which is peculiar to the Irishman, in the ease with which he submits to new impulses and influences, and which form so prominent a feature in his character. Christianity, notwithstanding the rapidity of its adoption, has now existed fourteen hundred years in Ireland. This, then, is a good omen for temperance. The former, however, had this advantage, that heathenism was exterminated in all the countries around, and that the Irish retained their Christianity in common with the entire world. But the vineyards, distilleries, and breweries will not be rooted out of the neighbouring countries in a similar manner.

Figures speak a very simple language. I shall therefore conclude this subject by allowing figures to speak for the cause of Father Mathew; as these clearly prove how much the consumption of spirituous liquors has decreased in Ireland since he made his appearance. In 1833, the quantity of malt used for making beer, whisky, &c., was 1,970,000 bushels. From this year there was a constant increase till 1836, when it amounted to 2,511,000 bushels. Since 1836 there has been a constant decrease, till, in 1840, it was only 1,600,000 bushels, or little more than half the quantity of 1836. The spirit duty amounted

  • In 1838 to £1,510,092
  • In 1839 to £1,402,130
  • In 1840 to £1,032,000
being a decrease of about one-third in three years. In what proportion temperance has been adopted by the higher classes, who mostly use wines and foreign spirits, the following figures show. The duty on wines imported into Ireland amounted
  • In 1838 to £192,618
  • In 1839 to £181,253
  • In 1840 to £162,088
being a diminution in the consumption of about one-sixth in three years, during which time no change was made in the import duty. The import duty on foreign spirits amounted
  • In 1836 to £29,479
  • In 1839 to £26,362
  • In 1840 to £22,268
 p.112 The consumption of liqueurs also was about one-fourth less in 1840 than in 1838.

Compare with this the following sums for England and Scotland:—

Duty on British Spirits1838£2,520,000£1,437,428
Import Duty on Wine1838£1,590,000£121,004
Thus it appears, that whilst the consumption of spirituous liquors was decreasing in Ireland, intemperance was on the increase in England and Scotland, especially among the poorer or spirit-drinking classes. The temperance or intemperance of the richer classes, the consumers of wine, seems to have remained pretty regular. As this increased intemperance of the poorer classes kept pace with their diminished prosperity, it may be inferred that greater poverty, by producing despair, is one great cause of increased intemperance; whilst greater poverty is, in its turn, the natural and inevitable result of increased intemperance.

Scotland affords the most remarkable, and at the same time the most melancholy example, of increased intemperance. In that country the consumption of malt has increased, in thirty years, from 784,000 to 4,309,000 bushels, or six-fold. In Ireland, during the same period, the consumption diminished from 3,033,000 bushels in 1810, to 1,604,000 in 1840; and even in England, the increase was only from 23,541,000 bushels in 1810, to 34,000,000 in 1840—a quantity which does not exhibit any great increase of intemperance, since the increase of population must have been in nearly the same ratio. If we compare this consumption of malt with the population of the three kingdoms, it appears that, in 1840,

  • 15,000,000 inhabitants of England consumed 34,000,000 Bushels of Malt
  • 2,400,000 inhabitants of Scotland consumed 4,300,000 Bushels of Malt
  • 8,000,000 inhabitants of Ireland consumed 1,600,000 Bushels of Malt
Being, in Ireland, one-fifth of a bushel for every inhabitant; in England upwards of two bushels; and in Scotland something less than two bushels. Of this malt, much of course was made into beer, and therefore these returns do not show the ratio of the consumption of spirits alone to the population. But in 1840,  p.113
  • England paid for spirit-duty £2,628,200
  • Scotland paid for spirit-duty £1,541,300
  • Ireland paid for spirit-duty £1,032,000
Thus the two millions and a half in Scotland produce one and a half times as much spirits as the eight millions of Ireland, and only one half less than the fifteen millions of England. We have, however, no means of ascertaining how much of this they consume themselves, or how much of it is exported to England.

10. Scattery Island and the Round Towers

Fog on the Shannon—Round-Tower Passion—Description of the Round Towers—Their Number—Pillar Temples—Hypotheses and Theories—Fire Worshippers—Supposed Intention of the Round Towers—Connexion with the East—“The Seven Churches”—Fortification of Scattery Island—Mouth of the Shannon

Kilrush is situated on a small bay of the Shannon. In part of this bay are two little islands, in the middle of the river, which is here from four to five miles in breadth. One of these islands is the famed Scattery Island, on which are the ruins of “The Seven Churches,” and in the midst of them a round tower in good preservation. Having determined closely to inspect these monuments, I therefore intrusted myself and my portmanteau to a little row-boat, which was also to take me over to the county of Kerry. I seated myself at the helm, and a couple of able rowers, whom I had hired the evening before, undertook the propulsion of the little vessel. The morning was perfectly calm and warm, but the sun, as we pushed off from the shore, was obscured by a yellow fog, which concealed from my view the island towards which we steered, and even of the broad Shannon we saw little more than what danced and sparkled about our boat and our oars. The fog was of a dun yellow colour, and was spread along the water, which also seemed to be converted into vapour, as it reflected nothing but fog. Sometimes a tiny wave flashed in the distance, but as quickly disappeared, as if the eye of a Nereid had glanced out from beneath her veil as she swam past, and been hastily withdrawn. After rowing for some time, the fog cleared off, and the little green island lay before us with its ruined churches, amidst which the lofty column of the Round Tower first presented  p.114 itself like a dark streak, and then gradually broke more distinctly and more defined through the murky atmosphere.

These “Round Towers,” as they are called, are the most interesting antiquities to be found in Ireland. Whenever I came into the neighbourhood of one, I lost no time in observing it closely. Like all travellers in this country, and all Irishmen themselves, I felt myself infected with a decided passion for round towers, and whenever I heard of one in the neighbourhood, I lost no time in carefully inspecting it. But as few of my own countrymen can have any idea of the nature of this passion, a short introductory notice of these ancient structures may not be deemed out of place.

These towers are round, and built of large stones; when seen from a distance, they look more like strong lofty columns than towers, being nearly of the same diameter from the base to the very summit. At present, indeed, their height varies, some of them being more or less in a state of ruin; but those that remain entire, (which is the case with the majority,) are all of nearly the same height, thickness, and structure, and as like each other as the obelisks of Egypt. They are generally from 100 to 120 feet high, and are from 40 to 50 feet in circumference, with a diameter of from twelve to sixteen, which is very small when compared with their great height. Their walls are strong and thick at the base, but gradually become thinner towards the top. They are hollow within, and have no exterior opening except a narrow door-way about eight or ten feet from the ground, and near the top some narrow little window-holes, usually four in number, and generally facing the four cardinal points, north, south, east, and west. These peculiar buildings are found scattered every where throughout Ireland. Sometimes they stand on lonely islands, or on the bank of a river; sometimes in the middle of a plain; and again in the retired nook of a remote valley. Their number is computed at 118; 14 of which fifteen are wholly perfect and uninjured, whilst of thirty-six, little more than foundations now remain. Nothing could be less characteristic of these buildings than the name “Round Towers,” for all towers are more or less round. Some writers call them “Pillar Temples”, but the propriety of this name is disputed by others, who affirm that they never can have been destined for, or  p.115 used as temples. The most striking characteristic of these towers being their resemblance to mighty columns, (and yet they are not columns, since they are hollow within, and are furnished with doors and windows,) perhaps the most appropriate and impartial name that could be given them would be that of “Pillar-Towers”.

These towers are almost exclusively peculiar to Ireland, no buildings of a similar character being found throughout the rest of Europe, except in Scotland, where there are said to be two or three of them, which were most probably built by Irish colonists. In the distant East, however, we find edifices of the same construction and of similar dimensions; and the first thing that strikes the traveller, on seeing an Irish pillar-tower, is its resemblance to the minaret of the Mohamedans. There being no authentic records which show the period at which these towers were erected, whilst every thing denotes that they must have been built in very remote antiquity, innumerable theories and hypotheses have been formed respecting them; and although the truth has not yet been elucidated, the falseness and absurdity of many of these theories is very apparent. For instance, those learned personages who assert that these towers were built by the Danes, seem to have forgotten that they are found in parts of Ireland where the Danes never had any possessions, as in Donegal, and the more remote counties of Connaught; and they must also have shut their eyes to the fact that the Danes never built such towers in England, nor even in their own country. That they were not built by the Anglo-Normans, who succeeded the Danes, is equally certain, because no record of the fact is to be found, nor any traces of similar structures in the native land of the Anglo-Normans. Since, therefore, it is evident that these towers were erected long before the English or the Danish period, it is extremely probable that they were built either by the natives of the country, or by colonists from the East, where similar buildings are alone to be found. Popular opinion in Ireland has decided in favour of the latter; and the general tradition, which has descended from the most ancient times to the present day, is that they were built by the Phoenicians. The learned, in propounding their theories, are accustomed to place too much reliance upon written records, which they deem alone authentic, and generally either allow little weight to tradition, or seem to forget that the memory of a people is for thousands of years often more correct than books, and that traditions thus transmitted are equally indestructible as monuments of stone or brans. Ireland, standing alone in the ocean, and at fifteen times a greater distance from most parts of continental Europe than England, had, at the time she was partially conquered  p.116 by the Danes, and subsequently chained by the English to their destinies, her own separate history and social development, and even in the time of the Romans was never dragged into the vortex of European trade. The Phoenicians were the only people of antiquity who visited and ruled Ireland, and by their commerce may have brought this remote isle (a stranger even in Europe,) into connexion with the distant East. There is, therefore, nothing improbable in regarding them as the builders of the pillar-towers; more especially as we know that similar towers now actually exist throughout the entire East—that in the Persian province of Masanderan modern travellers, acquainted with Ireland, have seen towers exactly resembling those in the latter country—that even in India there are similar buildings devoted to religious purposes—and that the Turkish minarets, which stand near their mosques, are in all probability no mere modern Mohamedan invention, but a venerable oriental form of building;—if, I say, we bear these facts in remembrance, we can scarcely avoid connecting these Irish towers with the East. Many are terrified by the antiquity which must thus be ascribed to them; but their extreme solidity renders it not improbable that they may yet endure for some thousands of years; and have we not Roman brick-buildings, which were erected before the birth of Christ?

Not less various are the opinions concerning their object, and some of them are equally absurd. On account of their great height, some have fancied that they were intended as watchtowers, and that a chain of telegraphs was thus formed throughout the whole island. Ridiculous as this opinion may appear, it is very general. Most of these towers, however, are on low ground, in valleys, or on lonely islands, from whence little of the surrounding country could be seen, and therefore little or nothing could be communicated. The slightest reflection would show the absurdity of such an idea. Others, again, contend that they are fortresses of the Christian era, to which the elders and priests withdrew with the treasure of their churches, when the country was threatened with hostilities. But I cannot believe that men could have been foolish enough to build hollow pillars for fortresses. Their great height would not only render their defence difficult, but afford facilities for attacking and destroying them. Those who crept into the narrow space must have been compelled to stand upon each other's heads, and their only means of defending themselves was through four small holes, 80 or 100 feet above the ground, at which they were to stand with their bows, till the enemy approached near enough to be attacked. I have been informed that a work is now in preparation to prove that these  p.117 towers were fortresses; but I would recommend the learned author first to publish a treatise on the formation of the skulls of the ancient Irish, wherein he may show that they had a particular organ in their brains for the construction of crazed defences. Had they been built for this purpose, it is probable that not one of them would now be standing, as the storms of war which never ceased to rage in Ireland have razed all fortresses to the ground; whilst the “Round Towers,” on the contrary, seem as if they had been preserved with especial care and veneration. Another opinion is, that because they usually stand in the midst of the ruins of old churches, they were mere common-place Christian belfries. But irrespective of the fact, that Christianity as well as Mohamedanism has ever had its own particular architectural forms for its ecclesiastical buildings, to which from its very commencement it has strictly adhered, and that neither in oriental nor in occidental Christian countries have belfries ever been found constructed like the Irish round towers,—irrespective of this, I say that belfries are usually built so that not only may a bell be rung in them, but that it may also be heard outside, and for this end they are always provided with side openings through which the sound issues. These pillar-towers, however, are formed like a telescope, and have only four holes in the upper part, so that the sound of bells rung within them, if not completely deadened, would at least be so greatly diminished, as almost entirely to destroy their utility.

There are many opinions of a similar nature, but none of them coincide with the popular tradition, which assigns these temples to the fire-worshippers who accompanied the Phoenicians to Erin. Every Irishman acquainted with the ancient legends of his fatherland, when speaking of these towers, talks of “sun and fire-worshippers,” and asserts that this belief has been handed down from generation to generation. Thomas Moore, and a few more of the learned, are inclined to rely upon this tradition, because the “Pyreas” 15 of the Ghebirs are said exactly to resemble the Irish round towers, and also because it is proved that fire-worship was once the prevailing religion in Ireland. As the towers are almost devoid of light inside, we may readily believe that they served for the preservation of the sacred flame, which may have looked adorable enough in the darkness. The reason for placing the entrance so far from the ground is sufficiently obvious, when it is considered that the fire was holy, and therefore was not accessible to every one. It has been objected, that if the towers were erected for this purpose, there was no necessity for building them so high; but in reply to this it may be alleged that the fire was probably kept in the upper portion of the tower, near the four little windows, and that the priests brought it down from thence, symbolically  p.118 as it were from the sun, the lofty heavenly God of Fire, and source of beams. If, on the other hand, the fire was placed at the bottom of the tower, it may have been built thus high in order at all times to obtain a continued current of air for the holy fire, and to avoid all danger of its being extinguished. It is also possible that these “Pyreas” may have served at once for various purposes: partly to preserve the fire; partly from their summits, as from a minaret, to summon believers to prayer; and partly to display, from the four loop-holes or windows, various fire-signals to the inhabitants of the neighbourhood. Astronomy having been intimately connected with the worship of the sun, the upper part may also have been used for making those celestial observations by which the periods of religious festivals were regulated.

Christian symbols have been found on some of these towers; for instance, on the summit of one at Swords, in the county of Dublin, is a small stone cross. Others bear the image of the Virgin: but these things are very rare, and have doubtless been added in modern times, as it is probable that many have been occasionally used for bell-towers, places of refuge, and various other purposes for which they were not originally designed. That ruined or even perfect churches and burial-places should be found adjoining these towers is not extraordinary; for it is an universal phenomenon that a place once held sacred by a people, remains so always, even though their religion may have been changed. The spots on which most of our old Christian churches now stand were previously occupied by heathen temples, and most of the old mosques in Turkey were once Christian churches.

Generally speaking, the churches found in the neighbourhood of a round tower are seven in number. This has been explained by the supposition that prior to the introduction of Roman Catholic Christianity from France into Ireland, by St. Patrick, an older Christianity had existed in the country. Some are of opinion that this ante-Patrician Christianity was likewise Roman Catholic; but others deny it, and suppose that it was introduced neither from Italy nor France, but direct from Greece. The tradition goes so far as to assert that the Apostle James himself was the first to preach the gospel in Ireland. 16 This Christianity, it is said, had nothing to do with Rome, but was solely regulated according to the rites of the Eastern Oecumenic Synods; and on this supposition the numerous “Seven Churches” which stand together, are said to allude to the seven famous oecumenic churches of the East. The supporters of this opinion, it may be remarked, are chiefly Protestants; and, as the matter is somewhat probable, here is  p.119 a second remarkable direct connexion of Ireland with the East. Is there one other Christian country in Europe, in which the ruins of old primaeval churches are always found together seven at a time? I do not know of any.

The Roman Catholics, on the other hand, maintain that Irish Christianity was Roman Catholic from the very first. Thus the differences in opinion of these two parties extend even to matters which lie deep-buried in the bosom of the past.

At length we landed from our little boat on Scattery Island, called, as I was told, Inniscattery. “It is a very old ancient place,” said one of the boatmen, as he carried me on his back through the water, for we had chosen as a landing-place a long piece of strand, upon which the retreating tide had left about one foot of water. This pleonasm of “old ancient” might be said of many places in Ireland, where old and oldest ruins lie side by side.

Some saint, or one of the first preachers or apostles of Irish Christianity, is generally said to have lived and died at each of the holy places in Ireland called “Seven Churches.” Here it is St. Senanus, whose grave is shown in one of the ruined churches. I have already mentioned, in speaking of the Shannon, the legend of a Princess Seinin, but others allege that it is from this St. Senanus that the river derives its name. Thomas Moore has written a poem on this Senanus, in which the saint refuses to permit a beautiful maiden to land on this island. One only of these ruined churches is still used as a burying-place, and I could not ascertain why the other six are not devoted to the same purpose. The body is conveyed from the mainland in one small boat, while the mourners follow in others, and compose the most interesting and peculiar funerals I ever heard of. I saw many very fresh tombstones, new and polished, with inscriptions in gold, and they looked peculiar and poetical enough on the lonely island. Among them were the graves of some captains of ships, who could scarcely have found a more appropriate resting-place than an island at the mouth of a river, from whence there is a view at the same time of the ocean and the land. On the gravestone of one of them were chiselled the emblems of the passion—a sponge, a nail, a cross, a sword, a spear, &c. Will the time come when antiquaries will dispute about such stones, and the meaning of their hieroglyphics?

I am not aware of any other country in Europe which can boast of such interesting burial-grounds and such picturesque grave-monuments as those which are met with in Ireland. This arises partly from the abundance of ivy and other graceful evergreens with which they are generally fringed, and partly from the custom, which still prevails, of burying the dead amid ruins, which are  p.120 even preferred for that purpose; and wherever there is a fragment of an old church remaining, there also abundance of graves are to be found, both old and new. In some parts of Scotland only have I seen any thing similar.

Some of the seven churches on Scattery Island have almost entirely disappeared; but three of the number yet remain in tolerable preservation, and are covered with ivy. Over the middle window of the one nearest to the round tower is to be seen a strange face, sculptured in stone. Strangely enough, it has the stiff, mask-like features of the Egyptian statues, even their projecting ears, and has evidently been broken away from some other building, and built into this. In the opposite wall of the same church is a stone on which traces of an old inscription are yet distinctly visible.

The pillar-tower stands a little to one side. Although no longer perfect, it is one of the most picturesque in Ireland; it has been struck by lightning, and split from top to bottom, so that a long and broad cleft runs down through the entire wall. On the south side it is covered with plants and mosses; on the northern and western sides, as my boatmen informed me, the growth of plants is prevented by the violent winds. Lightning and vegetation are the worst foes of the round towers; and when we consider how much lightning must have flashed around them during the space of 2000 years, it is astonishing that they have not all been long since overturned. I have already said that the round towers rise like columns, with an equal thickness from the base to the summit; but this must not be taken literally. Nearly all of them appear to diminish a very little as they ascend; and the walls, according to a very correct architectural principle, become somewhat thinner towards the top. This indicates any thing but a rude and inexperienced people.

All the island, except the burial-ground, is pasturage. On the highest part of it is a battery, which commands the mouth of the Shannon. There are no less than six similar batteries and forts on various points of the coast, about the entrance of this river, whilst at the mouth of the Thames there is not one. The English are compelled to erect strong defences on the Irish coasts, because they are England's weakest side.

On leaving Scattery Island, which afforded me so much antiquarian pleasure, the tide and the stream were both against us, so that we had enough to do to manage our boat. Steering is a lordly and kingly employment, even in so tiny a bark. Although, as in my case, you may have advisers whispering into your ear how you are to steer, it is still a noble business to hold the helm in your grasp, and to feel that you possess the power of directing the boat now  p.121 this way and now that, as may best suit your purpose. In this way we proceeded along the northern shore of the Shannon till we arrived opposite Kilkerin battery, which stands on the steep and lofty edge of a little peninsula; here, where the river is narrowest, we crossed obliquely over, so that the current and the tide almost of themselves took us to Tarbert, a little haven of the county of Kerry.

The Shannon here presents a grand spectacle, its mouth being about forty miles long and varying from three to eight miles in breadth. As the ocean now contributes more to its waters than the river itself, it ought, properly speaking, to be called an arm of the sea; but this would be contrary to Irish geography, which assumes that the river still exists here. The fog had entirely cleared off, and the brightest sunshine illuminated the whole broad expanse of water. Except our little fragile bark, we saw nothing in motion. No ship passed in or out; and, without having received a good wish from any one on our voyage, we arrived towards mid-day at the opposite shore. As it was ebb tide, and there was not enough of water in the harbour, the men ran their boat on the mud, and we took our luggage on our shoulders. When it was too late, I discovered that, with as little trouble and time as it cost me to reach Tarbert, (which is only an insignificant seaport,) I might have visited one of the wonders of the world, the caverns of Ballybunion, which are situated on the southern shore of the mouth of the Shannon, and are said to extend from the surface of the sea, for more than a mile into the land. Ireland is rich in remarkable caverns, with the knowledge of which the scientific world is by no means surfeited.

11. From Tarbert to Tralee

Public Cars—The Pit—Perseverance of a Beggar—Erinnachs, Albinnachs, and Sassonachs—“It is a disturbed country, and such an out-of-the-way place”—Irish Division of Labour—Female Smokers—English in Kerry—Kerry-Latin—An Irish Hedge-school—More about Father Mathew—A mishap—Desolate District—Bog Stuff

From Tarbert I continued my journey on one of those strange cars which, in Ireland, run from town to town, and are the usual means of public conveyance. They are built on the same principle as the “jaunting-cars” already mentioned, and the two-wheeled mail-cars, except that they have four wheels, and are often drawn by four horses. The seats at the sides are long, and hold eight  p.122 persons, and between them is the “pit,” or recess for luggage. When the boxes and trunks are numerous, they are piled up so as to form a partition between the passengers, who can, therefore, only see what passes on their own side of the road. The other half of the country is thus invisible, and it is usual for travellers on Irish cars to relate to each other, at the different stages, any thing remarkable that may have passed on their respective sides, and what interesting sights they may have seen. These cars can carry an undefined number of passengers, for if the side seats are full they sit in each other's laps; or if one or two are in haste, they may either stretch themselves lengthways among the luggage, between the backs of the two rows of passengers, or hang on to the car in some other way. In this manner were we packed. When the vehicle started, the crowd of beggars by which it was surrounded gave way, and such as could run, and were not satisfied with the alms they had received, ran alongside, and after us. One fellow outstripped our horses, and went before us like an outrider. He kept in advance of us for nearly two miles, and did not slacken his pace till he perceived that he was the only one remaining, when he trotted alongside, and received several pence as a reward for his perseverance. In Ireland and Scotland, where there are abundance of good pedestrians, such foolish runners after carriages are not rare.

On our car were Erinnachs, Albinnachs, and Sassonachs— natives of Ireland, Scotland, and England. The English are seldom met in Ireland, at least much less frequently than the Irish in England. Those who wish to earn money say, “Ireland is a poor place.” No reapers, no helpers, no porters, can make any thing there, for Ireland has too many unemployed poor of its own. The rich have Ireland still more en dépit, for they say, “It is a disturbed country, and such an out-of-the-way place.” They are not sure of their lives there, and even were personal safety less in jeopardy, it must be extremely unpleasant to be every where surrounded by such a cloud of beggars. In other respects abundant sources of enjoyment might be found; but as it is, the Englishmen most frequently met with in Ireland are the travellers for commercial and manufacturing houses.

Although, as I have said, we could see but one side of the country, there was every where ample materials for observation. In one village through which we passed, part of the somewhat long house, of one of the inhabitants had fallen down, most probably from its original instability. The owner was busily employed, in repairing it; but being either too lazy or too poor to restore the whole, he had cut away that portion which had fallen, and was now building up a new wall in the middle of it; thus  p.123 resigning to destruction the ruined portion of his house, and confining himself for the future, with his family, pigs, hens, geese, and dogs, to one-half of the space they had formerly occupied. I had in this a striking illustration of the originality of Irish division of labour. In forming the walls, the father brought a cart-load of earth, which the eldest son heaped on the walls with a shovel, while the younger stood above trampling it down. The swallows seem to build their dwellings with more of art than these inhabitants of “Innisfail,” that is, the “Island of Destination,” or the “Promised Island”. 17

In Ireland the women smoke, as well as the men. In the towns the market women usually sit smoking at their stalls. Their pipes are short, and made of clay, like those which are used by the common people in England, the Netherlands, the north of France, and even in Paris. The bowls are extremely small, and the tobacco, which is spun into ropes about the thickness of a finger, is bought by the inch or the yard. A small piece is cut off, sufficient to fill the little bowl, and the pipe is then lighted by holding to it a lump of turf, which is always kept burning near at hand. Sometimes, when the ground is wet, a large potato is placed under the turf, as a sort of pedestal, by which means not only is the turf kept dry, but the potato is gradually roasted, at least on one side.

The people here all speak English, although Irish is more generally spoken in Kerry than any where else. I was informed that in the remote villages alone were persons to be found who understood no English. This is still partly the case in Clare, where, as I should have before remarked, the inhabitants call every stranger who passes through the country, “burnocks.” “Burnocks, ha'penny!” cry the little children after him; the word “ha'penny” being the only English they appear to understand. “The English that we speak is only a home-English,” said a Kerryman to me; “we do not learn it grammatically, but still we have many high-bred men here, even among the shepherds on the mountains, who know Latin as well as a priest.” I have already mentioned these learned “high-bred” Kerrymen; and as I was now in their country, I was curious to ascertain the extent of their much-praised education. I had every where heard of shepherds, herdsmen, and ploughmen who could read and speak Latin; but the only instances of this scholarship which I met with were two men, who pretended to understand Latin, and in proof of their learning repeated a couple of corrupt Latin expressions,  p.124 which they had retained from the mass or the Ave Maria of the Roman Catholic priest. Once, also, I found a peasant's son who knew a little more, and even remembered a passage in Horace; but he informed me that he had been educated for the priesthood, and had returned to his father's plough because he was unsuccessful in his priestly career. I met with a similar case at a later period; and I therefore suspect that the Latin of the Kerrymen is generally acquired in reference to the church, and that where the shepherds have actually learnt this language, it has not been purely for the sake of the aesthetic enjoyment to be derived from it, or simply for the cultivation of their minds.

“They do not even understand English in this part of the country,” said my neighbour on the car. In the western parts of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, this is a common phrase, indicating the rude barbarism of the people. The English language is here the basis and root of all civilisation, and all are anxious to learn it, as by its use the facilities of general intercourse are much enlarged, whilst the Irish is of use only among the poor inhabitants of the remote districts. In like manner in France, in speaking of the uncultivated Basques among the Pyrenees, or of the people of the Vosges mountains, it is usual to say, “they do not even understand French.” So also in Bohemia, Galicia, Courland, and Livonia, a knowledge of German is considered a proof of superior education.

An Irish “hedge-school” which I visited—one in the pure old national style—enabled me to observe the mode by which, in these remote parts of Ireland, the light of intellectual cultivation is transmitted. It was, in truth, a touching sight. The schoolhouse was a mud-hovel, covered with green sods, without windows or any other comforts. The little pupils, wrapped up as well as their rags would cover them, sat beside the low open door, towards which they were all holding their books, in order to obtain a portion of the scanty light it admitted. Some of the younger ones were sitting or lying on the floor; behind these, others wore seated, on a couple of benches formed of loose boards; and behind these again stood some taller children, also holding their books towards the light between the heads of the front rank. The master, dressed in the national costume already described, was seated in the midst of the crowd. In a sketch-book of Ireland this would be an essential picture, and I regret that I had not a Daguerreotype with me to perpetuate the scene. Outside, before the door, lay as many pieces of turf as there were scholars within, for each one had brought a piece with him as a fee or gratuity for the schoolmaster. The latter, as I entered the narrow door, rose from a barrel, and saluted me in a friendly manner: “Indeed, I am  p.125 very sorry, your honour,” said he, “that I am not able to offer you a chair.” He was teaching the children the English alphabet, and they all appeared very cheerful, smart, and bright-eyed over their study. When their poverty, their food, and clothing are considered, this may appear surprising; but it is the case with all Irish children, and especially those in the open country. The school-house stood close by the road side, but many of the children resided several miles off, and even the schoolmaster did not live near it. At a certain hour they all meet here; and when the day's task is over, the boys put their primers in their pockets and scamper off home; whilst the schoolmaster fastens the door as well as he can, puts his turf-fees into his bag, takes his stick and trudges off to his remote cottage across the bog. Here is a little genuine Irish tableau de genre.

Our car did not proceed further than Listowel, and as I intended to pass the night at Tralee, I was obliged to look out for some other means of conveyance to that place. Two gentlemen, who, like myself, were on a pilgrimage to the beauties of Killarney, joined me in the hire of a one-horse car; and whilst we were standing before the inn waiting for our equipage, some of us threw the ends of the cigars we had been smoking into the street. “Would not some of those poor Irish standing around us here be—” thought I; but, quicker than my thought, two of them had already rushed towards the cigar stumps, and after a scrambling fight, each bore off a portion, which he carefully concealed among his rags.

“All these people are temperance men,” said our landlord, “and strict ones too. All this country is one of the strictest temperance parts in Ireland, and very few have broken the pledge here.” This man represented himself as well acquainted with Father Mathew, of whom he related a remarkable anecdote. When a schoolboy, he said, Father Mathew was expelled from college on account of his too frequent enjoyment of spirits, the whisky-bottle having been repeatedly found under his bed. It is probable that the impression produced by this incident may have had great influence in rendering him so great and zealous an opponent of intemperance; and if the anecdote be true, it is anything but discreditable to Father Mathew, whose conversion does him rather the greater honour. How often has it happened that those who had formerly been the greatest sceptics have become the most zealous believers, like St. Paul, the persecutor of Christians, and subsequently the great converter of the heathen.

We had scarcely left the town when an accident occurred which is by no means rare with these cars, when the harness is not  p.126 good. Our driver, a lively Paddy, probably to show his good-will, gave his steed several strokes of his whip. The animal first kicked, and then dashed forward at full speed. We were quite delighted at starting off in such gallant style, but all at once the leather girth on which the shafts and the whole weight of the sorry two-wheeled vehicle rests, gave way; and as it has no other connexion with the horse, and the principal weight of the passengers and luggage is behind, its usual practice is to overturn; and thus it happened in our case. Our horse ran off, and left us sprawling in the road. As this was the first time I had been thrown from a carriage, I was interested in observing the current of my thoughts, which followed each other with lightning-like rapidity. As, with the car, we began to describe the fatal semicircle through the air, I thought—“This may be a bad business; the entire car may fall upon my head, and terminate at once all my observations and reflections. How content would I be, and how thankful to Heaven, to escape with a broken finger, a severe contusion, or something similar, that could be quickly healed.” When, however, we had gathered ourselves up again out of the dirt—for we were scattered on the road in every direction, and no two parcels or passengers lay in the same place—and found ourselves without bruise or fracture, and only smeared with mud from top to toe, with here and there a rent in our clothes, all our gratitude immediately vanished, and we unanimously expressed our dissatisfaction with the conduct of our unskilful driver! Such is man. In misfortune faint-hearted, and ready to make any compact with destiny; whilst in prosperity he is presumptuous, and disposed to quarrel with Heaven on the smallest mishap.

Being thus compelled to continue our journey on foot, we placed our luggage under guard, and dispatched our driver with the horse in search of ropes and thongs whereby the car and its two wheels might be restored to a serviceable condition. The country near Listowel will amply repay a pedestrian; but as he proceeds farther on, he must not place too much reliance in the romantic shading of his map. These maps of Ireland always display the most interesting tints to represent lofty mountains, round hills, steep cliffs, and gentle slopes; in short, a variety of extremely seductive landscape; but this shading is, in general, very deceptive, for the mountains are bare from top to bottom, of a dark monotonous colour, and nearly all covered with turf, as was also the whole of the low ground between the mouth of the Shannon and Tralee Bay. Yet in the midst of this abundance, I saw many villages and families suffering from want of turf, and in the county of Cork its scarcity is said to be already generally felt. As  p.127 a substitute, many of the Irish take the “bog-stuff,” that is, the dust-like decomposed mass which remains after the removal of the real turf, which they mix with water, shape it with the hand, and then dry it for use.

12. Tralee

Table-talk—Irish Pray—English Fire

The clouds unfortunately turn their least beautiful sides towards the earth, and hence it is that a cloud-covered firmament seems so uniform and disagreeable. Had we that evening been able to raise ourselves above the clouds, we should doubtless have seen them beaming with light, and tinged with the most beautiful colours; but as it was, we beheld nothing but gray clouds piled upon each other, and we were not sorry, as night was setting in, and gradually changing this gray hue into a perfect black, to find ourselves in Tralee, where the warm glow of a cheerful fire in some measure restored our spirits.

We dined here on chickens, with bacon and ham, roast beef, Cheshire cheese, and celery, besides half-raw potatoes and watery cabbage, the usual fare in English and Irish inns, and which were far more excellent than one could have expected in such a remote place. There were four of us, and our conversation was such as usually passes in Great Britain between persons who are but slightly acquainted. “May I trouble you for a bit of beef?” “I will trouble you for a little bacon?” “Shall I send you some chicken?” “Have you any choice—the wing or the breast?” “May I have the pleasure of taking wine with you?” “I shall be very happy.” “I'll trouble you for a potato.” “Here they are! Any more?” Such was the common-place civility which unceasingly played across the table. When one listens to it for the first time, it sounds very pretty, stately, and ceremonious; but on a frequent repetition it appears excessively tedious and absurd.

Opposite to our inn was a house, in which, for that evening, a play had been announced, under the title of “The Two Murderers.” I went in honour of Herr von Sourcrouthagen, “a German Baron,” who was one of the dramatis personae; but unfortunately the baron was painted with too little talent and spirit to induce me to remain longer than the first act. It was not so much an exaggerated, as a bad imitation of the German baron; yet the stage gave me a contribution to my chapter on Irish rags.  p.128 Some of the actors wore tattered clothes, thus proving that even on the stage this national peculiarity could not be laid aside. I believe that the lowest galantee-showman would not any where else have appeared in such garments.

An English fire, in an open hearth, reconciles one to everything, and banishes the recollection of bad weather, tedious conversation, and absurd plays. I therefore seated myself beside the genial flame, and taking up the map of Ireland, contemplated the form, and in particular the outline of the coasts, of this new land in which I found myself, and through the interior of which I intended yet to roam for some days.

13. The Lakes of Killarney

“To pick up”—Crime in Kerry—Fog-landscape—Travelling Mania—Killarney—the Upper and Lower Lakes—Environs of the Lakes—The Gap of Dunloe—Macgillicuddy's Reeks—Kerry Horses and Straw Harness—Turf-bog on the Mountains—Goats and Wolves—Lakes on the Mountains—Mountain Dew—Rounded Rocks—Excursion on the Upper Lake—An Enchanted Kingdom—Colour of the Shores—Islands in the Upper Lake—Robbing the Eagle's Nest—Tamed Eagles—Faithful Temperance Men—The Lower Lake—O'Donaghue—Innisfail—Trees and Ruins—Trouble in Vain

I never beheld the beauteous golden stars of heaven with more angry eyes than on the morning of the fifth of October, as, equipped for my journey, I stood alone and undisturbed in the street of Tralee, whilst minute after minute elapsed without the arrival of the mail-coach, which was here to “pick me up,” and convey me to Killarney. At last I looked at my watch, and then discovered, to my great annoyance, that the careless waiter had driven me out of bed and into my boots, out of the sheets into my travelling cloak, at four instead of six o'clock. The God of Sleep was now too far gone to be recalled. I therefore left my luggage in the coach-office, with a request that it might be transferred to the coach on its arrival, and wandered forth on foot, to pass the time and be “picked up” on the road. It was a beautiful October morning, and as the stars looked down so friendly on me, in despite of my vexation, I at length became reconciled to them, and in the society of these thousands of beautiful worlds, I plodded along my lonely road into the county of Kerry.


It has been remarked that the hours previous to the dawn of morning, when every one is buried in the deepest sleep, are those most favourable to the robber. But numerous as murders and personal offences are in Ireland, the wanderer has seldom any thing to fear, certainly much less than in Italy, Spain, and some other countries. The Irish are a restless and rebellious people, but not a nation of banditti. Their state of bondage affords too good a reason for the former, whilst their hospitality is a sufficient security against the latter. Personal offences are therefore seldom connected with plunder, but are, in general, the result rather of revenge and hatred, arising from personal quarrels and injuries. Inglis, in his work on Ireland, states that out of 199 criminal cases which were tried at the Kerry quarter sessions, 10 only were for larceny, whilst 74 were cases of riotous assemblies, 34 of rescue, and 47 of personal assaults. It must also be remembered that the county of Kerry belongs to the “less disturbed counties,” as the English call them. Assaults, resistance to the lawful authorities, and riotous assemblies—these are the principal crimes of the Irish.

As yet I had been unable to form any notion of the aspect of the country south of Tralee, in which I was wandering; and when at last the sun began to rise, the landscape presented the appearance of a great sea, in which the tops of a number of black mountains represented islands. The whole of the plain was enveloped in a dense white fog; but as the summits of the hills remained clear, I could reckon them whenever I came on a rising ground. When the mail-coach at length picked me up, we soon worked through this stratum of mist, as the Russian peasants in winter work their way through the snow; but I can give little account of the country through which we passed in this way, until we came to the far-famed Killarney, the aim and goal of many who wander

  1. Through Erin's isle,
    To sport awhile.
Thomas Moore's poems have certainly contributed much to the celebrity of many places in Ireland, as well as the patriotic Irish Penny Magazine, and those English “sight-seers” who are ever hunting after novelties.

Formerly it was the higher and wealthy classes of England only who travelled, and as these were wont to despise all that was to be seen at home, they usually resorted to the celebrated scenes of foreign lands. But now, such is the increasing love of travel, and the facility and cheapness of communication, that many classes of society who were formerly, like the glebae adscripti, rooted to the soil, or only  p.130 travelled on business, have been set in motion by the descriptions of romantic and lovely scenery, and have become familiar with the beauties of places which were once known only to those who lived in their neighbourhood, and which the traveller passed without a glance. This generally awakened desire for travelling has brought in its train a multitude of other desires and interests. It has brought more money into circulation, and supports numerous hotels, coachmen, and others. These people, who formerly knew not the difference between the appearance of an Irish bog and that of an Alpine valley, now speak of the superior charms of this or that beautiful locality, and discover, now here, now there, a wondrous paradise. As it is their interest to seduce travellers into those quarters where they may be most profitable to themselves, glowing descriptions of the scenery to be met with in their neighbourhood are written, and published in the newspapers, or in pamphlets to serve as guide-books. Hence comes the patriotism which the writers invariably feel for their fatherland, their home, and their birthplace, and which makes them always discover this paradise as near as possible to the latter. Formerly, this patriotism busied itself only with the institutions, the political freedom, the great men, or the social superiorities of the country. Now, however, so glowing has become the love of nature, and so ardent the desire for travelling and wandering about the country, and hunting after interesting and pleasing scenes, that it has also taken its natural beauties under its especial protection, and adorned them with the most charming songs, poems, and colours. Thus it is that certain spots have obtained so great a celebrity, that it is regarded as little less than barbarism to have been in the country and not to have seen them. To these places belong “The Lakes of Killarney,” or, as they are called in Ireland, “The Lakes;” for although it has many others, yet by the lakes, those of Killarney only are meant. In England and Scotland, there are also lakes called “The Lakes” par excellence. Those of Scotland are Loch Lomond and its neighbours; and when the English ask, “Have you seen our lakes?” it is invariably those of Westmoreland and Cumberland that are meant.

Killarney (like Tralee, Tarbert, and many other little towns in the south of Ireland, which have but recently acquired any importance, and must have been miserable-looking places thirty years ago,) is a neatly-built town, and contains several excellent hotels, which furnish every possible assistance and convenience for visiting the lakes and their environs. I arrived at breakfast time, and associated myself with an English officer who was about to visit the lakes, having arrived from I know not what barrack or  p.131 battery on the Shannon, to spend a couple of weeks in the paradise of Killarney, and to enjoy its beauties con amore.

The lakes lie in a crescent around the foot of the highest group of mountains in Kerry, called Macgillicuddy's Reeks. There are two principal lakes,—a large upper and a small lower one. Killarney lies on the former. In order to vary the journey, and to see as much as possible of the surrounding country, it is customary to hire at the same time a car, a boat, and a pair of saddle-horses. The boat goes up the lakes, and awaits the traveller in a little harbour of the upper lake; the horses are sent forward to a mountain pass which cuts through the Reeks, and is called the Gap of Dunloe. This the traveller reaches by driving round the end of the lower lake, and a few miles further to this Gap. He then mounts his pony, and rides across the mountain, on the other side of which he arrives at the extreme end of the upper lake, where he takes to his boat and descends the lakes to the point from whence he started. From Killarney, which lies on the level shore of the lake, one sees the mountains towering up on the opposite side like a dark wall, and mirrored in the calm clear lake that washes their feet. Wherever the hedges, fences, and walls did not impede our view, we enjoyed charming glimpses of this scene. Along the flat shore of the lake is the Race-course of Killarney, which I mention only to show that, in Ireland, even such little places as this have their racing-grounds. A horse-race here, beside the picturesque lakes, must produce an effect extremely interesting.

In the villages through which we passed, we again saw the little boys running to school, each with his slate and primer under one arm, and his sod of turf for the schoolmaster under the other.

The Gap of Dunloe, which we at length reached, is a wild pass through the mountains, like many others in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. It lies between Macgillicuddy's Reeks and the mountains Tormes and Glenaa, which, properly speaking, are part of the former. Macgillicuddy's Reeks are said to be the most lofty mountains in Ireland. Their highest point is called Gurrane Tual, and is 3404 English feet above the level of the sea. Snowdon, in England, is somewhat higher, being 3571 feet. Ben Nevis, in Scotland, rises to 4370 feet, and is said to be the highest in the United Kingdom. Macgillicuddy's Reeks stand like a row of gigantic haycocks, and each has its separate name. “Reek” is probably derived from the German “Recken,” which primarily signifies any thing heaped up to a great height, and is specially applied to heaps of hay, called “hay-ricks” in England. This Macgillicuddy is said to have been a great lord and landowner.  p.132 His father was an O'Sullivan, and bequeathed all his property to this his favourite son, whom he also named Macgillicuddy, that is, “Darling of my heart.” To these paternal estates he himself afterwards added so many more, that, compared with his extensive possessions, these mountains were but as hay-ricks to the little estates of other men. Hence they were called “the reeks of the darling of my heart,” to mark the vastness of his territory.

We mounted our steeds at the mouth of the pass, and trotted forward. Above our heads soared a pair of eagles, which even the best-mounted rider must ever look up to with envy. The Kerry horses, like all horses of a mountainous country, are small, but sagacious, cautious, and hardy. Their harness, for want of leather, flax, or any better material, is composed of straw, and is the poorest I ever met with. Straw ropes are used every where throughout Ireland, and it is very usual to see one tied round the leg of a pig, as it is driven to market. In other countries straw ropes are also occasionally used, but I never before saw an entire harness of plaited straw; and what is more remarkable is, that it was not a mere makeshift, or the whim of an individual, but the general custom throughout the whole west of Ireland.

The rocks on each side of the Gap certainly rise to the height of 1500 feet. At some parts the pass itself is wider than at others; and, including its windings, it is from three to four miles long, and rich in the wildest scenery. The colour of the rocks contributes not a little to this wildness, as, being covered with turf-mould, they often look perfectly black. The hollows of all these mountains are deeply covered with bog-stuff, which also lies upon their summits, although not in such great masses; whilst every point of rock or ledge of stone, every little landing-place and crevice, is completely filled with it. I would not believe this until I climbed some of the rocks and took from the chinks small pieces of turf which had received and retained the form of the rock. One would almost imagine that the bog-stuff floated in the air, and was deposited on the walls of rock, or that a turfy bog sauce had been poured over the whole group of mountains, and flowed down into every crevice and hole, to the very lowest valley. Whence comes it that on these mountains all decaying vegetable matter is changed into bog-stuff—a change which never takes place elsewhere? I was informed by the mountaineers who accompanied us, that the turf was much more plentiful, and the strata much thicker, on the north than on the south side of the Reeks. Here and there a mass of bog seems to have been washed off by the rains, and carried to some distance, until its progress was arrested by projecting rocks; whilst in other  p.133 places it appears rather as if a liquid stream of turf had run down over the precipitous sides of the mountains, which in some places are coloured from top to bottom with long black patches and streaks. It is also remarkable that these black streaks are every where speckled with innumerable clear white spots, produced, I have no doubt, by a small white moss which grows on the bare rock, close to the turf. This reminded me of the strangely blackened buildings of London, on which, I know not from what cause, clear white spots appear intermingled with the dingy streaks and blotches.

The chief inhabitants of these rocks are goats and their herdsmen; and their principal enemies the eagle and fox, which lie in wait for the young kids. Formerly there was also the wolf, which remained in these wilds longer than in any other part of the United Kingdom. The last Irish wolf is said to have been shot on Macgillicuddy's Reeks about the year 1700. The last in Scotland was shot in 1680, at Lochaber, in the Highlands; and in England wolves survived longest in Yorkshire, where they were numerous about the year 1300, in the reign of Edward I. The extermination of the wolf may therefore be said to mark the gradual march of civilization in the three kingdoms, Scotland following England, and Ireland again following Scotland. The goats remain here, in a half wild state, throughout both winter and summer, and the herdsmen do not trouble themselves much about them. Once a year they are collected together, and those which are in the best condition being selected from the flock, the remainder are again allowed to go at large. The owners are well satisfied if, on these occasions, out of fifty goats they find forty: the remaining ten either having died a natural death, been destroyed by the eagles and foxes, or perished in some other way among the rocks.

A small river runs down the Gap of Dunloe, over the rocks, and in the middle of the valley spreads out into a large basin, forming a couple of little lakes, which now presented a remarkable appearance. Their water communicates to the rocks over which it flows a dark colour, as black as ink; and as all waters are generally lowest in October, and the October of 1842 was remarkably dry, the lakes were now almost drained, and their rocky basin, on the lofty edge of which we rode, looked like a gigantic empty ink-bottle. The banks, the huge rocks that had fallen from above, all were stained black; so that, had there been fire, instead of a little water, at the bottom, it would have required no great stretch of imagination to fancy that we were looking down into the black gorge of hell. The entire upper part of the Gap of Dunloe is therefore appropriately named “The Dark Valley;” and “Blackstones”,  p.134 the name of a village in the neighbourhood, fully describes the nature of the country in which it is situated.

Looking upwards from the Gap, in every nook and cleft we observed piles of turf collected by the herdsmen, which is brought down in winter. In many of these clefts also the celebrated “mountain dew” was formerly distilled, and there is little doubt that even at the present day it is sometimes furtively made here. This spirit possesses in a high degree that flavour of turf to which both the Irish and Scotch are so much attached in whisky; and the Kerry “mountain dew” is the most choice description of whisky in Ireland. The appellation would, however, in my opinion, be much more suitably applied to the fine rich goats' milk we obtained in a little hut in the neighbourhood of these lakes, and which was also a dew that descended from the mountains. This hut lay at the foot of the rocky saddle in the middle of the pass, which is the highest spot of the whole ridge of mountains. The passion for rounded rocks has become so great in England, since Agassiz published his theory of glaciers, that large masses of this description have been dragged into their provincial museums. It was impossible for us to remain longer on horseback, when we beheld this entire ridge strewed with rocks rounded in the most remarkable manner. It seemed as if they had been continually rolled backwards and forwards for time immemorial; and as it is impossible that they can ever have been raised from the bowels of the earth in their present form, by what external agency have they been thus polished at some later period? Has it been by the action of the wind, or of water, or by a coating of ice, now sliding this way, and now that? The snow sometimes lies on the Reeks till May, but in general it disappears before the end of April. The little lakes in the Gap of Dunloe, like the larger ones of Killarney, are never frozen.

Descending this ridge by half rocky half boggy paths, we looked down into another desolate, wild, and desert valley, called Kumiduff. The little lakes it contained looked as black as those above described; the rocks were of the usual turfy colour; and the little wretched huts here and there scattered through it could only be recognized by the blue smoke rising from them. How much more pleasing would their appearance have been, had they been surrounded by gardens, trees, and cultivated fields? In all these wild glens the inhabitants still speak Erse only, and the cry of the grouse is heard in the rocky clefts.

We now descended to the upper lake, where our boat awaited us. These lakes possess the peculiarity, that, while they lie in this wilderness of rocks, they are surrounded partly with  p.135 a border of beautiful meadow, partly with a fringe of leafy trees. They are also studded with numerous little grassy and wooded islands, and many peninsulas jut out from the mainland far into the lakes, forming subdivisions, bays, creeks, and harbours; and some of these divisions are connected with straits or inlets. On their banks wealthy individuals, delighted with the solitude and retirement of the spot, have built pretty cottages; and the straits and inlets are here and there spanned by picturesque and old ivy-covered bridges. The entire crescent of the lakes is, from end to end, about nine miles long, and a boating excursion over this space is one of the most delightful and varied that can be desired. Although the water of the lakes appears of a dark golden brown, it is as transparent as crystal, and the bottom can be seen at a great depth. In a glass it shows no colour. We embarked in a boat manned with six rowers, (in Ireland six pair of arms are invariably used, where two would suffice,) and shot away over these sombre waters.

In reading some of the exaggerated English accounts of these lakes, one would almost imagine that the authors had been sailing on some enchanted piece of water. Thus, one of the best-known writers on Ireland, in describing the wild, mountainous scenery in the neighbourhood of Killarney, says—“Here Nature assumes her roughest and most terrific attire, to astonish the gazing spectator, who, lost amid wonder and surprise, thinks he treads enchanted ground, and while he knows not to which side he shall first direct his attention, can hardly believe that the scenes he sees around him are not the effects of delusion, or the airy phantoms of the brain, called into momentary existence by the creative powers of a fervid imagination.” Here is a rare piece of bombast and nonsense; and if it is applicable to the lakes of Killarney, what is to be said of others which are still more charming? Nature is, indeed, almost every where beautiful and charming beyond the power of description, and no language can ever pourtray her lovely and multifarious charms as they are in the reality; but in describing the beauties of a country, we ought always to speak comparatively, and remember that there are an infinite number of other delightful spots on the earth, to all of which we do injustice by our overstrained praise of one. Besides, these general eulogies of “enchanted ground,” of “airy phantoms,” and other “delusions” of “fervid imaginations,” describe simply nothing. Nature is beautiful in her stony, woody, earthy, reality, and there is no necessity for lifting her, by a lie, into the realm, of phantasmagoria. We should rather endeavour, by an enumeration of individual features,  p.136 often so difficult to be pourtrayed, to give a faithful picture to the distant reader.

A black streak or border, about two yards (Ellen) in breadth, which every where surrounded the little islands and the rocky shores of the upper lake, denoted the height at which the water had stood during the summer. Immediately above this black streak, and in most striking contrast with it, there also appeared another which was perfectly white, and was caused by a multitude of the light gray mosses we had already seen on the rocks of the Gap of Dunloe. Above this, again, there came a bright yellow streak, produced by the blossoms of the furze, which is here very abundant, and seems to have a strong affinity for the boggy soil with which the islands and rocks of Killarney are covered. Last of all, above the yellow, appeared the beautiful foliage of the oak and the arbutus, the latter of which forms a prominent and very celebrated charm of the environs of Killarney, for they grow wild in the south of Ireland only, although not in such numbers, nor so beautiful, as on our German lakes and islands. Yet in Killarney are to be seen, their thick stems winding upwards between the rocks, and clinging to the cliffs, some of the most beautiful specimens of this noble tree. The visitor who arrives at Killarney in the autumn is most to be envied, as the foliage of all the trees that surround the lakes is then most beautiful, and displays the most manifold variety of colour. As, in addition to this many-hued autumnal foliage, we also enjoyed very fine weather, we were doubly to be envied, for rainy weather is the usual, and, as I was informed, the almost daily lot of Killarney.

Most of the islands of these lakes rise above the water like whales, with their round ridges; and as the English are a maritime people, they have given them the names of marine monsters. One which lies like a great ship of the line, is called “the man-of-war,” and some smaller ones at its side, “jolly-boats.” Several of these islets produce nothing but turf and weeds, and did not once remind us of Isola Madre, and Isola Bella, the far-famed isles of the Lago Maggiore.

The projecting cliffs of Glenaa Mountain sometimes run out, steep, high, and commanding, into the middle of the lake, especially one termed the “Eagles' Rock,” upon which a pair of eagles have for many years built their nest. The people regularly take the young of these poor birds from the nest, and sell them to this or that Marquis for four or five pounds. There are other eagles' nests in the neighbourhood; and a great many young eagles are every year exported from hence to England. Two of our boatmen,  p.137 having pursued this trade for many years, furnished me with a minute account of their mode of proceeding. From this it appears that between the middle and the end of June the young birds are old enough to be reared by their captors, and at this time, therefore, the plunder begins. The nests being all situated on steep and inaccessible cliffs, that cannot be reached by climbing up the rock, the captors are lowered from above in baskets, and by ropes. The hours during which old eagles are accustomed to absent themselves from the nests, in search of food for their young, are chosen for robbing them of the objects of their loving care; but as the old birds often unexpectedly return before the spoilers have secured their booty, the latter, to be prepared for the furious attacks which they must in this case encounter, usually arm themselves with an old pistol or sabre; and these occurrences have before now occasioned many a fierce combat.

Horace Vernet can know nothing of this eagle's nest at Killarney, otherwise he would assuredly have chosen it as the subject of an interesting picture. I will therefore here faithfully describe the scene from nature, as I saw it through a telescope from our boat, as accurately as if I were standing close before it. The nest is built of old and young twigs, and rests upon the little platform of a projecting rock. Underneath it is a perpendicular cliff, several hundred feet in depth, and far below gleams the sparkling brown crystal water of the lake. Above it the cliff is equally steep. Suspended by an old knotted rope, held somewhere by invisible hands, there hovers over this abyss a human being, naturally the most helpless of creatures, but whose covetousness renders him more daring, and furnishes him with more artificial versatility, than is possessed by any other animal. He has planted one foot on the ledge of rock, and is bending down, partly to protect himself from the attacks of the old eagle, partly to make himself completely master of its young, one of which he has already grasped by the throat. With his right hand he is making a cut at the parent bird which has approached him with the greatest boldness; the feathers of the poor bird are flying around;—it is the mother. She bites the bright blade with her crooked beak, and the strokes of her wings whizz close to the pallid man, who gazes at her with terror depicted in his countenance. The male eagle has prudently retired beyond the sweep of the blow; and one of the young, which has hopped out of the nest, is helplessly piping and wheezing on the edge of the rock. Such extraordinary and exciting situations as are here presented would, I think, be amply sufficient to arouse the imagination of a painter, and furnish materials for a highly-effective picture, which might beset, as for a  p.138 frame, in one of the many old knotted oaks, Which have taken root here and there in the rugged rocks, and have for centuries been shooting up their mighty stems.

Such is the mode by which, for many long years, this old pair of eagles have been deprived of their young. One of our men asserted that he had for twenty years assisted in this robbery, and he also assured me that during the whole period the nest was occupied by the same birds, as the various pairs of eagles were easily distinguished. This pair is deemed the oldest in the entire country, for the feathers of both are exceedingly faded. After they have been robbed of their young they generally scream and flutter around their nest day and night for three or four days, and sometimes longer, flying to and fro in search of their offspring. It is surprising that the parents have never changed their nest, instead of continuing to lay and hatch their eggs in the same place. The young are usually two, but sometimes one only. These facts, attested as they were by several witnesses, seemed to me worthy of preservation. The faithful love of this old pair, returning every spring, and their sorrow returning every summer, for twenty years, is, indeed, a touching reflection. It is said that whenever a tamed eagle regains his liberty and returns to the mountains, he is invariably attacked and destroyed by the wild ones. It is also worthy of remark that eagles generally prefer hares to goats, either because they relish the hare better, or that the goats, by keeping together, are more able to defend their young. The male and female birds usually hunt together, and having by their joint exertions driven their prey into a wild, rocky region, the one then flies beneath and the other above him, so that, should the hare escape the lower, he must fall into the talons of the upper eagle.

Passing through a narrow, rapid channel, overshadowed by beautiful trees, and spanned by the half-fallen arches of a bridge, after some hours' labour we arrived at Turk Lake. Here and there we disembarked on the shore of an island, to admire a fine old tree, or to prove an echo; and when at length we entered the large lake by another narrow passage, we all landed, and spread our mid-day meal beneath an arbutus tree. The cold meat, the ale, the mountain dew, all tasted deliciously, and no stinted portion was allotted to our rowers. They thankfully accepted the meat, but, as they were all temperance men, the liquids were respectfully yet firmly declined. We urged them at least to partake of our ale, but they would not taste a drop of it, and procured water from the lake to wash down their bread and meat. I inquired whether they did not regret, since it was so cold on the lakes, that their vow did not permit them to refresh themselves  p.139 with something stronger and more cheering than water. They replied, that they did not in the least regret it, and that they “had no temptation at all,” as they no longer required ardent liquors in the cold, and found themselves incomparably better since they abandoned their use. My companion and I felt ashamed to drink more in the presence of these people, and we left much more in the bottle than would have been under other circumstances. Such is the salutary influence of example. My friend was a warm advocate for temperance in the army, those soldiers who abstained from spirits being decidedly the most orderly and the best disciplined; whilst the crimes and punishments in his regiment had diminished at least one-half, if not two-thirds, since Father Mathew's reform. “In the old drinking time,” every day brought him trouble and vexation; but now he could enjoy his leave of absence, without an anxious thought for his company.

As on the upper lake we had been entertained by the eagles, the arbutus, and the islets with their yellow, white, and black streaks, so here, on this lower one, the famed knight O'Donaghue, and the legends respecting him, furnished us with amusement. This O'Donaghue was a powerful knight or king, who some ages ago resided in a splendid castle that now stands in ruins on the shore; his character and his deeds, however, were so extraordinary that they are indelibly stamped on the memories of the people, and he is consequently the hero of many a legend. Among the motley forms of the islands of this lake, which have all something peculiar and striking in their appearance, they still discover many of his domestic conveniences. Thus one rock is called “O'Donaghue's Pigeon-house.” An island, which contains a large subterranean vault, is termed “O'Donaghue's Prison.” This cave it was once possible to enter, but it is now filled with bog-stuff. But the strangest rock is that named “O'Donaghue's Library,” which consists of a number of thin small strata of stones, divided into fragments, and thrown upon each other in layers, so as actually to resemble a quantity of books, tumbling down in confusion, “Even the Holy Bible is above there,” said one of our rowers, as, in passing the spot, he pointed to one of the thickest stones, which lay on the top, and bore a sufficiently striking similarity to a large book. “And that's his Lexicon,” said another, “and a multitude of hard words there is in it.” Several of these islands have ruins upon them, but it is difficult to determine whether many of them are the artificial work of man or the effects of nature, just as one is occasionally doubtful whether he is listening to legendary tales or to authentic history.

Even at the present day it is sometimes said that O'Donaghue  p.140 rides forth from his castle to inspect his domestic arrangements. For these excursions he is said to choose a beautiful morning, while the first beams of the dawn are struggling with the fogs of night. Mounted on a beautiful white, bright-shining steed, he gallops over the mirror of the lake, whilst a band of lovely fairies hovers around him, strewing his path with flowers. Whilst he is thus riding over the lake, his castle, his library, his pigeon-house, his prison, in short, every thing around, again assumes its former state of pomp and splendour. Whoever then sees him, and has the courage to follow, can pass dry over the deepest parts of the lake, and accompany him to the opposite mountain, where his treasures are concealed, and having inspected these, he hospitably and liberally rewards his daring follower. But before the sun flings his beams on the glowing waves of the lake, he rides back and disappears in his castle. It is strange how similar such legends are in all countries. The inhabitants of the neighbourhood still call the high foamy billows which sometimes arise on the lake, O'Donaghue's white horse.

The most extensive, and at the same time the most interesting island of this larger lake, is Innisfallen. It is entirely covered with choice old trees, which are planted as in a park, with wide spaces between them, and beneath them the cattle and sheep find the richest pasture. There are some oaks, but the majority are old lordly ash trees. Here also I saw the largest hollies I ever beheld, one being twelve feet in circumference, with mighty and far-spreading branches, like an oak. After having seen the little sickly hollies which are preserved with so much trouble in the Jardin des Plantes in Paris, the traveller knows how to appreciate those he finds in Ireland. The one I have above mentioned was also peculiar, inasmuch as its leaves were alternately thorny and smooth. One of the mighty ash trees had been prostrated by a storm in the preceding winter, and in its fall had separated from the rest of the rock a huge block of stone, not less than twenty feet in circumference, which it had embraced with its roots, and which it still held fast in its prostrate situation. The ruins of a former abbey, various grottoes, thickets of evergreens, and other pleasing and interesting objects, also assist in adorning this island, which Moore has celebrated in one of his lays—

  1. Sweet Innisfallen, fare thee well!
    May calm and sunshine long be thine;
    How fair thou art let others tell,
    While but to feel how fair be mine.

After a water excursion of at least fourteen miles, we landed at the ruins of Ross Castle which lies on the shore of the lake, not  p.141 far from Killarney, and from whose walls we enjoyed a delightful view of the lakes we had just traversed, and their charming islands. The walls were covered with ivy; and the best-preserved object in the castle was the great chimney-piece in the principal hall, which afforded ample proof that even in the olden time an Englishman's fireside was as dear to him as at present; only, that instead of the Newcastle coal which is now burnt, huge logs of wood, such as at this day are to be seen in France, were then used as fuel.

Having requested our rowers to furnish us with copies of some of the pretty songs they had sung on the lake, in the evening they commenced their task; but although they assured us that while at school they had become adepts in the difficult art of penmanship, yet we could as little decipher the sheets filled with writing which they brought us, as if they had been old Druidical runes, and the pretty songs were therefore uncaught fishes for us.

14. From Killarney to Bantry

Mucruss Abbey—The Devil's Punch-bowl—New Road over Turk Mountain—Police Station—Irish Constables—The most disturbed county—Wild Plum-trees—O'Connell's country seat—Tories on a visit to O'Connell's—Discovery of America from Ireland—Irish towns in the Possession of great Landowners—Irish Suspension Bridge—The Kerry Mountains—Potato Fields and School-houses—The O'Sullivans and M'Carthys—The Pipe of Peace—The County of Cork—Rent—Coral Sand—Bantry Bay—The oyster Cure

From six to eight days are requisite properly to enjoy all the charms of the neighbourhood of Killarney, and thoroughly to inspect its entire scenery. Then the picturesque ruins of some neighbouring castles must be visited, or the high mountain of Mangerton must be climbed, and the finger dipped into the little lake on its summit, to he convinced of the truth of the report, that, in summer as in winter, its waters are always icy cold, on which account, as well as from its round form, it is called by the people “The Devil's Punch-bowl.” But this minute survey is incompatible with the arrangements of one who, like myself, intends to travel over the whole of Europe. On the following morning, therefore, I was again on the road, in order to proceed to Cork by the route of Kenmare and Bantry. As the mail-car  p.142 was not to start till pretty late, I left my luggage in charge of the driver, and set out on foot, in order to visit the ruins of Mucruss Abbey, which lie a little to one side of the road. They are situated in the beautiful park of a wealthy proprietor, whose name I have forgotten, in the midst of tall old trees, and may be cited as an admirable example of the picturesque appearance of Irish ruins. The walls are yet in tolerable preservation, and here and there are thickly covered with ivy. In the middle of the narrow inner court of the convent stands a large yew tree, one of the most beautiful and graceful I have ever seen. It overshadows the entire of the little court with its fan-like branches, the extreme tips of which touch the edge of the ruined walls. Another little court, and the dilapidated chapel of the abbey, are, like most Irish ecclesiastical ruins, filled with monuments and grave-stones. “Among them sir, the kings of this country are lying,” said my Cicerone, an old rag-enveloped woman, who seemed well versed in the history of the edifice. I saw on some of them the names of several once-powerful and well-known families, as M'Carthy, O'Donaghue, and others. I have seldom beheld ruins better adapted for a picture than these, and had Ruysdael painted them, just as they stood before me, he would certainly have produced a worthy companion to his famed Churchyard. The interior of the chapel was partially tapestried with ivy, and before this ivy-tapestry stood a lofty monument of clear stone. We beheld it as point de vue through a vast arched doorway, made still larger by the tooth of time, and whose arch was also draperied with ivy. The fore-court in which we stood was entirely filled with graves, ornamented with numerous pillars of polished stone. The roof of the fore-court, like that of the chapel, was completely gone, and the bright sunshine every where streamed in, yet broken into manifold patches by the branches of the stately trees, which stretched their protecting arms across, as if they wished to supply the place of the fallen roof.

The mail-car having arrived, I proceeded on my way. Mangerton lay towering and clear before us, and over its summit there hovered a little cloud like a pillar of smoke. “In fact, sir, it looks exactly as if the devil was brewing his morning's drop in his punch-bowl there,” said the driver as he arranged my seat. “He doesn't yet belong to the temperance society; for, as you see, to vex us temperance men, he uses a punch-bowl every day which would shame all the big-bellied teapots in Ireland together.” “Surely,” I replied, “there must be some difference between him and we mortals; but let him brew his punch, provided no rain comes out of his bowl on us to-day.”


As the first part of the road to Kenmare runs along the shore of the lakes, we had now almost a repetition of our boating excursion of yesterday; but as we were usually at an elevation above the water, the views and prospects were somewhat different. The road, which afterwards runs in many windings, over Turk Mountain, has been only recently formed, and passes through one of the most desolate and wildest regions in the west of Ireland, which for thousands of years before our time had only been traversed by those little mountain horses with straw bridles. Such a road could scarcely ever have been made by the poor Celtic inhabitants of this mountain country; and we shall soon have an opportunity of showing that they are not entirely insensible to the advantages it affords them. This is one of the benefits which Ireland derives, not from herself, but at the expense of England. But the Irish are unwilling to recognize as benefits all the advantages which spring from better roads, as, for instance, the new police stations, which are always erected upon them, and which render them in some respects similar to the patrol roads the Austrians are forming through the semi-barbarous countries of their military frontier.

The police station, which lay on our road, and at which we stopped, was a new, neat, spacious building. At a short distance it appeared like a little strong castle; and the natives may probably look upon it as a fort Uri in miniature, to keep them in awe. It lay at the highest part of the mountain, just where the road again begins to descend. All round was a wilderness, and reminded me of the military stations so often picturesquely situated in the wild regions of the Austrian frontier. The house contained eight men of the constabulary force, as it is called, and which is a military-armed police, now extended over the whole of Ireland, for the prevention of crime, the discovery and apprehension of criminals, the protection of property, and the preservation of the peace. It consists of 8000 men, classified and disciplined in the same manner as soldiers. They are commanded by inspectors-general, provincial inspectors, district inspectors, and other subordinate officers, and are distributed throughout the entire country in little bodies of from five to eight men. They are armed with carbines and swords, and also use their bayonets as daggers. They differ from the soldiers in their uniform alone, which is somewhat less ornamented and of a dark green colour. This police force is, therefore, properly a military garrison, though under another name. (The English constables carry no arms, but only a short, round baton.) Since the strongest men, and those only of the most unblemished characters, are admitted into this force, and then distributed into every corner of the land, they possess an extremely  p.144 intimate knowledge of it and of its inhabitants, and in the event of a war or a rebellion would probably be more valuable than an army of 30,000 men. The sergeant who had the command of this station informed me that their district comprised the desolate mountains far and wide, but that there were only 220 inhabitants in it. Eight armed policemen for 220 inhabitants—a large proportion in sooth! And yet the county of Kerry is one of the least disturbed in Ireland. The poor mountaineers are neither refractory nor riotous; and although they have O'Connell, the greatest party-man in the country, residing amongst them, they have fewer “party fights” than the inhabitants of any other county in Ireland. This strong police force is, therefore, no doubt placed here, not so much on their account as to prevent smuggling, and to secure the safe transmission of criminals.

Everybody knows that “the most disturbed of all the counties of Ireland” is Tipperary, where there is a police station every three or four miles. The men receive excellent pay, twelve shillings a week each. I have somewhere read that these constables are mostly Englishmen; but from the inquiries which I made, I have no doubt but there are as many, if not still more, Irishmen among them. Even in the London police there are more Irish than English, for the latter are not over partial to this service.

So much is perpetually heard in Ireland of counties more or less disturbed, that the stranger is at first disposed to imagine that a rebellion must lately have broken out, but he gradually discovers that this is the continued and usual state of this wretched land. Riots, party-fights, murders through revenge, are every where more or less the order of the day; and we in Germany have not the slightest idea of a country in which the whole population is, in a certain measure, every moment disposed for rebellion, and seems to be involved in a universal conspiracy. Since the conquest of Ireland by the English, this has been the usual state of the country, which now and then (hitherto about every fifty years,) bursts into a preconcerted and bloody rising. I believe the entire history of modern civilized Europe cannot furnish any thing similar.

The Kerry mountains and valleys present only one wild and desolate waste, every where of a dark, smutty colour. As our car hovered far above on the heights, we could no where discover a tree, except here and there a few stunted birches, far down in the lonely valleys; and these my neighbour on the car—a cockney, who had issued forth on his first tour in search of the picturesque, and was now luxuriating among the natural beauties of Ireland—pronounced to be “wild plum-trees,” as he had heard that they were very numerous on the mountains of Ireland. Little lakes  p.145 of dark water, with perfectly naked shores, are scattered through these comfortless mountains; whilst here and there might be seen, like genuine little cheering oases, the lovely, fresh, bright-green shades of a potato-garden beside a smoking cabin. Such, in fact, are the general features of all the wild western parts and peninsulas of Ireland as well as of Scotland. The beauties are confined to a few individual spots and districts.

In the midst of this wilderness the road branches off to Derrynane Abbey, the country-seat and summer residence of the greatest man in IrelandDaniel O'Connell. This mansion lies on the extreme point of a peninsula, close to the Atlantic Ocean; and in its neighbourhood are the estates and residences of his sons and relatives. A few miles distant, in the little town of Cahirsiveen, the house in which O'Connell was born is yet standing. It is a small dilapidated building, in a little hollow valley near the highroad. The O'Connells are an old Irish race, and many of them still possess extensive estates. But Daniel O'Connell, and his branch of the family, were originally poor, and they only hold their lands here as middlemen from the great head landlords. The origin of these middlemen I have already explained. Derrynane is one of those numerous abbeys which, since the time of Henry VIII. and of Cromwell, have become the seats of noble families, both in England and Ireland. O'Connell's hospitality is celebrated throughout the country, and when he is resident at the abbey, it is the gathering-place of many strangers. Even his political opponents have sometimes been compelled to assist in increasing his fame in this respect.

Some months ago, the carriage in which were travelling two, elderly ladies and a young gentleman, members of a well-known high Tory family, broke down, late in the evening, on one of the narrow roads of the wild country in the neighbourhood of Derrynane. As the servants declared they could not repair the damage, so as to enable the carriage to proceed, the party were compelled to make their way on foot, as best they could, through the wind and rain of a November night, towards a house which, by the lights in its windows, they perceived was fortunately at no great distance. Whilst proceeding thither, they were met by the servants of the house, whom the hospitable proprietor, on the first intimation of the accident, had sent to their assistance. “Our master,” said they, “begs that you will do him the honour to make use of his house as long as it may be pleasing to you.” “We are very much obliged to your master for his kindness; in fact, we were in no little despair at being surprised by such a mishap in this wilderness. What is your master's name?” “Our  p.146 master, your honour, is Daniel O'Connell, and that is Derrynane Abbey!” When we remember the titles and opprobrious epithets which are usually bestowed upon “Dan” (as he is familiarly called by the people) by that party to which our travellers belonged—“a regular robber,” being far from the strongest of those epithets;—and when we also consider that for thirty years the ladies had been accustomed to hear all sorts of horrible things of this “regular robber,”—it will be easy to imagine the horror which now thrilled through their veins at the idea of beholding him in living flesh and blood. “So high does party spirit run in Ireland.” So great was their abhorrence of him, that an exclamation of terror burst from them, and they stood as if rooted to the spot. But what was to be done? Behind them lay the broken equipage and the miry roads of Kerry, and far or wide not a cabin was to be seen; before them the robber's den, the comfortable exterior of which they could now perceive through the gloom of night. The November wind, which blew furiously from the Atlantic Ocean, and the “Scotch mist,” which penetrated the silk mantles of the ladies, speedily decided the question. The young gentleman gave the ladies each an arm, and led them, trembling with apprehension, towards the abbey, where they were welcomed at his hall door by O'Connell himself. So hospitably were they entertained during that night and the following day, that they have never since failed to assure their friends that it is not at all surprising that such a man is so much beloved and esteemed by all who have had an opportunity of perceiving his loveable qualities.

By those who are acquainted with his domestic life, O'Connell is much praised for abstaining from all political subjects when surrounded by his guests. On such occasions, any topic of conversation is by him preferred to politics. This is a rule generally observed by most political leaders and party-men in England, the internal politics of their country being entirely banished from the domestic circle. In France, on the contrary, whether in the salons, at soirées, or in family circles, politics are always discussed con amore.

Unfortunately, the great man had departed from Derrynane a few days before my visit to the neighbourhood, so that I was deprived of the opportunity, of which I should otherwise have availed myself, of paying him a visit in his mountain retreat.

At length we descended the hills and arrived at Kenmare, from whence, across an arm of the sea, a free prospect of the Atlantic Ocean opened on our view. On these occasions the Irish are accustomed to say: “From here, westwards in a straight line, there is no other land till you come to America!” The Irish  p.147 ought to have discovered America, for, with the exception of Iceland, it lies nearer that vast continent than any other European country. Even the long narrow peninsulas of Kerry project a degree and a half further westwards than the promontories of Spain; and it is exactly under the same degree of latitude that, in America, Newfoundland and Labrador stretch furthest out towards the east, if we except the northern ice-shores of Greenland. Had Ireland been inhabited by enterprising Northmen, it is probable that the centre of America would have been discovered by them as early as, sailing forth from Norway and Iceland, they discovered Greenland. Midway between Ireland and America are the Azores, which also lie nearly under the fiftieth degree of latitude. This concatenation prescribed by nature, this natural road to the discovery of the Azores from Ireland, and of Newfoundland from the Azores, the unspeculative Celtic Irish knew not how to use; and it was not till the Germanic races poured down on this new continent, that they too were borne along with them to the other side of the Atlantic.

Kenmare River, on which the little town of the same name is situated, is one of the most singular rivers in the world. Originally a small mountain stream, it is joined near the town by various tributaries, each only a few miles long, and then suddenly becomes an English mile in breadth; from this point it flows towards the ocean with a gradually increasing breadth of three, four, and five miles. Yet nature is not to blame for this monstrosity, but the geography invented by the Irish, which calls that a river which ought to have been designated Kenmare Bay.

The town of Kenmare is the property of the Earl of Kenmare, to whom Killarney also entirely belongs. Most of the Irish towns are the property, not of those who inhabit them, but of some great landowners. Thus Tralee belongs to a family named Denny, and Waterford to the Marquis of Waterford. Nay, even Belfast, a city with 60,000 inhabitants, belongs almost entirely to the Marquis of Donegal. The Earl of Kenmare is one of the titles of the Marquis of Lansdowne, a distinguished man in England, and one of the benefactors of Ireland. His extensive estates in Kerry, many of which we passed, are every where marked by improved husbandry, and increased prosperity and comfort of the tenantry.

At Kenmare is the only suspension bridge that Ireland possesses. The peninsula on the other side of the river is just as wild a country as that through which we had passed. One group of the mountains which form this peninsula is called the Glanerought Mountains, and another is named the Hungry Hills. I am ignorant of the meaning of the first name, but the latter is really very  p.148 appropriate, and suited to all the mountains of Kerry. Although many rivers are marked on the map, and at this season they were not likely to be dried up, yet far and wide I could no where discover even one of those little streamlets which, on our wooded German hills, trickle down in such rich fulness at every step. The moisture deposited from the atmosphere is here principally retained by the morasses, and by those large and small patches of turf I have before described; the hills must therefore be looked upon as immense sponges, which in wet seasons absorb nearly all the moisture, so that in warm weather, when the rocks become heated, the springs are drained, and only a few of them yield a supply throughout the entire year.

The furze is the principal plant that grows in the clefts and chinks of the rocks, and its yellow blossoms now marked out several patches in the dark vallies, whilst through its bushes flitted pretty little birds, to which it afforded but poor lodging. These wilds have certainly never been more thickly inhabited, nor better cultivated, than at present; nor is it probable they will be for a long time to come. Irish patriots talk of the beautiful thick woods with which their island was once covered; but the arguments which they adduce to prove this appear to rest upon some very undefined accounts and expressions of a few old writers. Small islands, like Madeira, might indeed be suddenly deprived of their timber by improvident management; but that a forest of the extent of Ireland could be so thoroughly destroyed, as to vanish from the soil, with its full-grown old trees, its roots, and its perpetuating seeds, and leave not a trace behind, seems to me more than could be accomplished in the course of many centuries, even though the inhabitants, like those of Ireland, lived in perpetual savage strife and devastating hostility. That Ireland formerly had more wood than she now has, is proved by the large trunks of trees which are frequently found in the bogs; but I must protest against the endless beautiful groves which are said to have covered these very regions of rock.

The green potato-fields were here again most charming; and equally charming were the new school-houses, which have been erected here and there in these wastes. The road itself is also quite a new work, still more so than that of Killarney, having, I believe, only been completed a year and a half. Extraordinary difficulties had to be overcome in its formation: rocks were every where to be blasted, and at the highest point it was requisite to bore a tunnel through the mountain. Besides this, a multitude of other new roads have either been completed or are now in progress in Ireland, some of which are truly wonderful.


Thus far I had been the sole occupant of one entire cushioned side of the mail-car; and I was therefore well pleased that it occurred to a woman, who was also crossing the mountain, to jump up and seat herself beside me. She was a Sullivan—a name which is as common in this part of Kerry as O'Brien is in Clare, or Blennerhasset in Tralee. The inferior members of the clan are usually called simply Sullivan, but the higher ranks O'Sullivan. Another family equally numerous here is the M'Carthys; and the woman informed me that there were few people in Kerry who were not in some way related either to the one or the other. Her own father was a Sullivan, and her mother a M'Carthy. She was smoking, and had a piece of lighted turf in her hand, which she was conveying to her husband, who was at work in a potato-garden among the rocks. Twice, when I looked at her, she immediately offered me her pipe, which I was unpolite enough to decline. To offer a pipe, and gratefully to accept it, has ever been a customary trait of Irish politeness. I would like to know how it comes, that not only in Ireland, but almost through the whole world, so much politeness is connected with this stinking tobacco. With most savages the pipe of peace is customary! A pipe is the first civility offered to a visitor in Turkey; and in Paris the cigar-case is not only placed upon the table, but is the first mark of politeness that friend offers to friend, or the host to his guest; and generally throughout the whole of civilized Europe, those are deemed very unpolite by whom this ceremony is neglected! This custom is still more observed with tobacco in that form in which it shows itself in our snuff-shops. When in Europe a person presents his snuff-box to the friend who sits beside him, the act has precisely the same meaning as when the pipe of peace goes round in the wigwam of the savage. Peace is concluded, people consider themselves friends, and converse more freely with each other. Other things we do not offer so regularly. The pipe, which soothes the mind, puts people in good humour, stops the mouth of the angry and the “prise contenance,” and infuses so much mildness, alone enjoys this privilege.

At the top of the mountain Mrs. Sullivan alighted, and climbed away through the rocks, with her piece of burning turf in her hand, the smoke of which enabled me to trace her course for some time. So usual is it for the Irish labourer to have a piece of ignited turf lying beside him in the field, that wherever you find the one you may be sure the other is not far distant.

After passing through an endless variety of blasted rocks and broken stones, we at length arrived at that portion of the road where its makers, tired of winding backwards and forwards, had  p.150 tunnelled right through the rock. Here we turned our backs on the county of Kerry, and when we issued from the southern gate of the tunnel, beheld the county of Cork, lit up by the bright rays of the sun. This, as every Irishman informs the stranger the moment he puts his foot upon its soil, is the largest county in Ireland; and every Corkman repeats the information so long as he remains within its boundary. It contains 1,800,000 acres: whilst Louth, which is the smallest county, contains only 200,000 acres. The county of Cork has also many districts which resemble those of Kerry in wildness and want of cultivation; 1,100,000 acres, or three-fifths of the whole, are cultivated, the remainder being unimproved mountain and bog. In Kerry, 550,000 acres, or upwards of one-half, is rock and bog, while the remaining 500,000 acres are only capable of cultivation to a certain extent. The best cultivated county in Ireland is Meath, which lies to the west of Dublin, and in which, for 560,000 acres under cultivation, there are only 6000 acres unimproved. Donegal, in the north, is, on the other hand, the most uncultivated, for here there are 650,000 acres of uncultivated to 520,000 of cultivated land. Donegal, however, is the only one which exceeds Kerry in this respect. On the whole, something more than a fourth part of Ireland is waste land and bog, for in 19,944,209 acres which, according to M'Culloch, is the superficial area of Ireland, there are 14,603,473 acres cultivated and 5,340,736 waste. The average yearly rental of all the land in Ireland is 12s. 9d. per acre. In Kerry and in Donegal, however, it only averages 6s.; whilst in the county of Dublin it produces rather more than 20s. Almost on our very entrance into the county of Cork we enjoyed another celebrated little paradise, the mountainous country of Glengariff. We descended to it by an excellent road that wound zigzag down the hills, and met innumerable cars laden with sea-sand, a product of great use in Irish agriculture. It is mixed with the cold clay and the acrid bog by spreading it over the ploughed land, and afterwards harrowing it in. The Irish say, “the sea-sand cuts up the clay.” Being so serviceable, it is frequently conveyed, by carts or boats, distances of fifteen or twenty miles; and were it not for this ingredient much land in Ireland would be altogether unproductive. As excellent roads now afford great facility for inland transport, they will thus in no slight degree contribute to the better cultivation of the country. The sea-sand of Bantry Bay, which is called “coral sand” by the people, is said to be of a very superior quality: it consists principally of broken muscle shells, and contains some particles of lime.


Numerous beautiful trees, in which some pretty country-seats are embosomed, enrich the valleys of Glengariff; and the bay on which the little village lies, is studded with islands like the lakes of Killarney. These islands have exactly the same peculiarities as those of Killarney, being covered with bog-stuff, furze-bushes, and occasional thickets; and as they are of all sizes, the bay appears as if it were full of great whales.

This is the renowned Bantry Bay, so spacious, so deep, so sheltered on every side, and so calm, that all the fleets in the world might here ride at anchor in perfect safety. It was in this bay that the French attempted to land towards the close of the last century; here also, according to Moore, the Colonists from Spain landed upwards of a thousand years before; and it was probably to this bay that the Phoenicians resorted in times of yore. Irish writers, who believe in a colonization from Spain, find many points of similarity between this western extremity of Ireland and Gallicia, the opposite north-western extremity of Spain, and are of opinion that a constant and direct communication by sea formerly existed between the Bay of Corunna and Bantry Bay. According to the old traditions cited by Moore, the Spaniards sailed over in so short a time, that, in order to render it credible, it is also necessary to suppose that a stronger current must at that period have set between these two points than is now known to prevail in any part of the world.

The views of the bay from our mountain roads were charming; and equally so were those from the road around the bay, into which several little rivers flow, while several arms of the sea stretch into the land. These we crossed by ivy-mantled bridges. The little islands, between which the barks of the fishermen were sailing backwards and forwards, were also exceedingly pleasing. Some of the steep promontories which jutted out into the sea were covered with potato-gardens to the very summits, whilst others were equally covered with turf. In a little creek we found a boat laden with oysters, which are very plentiful on the western coasts of Ireland; and for sixpence we obtained such an abundant supply of them, that some of our party ate too many, and were consequently very much indisposed on their arrival in Bantry. Apropos of oysters: whenever I ate oysters in Ireland, a story was always told me respecting a certain gentleman who, being recommended by his physician to take a few oysters before dinner, in order to sharpen his appetite, afterwards complained to the doctor that although he devoured a hundred every day before dinner, he did not find his appetite a bit better than before! As this story was invariably told every time I ate oysters I cannot attribute it  p.152 to chance, and must therefore set it down as a national Irish oyster anecdote.

15. Bantry, and a visit to Irish Beggars

Complaints of the Fishermen—A castle wrapped in paper—Temperance anecdote—Testimonies for Temperance—Mary Sullivan—Irish Greetings—“Thanks to the great God”—“God save you kindly”—The Beggar's Hut—A Mother's Love—Tobacco indispensable to Females—“God speed ye”

Bantry is a pretty little town, and methinks all towns that lie upon the sea are generally pretty. Ruin, dilapidation, sluggishness, poverty, disorder, and filth are less met with on the sea-coast than in the interior of countries. The sea is in its very nature refreshing, inciting, enlivening, and beneficial. The town is situated on a small handsome bay which branches off from the large one. Bantry was at one time celebrated for its fisheries, but the fishermen, like many others in Europe, now complain that the fish is no longer so abundant, either because it has greatly diminished in quantity, or taken another direction. When we every where hear these lamentations over the diminished productiveness of fisheries of every description, from the herring to the whale, it is natural to inquire whence it has arisen, and also whether it is not probable that, eventually, we shall have no fish to eat except such as we can breed and fatten in our ponds. Our fishermen are themselves destroying our fish not less effectually than our sportsmen are destroying our game, the waters being much freer to every one than the land, and the fish being much less protected in the breeding season than the feathered race. Whilst, however, the taking of fish is diminishing, that of sea-sand is on the increase. Formerly, only a few boats were employed in this branch of commerce, but now the number of little barks which fish up the coral sand on the sand banks amounts to some hundreds, so that even a new quay, at which we saw them lying in a long row, has been built for their use alone. The increased exertions for the improvement and extension of Irish agriculture is the cause of the great prosperity of this trade.

Even here there is no scarcity of beggars or of rags, as we found when we arrived at the fish-market, which is a walled-in court, surrounded by fish-stands. Scarcely had my companions and I entered it than we were accosted by twenty or thirty  p.153 beggars, who closed the iron gate behind us, at the same time informing us that they would not permit us to depart until we paid them for so doing. We were about to comply with their demands when some of the fishwomen rushed up, and drove away the beggars, saying that this gate, and the tribute to be paid, rightfully belonged to them only.

The town belongs to the Earl of Bantry, whose son, Lord Bearhaven, takes his title from one of the islands in the bay, called Bear Island. Their lordships were both absent, although they do not belong to the regular class of absentees, but generally reside here on their charming domains. We therefore availed ourselves of this opportunity to walk along the shore, and visit their family seat, which is near the town, and is called Bantry Castle. The housekeeper at first refused to admit us, as his lordship was very particular about his house, and besides, the castle was all papered up. This served to increase my curiosity still more, for I had never yet seen an entire castle wrapped in paper. But having removed the scruples of the housekeeper, and obtained an entrance, we actually found every thing inside, from top to bottom, carefully enveloped in paper—in the large sheets of the Cork Constitution, the most extensively-circulated newspaper in the south of Ireland. The door-handles, nay, the entire doors, the bannisters, all the chairs and tables, the chandeliers, the hangings of the walls, all were thus preserved from the dust or the sun. Even a metal figure of St. Patrick himself, and a multitude of old metal dishes, which were hanging from the wall beside and around him, were intrusted to the conservative care of the Cork Constitution. I could not refrain from inspecting these antique dishes somewhat closely, in spite of the paper, for the housekeeper said they were old Spanish articles. The castle, though all very ancient, yet wanted nothing of modern elegance and comfort; for the English alone understand how to unite comfort with antiquity.

My travelling companion from Killarney to Cork, with whom I passed the evening in Bantry over a glass of whisky punch, was a gentleman from Londonderry, who was taking advantage of this beautiful autumn to make a tour of pleasure through the entire of his native isle. He related to me a very remarkable case of temperance, of which the servant who now attended him was the hero, and who, though a quick and dexterous fellow, had formerly been an incorrigible drunkard. He had often reproved him for this vice, punished him, diminished his wages, even promised to reward him if he would keep himself sober for a certain time; but all this was of no avail. As he was for ever relapsing from a brief  p.154 sobriety into a long drunkenness, and had broken all his promises and vows, his master at last discharged him. One day, however, the man again presented himself, adorned with Father Mathew's temperance medal, and entreated his former master to take him once more into his service, adding that as he had become a temperance man, and had taken the pledge, there was no likelihood that he would ever relapse into his former bad habits. The master, who knew the character of his countrymen, granted his request without hesitation, and in full confidence that he would prove an orderly servant for the future: and he was not deceived, for now there was not a more useful, more sober, or more exemplary domestic in the kingdom. I tell this story solely because hundreds and thousands like it are told, and because such a sudden change from black to white is admitted to have been produced throughout all Ireland by Father Mathew. Special anecdotes of this kind throw a remarkable light on the Irish character and the temperance cause. Here the testimony of my Killarney host again recurred to me. He stated, that for the last two or three years, since the temperance movement commenced, he could sleep soundly and at his ease, which before it was impossible to do, as the partiality of his people for drink was then so excessive as to render them perpetually quarrelsome and disorderly. But now every thing was changed, and it was no longer necessary for him to superintend every thing in person. He was now certain that the horses were taken proper care of, and he could intrust his boat with perfect confidence to the men, who used formerly to return home drunk and turbulent. Saturday evening, also, which was once wholly dented to dissipation and noise, when his servants used to spend all their week's wages, he no longer dreaded. The very same people, to whom he might have vainly offered fifty pounds for a sober Saturday, were now all sober as if by enchantment. Such testimonies as these, of which we cannot hear too many, contribute to throw a cheering light on this great and remarkable phenomenon.

My companion also informed me that he had recently attended the great fair of Donegal, where nearly 10,000 people met together. Formerly, faction-fights, quarrels, and drunkenness were here the order of the day; but on this occasion he did not see a single drunken person, nor one quarrel. It appeared to him like a magical metamorphosis.

As my friend, somewhat fatigued by his journey, retired early to rest, I strolled out, late in the evening, along the strand. Whilst thus occupied, something moved past me; and by the rays of light which beamed from the window of a neighbouring house, I was enabled to perceive the strange attire of flowers which,  p.155 during the day, I had seen on the head of one of the beggarwomen at Bantry, I immediately recognised her as one of those who shut us up in the fish-market, and who had been most zealous in her gesticulations and conduct. In fact, her violence on that occasion afforded strong proof of insanity. She was dressed in a tattered yellow gown, and a large red shawl, completely in rags, which seemed to have been originally intended for a much larger person, since half of it trailed behind her in the dust. She also wore a broad-brimmed man's hat, encircled by a profuse wreath of artificial flowers, and aided by a long stick, which she bore in her hand, she moved along very quickly. Among the beggars of the fish-market she was the loudest, and always held her stick before us to keep us back, whilst whatever she said was spoken extremely quick, and in broken sentences. I have frequently, in Ireland, met with similar half-crazed and comically-dressed beggars, who sometimes reminded me of certain characters in Walter Scott's novels. Mary Sullivan (for she soon confided to me her name) was now proceeding very quietly and orderly along the shore of Bantry Bay. I wished her a good evening, when she thanked me politely. Her business for the day was over; and although she still wore the costume of her part, the play was ended, she had left the stage, and was now returning homewards. As she told me that she lived on the shore of the bay, not far from the town, I offered to accompany her, that I might have an opportunity of seeing the hut of an Irish beggar in the evening. We crossed over some uneven rocky ground, and at last turned, as it seemed to me, entirely out of the beaten path; but Mary Sullivan assured me that there was no other way to her sister's, with whom she lived, and that if I would give her my hand, she would lead me in safety. These poor people prefer localities somewhat wild, and that the approaches to their dwellings should be somewhat rugged; thereby, as they imagine, securing for themselves greater independence. The labours of the English, in constructing level roads, are therefore not always regarded with that joyful thankfulness which might be expected. Besides, a stray piece of perfectly bare and barren ground may be procured somewhat cheaper than a more fruitful soil; and on a naked piece of rocky ground of this description, washed by the gentle waves of Bantry Bay, stood the hut of the Sullivans, into which we crept.

The Irish are a very religious people, and have all kinds of pretty pious wishes always at hand, with which they salute each other. Thus, if they pass by labourers at work in a field, they say, “God bless your work!” to which the answer is, “Save you  p.156 too!” They have so strong a desire for the blessing of God, that they are fond of adding a wish for it to their expressions on all subjects. In particular you must not neglect to add “God bless it” to any thing in the shape of praise you bestow on a person or thing; for instance, if you praise a child by saying, “That is a fine child,” you must, if you wish to save the mother the severest apprehensions, immediately add, “God bless it!” for praise always seems suspicious to the Irish: praise begets envy, they say. It therefore seems to them that the person praising any thing either wishes to possess it himself, or to deform it by drawing down upon it the envy of the fairies and spirits of the lower world, who take special delight in destroying all that is beautiful on earth. When fault is found, it is not customary to add any thing; and an Irish mother would be less offended, if a person were to say to her, “Your child is a squalling dirty brat,” than if he were to say, looking at the child, “What a charming little angel you have there in the cradle,” unless he were immediately to add, “God bless him!” thus warding off the influence of the evil spirits. As they never forget to ask God's blessing, they are also equally careful to return thanks. “Thanks to the great God!” is an expression continually in their mouths, and I have no doubt in their hearts too. It is customary even to thank God for a misfortune that has befallen them: thus I once heard an Irishwoman, in a melancholy tone and with tears in her eyes, say to another, “I have lost my poor dear little child, thanks be to the great God!” This reminded me of the Russian “slawa bogu,” which is the customary addition to every story; and a Russian merchant who once told me he had made a very bad speculation, like the Irishwoman concluded with “slawa bogu,”.

When one creeps into an Irish hut, the usual salutation is “God save you all!” and the answer is, “God save you kindly!” Those who now thus replied to our salutation were the sister of Mary Sullivan and her half-grown daughter, who were both sitting at a turf fire boiling the potatoes, with her little son and little daughter, who were lying beside the pig, eating a half-boiled potato which they had taken from the pot. Their father was not at home, for he had been some days on the water, taking up sand. There came, however, another voice, I knew not from what corner of the house, nor did I know what it meant; only it seemed no “God save you kindly!” I therefore inquired from whence the moaning proceeded. “It is my eldest son, your honour; he is weak in the understanding, thanks be to the great God! He often moans thus the livelong day.”

The hut was lighted partly by the fire, and partly by a lamp  p.157 which was suspended from the centre of a crooked rafter. This lamp was a great sea-shell, in which they were burning fish oil by a rush wick. By its melancholy gleam I perceived one of the most miserable and helpless creatures I ever beheld. It was a young man, about twenty years of age, who lay doubled up and groaning in a kind of box which represented his bed, and which was, in reality, the best bed in the hut. Beneath him was some straw, covered with rags; and under his head was a pillow, the only one I remarked in the hovel. His mother showed me some parts of his miserable body. His fingers were quite deformed—two of them had grown together—and his arms were as lean as those of a skeleton. His whole frame seemed to vibrate with a convulsive twitching. His mother said, that this was constantly the case with him. As we were examining his hands and feeling them, he raised himself a little, and looked at us with a vacant stare.

“He has been so from his birth, your honour,” said his mother; “and we have been obliged to support him for twenty years, without his being able to do the least thing for us.” It occurred to me that the poor creature might not therefore be well treated, as it is not uncommon for poor people to neglect those who cannot help to increase their earnings.

“And yet you love him?” inquired I of his poor mother.

“Love him? Indeed I do, your honour! Why shouldn't I love him? Isn't he my son, my own flesh and blood, God bless him! Eh, mavourneen, look up!” said she to her unfortunate son, while she carefully raised him, supported his head on her arm, and stroked his crippled hand: “I am the only one, sir,” she continued, “who understands his language properly. He is always longing for me, and it seems I am the only one he loves. 'Tis I give him his potatoes every morning, and, when I have it, stirabout and milk. You see he has a better bed than any of us. Mavourneen! don't groan so, my darling!” She smoothed his pillow and laid down his head, which he had again turned away from us.

This woman's affection for her son caused many thoughts to arise in my mind. It appeared to me that as not only the mental but in some measure the corporeal development of her child had remained almost stationary from his birth, so, in like manner, his mother loved him now with the same tenderness, intensity, and indulgence as when, twenty years ago, he was a suckling. She still fed him as she did then; she coaxed and caressed the youth of twenty years of age as she did the infant of a month. Nay, for twenty years she would have kept him at her breast, were it not physically impossible. When we think of the circumstances of  p.158 people such as these, who have scarcely enough to appease their own hunger, who expect their children to work and to earn money, who usually repel and even imprecate the useless consumer, such affection as I have described may well be called a phenomenon; and it is possible that this poor beggar-woman has shown greater affection for her idiot son than is possessed by a hundred thousand mothers. It is a shame that we travellers so frequently neglect such phenomena, which are so often to be found beneath lowly roofs, instead of seeking them out and making them known to the world.

Mary Sullivan, the old aunt, had meanwhile hung her flower-wreathed hat on the wall, and also laid aside other parts of her costume. She then took from her pocket some potatoes and a fish, which had probably been made a present to her; the former she placed on that corner of the fire which she seemed to consider as her own, and the fish she suspended over it by a wire. She next took out her pipe and began to smoke. She told me, in answer to my inquiry, that her smoking cost her at least a halfpenny a day, or upwards of fifteen shillings a year, exclusive of the many little fragile clay pipes which she must use in that time. This was no inconsiderable sum for a beggar-woman; and as in Ireland a large piece of bread can be purchased for a halfpenny, it is to be wished that another Father Mathew may arise, to wean the poor Irishwomen from tobacco, and induce them to expend in bread, for themselves and their children, what they now lay out on this useless weed.

Tenderness and hospitality are qualities generally possessed by the Irish. All classes are likewise much at their ease in their intercourse with strangers; and in this respect the higher ranks resemble the Parisians. In many countries, when a stranger visits the huts of the poor, he must undergo a long and scrutinizing stare before they feel comfortable in his presence. With the Irish it is quite the reverse. Poor and half-naked though they may be, such accommodation as they have is instantly offered to their well-dressed visitor without embarrassment; and though they never forget to address him politely, as “your honour,” they always appear to consider him—what he really is— their equal.

When I took my leave of the Sullivans, more than one “God speed ye!” accompanied me to the door, with the most sincere thanks for the honour I had done them by my visit, and for the sympathy which I had shown for the unfortunate brother and son, The two little ones had in the meantime lighted a couple of dry splinters of wood for torches, and accompanied me over their  p.159 rough, rocky path. When at last I drove them back, and bade them good-bye, I saw them for a long time standing above on the rock, lighting my way with their torches, while with their pretty little voices they continually called out, “Take care, your honour, take care! God speed ye!”

16. From Bantry to Cork

A hundred and five years old—Bandon—Opposition—Mr. Bianconi—Bianconi cars—“Which is the road to Kerry?”

The next morning, although it was not yet day, another crowd of beggars surrounded our travelling car. Hunger drives these poor people to their daily melancholy work before the dawn. I did not, however, discover amongst them Mary Sullivan's flower-decorated hat. Perhaps she is better off, as she lives with her sister, and can sleep and smoke somewhat longer than others of her profession. Among these beggars was an old man, more than usually miserable in appearance, who was pushed about in a little car. His weak, whining voice constantly joined the din of the rest in a melancholy song, which consisted of these words: “Hundred and five years old! Blind and weak, and a hundred and five years old!” His miserable appearance gained the victory over the rest, and he received the little we were able to bestow. As I was getting up on the car, I perceived that the little boy who pushed on the old man's car, shook him, and informed him that a gentleman had thrown something into it. “God bless him! long life to him! God save his honour! God carry him home!” These good wishes, which this old living century murmured out in a trembling voice, accompanied us on our journey.

These blessings were the only thing worthy of remark on our entire journey from Bantry to Cork, a distance of about fifty miles, and through a somewhat desolate and uninteresting country, not much better cultivated than Kerry, and devoid of the interesting variety which the mountains and valleys and steep precipices there afford. It is in a mountainous country alone that a wilderness can be at all attractive, and a plain can only please when it is highly cultivated. The single exception to this on our whole route was the little town of Bandon, situated on the Bandon river, and whose environs are well planted with trees, and adorned with neat country-seats. Bandon, I was told, is as famous in the  p.160 south of Ireland for the tranquillity and loyalty of its citizens as Londonderry (or Derry, as the Irish usually call it,) is in the north. Why Bandon is so tranquil and loyal I know not; but with respect to Londonderry the reason may probably be found in its origin, the town having been founded by a colony from London, by whom the germ of its loyalty may have been transported from the city of the Thames. “Loyal Derry” is the appellation by which it is generally known throughout Ireland.

The next best thing on this road, after the blessings of the beggars, is the cheapness of travelling upon it. The charge for these fifty miles is only three shillings and sixpence, being less than a penny a mile; while from Killarney to Bantry, which is but half that distance, we had to pay double the amount. The latter road, being, as I have said, only recently opened, the intercourse was not yet very great, and there was no opposition coach; while between Bantry and Cork there was “a great opposition.” Here two rival cars had been established, and were mutually endeavouring to exceed one another in speed and cheapness. This opposition, however, had only existed about two years, and previous to that time the proprietor of the single car that travelled the road charged double and treble the present fares. Thus, even in its remotest parts, Ireland is every day deriving greater benefits, and becoming more animated, by the speculating and enterprising spirit of the English.

The principal proprietor and chief improver of cars, throughout the whole of Ireland, is an Italian named Bianconi, whose extensive enterprises entitle him to particular notice, especially as he is one of the rare instances in which a foreigner has beaten the English in speculation within their own territories. This remarkable man, by whose horses and cars one can now travel through the greater part of Ireland, came over here a little Italian boy, like many who are to be found in all the towns of the United Kingdom, to make a livelihood either by selling plaster images, or playing a barrel-organ. As he was a frugal and industrious lad, his images produced him some money, which he expended in other wares. His stock soon became so extensive, that he was no longer able to drag about his goods on his own back, as heretofore: he therefore purchased a donkey and a cart, such as are quite common in Ireland. The donkey, however, was not sufficiently quick for him, so he eventually bought a horse; and as he did not require its constant use, and had no idea of feeding it for nothing, he occasionally let out the animal to others for money and fair words. He now found that the hiring of his horse brought him more money in the end than the sale of his little wares: he  p.161 therefore resolved to buy another, so as to be able to hire out one, and to employ the other in carrying on his own business. At the same time he made an improvement in his car, arranging it so that, beside his wares, he could take up one or two passengers on the road. In short, in this way he by degrees established himself as a proprietor of public cars, in the town of Clonmel, which lies to the north-east of Cork. At first he only traversed the districts around Clonmel, as far as Cork, Kilkenny, &c., for which purpose he built those large, convenient, and open cars, resting on springs, which I have already described. By means of their long seats, on which an undefined number of passengers might be stowed, he was able to fix a very low fare. He therefore assisted in the establishment of a number of other cars, to run in connexion with his own; and travelled, or rather made his drivers travel, many roads on which no regular mode of conveyance for passengers had previously existed. In this mode, by purchasing horse after horse, building additional cars, and taking more drivers into his service, he gradually extended all over Ireland a chain of diligence-cars which is elsewhere unequalled in extensiveness and utility. He now possesses no fewer than 600 of these large cars, and 1500 horses, all of which are constantly employed. Some assert that he has 900 cars and 2000 horses; and even Mr. Bianconi himself may probably not know the precise number. He is now a great and a wealthy man, and is esteemed by all his adopted countrymen, not more for his intelligence than for his benevolence.

Mr. Bianconi has also had small maps of Ireland engraved, on which the various roads travelled by his cars are distinctly marked; and artists have been further employed in dignifying his enterprises by engraving a series of well-executed copper-plates, entitled “The Bianconi Cars,” prints from which are to be seen all over Ireland. In one is represented the loading of one of these strange carriages, and the travellers taking their seats; in the second, their arrival at one of the Bianconi inns; in the third, the passengers are overtaken by a storm; in the fourth, the four horses, with their lengthy appendage of carriage, luggage, and passengers, are spiritedly galloping up a hill; in the fifth, the horses are being changed in the midst of a landscape of heath and bog, whilst the passengers are jumping off their seats to obtain exercise or refreshment; and in others similar characteristic incidents are pourtrayed.

“Which is the road to Kerry?” exclaimed my companion in a jeering tone to some Kerrymen who met us near Cork, their little horses guided by long straw bridles, and adorned with coarsely-plaited  p.162 straw saddles. The people here in Cork seem to take great pleasure in making themselves merry at the expense of these good-humoured and oddly-equipped mountaineers, who bring the produce of their farms and dairies to this market.


1. Cork

“Rather sharp”—Cork Picture Exhibition—Branches of Industry at Cork—The Butter Weigh-house—Paddy and his Bacon Flitches

It is said the Kerry people are learned, but poor, and somewhat boorish in their manners; the Limerick people handsome and polite; and the Dublin people extremely complaisant and hospitable, and the most refined of all the Irish. “And what are the Cork people?” inquired I of my travelling companion, who was giving me all this information at the Commercial Hotel, where we had alighted. “Rather sharp!” replied he; “they like to make merry at other people's expense, and are distinguished from all the other natives of Ireland by their peculiar and witty mockery. They are quick at remarking the weak sides of others, and often mercilessly persecute them with delicate yet cutting sarcasms.” “Have the Cork people themselves, then, no weak side?” “Oh yes!”——But while my friend was meditating a suitable reply, there burst forth beneath our window one of those most frightful attempts at music which the temperance bands, who march through the streets of Cork in the evening, are in the habit of making; and as it was Saturday night, they were followed by so many persons, that I clearly perceived that one of the weak sides of the CorkCork people must be some where in the region of their ears, since, were it otherwise, their police would not suffer the ears of the entire public to be annoyed by sounds more detestable than even the catterwauling of cats.

The following day, on visiting the picture exhibition of this good city, I imagined that I had discovered another of the weak sides of the Cork people, in a neighbourhood not very remote from their eyes, since upon the various pieces of canvas which were here exposed to view, so many displeasing forms and colours were brought together, that their want of harmony annoyed me almost as much as the music of the evening before. As, however, I had come to this exhibition not to criticise the works of the Cork artists, nor to delight myself with perfect creations of art, but to  p.163 search for something that would give me information concerning the people and the country, I found that I was not disappointed in my expectations.

The painters of every country, especially at present, when tableaux de genre are so much the order of the day, represent in their pictures so much that is descriptive of their nation, of the geography and the climate of their country, and so much that is characteristic of the manners and habits of its people, that any one who has made these his study must every where use picture galleries as one of the chief sources from whence to draw his information, and should not despise even the most insignificant exhibitions. Thus, at the Cork exhibition were displayed the busts of the Mayor of Cork, of last year's Lord Mayor of Dublin, Daniel O'Connell, and of Father Mathew. Then there was an emigration scene, of poor Irish leaving their beloved Erin for America; besides various Irish fishermen, and several views of wild mountains and turf-bogs. The best thing a painter can do is to represent the scenes and incidents of his own country, for in them men of the slightest talent may be certain they have a subject they understand, and that they will produce a picture which, if it is at all tolerable, possesses the merit of being a copy of something, and therefore likely to be of some use to the world. Even the greatest genius can, perhaps, only produce a masterpiece when he remains within the horizon of his nationality, and can only attain extraordinary excellence by embodying in his pictures the national scenes or national habits characteristic of his country. The greatest painters, like the greatest poets, have ever been eminently patriotic, and their best creations have invariably sprung from the inmost depths of their own souls, and illustrate the life of their nation or the nature of their fatherland.

But the chief strength of Cork lies in other things than the fine arts. This city is well known as the principal port for the exportation of the raw produce of the whole south of Ireland. I therefore hastened to the store-houses of the town—to the slaughter-houses, packing-cellars, and to its butter weigh-house, salting establishments, &c., in order to acquire information respecting those particular branches of industry in which the greater part of the population is employed.

In the neighbourhood of Cork are some of the greatest dairies in Ireland. Kerry, and other cattle-grazing districts, are also not very distant; so that here the largest quantities of butter, bacon, hams, meat, and cattle are brought together. In the same manner, the principal export of Dublin is grain, the produce of the arable districts by which it is surrounded. Butter is one of the chief  p.164 articles of export from Cork, and the butter market and firkin crane is almost a curiosity. To this the butter is brought in little barrels or “firkins,” and the weight and quality of each firkin is ascertained by an inquest of butter inspectors, who are under the direction of a general weighing-master. The quality thus determined is branded on every firkin; and in this way the butter trade of Cork, which is very extensive, is kept in good repute. As Cork butter is often intended for very distant markets, it is made very salt. The Kerry mountain butter is praised as being particularly “firm in body.”

At the cellars of the provision merchants are to be seen immense quantities of “life stores”. Masses of hams and sides of bacon are arranged in long rows, like octavo and folio volumes. In the suburbs are extensive slaughter-houses for pigs, in which thousands of the inmates of the Irish cabins and rent-payers yearly lay down their lives. I would like to know with what feelings hungry Paddy studies these folios of bacon! It is lamentable to think that the poor Irishman must hand over to others such vast quantities of what he himself so much stands in need. Ireland is to the English, in some measure, what Sicily was to the Romans, and is to the Neapolitans at the present day. That lovely island was always, in like manner, tyrannized over and plundered by Italy. Were Paddy only a little more industrious, he could, I am certain, keep a flitch in his own chimney for festive days. As it is, however, he must first become a soldier of her Majesty, and sail away thousands of miles after the bacon he has fattened in his cabin, and then, in the East or West Indies, he may perchance be allowed to partake of it, as large quantities of provisions are made up in Cork for troops on foreign service.

2. Preservation of Provisions

Preserved fresh Provision Trade—Advantages of this Preservation—The Quays of Cork—The Quickest Steamboat

Very interesting in this town are the establishments of those merchants who deal in fresh provisions, which they know how to preserve in their original freshness by some peculiar process of their own. These merchants are called “preserved fresh provision merchants.” This branch of trade has been established in Ireland within the last twenty years, and has lately been considerably extended. Things of this kind can only be seen in Great Britain, because it is the only country which has so great an interest in being able to send all kinds of provision to every  p.165 quarter of the globe in an uninjured condition. I visited the largest establishment of this description, that of Mr. Gamble, “patent preserved fresh provision merchant to her Majesty's navy, and to the Honourable the East India Company.” In this establishment is to be seen almost every kind of food you can think of, packed up in so wonderful a manner, in tin or pewter cases, that most of them will keep perfectly fresh for years. Even milk and cream are so well preserved, that if one were to take the cases with him on a voyage round the world, and open them in the South Seas or the Indian Ocean, he would find the contents as sweet and fresh as if just milked from the cow. The principal points to be attended to are, the preparation of vessels perfectly close and air-tight, the selection of articles of the best quality, and the complete exhaustion of the air, as well out of the provisions themselves as from the vessels in which they are contained. Fresh vegetables of every description are also preserved in this way.

The perfection which this art has attained is best proved by the testimony which Captain Ross has presented to this establishment. He certifies that in the year 1824 he bought here various cases of vegetables for his north-western expedition. Many of these remained in the stranded ship Fury till August, 1833, nine years afterwards, when they were again found and opened; and although during this time they had been exposed to all the injurious influences of that northern climate—in winter to a cold 52 degrees below zero of Fahrenheit, and in summer to a heat 80 degrees above zero—yet all the cases were found uninjured, and their contents in a state of perfect preservation, and fit for use.

Every thing connected with this branch of trade is remarkably complete. Thus, for instance, a quantity of cases are in readiness, each of which contains as much cream as is requisite for twelve cups, and others for twenty-four or thirty-six cups. The captain of a ship who wishes to supply himself here, has therefore only to state the number of his officers or passengers, to be provided with cases containing exactly the portions required for his daily consumption. Thus he wastes nothing, and even more regular economy is practicable than if there were cows on board. In like manner, the portions of meat and vegetables in each case are suited for a certain number of persons; and there is this further advantage, that most of the articles are already cooked, and both trouble and fire are alike saved. Sauces and soups, of every possible kind, prepared after the best rules of cookery, are also packed up in the same way, so that it is only necessary to give the article to the nearest sailor to warm, and  p.166 receive from his hands delicacies as excellent as if he were the best of cooks.

The quays of Cork present much that is interesting in the shipping of all these varieties of merchandize, especially the embarkation of the live stock, pigs, oxen, cows, &c. The shipping of the pigs is the most amusing, and hundreds of the idle strollers of Cork stand looking on, delighted with the scene. It is an inexhaustible source of entertainment to behold this humorous Paddy, this “queer fellow” as he calls himself, who makes so much noise in whatever occupation he may be engaged, and who, as a “ready-witted” Cork lady said to me, “is always allowed to say every thing twice,”—this talking, shrieking, gesticulating Irishman, bidding farewell to his “rent-payers,” and busied about them there for the last time, and at last hoisting them into the ship which is to waft them away from Erin's soil. One ship is being laden with firkins of butter for foreign lands, where Ireland must be thought one of the richest countries in the world, or she would not export these whole cargoes of fat. Another is receiving sacks of flour, and the poor porters are almost sinking beneath a load of bread-stuff, of which not a morsel will fall to their share. A third is being provided with ships' biscuits, which have been baked in the great “steam-mill bakeries” of Cork, dried and prepared to keep for years. Strange it is that this poor hungry Ireland, in which so many actually die of hunger every year, and in whose bills of mortality and hospital books “starvation” is as regular a heading as any other cause of death;—strange it is, I say, that this country should, above all things, be destined to feed so many strangers to her soil.

During my stroll about these quays, I saw lying at them three of the quickest of English steamboats—the Princess Royal, the Prince of Wales, and the Fire-King. The Princess Royal is generally allowed to be the swiftest of all the steamboats which ply between the British Isles. On an average, including good and bad weather, she proceeds at the rate of twelve miles and a half an hour. The Prince of Wales was once considered the quickest, but its speed is now exceeded by the Princess Royal by two minutes in six and thirty miles. I am here speaking of sea-boats only, for on the Thames there are steamboats which can make twenty miles an hour. The Princess Royal is a beautiful vessel, and her saloons and cabins are fitted up quite in rococo style. She has now taken her station in Cork, and aids in bringing Ireland into closer connexion with England. All the vessels in this trade must, above all things, be constructed for animal passengers, and accordingly this elegant Princess has on her deck peculiar arrangements for  p.167 the reception of oxen, cows, and pigs. By these rapid modes of conveyance Ireland is ever falling more and more into the hands of England, the two islands being thus, as it were, drawn 100 miles nearer to each other. Now that the railroads and steamers render it possible at any moment to transport troops from any part of England to Ireland in less than twenty-four hours, the latter is chained to the former more firmly than ever.

3. The County Gaol

Decrease of crime in Ireland—Crime in Tipperary—Crime in Ireland—Neglected Youth—Juvenile Offenders—The Black Holes—The Bridewell—Paddy's Dwelling-house—Working by Cubbitt

One of my most interesting and instructive visits in Cork was to the county gaol built here some years ago, both for debtors and criminals. The governors of English prisons are liberally instructed at all times to give every information to strangers respecting their arrangements; and the promptitude with which they answer the inquiries of all foreigners is deserving of high praise: they appear to have no secrets whatsoever. To the visitor who is properly introduced, their books are opened; he is not only permitted, but invited, to put any questions he pleases to the prisoners; and he is supplied with books, documents, and papers, from which he can derive farther information more at his leisure. The most gratifying information I gained from the papers lent to me in Cork, in so friendly a manner, was the extraordinary decrease of crime in Ireland since the first year of the temperance movement; and as I think this great phenomenon cannot be too generally known, I will here state the facts which appear to prove it.

The total number of criminals of all kinds brought to trial in Ireland, was—

  • In the year 1839 … 26,392
  • In the year 1840 … 23,833
  • In the year 1841 … 20,790
being a diminution, in three years, of upwards of 22 per cent, in the number of criminal trials. That class of crimes which appears so very numerous on the Irish lists, the “riots,” was also evidently decreased. The numbers of these were—
  • In the year 1839 … 3409
  • In the year 1840 … 3201
  • In the year 1841 … 2855
 p.168 But the most evident diminution has been in the trials for murder, of which there were—
  • In the year 1839 … 286
  • In the year 1840 … 159
  • In the year 1841 … 120
being a reduction of more than one-half in three years. There certainly may be various other causes for the decrease of crime in Ireland; but the main grounds of an improvement so sudden and extraordinary can only be sought for in an equally sudden and extraordinary simultaneous phenomenon, such as the temperance movement.

In 1839 there were 1300 criminals sentenced to transportation, and in 1841 only 900; but at the present day sentence of transportation is less frequently passed, and still less frequently is it carried into effect.

Even in Tipperary, which is the most turbulent and disturbed county in Ireland, crime has evidently diminished. The population of Tipperary is only one-eighteenth part of the whole of Ireland. Therefore, as the total number of cases of riot in all Ireland in 1839 was 3409, the relative proportion for Tipperary, if its population had not been more turbulent than that of the others, would have been 200, instead of which, there were in that year 685 riots, or nearly 3 1/2 times as much as the mean proportion. In the same year, 81 out of 286, or nearly one-third of all the murders in Ireland, were perpetrated in this remarkable county, whilst the correct proportion would have been 16 only. Hence it appears that the people in Tipperary are five times as murderous as the Irish in general.

I was informed by the governor of the prison that a still further improvement was perceptible in 1842, there being only 65 criminals brought to trial in Cork at the July assizes of that year, the smallest number ever known.

When the criminal statistics of England are compared with those of Ireland, the former appear to evident disadvantage, crime having increased in England, during the same period, in nearly the same proportion that it has decreased in Ireland. Thus, in England

  • In 1838 … 23,094 criminals were brought to trial;
  • In 1839 … 24,443 were brought to trial;
  • In 1840 … 27,187 were brought to trial;
  • In 1841 … 27,760 were brought to trial;

Still, notwithstanding this, the number of indictments is, in Ireland, undeniably greater than in England, in proportion to the population. In 1841, Ireland contained eight millions of inhabitants, of whom about 20,000 (or 1 in 400,) were indicted; whilst  p.169 in England, in the same year, there were about fifteen millions of inhabitants, of whom 27,800 (or 1 in 555,) were indicted. But in order to establish this fact correctly, it ought to be first ascertained whether crimes and trials are registered and calculated in precisely the same manner in both countries.

The proportion of murders in England to those in Ireland is particularly remarkable. In England, the number of murders or attempts to murder were—

  • In the year 1839 … 40
  • In the year 1840 … 56
  • In the year 1841 … 63
From which it appears that, in the year 1839, more than five times as many murders were committed in Ireland as in England; and in 1841, when the number of murders had evidently increased in the latter, and diminished in the former country, twice as many. But taking the respective populations into account, the murders in Ireland in 1839 were eleven times as many, and in 1841, four times as many, as in England. When to this is added the cases of manslaughter and the attempts to murder, in Ireland, the number appears really frightful; but, thank God! the same evident diminution is perceptible in these as in the other crimes. Murder, shooting, stabbing, administering poison with intent to murder, assault with the intent to murder, solicitation to murder, conspiracy to murder, manslaughter—all these crimes put together were committed 898 times in the year 1839; 503 times in 1840; and 502 times in 1841.

The most frightful feature in the criminal statistics of Great Britain is the great number of juvenile and neglected offenders which every where fill the prisons. In the last few years, out of 100 prisoners, there were always about eight under sixteen years old; and in 1839, in Ireland, seven were convicted of murder and manslaughter under sixteen years of age. It must also be remembered that the laws are more severe against young persons in England than in our country. It is, however, an exceedingly lamentable truth, that the number of youthful offenders in Ireland has by no means decreased in the same ratio as the total number of criminals; it has rather remained remarkably stationary; nay, in some branches it has even increased. For instance, the number of criminals in Ireland under sixteen years old, was—

  • In the year 1839 … 1516
  • In the year 1840 … 1545
  • In the year 1841 … 1476

This is easily reconcilable with my remarks respecting temperance, which would naturally have a less powerful effect on children,  p.170 since intemperance could not, at their years, have been the original cause of their crimes. But what is most lamentable and almost inconceivable is, that the schools for the education of youth, lately instituted in such great numbers, have not proved so beneficial in their influence on the children, as the temperance movement on those of more advanced age; and the consequence is, that the number of exceedingly young offenders appears to have increased. For example, the number of offenders under twelve years of age, convicted in Ireland, was—

  • In the year 1839 … 322
  • In the year 1840 … 323
  • In the year 1841 … 342
This increase is, however, principally caused by female transgressors of this class; for the number of girls under twelve years old, convicted in Ireland, was—
  • In the year 1839 … 55
  • In the year 1840 … 63
  • In the year 1841 … 76
Yet girls under this age appear to comprise that class of the Irish whose moral culture is attended to with the greatest care, “infant schools” having, especially of late, very much increased. The result is therefore, as I have said, almost inconceivable. Whilst more care is taken of the education of children, is greater severity also exercised towards them? Or is a new and particular class of offenders produced by those schools? Or is it the case in Ireland, as in all Europe, that as schools and instruction increase and improve, home education decreases, and the children become earlier ripe either for good or evil courses?

An important act of parliament (7th George IV.), passed in 1824, has produced a reform of the gaols of the United Kingdom; and since that time a number of healthy and well-arranged prisons have been erected in various parts of England. Previous to this there were, of course, tolerable gaols in most of the large cities; but in the small towns, and in the interior of the country, they resembled dismal caverns, and were called by the people in general “black holes.” A frightful description of those places of confinement was laid before the House of Lords in 1819, but all these are now swept away by “the prison act,” as it is termed. In place of the black holes, in which offenders were kept in safe custody, previous to their removal to the county gaol, small prisons, called bridewells, in which the offenders remain until the county assizes are held, are now generally used. In the county of Cork no fewer than seventeen of these bridewells have been erected within the last  p.171 eighteen years, all of which are in connexion with the Cork County Gaol. If this proportion for the county of Cork may be taken as the mean ratio for all Ireland, then, as all Ireland contains about ten times the population of this county, there must have been about 170 prisons built in the island during the last few years. In this respect also has England conferred an exceedingly great blessing on Ireland.

The Cork county Gaol is a large and handsome building, and is appropriated for debtors as well as for criminals. There are “master debtors,” who support themselves, and “pauper debtors,” who are supported at the public expense. In these enlightened modern times, it is strange that people have not yet learned better logic, than to compel the man whose only offence is that he cannot pay his debts, and who has nothing whatever in common with criminals, to become their companion. It is also an evident injustice to the poor debtor to thrust him through the same gate with malefactors, and into a place which entails upon him so much disgrace. Formerly the insane were also confined there; in fine, all who on any account were required to be kept in custody. As the necessity for a distinction between lunatics and criminals has at length become apparent, the debtors may probably hereafter be also separated.

A captain of the navy, who some years since was governor here, has introduced into this prison many improvements, which are deserving of notice, and may perhaps be thought worthy of imitation elsewhere. In the first place, instead of beds he introduced hammocks, as being that description of sleeping accommodation which unites the most perfect cleanliness with the greatest saving of room. He next invented dining-tables without legs, which are lowered from the ceiling by very simple machinery, and drawn up again when no longer required for use. Thus they completely disappear, and leave the dining-room quite unencumbered. For seats in those eating-rooms they have round, smooth blocks of wood, painted black. These seats are not unsightly; and whilst they are indestructible, they may also be piled up in a corner without ceremony, and without taking up much room.

The entire prison is built of iron and stone; and as Paddy's dwelling is usually constructed of earth or mud, it may be said, without exaggeration, that for the commission of a wicked crime an Irishman is removed from a hole to a palace. His diet is also, in general, very much improved; for while he remained at home, with unimpeached honour, he had only watery potatoes; but as an offender in prison, he receives daily two pounds of bread and an allowance of milk along with it. It would, indeed, be difficult  p.172 to make Paddy more uncomfortable in gaol than he is at home. In this prison there is even a “hot closet,” or heated chamber, into which the washed clothes of the prisoners are put, like bread into an oven, to dry them thoroughly. Where has Paddy in his cabin such a “hot closet?” Nay, has he even clothes on his body? But golden freedom is so fair, even in the eyes of the hungry, that with all the better living in the gaols, no longing after them is to be feared, and in general one need never apprehend an increase of crime on account of well-arranged prisons. There is, however, certainly thereby produced a peculiar and numerous class of offenders, who have entirely lost their love of freedom, and who, because they live as well or better in gaol, do not scruple, after being set free, to offend again, and again to be imprisoned. There are plenty of such people in England, who pass their whole lives, sometimes free, but oftener in gaol. But these, as I have said, are the exceptions; and the greater proportion quit such a prison as that of Cork with at least better habits. This is certainly the case with the young, who are here kept hard at work, and also educated; even many of the old prisoners learn reading and writing in the prison-school. The common employments to be found in English prisons are, picking old ropes into oakum for caulking ships, making rope door-mats, and working on the treadmill, which is termed “working by cubbitt,” because it was by a person named Cubbitt that the treadmill was first introduced here.

4. Fever hospital

Frequency of Fever—Probable Causes of it

Another interesting institution in Cork is the fever hospital, which is one of the best in Ireland, and boasts that the mortality of its inmates is less than in any other similar establishment in the United Kingdom. No fewer than from 1500 to 2000 patients are annually received into this hospital. There is a fever hospital in the principal town of almost every Irish county, and sometimes one in the smaller towns also. Dublin, it is well known, has the largest and best in the world. Fever patients, who are so very numerous in Ireland, are by the rules alone admissible into those hospitals, yet other patients are also occasionally received. In 1839, out of 1970 patients in the Cork fever hospital, 1856 were fever cases, and the remainder people affected with other diseases. Fevers of all kinds, especially nervous, and above all that worst description of them, the typhus, are every where prevalent in Ireland. Typhus is so common here, that when fever simply is  p.173 spoken of, typhus is generally understood. On account of the strongly infectious nature of this fever, its treatment has been separated from that of other complaints, and even particular hospitals have been erected for those attacked by it. In the large towns of England also, in which there is a considerable Irish population, amongst whom typhus fever is never at rest, fever hospitals are to be found, as in Glasgow, Manchester, and London.

Misery, want, bad food, scarcity of fuel, and the moist climate, are probably the original causes of this disease. The records of the Cork fever hospital inform us that the greatest number of patients is received in April and May, and in November and December. The former are the months in which the distress of the poor in Ireland is at its greatest height; and the latter months are those in which the greatest quantity of rain falls. It is also remarked that in years of extreme wetness or scarcity the typhus fever is most prevalent. The increased humidity of a year works not only directly on the constitution, but also increases disease indirectly, by preventing the preparation and drying of the turf, and increasing the price of this necessary article so much that it is unattainable by the poor. How often does it happen, in Ireland, that they are compelled to break up and burn their tables, bedsteads, and other furniture, to procure a little warmth!

The inhabitants of the little Irish island which forms the renowned Cape Clear, suffered so much from a scarcity of fuel in 1839, that they came together and cast lots, which first, and which second and third, should tear down his cabin in order to warm the dwellings of the others with its materials. But the fever-plague was only increased by this proceeding; for as they were all crowded together in narrow rooms, and admitted no fresh air into their houses, the infection spread with still greater violence. Besides, in wet and cold years the poor are often compelled to mend the roofs of their houses with the straw which they had destined for their beds; and on these occasions, instead of fresh straw, they have to sleep upon old, or most probably upon none at all. All the misery that a wet year thus produces in Ireland (and on account of the peculiar nature of the country, it produces more than with us,) tends to increase typhus, and to fill the fever hospitals. Whilst other lands always wish for rain, Ireland generally longs for dry weather: the ground retains so much moisture that a dry year is never injurious. The potatoes then turn out best, and the turf is most easily made; and turf and potatoes are here the foundation of all earthly happiness, and even of existence itself, the true “nervus omnium verum,” as money is in other lands.


5. The Barracks

Circulation of the British Army—Recruiting—Costly Equipment—The Red Uniform—Germans and Frenchmen in the British service—Scarcity of Germans in Cork

Cork, like most towns in Ireland, has its barracks, which stand on a hill in the suburbs of the city. These barracks are more interesting than usual, as Cork is one of those harbours in which troops are embarked and provisioned for the colonies, and where they also disembark on their return home. The usual period of foreign service is three years, after which, for ten years, the regiments are continually changing their quarters throughout the entire kingdom—Ireland, Scotland, and England—when they are again shipped for the colonies, where also they are frequently moved from one place to another. When it is considered how long, according to this system, the troops must be maintained and supported unprofitably on the wide waves of the ocean, it is evident that on this account alone the English army must be one of the most expensive in the world. Of every regiment sent to the colonies, a part (two companies, I believe,) remains behind in the mother country, to attend to the interests of the regiment, but principally to collect recruits, train them, and send them to the regiment on the foreign station. Those companies which remain behind are termed the depôt of the regiment. The periods of circulation for the artillery and infantry are different; and the troops destined for the East Indies have also their own peculiar regulations. The latter have no depots in Cork, being all equipped and embarked from English harbours.

One of my first walks in Cork was to these barracks. The great gate which leads to the inner court was placarded from top to bottom with advertisements, inviting young men to enter her Majesty's service. These English invitations are, in their composition, of a very characteristic nature; and we on the Continent, where every one is compelled to serve as a soldier in his turn, can form no idea of them. They are generally got up like attractive playbills: for instance, at the top of one is placed the representation of a dashing horseman galloping in full uniform, and underneath, in large letters, “GOD SAVE THE QUEEN!” It then proceeds to say, that “twelve of the finest of her Majesty's regiments, of the greatest respectability, and of the most acknowledged gallantry, are now open to the free choice of the sons of Erin. Now is the very best time for active young men to enrol themselves in one of them for her Majesty's service, it is the most easy service,  p.175 and the best pay. Those who bring recruits will obtain seven shillings and sixpence for each!” Another runs thus:—
“East India Company's .”
“Some spirited young men are still wanted for the service of the Honourable the East India Company.”

  • Bounty … 3 l.6 s.
  • Pay … 1s. 6d. a day.
  • Bounty to those who bring recruits … 17s.
“A young man can no where turn his labour to better account.”

My time would not permit me to copy these announcements verbatim; but many of them were of a much more alluring character, and offered still greater advantages than those I have mentioned. Recruiting parties from the various regimental depots, composed of the tallest and finest-looking men, are also sent into the surrounding towns and villages, where, their caps profusely decorated with bunches of many-coloured ribbons, and their sticks and sword-belts also ornamented with ribbons and flowers, they parade the streets and market-places, and visit the alehouses, in order to entrap the “spirited young men.” It is surprising that so many healthy young Irishmen are able to resist all these allurements, and that, on the contrary, they do not all eagerly grasp at the prospect of exchanging their filthy rags and miserable cabins for good gay clothing and comfortable barracks. His native soil must have numberless attractions for an Irishman, that he so often prefers privations at home to plenty and abundance in the English colonies.

Cork barracks are said to be the largest and best in the kingdom; and as we wandered about in the sleeping-rooms and eating-rooms, the canteens, (as the sutlers' shops or alehouses in English barracks are called,) the officers' mess-rooms, and the extensive squares, we every where saw much to excite interest and attract our attention. The 10th hussars, returning from exercise, defiled before us. The regiment was composed of remarkably fine men, and the noblest horses in the world. The saddles were all ornamented with tiger skins, most of them genuine. The equipment of English soldiers is indeed the most costly in the world, for everything is of the best quality: thus the hussar-jackets worn by the officers in this regiment, alone cost about forty pounds each. Imitation gold, in epaulettes or lace, is unknown in the English army; and the cloth worn by the officers (rendered still more expensive on account of its red colour) costs about two pounds per yard. As the English troops have to visit extremely different climates, a relaxation of the strict regulations  p.176 with respect to their uniform is sometimes permitted, at least to the officers. Thus, for instance, those who proceed to North America are allowed, so far as is not absolutely incompatible with these rules, to edge their clothes with fur; and the officers of three regiments which lately embarked here for China, had many articles of dress made of white cotton, instead of red woollen cloth.

It is said that the English have adopted the red colour for their soldiers, in order the better to conceal the blood from their wounds, so that the recruits, when first brought into action, may not be frightened by the sight of so much blood. But on the other hand, as there is so little in nature that is red, his dress makes the English soldier more easily distinguished, and thousands may have been slain by the enemy's bullet, who, in gray or green clothes, might not have been perceived. This red dress has doubtless rendered many English victories much more sanguinary and fatal to the troops, and it is inconceivable that no attempt should yet have been made to introduce a gradual change of colour. For the well-known colour of the uniform of the British navy a more plausible reason is assigned,—that indigo blue is the only colour which can withstand the destructive effects of salt water.

One of the officers informed me that the band-master of his regiment was a German. This is very frequently the case, in English as well as in Russian regiments. These band-masters are very well paid, receiving as much as twelve shillings a day, besides diet and clothing. Of all foreigners, Germans are most frequently found in the English service, especially in the navy; whilst Frenchmen are most rarely met with. It is said, however, that no Frenchman is permitted to enter the British navy. (Are there any Englishmen in the French service?) It is only in the cooking department that the exception to this rule, so unfavourable to the French, is apparent; for in the mess-room of the 45th regiment, which was about to be embarked for the Mediterranean, I found a cook of that nation. A German tailor, whom I also met here, and who was kind enough to direct my attention to many things worthy of notice, assured me that this was the only Frenchman he had ever known in the English army, and he must have seen a large portion of it, during his long residence in Cork, where he had assisted in clothing most of the regiments that are constantly passing through that city.

Germans are somewhat scarce in Cork. I could only hear of five, and three-fifths of these I saw, that is to say—the tailor above-mentioned, a teacher of music, and a young musician,—all  p.177 of whom showed me much kindness. There are no German merchants, no young Germans at the counter, nor, with the above exceptions, no German artists or tradesmen. I mention this more particularly, as a great many Germans are always to be found in the large towns and cities of England; whilst I believe there are fewer resident in Cork than in any other city of equal population in the British-European dominions.

6. Voyage to Cove

The Blarney Stone—The Harbours of the South of Ireland—Pieces of Water—The Navigation Wall—Cove—Irish Lighthouses—Salmon Fisheries—The Dry-rot Bubble—Convent Education for young Ladies—French Sympathies for Ireland—Uncatholic Exterior of Irish Towns—Irish Roman Catholicism—Laws against Roman Catholics—The Poor Catholics—“A Silver Collection is expected”—Beggars praying at the Doors—Library of the Bishop of Cork—Irish Apostles—“Felix Hibernia!”—Irish and English Mourning—To plume a Hearse—Protestant and Catholic Hotels—Taking a Shop by Storm

In the neighbourhood of Cork are two sights, one of which, although very celebrated, is scarcely worth the trouble of visiting; whilst the other is as beautiful as it is famous. The latter is the voyage down the river Lee to Cove; and the former is the ruins of Blarney Castle, so well known from the popular song of “The Groves of Blarney,” and also by the legend that whoever kisses a certain projecting stone of the castle, is gifted by the fairies with a remarkable and irresistible amiability, especially in the eyes of the fair sex. This legend has called forth numerous ill-natured caricatures against poor O'Connell; amongst others, one in which he is represented sitting on the Blarney Stone and deriving his irresistible powers from this kind of kissing. All this, however, one may very easily imagine, without going to see it. But the voyage down the Lee to Cove must be made in person to be duly appreciated.

The south, or rather the south-eastern, coast of Ireland, from Cape Clear to Carnsore Point, forms a nearly straight line, 120 miles long. It contains a number of inlets, or arms of the sea, which, being less deep, broad, and long than those on the western coast, which are termed bays, are here simply called harbours. Such are the harbours of Baltimore, Glandore, Kinsale, Oysterhaven, Cork, Youghal, Dungarvon, Waterford, and Wexford; into most of which now small rivers, as the Bandon into Kinsale harbour, the Lee into Cork harbour, the Blackwater into Youghal harbour, and the Suir into Waterford harbour. All these rivers  p.178 have this peculiarity, that in the first instance they flow direct from west to east, until they nearly reach their embouchures, when, turning in a sudden angle, they run from north to south, and thus flow into their harbours. It is also remarkable that they form an ascending scale, which shows that the rivers increase in size in proportion as they are situated farther to the east; thus, the Lee is larger than the Bandon, the Blackwater larger than the Lee, and the most easterly, the Suir, is the largest of all. Nearly the whole of these harbours or embouchures of the rivers are beautiful pieces of water, half river half bay, with pretty landscapes and elegant country-houses. Those of Cork and Waterford are the most interesting.

Accompanied by one of my German fellow-countrymen, and a numerous crowd of Sunday travellers which filled the steamboat, I embarked on the beautiful stream. The city of Cork lies picturesquely beautiful on both sides of the river, which unfortunately is somewhat shallow near the town. To remedy this defect, a great “navigation wall” has been built, by means of which the channel is narrowed and deepened. The sailors are benefited by this improvement; but not so many hundreds of the poor citizens who prefer living on dry ground, but whose houses, in consequence of this contraction of the river, are frequently inundated with water, and rendered uninhabitable during high floods.

The bay is full of islands, which seem to divide it into many arms. All these islands are richly cultivated, and many charming villas closely approach the water, or rather lie near it, in delightful succession, and surrounded by extensive parks. The water itself was every where alive with ships and boats; and here and there, where there is a little harbour, as at Passage, they lay in thick groups. The ships, the channel, the villas, the parks, their beautiful trees and meadows, and the little groves—all these, as they presented themselves on the voyage, formed a rapid succession of the most varied and delightful pictures.

At the extremity of the largest island, called the Great Island, lies the principal roadstead of Cork, the well-known Cove, with its slate-covered houses (like the houses in Elberfeld and Barmen,) rising one over the other, on the steep shore of the island, in the form of an amphitheatre. We climbed the ascent behind the town, to obtain from thence a view of the entire scene; and on our way thither met half the population of Cove, which streamed down from the church, situated high on the hill; so that at every step, along with the beauties of nature, we had also to admire the remarkably handsome appearance of the so-called better classes of the race inhabiting those districts.


From the hill one looks down on the deepest part of the bay, which is widest at Cove, and is studded with numerous small islands, some of which, as Spike Island, Haulbowline, &c., lie in it like great ships of the line. The latter is furnished with an extensive magazine of sea stores, in which the ships and expeditions which are here equipped find every thing they require. Before the bay joins the open sea it is again narrowed, and on each point of the peninsulas which form this strait a fort is erected to guard the entrance. Between these forts one looks out on the free ocean, and sees various dark-looking specks in the distance, which are known to be ships, looking out for the entrance, which is recognized by Roche's lighthouse—the first indication of Cork Harbour to be seen from the open sea. It is said, that on clear nights this light is visible twenty-five miles off at sea. Out of thirty-six lighthouses, there are only two which shine still farther over the sea, viz., Arran Island light in the west, visible twenty-nine miles distant, and that of Cape Clear at twenty-eight miles. Of these thirty-six, twenty-six are termed first-class lighthouses; ten have two lights, one has three, and seven are revolving lights: all the rest are fixed.

I could learn nothing certain respecting the great magazines I have mentioned as being on one of the islands in the middle of the bay. Whilst some affirmed that most of the stores were empty, others stated that these magazines were now almost entirely disused; but all thought it ridiculous that the three regiments lately sent to China, and which were ultimately furnished with provisions from Ireland, should not have been here supplied in the first instance, certainly at a much cheaper rate, and sent direct from Cork to their destination. Instead of this, however, they were first embarked here in steamers, and sent partly to Liverpool, and partly to Bristol; from whence they travelled by steam and railroads to London, and from thence again by steam to Chatham, where at last they embarked for China. This little preparatory journey alone cost upwards of £5000, all of which might have been saved at Cork.

I heard farther complaints here of the falling off of the fisheries, It is well known that fish, especially salmon, was formerly so abundant in all the mouths of English rivers, that, as in Bristol for instance, people were forbidden to give their servants salmon more than twice a week. The same story is told of some German towns; but the English salmon fisheries are now almost every where destroyed. This result may probably, in some degree, be attributed to the great increase of salmon-eaters; but is also in an equal degree referrible to the inordinate increase of manufactories,  p.180 which poison the waters with their deleterious effusions. The best salmon fisheries in the United Kingdom are still to be found in Ireland, and it is hoped that these may be still farther improved by legislative enactments. But the subject is not without its difficulties, as there are many unreasonable privileges to be set aside, to the injury of their present possessors. For instance, the fishers of Cork and Drogheda, as I was informed, had the power of taking salmon at all times, whilst all others are confined to certain periods. The millers also, who are in every part of the world, on account of their weirs, the opponents of river fishermen and boatmen, are not easily persuaded to yield any portion of their destructive right of making dams, which are so prejudicial to the general interests of the fishery. They must, however, according to the new act, now open their weirs at certain times, to allow free passage to the fish going to spawn. A miller not far from Cork erected a weir across the river which was worth £1000 a year, on account of the multitudes of fish which gathered before it. In many parts of Ireland I found millers and fishermen in partnership, and had opportunities of learning their opinions on the numerous perplexing questions to which the introduction of the new fishery-bill gave rise.

The city of Cork carries on an important trade in timber, vast quantities of which are every where to be seen on the landing-places of the harbour, and even on the water. It was mostly American timber. Baltic timber is usually much preferred, but it is of course dearer than that brought from the British Colonies. It is said that American timber rots much quicker than the Baltic, probably because the young speculative colonists, who wish to make money, and room for themselves in the forests of America, do not take such care in its management as the land and forest-owners in the Baltic provinces. It is also said that it is particularly liable to dry rot; and some years ago there was a great outcry against it on this account. All the world joined in the clamour: long articles were written in the newspapers about dry rot, and all who had built houses of American timber were afraid that, before they were aware, their roofs would come tumbling about their ears. Many, in their alarm, even pulled down their houses, and had them rebuilt with Baltic timber. Numerous remedies were suggested for the prevention of this dry rot, and there was even an Antidry-rot Company established, which advised and proposed, I know not what, but at last came before parliament with a petition praying that the duty on Baltic timber might be abolished. This, in fact, was the sole object of the “dry-rot bubble;” and the whole outcry was probably originated and promoted by jobbers  p.181 and speculators in Baltic timber. Storms of a similar nature, having for their object the injury or destruction of some particular interest or branch of trade, are not unfrequent in England, and the panic which then seizes the people, leads them to do the strangest and most foolish things imaginable. In Ireland this is called “humbug,” a word which is as often met with in Ireland as the thing meant by it, for both are to be found in perfection in every corner of the island.

On my way to Cove I had observed on the shore a large building, which I was informed was a nunnery, and also a place of education for young ladies. Next day, provided with letters of introduction by some kind lady-patronesses at Cork, I visited this institution. It contains forty young ladies of the higher classes, who are here instructed in all the fine arts and sciences, and at the same time partake of the discipline of the cloister. The building is very spacious and elegant, and the teachers are nuns of the congregation of Paris. The principal of the institution, a lady of most polished manners, was so obliging as to conduct me over the entire building, and thus made me acquainted with an educational establishment which left nothing to be desired. I could scarcely have believed that Ireland, whose ancient renowned schools lie in ruins, now possessed such a seminary. Many Irish families send their daughters to France, to be educated in the convents there; and even in this institution the education was half French, the ladies preferring to converse in that language, and taking much pleasure in speaking of France. The French have also, on their side, an extreme partiality for the Irish, because they regard them as having been oppressed by their Germanic conquerors, as well on account of their Catholicism as of their Celtic origin. No French book appears respecting Ireland that does not laud O'Connell to the sky, that is not full of admiration for the Irish national character, and equally redolent of denunciations of the English and their tyranny, as well as of blindness to those benefits which, like roses among thorns, Ireland actually finds in her union with England.

As the Sclavonic and Germanic races are opposed to each other, so there is also a union of Celtic or Roman races,—(the two are and have ever been united)—the French, Italians, and Irish, against the Germanic races, the Germans, Dutch, and English. The Irish know this well, and are therefore much more friendly to the French than the English are. In general the Irish speak the French language with fluency, and have great politeness and affability of manner. The attention of France is always directed towards Ireland, with which she is constantly coquetting and intriguing,  p.182 because she considers it the weak side of England, her principal foe. But it is somewhat remarkable that long as England has turned this weak side towards her, France has never yet effected a successful landing on the island. In the history of the world, such sympathies, and intrigues, and speculations may exist very long, even for centuries, without producing any visible result.

There are more convents than monasteries in Ireland; but the number of both, especially of the latter, is extremely small. The city of Prague alone contains more of these religious establishments than are to be found in all Ireland—a fact which will, I think, excite the astonishment of my German readers. Knowing, as we do, how strongly the Irish are attached to the Catholic religion, and looking upon them as arch-Catholics, according to our modes of thinking, we in general picture to ourselves the whole land full of priests, nuns, monks, churches, and cloisters; and expect to find crucifixes, crosses, and images on all the roads; in a word, that Ireland has, in this respect, the same appearance as Bohemia and some parts of Austria. But how widely and remarkably different is the reality. The priests are seldom seen in the streets; and I never saw monks and nuns mixing with the people in the streets, as in Italian and Bohemian towns. No splendid churches have ever been built in the Irish cities—in the style, I mean, of those in Belgium, and also in some towns of France and Germany. No remarkable ecclesiastical buildings, like those ancient, picturesque, and venerable structures which stand in the streets of our Catholic towns in Germany, are to be found in Ireland. The cathedrals of Dublin and Armagh are the only ones of any celebrity; and the first of these, which I saw, presented so little that is deserving of notice, that I am inclined to mistrust the alleged beauty of the other.

In the Catholic countries of the Continent, the neighbourhoods of the churches are generally adorned with a multitude of little chapels; but these are either entirely wanting in Irish towns and villages, or are extremely few in number. Nowhere on the roads are there stone crosses, or statues of saints, before which travellers may kneel in prayer. The old churches, abbeys, and cloisters of the land, as well as the old stone crosses, lie in ruins, or are completely swept away.

If the Bohemians had a saint so famed and honoured as St. Patrick, they would have erected a thousand statues to his honour in all corners of the land, as they have done with their St. Nepomuck. In Ireland, on the other hand, there are scarcely two statues of St. Patrick. In short, the whole land seems as if  p.183 it were stripped of every blossom of Catholicism, and as if Protestantism had entirely done away with all those hated crosses and signs of image-worship. The Catholics of Ireland have not even the right to call their sacred edifices churches; they are designated only as “Catholic chapels,” just as the Protestants of Austria are compelled to have only their simple prayer-houses. Yet with all this absence of the outward signs of Catholicism, the Irish have inwardly remained the most zealous Catholics in the world, and are as deeply imbued as the natives of Bohemia, or those of any other Catholic country, with what we Protestants are wont to call Catholic superstition and bigotry.

In no country has Protestantism tyrannized over Catholicism so completely as in Ireland. Until lately, the Catholics were not permitted to have high steeples, or large bells in their churches; and at one time, say the people, “the Protestants forbade us Catholics to eat with a knife and fork, a spoon only being allowed us, and what we could not catch with that we had to eat with our fingers.” There was also the shameful law by which a younger son, who chose to leave the Catholic religion and turn Protestant, might claim the property of his elder brethren, who adhered to their ancient faith. In no other country have Protestants endeavoured to make proselytes by such laws as these; nor has any other nation, whilst preserving the outward form of the old Catholic church, retained also, as in Ireland, her tyrannical, exclusive, persecuting, heretic-branding, and proselytizing spirit. All those errors are much more natural and pardonable in the ancient mother church, than in its Protestant rival, which raised its banner in the name of freedom of conscience, and claimed a toleration in matters of faith which it was bound to grant to others in return. The Catholic church regards itself as the only true and universal church, to which all Christians shall and must belong; and tyranny and intolerance are, therefore, much more natural to it. But the exercise of similar tyranny by Protestantism, which protested against all tyranny in matters of religion, is just as disgraceful and unnatural as it would be to a liberal in politics.

The emancipation of the Irish Catholics has, indeed, greatly moderated and improved their condition. Not only are Catholics now admitted into Parliament, but every where throughout the country they enjoy a much greater equality—a result which cannot fail to be gratifying to every humane and right-minded Protestant. A Catholic, and a poor man, were formerly in Ireland almost synonymous terms. The Catholic, even if he did not belong to the lower orders, was ever obsequious and humble to the Protestant, who, on his part, was haughty and exclusive. Now, they  p.184 are every where in improved circumstances, and are beginning to respect themselves more; nay, it is worthy of remark, that here and there many of them (as is usually the case with all people freed from slavery) are already elated with their power, and affect to look down on the Protestants with pride and arrogance. Catholic, Papist, and Antichrist were also at one time synonymous names. Now, the Protestants have found themselves by degrees permitting the Catholics to live with them as Christians; and this appears to prepare the way for a still greater degree of toleration. The Emancipation Act is itself a proof of the increased tolerance of the present age; and many have lately discovered that the practice of this virtue is more conducive to their interests, as the Catholics have now more power in their hands, and occasionally make the Protestants feel that they possess it. The present Mayor of Cork is a Catholic, and a very liberal Protestant is appointed his successor.

In following up the complete emancipation of the Catholics, and the reforming of their situation, it is to be hoped that the position of their priests may speedily be altered, so as to do away with the contemptible practices which still prevail in their churches. I allude more especially to the collections which are made at the doors of Catholic churches for the benefit of the priesthood. The small income of the Irish priests has compelled them to collect a tribute from church-goers, for the service of God, such as is not raised in a similar manner in any other Catholic country. I witnessed these collections in several places, among others in Cork. The tribute was gathered at two entrances—at the principal gate where the poor went into the churth, and were obliged to pay a penny each; and at a side door, where the rich entered, and payed as much more as they pleased. At the latter was posted up, in large letters, “A SILVER COLLECTION IS EXPECTED;” that is to say, you are expected to pay at least sixpence. A priest attended in person to receive the money, and also, as I was told, to produce by his presence a still more effectual impression on the purses of the people. He returned thanks with a bow for every gift that was deposited on the plate. Before the principal door of the church, which was open, and on the steps leading to it, were crowded many poor people and beggars—too poor to pay the required tribute. They lay with folded hands and bended knees upon the stones, and listened for the far-off sounds that reached them from the interior of the church. “They are satisfied,” said my companion, “if they but hear the little bell of the assistant of the priest who officiates at the altar; when they have heard that little bell from within, and  p.185 bowed and crossed themselves, they think they have heard mass, and participated in the worship of God.”

I, and many others, who were accustomed to the matter, looked on this scene without perceiving in it any thing very disgraceful; but if we examine it narrowly, clearly, and sharply with the torch which Christ has placed in our hands, can we find language too strong in which to reprobate a state of things, which forces the priest to resort to such measures in order to support his existence? It is said that the incomes of the Catholic priests in Ireland are chiefly derived from these collections, which are censured by the Protestants still more than by the Catholic laity, although the former are not called on to pay any thing, but are in reality those by whom this scandal was originated, since it was by the Protestants that the Irish Catholic church was deprived of its ancient revenues. The utterly destitute Irish are thus entirely excluded from the worship of God, except what pertains to the tinkling sound of the mass-bell; and were the inmost recesses of their hearts less deeply imbued with religious feeling, the result would be most unfavourable to their spiritual welfare.

Those who deem the ancient Irish language as their mother tongue, are still worse provided for. In the great city of Cork—around which Irish is still much spoken—two preachers only deliver sermons in that language; and yet it is very natural that the people should wish to hear what they hold most sacred in the language they love the best. A short time since, as I was informed by the chaplain himself, the prisoners in the Cork county gaol petitioned him occasionally to preach his sermon in Irish instead of English.

The Roman Catholic bishop of Cork has one of the most interesting collections of books I have anywhere seen. This learned and industrious man has turned his whole house into a library: not only has he converted his sitting-rooms and dining-rooms into book-rooms, but even in his bed-rooms every available space is filled with books: his attendants, even his maid-servants, sleep in little libraries; the staircases are lined with books along the walls; and the corridors which lead from room to room have full bookcases at their sides; every where books are literally piled up, even to the garrets. This is the largest private library in Ireland, and contains many interesting and costly works. I mention this, because I believe it is not generally known that there are still such men among the Roman Catholic clergy, who regard and collect every thing relating to literature with such extraordinary zeal. The time once was, indeed, when Ireland was better known in Europe than many other lands, and when more light streamed  p.186 to us from the “Island of Saints,” (as Ireland was anciently designated,) than we have ever repaid. But this was long before the period when England thrust her dark shadow between this island and the Continent, and grasped it with hard, iron arms. Whilst the greatest part of Germany still lay buried in the darkness of heathenism, Ireland had long displayed the light of Christianity. Strangers flocked to her schools, and zealous apostles left Ireland in multitudes for the Continent, there to spread abroad Christian piety and revelation. The holy Columbanus, and his disciple St. Gallus, the apostle of the Alemanni, whose name St. Gallen in Switzerland still bears—St. Livin, who went to Belgium—St. Kilian, the apostle of the Franks—St. Wiro, the confessor of Pipin of Heristall—and countless other saints, were natives of Ireland, who spread abroad in Europe what they had learned at this “out-of-the-way place” in their distant fatherland, at the famed school of Lismore, and all played the most active parts in the earliest history of the conversion of many barbarous nations. “Gaude, felix Hibernia, de qua proles alma progreditur!” is inscribed on the tomb of that most illustrious Irishman, Cataldus, who died at Tarentum, in Italy.

But those times are now much changed. The island can no longer be styled, even by a poet, “Felix Hibernia!” All the productions of Irish poets are somewhat melancholy; and Haydn, when an Irish melody was played before him, without his knowing from what country it came, said that such music must belong to an unhappy and enslaved people. The great and promising spirits which frequently arise in the island are speedily absorbed by England in the various services of the state. For study and literature, the Irish Catholics mostly resort to the Continent; but they have lately obtained a Roman Catholic seminary at Maynooth, in their fatherland. The worthy prelate of Cork informed me that he had received his education in France, which country is generally preferred by the Irish clergy for acquiring the knowledge requisite for their vocation; and in my wanderings through Ireland I twice met with poor old men who expressed a strong wish to save enough to enable them to send thither their sons, (who had devoted themselves to the priesthood,) when they reached the proper age.

In no country that I have visited is mourning so general as in the United Kingdom, and no where have I seen so many black craped, mourning gentlemen as in Cork. Mourning is not only usual in very many cases where it would not be thought of in Germany, but is also of longer duration. For near relations it continues an entire year; even for very distant relations, or  p.187 intimate acquaintances, black clothes are worn; and there are cases where people assume the garb of woe merely because it is worn by their friends, and although the deceased is utterly unknown to them. In England, during the period allotted to mourning, nothing coloured must be seen about the person. Every thing, even to the purse, must be black. They have mourning rings, brooches, and ear-rings; black-bordered mourning letter paper, sealed with black wax or wafers. This black border on the paper is at first very broad, but becomes gradually narrower, and at length it entirely disappears, along with the black sealing-wax. There is also a difference, in Ireland at least, between the mourning for married and unmarried persons. In attending the funeral of an unmarried maiden, black crape tied with white ribbons is worn by the gentlemen. At the death of the head of a wealthy family, not only are all the servants, but the inhabitants of every cottage within the bounds of the park, clad in deep mourning for a year, so that a true mantle of sorrow seems to overhang the entire place. Nor is this mourning confined to dress alone: during its continuance the mourners take no share in any kind of amusement, and people carefully avoid intruding on their grief with visits. Having once expressed a wish to visit an individual, a friend said to me, “I think it would be better not to do so. F—— lost his youngest son a year ago, and we should only disturb his sorrow.” Moreover, those who have been at a funeral in the morning, do not lay aside the crape for the remainder of the day; and the number of persons who attend funerals, especially in Ireland, is very great. “When they plume a hearse,” (as it is expressed in Ireland when a corpse is to be buried) all, far and near, even the most distant friends, are invited to the funeral, and the train of carriages which follow the bier seems almost endless, especially as many individuals, friends as well as strangers, are continually joining it on the road. Even when travelling in a carriage, should a funeral be met or overtaken, the travellers permit their coachman to drive after it for some distance. All this makes the pomp of funerals in Ireland every where very great.

I have before remarked, that the Irish Catholics are now more powerful and wealthy, and the Protestants more liberal. This is undoubtedly true, inasmuch as the liberal and tolerant Protestant party was never so great as now; and never, since the times of Cromwell and William III., were the Catholics in so prosperous a state as at present. I had, however, frequent occasion to remark that they still sometimes stand in their old relative positions. I was once recommended not to take off my hat so often, as that was only done by the poor Catholics; and in Cork I lodged at an  p.188 hotel, the landlord of which was a Protestant and a Tory, and received Protestants only as his guests. Another hotel in the city was, in like manner, exclusively frequented by Whigs and Catholics. In many other towns of Ireland these exclusively Protestant or Catholic hotels are to be found; and I have been told that there are even public conveyances in which Protestants chiefly travel, and others regularly preferred by the Catholics.

Whilst recognising the beneficial influence of the temperance movement on the passions and violence of the people, we must not at the same time imagine that every thing is already accomplished. This will be clearly exemplified by the relation of a remarkable deed of violence, which was perpetrated in true Irish style, a very short time before my arrival in Cork. A trader, already engaged in business, had entered into partnership with another individual; but finding that they could not agree, a separation was decided upon. Each party was anxious to buy the other out, and retain possession of the shop. As, however, no satisfactory agreement could be made on the subject, (and the arrangement of such matters by process of law is very tedious in Ireland,) one of them collected a party of his friends, who, armed with shillelaghs, (the terrible Irish cudgel,) attacked and stormed his opponent in his shop. The latter was not altogether unprepared, and stoutly defended himself; but the attacking party was too powerful, and the shop fell into their possession. Only ONE man was killed in this affair! But such is the mode by which people in Ireland sometimes obtain possession, even at the present day.

18. From Cork to Kilkenny

Irish curiosity—An opinion on Temperance—Forfeited Titles—Lismore, Fermoy, and Cahir—The Ruins of Cashel—Tipperary Hanging-men and their Shillelaghs—Specimen of a Tipperary man—Mills—Clonmel—“Since Temperance”—“Ha'penny! Ha'penny!”—Flaxen and Black Hair—Little Groups of Mountains—The Fire-worshippers—The Rocks of the Sun

Having received the congratulations of my host and my friends upon the “delightful day,” which day, however, I only considered as one not absolutely very bad, I left Cork for Kilkenny, where I was informed a great horse-race was to take place. Not only in Cork, but all over Ireland, have I been perpetually congratulated on the “delightful weather” that fell to my lot, even when I was drenched  p.189 with rain, or shivering from fog and cold. As I was seating myself on the Bianconi car, I found it necessary, in order to gratify at once the curiosity of my two neighbours, thus to address them:—“Gentlemen, allow me to inform you before we set off, that I come from Germany, where the people, as you all know, eat nothing but sour-kraut and black bread; that I am a native of B., and am travelling in Ireland without any other object in view than to become acquainted with this country, and to see every thing that is interesting and remarkable in it.” My fellow-travellers having expressed their satisfaction with this information, I took my seat, and the car moved on.

If in England the police are not constantly prying into the circumstances and character of every stranger, the benefits to be derived from such a system of espionage are amply supplied by private individuals; and I would recommend every one who would avoid the torture of a curious and circumstantial inquisition, to follow my example; or, what is perhaps still better, to write the whole on a small piece of paper, and attach it to his hat; as, when the first curiosity of his fellow-travellers is fully satisfied, he may shake hands with them, and find them, as I did in the present instance, agreeable and well-informed companions.

One of my neighbours was an extensive whisky distiller, and he related to me the following remarkable facts in connexion with the temperance cause, by the success of which he had been a heavy loser. Formerly he kept ninety men at work, but could now only give employment to fifty. Notwithstanding the serious diminution thus produced in his income, he highly praised the temperance reform, and this, as he candidly admitted, for a selfish reason. Whilst he employed ninety men, they were so intemperate and unruly as to occasion him infinite anxiety and annoyance. But the fifty men he now employed were teetotallers, and could do more work than the previous ninety; so that he was now enabled to extend his speculations to other fields, and to manufacture whisky for exportation to foreign markets, and in this manner retrieve, in some measure, his previous loss. When those who from interested motives must naturally be the opponents of temperance are thus enabled to extract from it so much that is beneficial, is it strange that its friends should extol it to the skies?

The country between Cork and Kilkenny has many beautiful and interesting points; it may even be said, that the most attractive part of Ireland commences at Cork, and continues from thence in a north-westerly direction. The entire coast district from Cork to Dublin is unsurpassed in Ireland for beautiful landscapes, prettily situated towns, delightful river scenery, fine bays and harbours,  p.190 and picturesque sea-coasts. First, the road skirts the beautiful bay of Cove, then turns landward through a delightful wooded valley, then comes in contact with the Blackwater, which river we meet at Fermoy, and which, down to its embouchure, is in the highest degree picturesque, and rich in “fine scenery.” There were formerly Lords of Fermoy, but this is now one of the numerous Irish “forfeited titles.” The last man who, from his descent, could lay claim to the title of Lord Fermoy, died some years since—a groom! The town of Fermoy is very prettily situated on the Blackwater, and, like most Irish towns, has large barracks, filled with soldiers. Down the river, not far from Fermoy, lies the village of Lismore, famed for its ancient Christian seminary, which flourished here in the seventh and eighth centuries. In its neighbourhood the Trappists are now settled, and are very little calculated to revive the ancient fame of Lismore.

The last town in the county of Cork is Mitchelstown, and the traveller whose time will not permit him to stop here, as was my case, should sit on the south side of the car, and thus escape the mortification of seeing in the distance the entrance to the far-famed Mitchelstown caverns, which he must otherwise pass in vexation and silence, and forget. The next river is the Suir; and from thence the road passes through a flat country lying between the Galtee and the Knockmeledown mountains, which are both about 3000 feet high. The most elevated points of each of these mountain chains are only about nine miles asunder, so that the smallest details of their structure are visible on both sides of the plain.

Cahir lies on the banks of the Suir. The lofty steeple of its Catholic church is visible from a distance, rising proudly near the little steeple of its Protestant rival. Although formerly such a thing was unheard of, the steeples of Catholic churches in Ireland are now frequently more stately than those of “the Establishment.” The mania for building churches is now as great among the Irish Catholics, as it ever has been among the English Protestants; and in both countries people vie with each other in this respect, in a manner I have never seen equalled, except in Russia. Cahir is delightfully situated on the river Suir; and as the inhabitants of Fermoy direct attention to the ancient and renowned Lismore, so those of Cahir revert to the equally ancient and (on account of its ruins) renowned Cashel. The ruin-covered rock of Cashel, which we saw in the distance, is one of the most sacred places in Ireland. The ruins of churches, of different periods, adorn the rock; and a high pillar-tower, in good preservation, marks its summit. The ruins of Cashel are said to be the most  p.191 picturesque in the island; and Walter Scott, who saw them, has declared, that the rock of Cashel was the most beautiful thing of its kind he had ever seen.

The present Lord Glengall is the individual on whom, after God and the sun, after turf and potatoes, depends the welfare of the people in the neighbourhood of Cahir. In the suburbs stands his castle, in which he resides, pursuant to a promise made by him some years since. In all these castles and great families, the question is invariably “residence” or “non-residence;” with the people it is a question of existence or non-existence. If the landlord resides on his property, the people are contented; they have less annoyance, and greater advantages. Should the landlord, on the other hand, be an absentee, the tenants are more hardly used, they are harassed with executions for non-payment of rent, and the money is drained from the country, without any equivalent being received in exchange.

Leaving Cahir, we reached the far-famed county of Tipperary, in which more men are beaten and killed in one year than in the whole kingdom of Saxony in five years. Not only in their own county, and in their own neighbourhood, do these revengeful Tipperarymen perpetrate their evil deeds, but they pursue to his retreat in a distant part of the land, and accomplish the destruction of, every individual against whom they have sworn revenge. I could cite many well-known facts in illustration of this assertion; and tales of murder are even related, in which those who wished to slaughter their victims, sought and found in Tipperary an instrument willing and ready to carry out their intentions, and to become a murderer by profession. “Tipperary hanging-men” is, in consequence, a proverb in Ireland; and I have sometimes heard the coachman apply this epithet to his horses when they were restive.

As the Italians have their dagger, so the Irish, and especially the Tipperarymen, have their “shillelaghs,” the hard clubs I have already mentioned, with which they perpetrate most of their crimes. Shillelagh is a small place in the county of Wicklow, in the neighbourhood of which many of those clubs are cut, and from thence their name is derived. These clubs look much more harmless than one would expect from their far-spread evil repute; and the long thick staves, tipped with iron, which are carried by the inhabitants of our Alps, have a much more dangerous appearance. But it is the use to which it is applied that has rendered the shillelaghs so terrible.

In Cahir I met a Tipperaryman in the street: he was walking by his little ass, which was tackled to a turf-car; his clothes, which  p.192 hung in tatters on his body, seemed as if their owner, so long as he had worn them, had never been out of faction-fights and cudgellings, as most of the patches hung by a single thread; his entire frame was meagre, and although I could not count his rag-covered ribs, yet the entire bony structure of his face was plainly visible under the thin skin drawn over it. I expected to find, under this miserable outward appearance, any thing sooner than the readily ignited tinder, the powder ready for an explosion, which I discovered when I approached the man. Accosting him in a friendly manner, I bade him good day, and inquired where he was going?—“What! what!”—“Where are you going, I ask you?”—“What! what! where I'm going?”—“Yes.”—“What the devil is it to you, where I'm going!”—“Well, don't be angry; I have no particular motive in my inquiry. I am travelling from here to Clonmel, and merely ask the question to ascertain if you were proceeding in the same direction.” He stopped his ass, looked me full in the face, and stood as if rooted to the ground, with his shillelagh in his fist. “Go, in the devil's name, wherever you like. What do I care? But why do you ask me where I am going? What is it to you, tell me—what is it to you, where I am going? Where I am going? Where I am going? Such a question's enough to drive a man mad! Do you think I'm a robber? Eh!” Although I had not changed the perfectly quiet and peaceable demeanour I had from the first displayed, he assumed a threatening attitude, and shouted so loud, and repeated my question so often with furious gesticulations, “Where am I going? Where am I going?” that my fellow-travellers were attracted by the noise, and, joining me, inquired what I had done to the man. I explained by what an unfortunate question I had aroused his ire; and as we left him, it was evident that the Tipperaryman with difficulty restrained himself from following me, and bringing me to a further account for my dangerous question. His hair bristled as he stood fixed in astonishment, and every rag on his body trembled with rage. Shakspere must have had similar quarrelsome and fault-finding fellows in view when he wrote the celebrated scene in Romeo and Juliet, where one fixes a mortal quarrel on the other, because he bites his thumb and says he has a very good master.

“Do not, on that account, judge and condemn those Tipperarymen so quickly, sir!” began one of my fellow-travellers, as we again seated ourselves on the car. “There are certainly exceedingly ill-tempered persons among them, and they in many respects deserve the bad character they bear in Ireland; but I have known this county for many, many years—I may say I know every corner of  p.193 it; and I have travelled here by day and by night, and yet no harm has ever befallen me. The people are in general extremely hospitable, and inclined to assist a stranger, provided he does not offend against any of their customs. Nothing but the unfortunate relation in which they stand towards their landlords makes them criminal; indeed all their crimes may truly be said to spring from this source. I did not hear how you framed your question to that man, but had you begun it with “God greet you!” or “God speed ou on your way!” and then by degrees touched on the object of his journey, you would certainly have suffered no inconvenience. In your country it is perhaps customary, and, as you say, even a mark of politeness, to ask those you meet whither they are going; but here, as you have seen, one must be somewhat cautious in those matters.”

In Fermoy, Cahir, and many other villages in the south of Ireland, are to be seen a great number of mills, by which the corn is ground into flour for the Cork market. In some places these mills are as numerous as the cotton-factories in many English towns.

Clonmel is the largest town in Tipperary, and contains upwards of 16,000 inhabitants; and to judge from its outward appearance, and the bustle in the streets, it is, as we say in Germany, “ein nahrhafter Ort,” or, as the English express it, “a very respectable-looking and thriving town.” I here visited the establishment of Mr. Bianconi, whom I have before mentioned as the most extensive proprietor of public carriages in Ireland; but had not the pleasure of meeting with that spirited and useful individual, who was then in Italy with his family, revisiting his birth-place. All the cars and harness which are required for his extensive business are manufactured in Clonmel, and he gives employment to upwards of a hundred of the inhabitants.

“Since temperance,” it is said, the unruly people of Tipperary have become more quiet and orderly; and although their unfortunate political condition has a tendency to keep them perpetually in a rebellious mood, yet riots and outbreaks, arising from party hatred and revenge, are much less frequent. But so many changes in Ireland are now dated “since temperance,” that if it only continues fifty years longer, this reform will surely mark the commencement of a new era.

As is commonly the case in Ireland, several old beggar-women surrounded our car in Clonmel. One of them, to whom I gave a penny, spat on it before putting it into her pocket. At first I thought she was displeased that I had given her so little; but I afterwards remarked that the practice was customary with beggars in Ireland (as well as in England), and that they spit on the coin  p.194 “for good luck,” as they say. It is probable that at the same time they mentally repeat some little blessing, from which they hope the money will bring them better fortune. Most of the women were too old and wretched to be able to follow us; but a crowd of little flaxen-haired children ran nimbly enough after the car, as it rolled on, crowded with passengers. The word “ha'penny” is so natural to them, that it seems scarcely to require the effort of speaking to express it: “ha'penny” drops from their mouths with every breath. They give themselves no concern about what one says to them, but continually scream “ha'penny! ha'penny!” till they see a copper coin fall in the dust, when the entire troop throw themselves upon it, and continue scrambling until one has secured the prize. Along the whole road from Limerick to Cork, and from Cork to Kilkenny, our cars were almost constantly surrounded by such gangs of children; and when one party relinquished the chase from sheer exhaustion, its place was instantly supplied by others, who rushed in from both sides of the moor. Bianconi's cars are so constructed as to be of great advantage to these beggars, for the passengers are placed in such a manner as to have them constantly before their eyes, and very close to them. Eight persons being seated close together on each side, many a one gives a penny to set a good example, or to follow the example already set by the others. An alteration in the form of these carriages would, therefore, should it ever take place, sensibly affect the poor mendicants of Ireland.

I have mentioned the flaxen-haired children; but there are some parts of Ireland, the west for example, where all are black-haired. Ireland appears to present a remarkable anomaly with respect to the colour of eyes; for while, in other lands, blue eyes are generally found with light hair, and brown eyes with dark hair, here blue eyes are common every where, almost without exception, and an eye blue as the Forget-me-not (vergissmeinnichtblauste Auge), gleams even under the most raven black hair.

In the south of Ireland there are a great many little groups of hills, of limited extent, the geological connexion of which with one another may certainly be traced by scientific research, but which to the casual observer appear wholly unconnected, and form no long chains, like our German mountains. Such groups are those we passed to-day, as well as some I had noticed on the road to the Shannon; the Slievh Grine, near Youghal, and the Comeragh mountains, near Clonmel, are also of a similar character. All those may be considered as little groups of mountains, which have their highest elevation in the middle, and descend on all sides in several lesser heights, which are all separated from one another,  p.195 not by valleys, but by perfectly level plains. This remarkable formation of the earth's surface gives to the Irish landscape its distinctive character.

Beyond Clonmel we passed another of these groups, called Slievhnaman. The most striking feature of these mountains is, that up to the top they appear like grassy hills, whilst on each summit are to be seen rocks which appeared to have been dashed to pieces, and then thrown together in a heap of small fragments. Almost every summit was crowned, as it were, with a heap of broken rocks, such as I have described, and it was often difficult to believe that they had not been thus piled up by art. In fact, the people in the neighbourhood believe that the ancient fire-worshippers gathered these stones, and assert that their altars were placed on those heights. But although this supposition is in the highest degree improbable, the latter portion of the assertion may be based on truth; for it is well known that the Celtic and Druidical Irish had altars on the summits of mountains, that they held many hill-tops sacred, and that on some of them their kings were crowned. Not far from Cork, in the neighbourhood of Cloyne, and near the mouth of Cove-bay, is a rock called Carrig-coith, “the Rock of the Sun,” on which the Druids offered sacrifice; and many of those summits to which I have alluded may have been similar rock-altars of the Sun, built by nature.

19. Kilkenny and the Races

Evening before the Races—Ballad-singers and Musicians—Riding a Race—Requisites for a Race-course—Its Buildings—The Grand Stand—The Weighing-house—The Rubbing-house—The Saddling-house—The Betting-house—Wagers—The Stewards—The Jockeys—The Race-horses—The Spectators—The Glorious Bustle of the Course—“They are off!”—“It's Charley's Race!”—“It's Nimrod's Race!”—Effect of the Race on the Spectators—Figures of the Horses and Riders—Steeple-chase—The Winning Post—The Victor—A Hurdle-race—A Farmer's Race—Sympathy of the Ladies—Tents and Dancers—Bards and Travelling Theatres—Influence of the Races on the Sick—The Ruins of Kilkenny—Monuments in the Cathedral—The Earls of Ormond—The Picture Gallery of the Castle

We arrived at Kilkenny in the evening, and after having dined, I had a sight of life in an Irish town, on the eve of a great horserace. Kilkenny has now about 25,000 inhabitants, and is, with  p.196 respect to size, about the eighth town in Ireland; but as half the population of the surrounding country had streamed in on account of the races, the number was increased to about 40,000 during the three days they lasted. This great crowd of people wandered about I know not why,—standing, sauntering, singing, and performing music in the streets; so that the place seemed like a great mercantile town in Germany during the annual fair.

On these and similar occasions of popular excitement in Ireland, the most remarkable objects are the ballad-singers, who are in no country so numerous as here. In Kilkenny there were literally twice as many ballad-singers as lamp-posts standing in the street. Their usual stand is in the gutter which separates the footpath on which the foot-passengers walk from the carriage-way; and in this kennel they are perpetually strolling up and down. They are generally provided with a number of printed copies of the ballads which they sing, and their principal employment consists in the sale of these songs, which they are continually waving in the air, with a peculiar and stereotyped motion of the hand. Ballad-singers are also to be found in the streets of other countries, and here and there some one listens, and a rich passer-by gives them a trifle; but in Ireland the ballad-singers have not such an easy life: crowds of poor people, beggars and rabble, perseveringly swarm around them, follow them step by step, and listen to them with a degree of eagerness, which may partly be attributed to the fact that the singers proclaim their own misfortunes, which they have turned into verse, but still more to the great delight which the Irish take in music and singing, and in every thing new that passes in the streets.

In every corner of the great main street, which otherwise presented nothing very remarkable—(for Kilkenny is not what is termed a “thriving town,” but has rather an air of antiquity, and is one, perhaps the largest, of the inland towns before mentioned)—bagpipes were snuffling, violins squeaking, melancholy flutes blowing, and ragged Paddies dancing; in a word, with the universal revelry was mingled a mass of misfortune, misery, and mourning, such as in any other country can very seldom be seen united.

The horse-race was fixed for the following day, and as the hippodrome, or race-course, as the English term it, was three miles distant from the town, the racing actually commenced at the outskirts and in the streets; that is to say, among the coaches, fiacres, omnibuses, one and two-horsed, long and short-seated cars, the elegant equipages of the gentry, and the carts of the peasantry, uncovered, or covered with tents, in which many thousands of people were setting out to enjoy the “excitement of riding a race.”


Accompanied by one of my fellow-travellers, I took an outside place on a stage-coach which we had hired for the day, that we might command a better view of the spectacle before us. Stage-coaches are decidedly preferable on these occasions, because they are usually stationed nearer the course than the stands erected for spectators, and whilst one sits on them high enough to see every thing, he may also venture to leave his place without danger of losing it. After rolling through the thick cloud of dust which was raised on the road, the broad, level field which constituted the race-course of Kilkenny lay before our eyes. It is naturally an important, and frequently a difficult matter to find, in the neighbourhood of an English town, a spot which affords all the requisites for a race-course: the ground must be dry, elastic, level, and sufficiently extensive; and besides being level, it must also present that variety of surface which adapts it for all kinds of races. In the United Kingdom there are not less than 120 race-courses. One of the most perfect in every respect, and at the same time one of the most celebrated courses in Europe, is the Curragh of Kildare, which is said to owe its extraordinary elasticity, so much admired by racing men, to the worms which are continually piercing its surface. In this famed racing-ground are eighteen different courses, which all differ from one another, on account of the varieties of hill, valley, plain, sloping surface, &c., and therefore enable the entre-preneurs of the races (the match-makers) to select according to their taste, the capabilities of their horses, or the nature of the race.

We took our station in the midst of a prodigious throng of spectators and carriages, at a point between the so-called “Stand” and the “Weighing-house,” which afforded a convenient view of the entire scene. The stand, also called the “Grand Stand,” is a large house, usually close to the course, which is fitted up with convenient galleries for spectators. At some of the great corsos, as, for example, at Doncaster, Epsom, and Ascot-heath, this stand is a large ornamental building; and in some places a hill or a rock is tilted for the same purpose, like an amphitheatre, or the natural advantages of the situation are made available in some other way. The weighing-house is a small building adjoining the course, and opposite the grand stand, where the jockeys are weighed; its upper part also serves as a stand for the stewards of the race. Near the weighing-house is always placed the winning-post, at which the result of the race is determined. The various starting-posts, whence the horses start, are fixed at different points, according to the distance to be run. The “Rubbing-house,” which at the same time usually serves as the “Saddling-house,” is  p.198 another small building near the course, where the horses are rubbed down after the race. At some race-courses there is also a “Betting-house,” or sort of exchange, where the turf speculators meet on certain days to make their bets, and where afterwards the payments are adjusted. The most celebrated betting-place of this description is at Newmarket, “the racing metropolis,” as it is termed by the English.

Some individuals are so fortunate in betting at races, as thereby to have laid the foundations of extraordinary fortunes. Others are enabled to speculate pretty safely, and to arrive at a tolerably correct result, by skilfully combining a perfect knowledge of the nature of the course and of the horses, with the state of the weather, and other accidental circumstances; as, for instance, one horse will run against a contrary wind much better than another. The celebrated Mr. Crockford, formerly a petty trader, has amassed a fortune, almost entirely from betting, that must excite astonishment: his capital is reported to amount to £300,000; and he is the proprietor of several remarkably handsome houses in James's-street, besides a beautiful country residence near London.

In all races, the “business of the turf” is regulated by the stewards, who are generally selected from the nobility or gentry of the surrounding country. Their proceedings are under the superintendence of a “clerk of the course,” whose duty includes the preparations for the races, and their subsequent management; and the stewards also direct and regulate the balls, dinners, and other festivities of the race week. One of the stewards of the Kilkenny races, on the present occasion, was the well-known Marquis of Waterford, who possesses a yearly income of £70,000, and was “the observed of all observers.”

The most active, and, in some respects, the most important personages in the whole concern, are the jockeys, many of whom, from personal advantages and their superior horsemanship, frequently acquire as much fame as the horses they ride. Great strength of body united with a small figure, personal intrepidity and courage, a strong and enduring constitution, and an unblemished character, are the principal characteristics of a jockey. The last is most essential; for when we consider the immense sums frequently staked on a race, the loss or gain of which may depend on a stroke of his whip, or a gentle pull at his rein, it may readily be supposed that attempts to bribe the jockey, and induce him to play the knave, are by no means rare. He has also not only to work hard, but during his preparation for the race he must observe the abstinence of an Arab, and at meals act merely the part of a spectator,—and all this in order that, at the races, he may risk his  p.198 neck for a few guineas. A well-known jockey, named Pratt, once rode no less than eighty-eight miles, in one day in this state of abstinence. Such distinguished jockeys, when they win a race, are usually rewarded with extra presents to a large amount, by which means they frequently amass considerable wealth. But the equestrian mania is not confined to this class of men: gentlemen not only often ride their own horses in a race, but even perform the same service for others. Sir Tatton Sykes is named as one of those distinguished gentlemen-jockeys.

The privations which the regular jockeys undergo for some weeks previous to a race, are intended to reduce their weight and strengthen their wind, for which purpose they eat little, and no food of a very nutritious character—fish, bread, and tea being their principal articles of diet; half the day they lie in bed, and the other half they ramble about, or take long walks, loaded with clothes, in order to perspire freely. Thus they fast and sweat as if for a wager; and if the desired effect is not produced quickly enough by these means, Glauber salts, and other purgatives, are freely used. It may be supposed that the breeding and training of the horses themselves is proceeded with in a still more artistic and scientific manner; and, in fact, to such a degree of perfection are these matters brought in England, that one must read the books written on the subject to learn how carefully and perfectly every point is considered and illustrated.

The entire field was covered with thousands of spectators; the grand stand was crowded from top to bottom, as well as two other temporary buildings, erected for the occasion; but the greater number had placed themselves in their equipages, which, like a crowded city of carriages, were drawn up at the edge of the course,—first an endless file of carts, in which every place was hired, and behind these the stage-coaches and the carriages of the gentry. On the other parts of the ground, and on every little height and hillock, groups were collected to behold the spectacle; whilst hundreds of horsemen, and crowds of gigs and tilburies, galloped or drove about in the space between, now here now there, where any thing excited their curiosity. About noon, the gallant steeds were brought out, and “the glorious bustle of the course” commenced. All eyes were turned upon them: their appearance, gait, and condition were strictly scrutinized, and bets and speculations grounded thereon. As the old well-known horses appeared, the history of their career was called to mind, anecdotes were related of them, and the circumstances under which they gained the victory on former occasions; whilst the victor of the day is generally named in anticipation by the connoisseurs. A remarkable  p.200 share of attention is usually devoted to the younger horses which come forward for the first time, and adventurous speculators, or those who know their spirit and breeding, frequently back them in preference to the old ones, and confidently predict their success.

The race-horses, covered with their clothing, were first led up and down in the midst of a crowd of admirers and amateurs until the bell sounded to saddle, when the jockeys, having cast off their outer garments, came forward in their light, close-fitting costume, bearing the colours of their respective employers. The saddles, which are made extremely light, sometimes weighing only two or three pounds, the jockeys, the bridles,—in short, every thing the horses are to carry, are then weighed, and the differences equalized. For this purpose hollow tubes filled with shot are generally used; and these tubes are either attached to the saddle, placed in the boots of the jockey, or bound round his body in a long leathern bag like a girdle. Great care is taken to fasten these tubes securely, as every thing is again weighed in a similar manner after the race; and should the jockey then be found to have lost any of his weight, his labour is all in vain, and even should he be first, he cannot be proclaimed the winner.

The bell rung a second time, and the jockeys assembled at the starting-post. This scene was concealed from our view, for the starting-post was some little distance from our station, and the throng of horsemen and carriages that surrounded it, prevented our seeing any thing distinctly. We did not even hear the trumpet that gave the signal for the commencement of the race. “They are off, they are off!” suddenly resounded from rank to rank in our neighbourhood: all necks were instantly outstretched; all eyes, spectacles, and glasses were turned on the course. Yet there was still a delay of some moments, until the cloud of horsemen who surrounded the starting-post had dispersed; and then the six racers, with their many-coloured jockeys, came on with long strides, and rushed past us like so many flashes of lightning. A universal movement took place among the spectators, a universal cry of “beautiful! splendid! beautiful!” Those who had favourites among the horses encouraged the riders with appropriate exclamations. “That's right! Nimrod! bravo! go on! go on!”—“No! no! Charley take care!”—“That's right! spare your strength at first, and you'll pass him!”—“See! see! he is closing with him! he has passed him already!”—“O ho! it is Charley's race!”—“No! no! it is Nimrod's race!” “It is Nimrod's race” implies that the horse so called is the winner of the race.

But, on the whole, the spectacle of an English horse-race offers little that is pleasing to the eye of the painter; the gratification,  p.201 so to speak, is more internal than external, and the appearance of the racers, as they rush suddenly past, is any thing but picturesque. The attitudes of the jockeys, sitting, kneeling, or apparently crippled together on their horses, are such as a painter, in a handsome picture of a rider, would studiously avoid. In the long-legged English race-horse, however, there are many hidden beauties, highly prized by the connoisseur, which the uninitiated either know not how to value, or deem positive defects. For picturesque effect, the waving line ought to predominate; but in these horses, every thing is a long line—the neck extended and stretched out, and the legs like stilts.

The Roman desultores, in their races, amused the people with varied feats of horsemanship, sometimes stretching themselves on the backs of their horses, or springing off and on in the greatest heat of the race. But no amusing by-play of this description is to be seen in an English race: the sole, exclusive aim of the riders is to pass one another. The entire pleasure of the spectators is, as I have said, of an internal character, and is derived from various sources, such as the great preparations, the excellence of the horses, the high prize which falls to the winner's lot, the large sums staked on the game, the multitude of spectators, with their whole attention directed to the single point, which horse's nose shall first reach the winning-post. This point, and every thing connected with its determination, constitutes the excitement which every one feels at the races in England.

The first race at Kilkenny was what is termed “a steeple-chase.” This kind of race is of Irish origin, and has from thence extended all over the United Kingdom. Like all Irish sports, and Irish hunting, it has something especially wild in its character. It is said to have derived its name from a steeple, or some high object in the distance, being fixed upon as the point towards which the “high-mettled sons of Erin” ran their course, rushing straight forward, headlong over stock and stone, hedge, ditch, wall, hill, and valley, until the appointed goal is reached. A steeple-chase, therefore, properly speaking, ought not to be run on a race-course: but as it is now frequently practised at these places, or somewhere in their vicinity, a steeple is no longer deemed a requisite ingredient in the sport. The direction of the course is pointed out by a double row of flags, between which the riders must keep, and between which they must not avoid any obstacle that presents itself. As only the strongest horses and the best riders are adapted for the steeple-chase, there is a marked distinction between “field-riding” and “turf-riding.” The former is, of course, attended with most danger; and as some of the best riders and  p.202 horses have lately met with severe accidents, this description of sport is said to be somewhat on the decline.

Throughout the entire field the course of the bounding steeds was followed by all eyes; and although the circle they described extended upwards of three miles, there was always some individual, who, whilst watching the motions of one particular horse with marked attention, could also tell with astronomical exactness the exact position of every animal. The most interesting moment of the entire race is, of course, that which immediately precedes the arrival at the goal. Now were all hopes and expectations strained to the highest pitch, and the greatest efforts were made by all. The horses seemed to stretch their long legs over a still larger space, the riders twisted themselves like worms, and increased their exertions, and the spectators sharpened their eyes to the utmost to discover the horse which should first step beyond the destined point, and occasion the winning or losing of so many thousands. A few minutes before all had displayed the highest spirits, and it appeared as if every one felt perfectly sure in his saddle, and certain of winning; but now some appeared completely crest-fallen, and others in a state of the greatest excitement. At last the horses approached the winning-post. Some had already given up the contest and remained far behind, but one or two still struggled on; they were pretty well matched in strength and elastic energy. The contest was for a moment doubtful: now one, now another, appeared to have the advantage; the cheers of the partisans of the various horses swelled almost into an involuntary and vehement shout; suddenly one of the animals strained his strength one degree more, sprang forward, and first passed the post, closely followed by the others; and the whole rushed far beyond the appointed spot before the jockeys were able to check their impetuous career.

One of the jockeys had fallen in the last struggle, a little before reaching the winning-post. “He is killed!” was the first exclamation from the ranks of spectators. “He is killed! he has broken his neck! Poor man!” But we had no time to think more of him: the strain of excitement at the closing moment is too great to permit the attention to be diverted, even on account of a dying man; and our eager eyes flew on with the eager runners. Accidents of a fatal nature are not uncommon at English races, more especially in a steeple-chase. After the race, we inquired for the poor jockey, who had remained lying on the course. “He has broken his neck, I believe,” said one. “No! he is safe,” said another; “he has only broken two of his ribs!”

Neither Charley nor Nimrod, upon whom so much had been  p.203 staked, was the winner, but Mr. Almore's Lucifer, a young animal, which no one had thought of, and which now trod the turf for the first time. As the jockeys slowly returned with their trembling and panting horses, the people surrounded the winner, surveyed him from head to foot, patted and caressed him in a hundred different ways, and accompanied him in triumph to the weighing-house, where every thing was found correct.

The second race was what is termed a “hurdle race.” The English word “hurdle” signifies wattled work, and the term includes the fascines used by the soldier, as well as the pens of the peaceful shepherd. A hurdle race is therefore a race in which various obstacles, generally hurdles, are placed across the course. It is said that George IV., when Prince of Wales, accompanied by Mrs. Fitzherbert and the officers of the 10th dragoons, of which regiment he was colonel, was one day out upon a hunting excursion on the downs near Brighton; but, being unable to find suitable game, his Royal Highness, who loved excitement, proposed “jumping matches” over the hurdles which the shepherds had erected on the downs for their sheepfolds. The company derived so much pleasure from this amusement, that hurdle races have ever since been enrolled in the catalogue of English sports. The specimen of this race which I saw at Kilkenny proved a failure. One jockey fell from his horse; another did not keep the right line of the course, and was consequently obliged to withdraw; and at last it was announced that “Mr. Soloway's Countess walked over the course.” Having no other competitors, she had no occasion to waste her strength with running, and therefore walked slowly to the goal. Many people cried “humbug,” and alleged that some deception had been practised; but the true cause of this unpleasant termination I did not discover.

Last came the farmers' horses, most of which were ridden by their owners; and this race afforded me the greatest pleasure. About fifteen started, and the spectacle was enlivened by the great variety of colours. This description of racing is the only branch of the sport in which I could perceive any utility, since it evidently tends to improve the breed of horses. But as regards the great and renowned racers, they are useless either for the purposes of agriculture or of war, or indeed any thing except betting, which sacrifices the money, time, and peace of mind, of countless thousands, and is of no service to the state.

It is extraordinary that this love of racing, according to the English fashion, should have been so generally diffused over the whole Continent during the last ten years; and, like other English customs, find so many imitators in various countries. But scenes  p.204 like some of those I witnessed from the high “outside place” of our stage-coach on the race-course at Kilkenny, it would still be difficult to meet with in other lands. For instance, looking down on an elegant carriage that had drawn up near us, I beheld, seated on the soft cushions of its interior, a young and handsome lady, the wife of Sir Frederick—, who had taken his place on the box, alongside his coachman. In her hand was a small elegant pocketbook, in which, with evident excitement, she noted any thing remarkable that passed on the course. The names of the winner and his owner, as well as of the horse which had deviated from the course, and of the one which had walked over it, were all carefully entered, with numerous brief remarks of her own. Several young gentlemen were constantly around her, and as they stood on the carriage step, or climbed up behind, whispered or shouted the latest news of every thing that occurred. I was informed that this lady was passionately fond of all sports and racing matches; and similar patrons of the turf are not unusual amongst the fair sex in England.

As the races had congregated so great a multitude of people, many of whom preferred eating and drinking to fasting, betting, and taking notes, ample provision was made for this class. At a short distance from the course, behind a hill, a city of tents was erected, where every earthly desire an Irishman could form might be gratified. These tents were all long and large, and all constructed in the same manner,—an alehouse in front, a large room with benches and tables behind, and in the middle a dancing-floor. This dancing-floor generally consisted of a door, or planks fastened together like a door, and placed over a hole in the ground so as to render it more elastic under the feet of the dancers, who were usually four in number, and jumped about to their heart's content. This scene was enacting in at least fifty tents, in one half of which whisky was to be had, whilst in the remainder tea only could be procured.

In the avenues of this city of tents were repeated the scenes I had witnessed in Kilkenny the evening before. At every step stood poor singing beggars,—girls, boys, women, men, young and old,—all clad in the strangest costume of rags and tatters, and all waving their printed ballads in the air. Some of them were literally misery personified: hunger and want were too evident on their haggard features, and care and anxiety sat in their sunken eyes. Yet they sang merry and comic songs, and endeavoured to throw into their meagre countenances the greatest possible expression of joviality. The number of bards is still quite as great in Ireland as in the time of Brian Boru and the great O'Nial. But,  p.205 alas! they are no longer the companions of kings, and are fearfully fallen from their ancient greatness.

The shows and travelling theatres were congregated together in a thickly-crowded half-circle; and such was the incessant noise and clamour issuing from them, that no one could hear his own voice, much less understand what they said. In some of the huge waggons were to be found a collection of wild beasts; in others a puppet-show, a company of black Africans, or some similar wonder of the day. In front of each waggon a stage or balcony was erected, where the showmen, the trumpeters, the bagpipers, and the drummers, were constantly screaming, blowing, making speeches, or attempting, by pantomimic gestures, to make themselves understood by the gaping crowds around them. The chief inducement held out by them was, that the admission was only one halfpenny; and for the sake of this halfpenny they all shouted and gesticulated in opposition to each other, and in the most frantic manner. There can be no doubt that half the inhabitants of Kilkenny came out merely for the sake of the dancing-booths and the travelling exhibitions, and scarcely deigned to honour the hard-working racers with the slightest attention.

As I had no inclination to inhale a cloud of dust in the evening similar to that through which I had passed in the morning, I left the environs of the race-course earlier than the other spectators, and took my way on foot along the road, which I found, fortunately, almost deserted. I overtook one old man, who limped along, lame and slow, and I pitied him; he too had left the course early, through fear of the dust and the crowd. I inquired what had induced him, lame, sick, and old as he was, to make a pilgrimage to this tumultuous scene of youthful sport. He answered, that he was indeed old, sick, and weak, and for ten years past those epithets might be applied to him; but yet he went every year to the races. “I see them with joy,” he said; “it delights my heart, rouses me, and almost makes me young again. Since I saw the jumping horses to-day, the lively scene of bustle, and the various critical moments of the race, I feel myself almost perfectly well, young, and strong again.” We may thus perceive how even the sick and infirm in England are reinvigorated by this species of excitement. But I fear the sickly old men of Germany would be unable to derive a similar amount of comfort and relief from the sight of a horse-race. We regained the town by little by-ways, running through green meadows and fields, and, to our joy, only saw at a distance the rising dust, as it was again stirred up by the returning vehicles.

Next morning I applied myself to other pleasures and pursuits.  p.206 The antiquity of Kilkenny is proved by the round tower which stands near the church, and rises high above it. This tower is in very good preservation, and is considered more remarkable from the nature of its site, which is an eminence about 100 feet high, against the rocky side of which part of the town leans. It is not surrounded by ruins of ancient churches like the other round towers I had previously seen, but is situated close to the cathedral, which stands on the same hill, and is shaded by beautiful old trees. The entire group forms a highly picturesque ensemble of hill and valley, ancient and modern buildings, stonework and foliage. The tower is 108 feet high; and the door, which we entered by a ladder, is eight or ten feet from the ground. Instead of the usual four windows, facing the four cardinal points, there are six, besides a small hole at the top. The stone of which the tower is built is said to be of a kind entirely different from that which is used for the church, and it is a common assertion in Ireland that the materials of all the round towers differ from those of the churches and other buildings around them. This assertion, were it based upon truth, might tend to strengthen the hypothesis, that they were erected at quite different periods, and by architects who confined themselves to the use of one particular kind of stone. But unfortunately for those who maintain this opinion, it is well known that the round towers are by no means every where built of the same materials, and sometimes it is evident they are built of the same materials as the surrounding churches; although in some cases it is equally evident that a different kind of stone has been used in their erection.

The cathedral, which stands near this tower, and the ruins of an old abbey at a short distance from it, but on the same hill, are highly interesting objects. The cathedral is one of the largest and most beautiful ecclesiastical structures in Ireland. Here were laid the first foundations of a church in Ireland, which was effected by a holy missionary thirty years before the arrival of St. Patrick. This church contains several interesting old monuments: amongst the number is that of an ancient knight of the 15th century, named Schorthals, a family at one period of great note in this district, but whose descendants live miserably poor; also that of a Fitz-Gerald, who on his death-bed renounced the Protestant for the Catholic religion; and that of a Lord Ormond, of the Galmoy branch. The effigy of the latter, in complete armour, is stretched out on his tomb-stone, his feet resting on the figure of a hound, in the manner so common in England. But the people who showed me the monument supposed that this figure represented an otter, which had once bitten Lord Ormond, and was thus  p.207 immortalized in stone on his tomb. There is a delightful view from the church steeple of the ruins of the abbey, the opposite pillar-tower, and, far below, the town, and the valley of the river Nore.

The family name of the Lords Ormond is Butler: they are the principal people in this district, and are famous enough in Irish history. They have a beautiful old castle, with a park, adjacent to the town: it stands in the same relative position to Kilkenny as Windsor Castle does to the town of that name. This is the case with a great many old castles of the nobility in England and Ireland. Whoever has seen Windsor Castle, its ancient appearance, its antique gateway, and its old-fashioned towers, may form a good idea of all those old “baronial mansions,” most of which stand on an eminence in the neighbourhood of the town formerly under their sway.

Kilkenny Castle, amongst its other attractions, possesses a fine picture-gallery, which is arranged in a splendid hall of gigantic size. As the cathedral of Kilkenny was built by St. Rievan 18, who preceded St. Patrick in preaching the gospel, so the castle was built by the Earl Strongbow, the warlike forerunner of Henry II. in the complete subjugation of Ireland. Strongbow is as famed in Ireland as Cortez in Mexico; but since the middle of the 15th century the family of Butler has remained here in uninterrupted possession.

Many families in England and Ireland still cling to their old recollections, with a peculiar and characteristic obstinacy. The trophies won by their forefathers, hundreds of years ago, in various party struggles, and the portraits and other relics of the leaders in those contests, are carefully preserved by their descendants, who seem fully to participate in the views and feelings of their ancestors. To such an extent do these opinions yet prevail, that, should the followers of the Red Rose ever again assert their claim, I am confident that numerous partisans of the White Rose would still be found ready to oppose them. There are many who yet cherish the memory of the Stuarts, and who are consequently the best Carlists and Jacobites in the world. Amongst these may be numbered the Butlers. Their castle is full of portraits of the time of the Stuarts, and we see there Charles I. himself, and his family, by Vandyke; the Earl of Stratford, who was beheaded in his reign; with many other Stuarts, and all the beautiful ladies of the court of Charles II., painted by Sir Peter Lely. No land, no people, preserve and cherish their entire history so warmly in their bosoms as England and the English. Among the other paintings in the gallery are many beautiful pieces of Ruisdael, Gasper Poussin, and other celebrated artists.


The park of the castle extends along the river Nore, and furnishes many delightful views. No Irish castle is without ivy. In Germany, ruins only are ornamented with this parasite; but in Ireland it is used as a common ornament, even for dwelling-houses. We Germans substitute for this purpose the vine, which Ireland does not possess, because, notwithstanding the mildness of the climate, it has not sunshine enough.

20. From Kilkenny to Waterford

“Look, your honours, there's misery!”—Castle Rackrent—Late Harvests

From Kilkenny to Waterford, the traveller rolls down the hills with all the waters of the country. The three greatest rivers in Ireland (after the Shannon)—the Suir, the Nore, and the Barrow, all flow in this direction, and meet at Waterford; and as they bring down along with them clear waves, fruitful soil, and fresh green fields, they collect in the country around this city a multitude of charms.

At six o'clock in the morning we mounted our diligence-car to roll down into this country. It was still rather dark, but yet light enough to enable us to distinguish a party of dusky figures that surrounded our carriage. They were of course poor Irish women, whom hunger had already driven from their beds. Their chorus of lamentations was heartrending. Each recounted her sufferings, the number of her children, the misery of her husband, with as much zeal and emulation as the showmen on the Kilkenny racecourse had proclaimed their rarities. With the most humble supplications they earnestly entreated, if we would not each give something, that we would at least jointly contribute a sixpence, which they would afterwards divide among themselves. When they saw that our hearts remained unmoved, they at last led forward a poor old blind woman, and brought her close to our carriage, so that in the twilight we could behold her empty eyesockets: “Look, your honours! there's misery for you! Only look at this poor unfortunate woman! Give her something—only one penny, your honours, and God will prosper your journey! God will protect your eyes, and carry you home safe to your families!” When this wretched creature, whose hand they held close to us, had received something, the others appeared somewhat  p.209 satisfied, and no longer supplicated so noisily for themselves. I have often remarked among the Irish beggars, that even the most miserable modestly retire before those who are supposed to be still more miserable than themselves.

A traveller in Ireland can never dwell too strongly on the extraordinary misery of the poorer classes, in order as much as possible, and from every quarter, to contradict the opinions of those Englishmen who will not believe in the misery of Ireland—who deny it, who laugh at it, and call him a fool who speaks of it, and believes in its existence. Ruin, decay, rags, beggars, and misery are to be seen all through Ireland,—not merely in the wild districts of Clare, Donegal, Mayo, and Kerry, where, in truth, they present themselves in the greatest and most appalling forms,—but equally throughout the most beautiful and most fertile plains. And why is this the case? Because it is not the poverty of nature that is to blame, but men,—the men of England on account of their severe laws, and the men of Ireland on account of their laziness and want of industry. Thus, even this beautiful district, as far as Waterford, displays the usual richness of Ireland in poverty, the usual abundance of want, and the great profusion of indigence. A vast quantity of land in this fertile district is said to be under the management of middlemen, and there are here, therefore, many poor villagers and farmers whose rents have been screwed to the very highest, or who, as the Irish express it, are “rackrented.” A landowner who exacts from his tenants an excessive rent, is called a “Rackrenter,” and the mansion in which this tormentor dwells is a “Castle Rackrent.”

Having met with a gentleman proceeding to Waterford on foot, I resolved upon travelling the latter part of my journey in the same manner, especially as my companion promised to guide me to the city through some of the by-roads of the country. On our way we took a look at the works on a new road, visited some poor farmers, and examined the ruins of a little Danish castle, called Dunkit, amid whose walls the blackberry-bushes were in blossom at this late period of the season. As the climate of Ireland neither forces the blossoms rapidly forward, nor brings the fruits quickly to maturity, a few blossoms are always to be seen here throughout the entire year. The corn ripens so slowly that, although the summer-seed is sown six weeks earlier, the harvest is almost six weeks later than in those continental countries of Europe which lie under the same degree of latitude. In the North there are countries in which the life of nature blazes up into a bright flame for a brief summer, and then again sinks into dust and ashes. In Ireland, this life always feebly glimmers, like a lighted sod and is never entirely extinguished.


We soon after beheld the valley of the Suir, the lofty picturesque shores of rock on both its sides, and the beautifully-situated town of Waterford, like a pearl in its mouth.

21.  Waterford

English and Irish Names of places—Bally, Dun, Rath, Glen, Kil, Ennis—Decrease and increase of the population of Irish Towns—Exportation of Grain—Repeal-rooms—The East of Ireland—Wounds inflicted by Cromwell

Waterford and Wexford were both founded by the Danes, and, with the surrounding country, were held by them longer than any other part of Ireland. Hence their names are not Celtic, but Germanic. In the geography of Ireland there are multitudes of these Germanic names, which were introduced by the Danes or the English. They are easily known by the terminations: -ford, -town, -borough, -berry, &c., as for example, Maryborough, Mitchelstown, Thomastown, Castletownsend, Rosscarberry, Bearhaven, and many others.

It is perhaps more worthy of remark that some of the natural features of the country have also laid aside their old Celtic appellations, which they doubtless originally possessed, and have assumed English names, as the river Blackwater, the Hungry Hills, near Bantry, the Keeper Mountain, near Limerick, and the Mourne Mountains, near Newry. The names of sandbanks, of many islands and headlands, have likewise become English: yet, it must be remarked that these English names are often nothing more than corrupted and Anglicized Celtic words. On the whole, however, the old Celtic names are yet the most prevalent in Ireland, as well in the objects of art as in those of nature. They have been retained every where, even within the “Pale,” i.e. within that part of the country which the English surrounded with palisade work, and within which they made every thing else English—namely, within the province of Leinster. 19 Some of these old Irish names of rivers are, the Suir, the Shannon, the Bandon, the Kenmare, &c.; and of mountains, Inchiquin, Commeragh, Slievh Bernagh, Croagh Patrick, and innumerable others. It is also worthy of remark, that the highest mountain summits have usually retained the longest their ancient Celtic popular names.


As the English names of towns are distinguished by their terminations, so many of the genuine Irish may be known by their first or last syllables. Some of the most common of these are Bally, Dun, Rath, Glen, Kil, Ennis, and others. Bally signifies town; Dun is the old far-famed word, which is so frequently found in countries that once were Celtic, and signifies hill; Rath has nearly the same meaning; Glen signifies valley; Ennis, or Innis, an island; and Kil, a church. Bally is decidedly that most used in composition; for instance, Ballynasloe, Ballyporeen, Ballyshannon, Ballymahon. No less frequent is Dun; as Dundrum, Dundalk, Dunmore, Dunkerrin, Dungarvan. Rath is not so frequently used: Rathdrum, Rathdowny, Rathcormuck, Rathkeale, Rathvilly, and Rathronan are instances. Kil occurs in more numerous instances; as Kilkenny, Kilbaha, Killarney, Killaloe, Kildare, Killala, Kilbegs. Ennis, or Innis, is frequently used; as the town of Ennis, Enniscorthy, Enniscaltra, Ennistogue. The study of these old Irish names, most of which go back into the times of the Druids, and their comparison with the numerous Celtic names of Scotland and Wales, and with those which still exist in France, Italy, Spain, and Germany, would be a subject of the greatest interest, and its complete investigation yet remains to be accomplished.

Waterford is the sixth city in Ireland, and has about 30,000 inhabitants. For the last twenty years the amount of its population has been nearly stationary, having increased little more than a thousand during that period. It is remarkable that this has been the case with nearly all the towns of the south of Ireland; thus Waterford, which in 1821 had 28,676 inhabitants, in 1831 had 28,821; and Wexford, which in 1821 had 10,580, in 1831 numbered only 10,673. In other towns the increase is extremely slow; thus Cork, in 1821, contained 100,658 inhabitants, and 107,016 in 1831, being an increase of only six per cent. Kilkenny, with a population of 23,230 in 1821, increased about two per cent, in ten years; and Youghal and Cove seven per cent, during the same period. Some of the southern towns seem even to retrograde in the amount of their population, as Clonmel, which in 1821 had 15,590 inhabitants, and in 1831 only 15,134; and Bandon, which in 1821 had 10,179, and in 1831 only 9,917. During the same period the general increase of population in Ireland was fourteen and a half per cent. Nearly all the towns of the south fall short of this general increase: Tralee, Thurles, and a few more insignificant places, being the only exceptions. The greatest increase of population is in the towns of the north of Ireland. Belfast, in the last ten years,has increased its population forty-two per cent; Galway twenty, Londonderry sixteen, and Newry thirty per cent.  p.212 This is a remarkable fact, the causes of which it would be somewhat difficult to explain. The entire average increase of population in all the towns of Ireland, in this period, was eleven and a half per cent., being three and a half per cent. less than that of the entire country. Thus it appears that the principal increase of population does not take place in the towns, but in the country. In this respect Ireland differs from England and Scotland, where the population of the towns increases much more rapidly than that of the country.

Though the population of Waterford has increased so little during the last twenty years, its exports have not remained equally stationary. On the contrary, as is proved by the official returns, its exports have been doubled. The same number of men, therefore, must have nearly twice as much to do now as they had formerly. The principal article of export from Waterford is the grain of the surrounding country, which is shipped to England. This trade has been constantly increasing during the last forty years, and is now almost five times as great as it was before that period. In the year 1802 the entire quantity of grain exported from all Ireland to England amounted to 461,000, or nearly half a million of quarters, at which it remained till about the year 1808, when it first exceeded half a million of quarters, and amounted to 656,000. From that year it slowly increased, till in 1818 it amounted to over a million, being then 1,200,000 quarters. In 1825 it was two millions, and in 1837 three millions. In 1838 it was higher than it ever was before, namely, 3,474,000 quarters of corn, mostly oats, which is the principal grain of Ireland. From this year it has somewhat fallen off, but has ever since been more than two millions.

Waterford possesses two prominent features which are of the greatest advantage to its trade: first, one of the most wonderful quays in the world; and, secondly, one of the finest harbours in Ireland. The quay is a mile long, and so broad and convenient withal, that it must be invaluable to merchants and mariners. It is skirted by a row of elegant houses; and the scenery on the opposite side of the river, which is here a mile and a half wide, is extremely picturesque.

The embouchure of the river Suir, which forms the harbour, is wide and deep, without islands or sandbanks, and affords all possible security and convenience to ships. I have already said that Waterford harbour has a great similarity to the bay of Cove, near Cork. Cleaving the land in a similar manner, it runs from the sea, taking with it the sea water, for ten or fifteen miles into the country. At its upper end it divides into two branches, one of  p.213 which runs west, and the other northwards, while at New Ross it receives the Barrow and the Nore. All this extent of land and water, as far as Waterford and New Ross, and then somewhat farther up the Suir, Barrow, and Nore, is one of the most beautiful and charming districts in Ireland.

I took tea in Waterford, at an hotel which had a separate room for the friends of repeal. On the windows of this apartment the words “REPEAL ROOMS” were displayed in large characters. Similar rooms are met with in many Irish towns, where the friends of repeal are always to be found, perusing the opposition papers of England and Ireland, which are taken for their use. Most of the provincial papers of Ireland are, of course, opposition papers. In Waterford alone, three of them are published. The Dublin Evening Mail is the leading Tory paper of Ireland, and I did not find it in any of the repeal rooms I visited. I am inclined to think that we Germans, were we ever so zealous repealers, would sometimes read the Evening Mail, if it were only to ascertain what our adversaries said of us. English parties, however, are always so completely absorbed in their own interests, that they merely read the papers of their party, and appear not to give themselves the slightest trouble about the arguments of their opponents. In this respect they rely implicitly on the commentaries of their own journalists, who sometimes apprise them of the “disloyal and outrageous machinations” of the opposite party.

At Waterford the east of Ireland commences. As the nations of the south—the Phoenicians, the Spaniards, and the French—chose their landing-places at Bantry, in Kerry, Clare, and other places in the south-west; so those sailing from the east, as the Danes, the Welsh, and the English, first arrived near Waterford, which town, with Wexford, the Danes first possessed and longest retained. The Welsh Strongbow effected his landing between Wexford and Waterford. The English King Henry II. landed at Waterford, and there commenced his conquest of Ireland. Here Cromwell also landed, and from hence he marched into the heart of the land, to conquer it once more. The city, even at the present day, exhibits abundant proofs of the exploits of this ruthless warrior, and mighty oppressor of Ireland. Every citizen can point out to the traveller the rock, opposite the town, from which he battered it with his cannon; and there yet stands, at the end of the quay, an old ruined tower, which bears traces of a breach made in it by Cromwell's artillery. How many similar breaches made by Cromwell in Irish walls still remain, as apparent as when his soldiers left them—and how many wounds inflicted by him on the political condition of the country are yet unhealed!


Cromwell's time was almost contemporaneous with our Thirty Years' War, and may, in many respects, be justly compared with it; but the injuries inflicted on Germany by the latter have long been healed and forgotten; its devastating effects have long disappeared, and every thing has again long resumed its former aspect. It seems as if there were something peculiar in the nature and condition of Ireland that prevents her wounds from ever healing: she is constantly bleeding from a thousand wounds and sores; and although still clinging to life with too much tenacity entirely to die away, she never at any moment possesses energy enough completely to achieve her freedom, or restore herself to a more healthy state of existence.

22. From Waterford to Wexford

The Repeal Ship—Waterford Harbour—The Ruins of Dunbrody—Irish Jig—The Banks of the Barrow—New Ross—The County of Wexford—The Barony of Forth—Temperance Men—Announcement of Father Mathew—Sporting Men and Reading Men—St. Patrick—Fingal

On the following morning, when I came to the river, it was exactly low water. Several vessels were lying on their sides in the mud, as if stranded. Above the beautiful bridge, the Suir seemed almost entirely drained, and the banks were slimy and muddy. But as the tide rolled in, the sand-banks were covered, the ships righted themselves and danced upon the waves, the artery of the river was filled, and the landscape again reflected in its restored mirror. The sun mounted high in the heavens, and our steamboat, The Repealer, rushed forth through the waves. What is there to be found in Ireland that has not some connexion with repeal? I was informed that the repealers go almost exclusively by this boat, and hence it was also called the People's Steamer. On the flag which waved from the quarter-deck were the words, “Hurrah for the Repeal of the Union!” O'Connell can now, at his meetings, truly boast that the repeal cause is progressing with the rapidity of steam. In this corner of the earth, indeed, steam does not go very far—only to the town of New Ross, fifteen miles distant, whither we were bound. Nor does it afford any exclusive advantage to the repealers, as the anti-repealers also employ steam in their cause. Another steamboat, bound to the same place,  p.215 splashed alongside of us, in opposition to ours. In England one never gets rid of this opposition: it follows him every where.

Had I not been in Scotland, and sailed down the Firth" of Clyde, I would pronounce this trip on the arms of Waterford Harbour to be the finest in the United Kingdom. Or, were there not much that is beautiful out of the United Kingdom, I could also say that it is the most delightful journey I ever made in my life. But it is sufficient to affirm that the landscape on the shores of these waters is as picturesque, pleasing, and diversified in its kind as any other in the world. The waters flow through the deep and convenient bays somewhat more quickly than through a lake; and as its entrance from the sea is concealed from the spectator by a very sudden turn, he actually believes he is on an inland-lake, and is astonished at the large ships which ascend it, seeking harbours hidden far in the heart of the land. At times the shore is a hill, sloping down to the water, which, like almost every river-bank in the United Kingdom, is studded with charming seats and pleasure-grounds; at others, it juts out in steep, rocky, and wooded headlands, which the Repealer almost grazes as she speeds past.

At no great distance below United Kingdom are seen, in the background of a bay, the immense ruins of the far-famed Abbey of Dunbrody, one of the most celebrated and beautiful ruins of Ireland, which are here held in about the same estimation as the ruins of Melrose are in Scotland. Alas! they are now, like the times of their grandeur, in the far distance; and the Repealer has too much to do with the opposition steamer, which is walking close upon her heels, and forces her to keep her straightforward way, to turn from her course, and give the traveller a look at the ruined abbey. In truth, it afforded us no little amusement to see our rival, as she was about to turn into the mouth of the Barrow, run aground on a sand-bank, where, as our captain drily observed, she must stick till the tide would rise somewhat higher, and float her off. As for the Repealer, being obliged to be at New Ross by a certain time, she soon left Dunbrody far behind, and splashed away with the flowing tide up the Barrow. The British Islands must reap important benefits from the double alternating currents, one landwards, the other seawards, of the navigable rivers. In no other country do the waters of the sea flow so far inland, bearing ships into the very heart of the country.

On the deck of an Irish steamer there is seldom a want of entertainment. On the quarter-deck the company is twice as talkative as on that of an English steamer; and the forecastle resounds even with music and singing. To the music, which, of course, was that of the bagpipes, we had dancing. Since Paddy,  p.216 as I have before remarked, generally uses only an old door, or a couple of boards laid close together, for a dancing-floor, he naturally finds it impossible to leave unoccupied the beautiful space which, on the deck of a steamer, remains vacant, between butter-firkins, flour-bags, egg-boxes, hen-coops, baskets of turkeys, tied-up cows, and a confused heap of grunting pigs. He therefore lays aside his stick, and throws his cares and his sorrows to the winds, with much greater ease than can be done by the rich man of five thousand a year who is looking at him; with good-humour in his face, he seizes a struggling maiden, and, in a merry and lively jig, or Scottish reel, he shakes his rags as if they were the bell-tipped lappets of a fool's dress. The splashing paddles of the steamer beat the time for him, and the lovely banks of the Barrow give to this spectacle a decoration which the ballet-dancers on the boards of Covent-garden or Drury-lane cannot boast of.

The evening was wondrously calm, and even the fishes, though still poorer than Paddy, jumped in the water for joy. I planted myself beside the captain, on the high platform in the centre of the vessel, and, while I observed the grave and serious rich on the quarter-deck, and the merry poor in the forecastle, I could not refrain from praising the justice of God, who, while he makes man poor, at the same time renders him more capable of taking delight in the most trifling things.

The beautiful seats of the Powers, the Asmonds, and other families which lay along the banks, are all so charming that one would like to take a sketch of each separately. Near Castle Ennis, in a broad beautiful meadow, stands the largest, most lordly, and picturesque oak I ever saw. One looks on these mansions with increased interest, if, as I had, he has an Irish priest as confessant at his side, who, from being intrusted with the private affairs of the families that reside in them, can give him a sketch of the history of each. While I listened to my priestly confessant, I was somewhat amazed at the extra-ordinary things which happen in the usual every-day life of these families. In one of these mansions there yet dwells an old lady, the widow of one of the most distinguished of those rebels who were beheaded by the English during the last rebellion in Ireland.

As we passed a rock, our cannon were fired, in memory of a sailor, who, some months previously, had fallen overboard at this spot, and was drowned. The reports were re-echoed from the rock, and the manes of the dead were no doubt highly gratified by the honour thus conferred upon them.

We anchored at New Ross, and as this place is the extreme end of the Barrow navigation, and the brightest gem in the entire  p.217 landscape-gallery of the neighbourhood, it would no doubt have well repaid us to pass this delightful evening here. It is at once apparent that New Ross is an old town, since it does not present that picturesque grouping which is peculiar to new regular towns: at the same time it is also a fallen place, for it is said once to have possessed a great part of the trade which Waterford has now entirely drawn to itself. It no longer dispatches a single ship to sea, and merely sends agricultural produce to Waterford, to be from thence exported. Beyond New Ross the waters, which had hitherto been broad and deep, seem entirely to lose themselves in a thicket of woods and rocks. In this thicket there are said to be most beautiful scenery, splendid landscapes, and waterfalls. Yet it was not granted me to explore these beauties any further. As I found my travelling companion disposed to avail himself of the beautiful moonlight night to continue his journey, at eleven o'clock we troubled an Irish horse and a little jaunting-car to take us over to Wexford, about twenty miles distant.

The country between New Ross and Wexford is pretty level, fertile, and entirely under tillage. This is the case with the whole county of Wexford, which occupies the most south-easterly point of Ireland. By nature it is quite cut off from the rest of the country; for on one side it is bounded by the Wicklow and Carlow mountains, and on the other by the sea and Waterford Harbour. The most extreme point of this county, a peninsula that runs out into the sea, is again separated from it by the Forth mountains. This point is the far-famed Barony of Forth, which is inhabited by a separate little population of its own.

The county of Wexford is one of the districts of Ireland which the traveller beholds with peculiar satisfaction, for the annals of Irish crime and criminals declare that it is in it that morality must be highest, as the fewest crimes occur here. I even found many years in which, out of the 300, or 200, or 160 murders which were committed in Ireland, not a single one had taken place in Wexford. In fact, the inhabitants boast of much greater enlightenment than is possessed by those in the west. They every where speak of the dark west, and believe themselves more intelligent, better educated, and better farmers.

The Barony of Forth, that extreme little peninsula, is the crown of the entire county, for here dwell the most orderly people in all Ireland. It is celebrated throughout the south of Ireland, and when it is mentioned every one takes off his hat, for its very name awakens ideas of a nobler race of men. The people are said to be the descendants of a colony which Strongbow, the famous Welsh knight, who first came to Ireland with English troops to  p.218 take a part in the domestic concerns of the country, brought over with him, and presented with this tract. It is, as I have already remarked, a level neck of land, cut off from the main body of Ireland by a little chain of mountains, and every where else surrounded by the sea, which, moreover, runs into the land in four great haffs or loughs, and thus cuts it off still farther in a peculiar manner. The inhabitants of this district have, for nearly seven centuries, kept themselves unmixed and apart from the rest of the Irish. They have always married among themselves, and this they even still do. Until near the close of the last century, they all understood and spoke the Welsh language, and many old people still understand it. They have—O mirabile dictu!—no beggars—I say, no beggars—nor rags. In Ireland, it is as difficult to imagine the existence of an entire district without beggars, as, in other countries, it is to imagine a people composed of nothing else. In the manner of living of the inhabitants of the barony of Forth there are a number of little peculiarities, which are totally opposed to those rules generally prevalent in Great Britain. Thus, for instance, they breakfast very early in the morning, about six or seven o'clock, and before going to work; they dine about twelve, and afterwards take a siesta; while the rest of the English and Irish divide their day in quite a different manner.

“The Barony of Forth!” must sound to an Irishman something like Eldorado once did to our German ancestors. It is alleged of the county of Wexford, that it is divided into smaller lots or holdings than the rest of Ireland—that there are here large proprietors, and consequently more persons who are well-off and comfortable; and—another wonder—that there are no absentees; and all this is still more applicable to the barony of Forth. Here estates are still smaller, and many peasants are the lords of the soil they cultivate. Great wealth does not exist among them, yet every one has a competency. They have a better system of agriculture, and cleanliness and order prevail in their houses. Nay, they have—and in this too they differ from the inhabitants of every other district of Ireland—a feeling that rags, holes, and tattered clothes are no ornament, but a disfigurement. Their houses are even generally surrounded by little flower-gardens. They know nothing either of the political or religious party-spirit which divides the rest of Ireland, and therefore have no party-fights; whilst Protestants and Catholics live together in peace and concord. In a word, the barony of Forth seems to form a sort of moral looking-glass for the rest of Ireland; and every thing is so natural, and so like what might be expected in a civilized people, that one cannot enter it without exclaiming, “Why is it not thus  p.219 throughout the entire country?” The traveller in Ireland must sometimes picture to himself some such reasonable spot as the barony of Forth, to be enabled fully to perceive the unnatural condition of the other districts.

Half-way between New Ross and Wexford we changed our horse, and while this was being done we entered a public-house to refresh ourselves with a glass of whisky. In the next room some people were reclining and sitting, sleeping and chatting; they were temperance men, and wore their medals around their necks. The hostess told me that these people, though continually in the vicinity of her whisky bottle, yet never desired to taste a drop of it. These temperance men are such a phenomenon that I could never look on them without astonishment. They informed me themselves that they were once great drunkards, but that in their present condition they were more than happy. They appeared to me like wild beasts, that had put on chains of their own accord, and now wore them with pride and joy. When one thinks what charms the poisonous fire-water must have for a poor badly-clothed man, who is often labouring under deep dejection, in a wet, cold climate, he can scarcely believe that they do not continually suffer, on account of these frequent temptations, the torments of Tantalus.

They were talking of Father Mathew, and had in their hands a bill announcing his intended arrival in Wexford in a few days. Perhaps it would be interesting to my German readers who have never been in England to read a faithful translation of one of these bills. There was printed at the top, in very large letters, “FATHER MATHEW IN WEXFORD!” and it then proceeded:—“The teetotallers and friends of the temperance cause are informed, that it is intended to form a procession, consisting of the united Total Abstinence Societies of Wexford, and generally of all teetotallers who may be willing to join it. in order to meet the Very Reverend Father Mathew at Arkandrish, on his way from New Ross to Wexford, as a testimony of the high and deserved esteem in which he is held by them. Each society will be accompanied by its respective band, and all are requested to assemble on the Quay of Wexford at half-past nine o'clock precisely.” The people expected that on this occasion many hundreds of persons from the surrounding country would be certain to take the pledge. Temperance must be the more valuable to the Wexford men, as they are all hard-working and industrious people.

As we drew near to Wexford we again passed some country-seats, and my companion was malicious enough to make me, a  p.220 total stranger, acquainted with the family affairs and the characters of their inmates,—a highly treacherous proceeding on his part, especially as they were at the moment all buried in the deepest sleep. One he described as a very great sporting man, and passionately fond of field-sports; another, when a young man, had been very wild in London, where he had distinguished himself by his exploits in breaking windows, knocking down watchmen, and kicking up riots; but he was now married, and leading a quiet life in the happy county of Wexford. A third was a reading man, and my informant seemed to know every thing about his books and his occupations. These reading and sporting men, as well as those who are fond of kicking up riots, are to be found every where in England, and may be reckoned among the standing figures of the land.

A few miles further south our road again ran along the sea-shore, where the following natural curiosity is to be seen. A row of four or five little islands runs out in a straight line from the coast into the sea. At low water a long, narrow sand-bank emerges from the sea, and connects them with the shore, so that they then look like a single tongue of land, on which a carriage may drive from one island to the other; but when the tide returns, they are again changed into a series of islands. This tongue the Irish call St. Patrick's Bridge. The name of this saint is also applied to multitudes of other natural curiosities. It is strange that the celebrated Giant's Causeway has not been dedicated to him instead of Fingal; but St. Patrick has been often obliged to go shares with this giant, and sometimes even with Old Nick himself. Do my readers remember “The Devil's Bite?”

23. Wexford

Parkin's Patent Slip—Tides at Wexford—English and Irish Porters—Infant Schools—Infants' March—Infant Education—Its Advantages—Committing Verses to Memory—New Roman Catholic College—The Irish Poor-houses—Reminiscences of the last Rebellion

Wexford, which I viewed the next morning, is an old town, with narrow streets and small houses. The only new, broad, and handsome street is the Quay, which runs along the bay, called Wexford Harbour. No traveller can behold without amazement  p.221 the beautiful quays and other facilities for navigation in this great British empire, as they re-appear again and again in every nook and corner of every bay. It is a distinguishing characteristic of Wexford harbour that it possesses more ships of its own than any other port in Ireland. A great many vessels are built here, and American and Baltic timber, and Irish oak, are every where to be seen. At Wexford I saw, for the first time, an interesting piece of machinery called Parkin's patent slip, by means of which ships when building can be raised or lowered in the dock, as may be required by the state of the tide. A machine of this description, which in this country is found in so small a place as Wexford, is not to be met with even in the largest seaport towns of Germany! The proprietor of this machine informed me that the tide here usually rises no higher than four feet, and that the highest spring tides never exceed six feet and a half. The bay of Wexford is the first in the south of Ireland which opens towards the east, and here the eastern coast of Ireland begins. All the southern bays, those of Waterford, Cork, &c., face the south, and are opposed to the tide as it ascends between Ireland, England, and France. At Waterford the ordinary tides rise ten feet, while an extraordinary one might rise as high as sixteen. At the Tuscar Rock, on which there is a lighthouse, a few miles from Carnsore Point, the most south-westerly part of Ireland, high tides rise to twenty-two feet. This seems to be the middle point between the high tides of the Atlantic Ocean and the low ones of the Irish Sea. It is possible, however, that the extraordinary low tide of Wexford may be produced by local causes, such as the numerous sand-banks both before and in the harbour, which prevent the tide from rushing in. There is a further anomaly in the periods of high and low water at Wexford, which I cannot satisfactorily explain; and as there is one other place in Ireland where the flood and ebb does not recur every six hours, but in unequal spaces of time, I shall hereafter have occasion to revert to the subject.

In Wexford I had again an opportunity of admiring what I had already admired in many Irish seaport towns, namely, the strange way in which an Irish porter carries a bag of flour. A German porter usually stoops down to it, grasps it in his arms, and swings it upon his shoulders. In the English ports they carry almost every thing, even the heaviest loads, on the head, or, properly speaking, on the back of the neck. They have a peculiar kind of cushion which they place upon the nape of the neck, and fasten it there with a band that runs round across the forehead. This cushion is thick, high, flat on the top, and fits the hollow between  p.222 the neck and the head, when the latter is bent down, thus forming a level surface, on which the heaviest load may be carried. These cushions, or “knots,” as they are termed, are also used in Ireland, and I have little doubt that they have been introduced into England by the porters, who are mostly Irish. Flour-sacks, however, are not thus carried in Ireland: the porters place them on their backs, and keep them up by passing their arms, not over their shoulders, but behind their backs, at the bottom of the sack. This mode of carrying a burthen seems to me worse suited than any other to the construction of our bodies, and it is besides so ridiculous in appearance, that I cannot conceive how any one, except comical Paddy himself, could have hit upon such an invention.

We often go to see in a small place what we have neglected in a large one: thus, in Wexford, I paid a visit to one of the many hundreds of infant schools which are now established all over England and Ireland. The schools are at present particularly interesting in Ireland, as both Roman Catholic and Protestant children meet together in them, evincing that not only is greater toleration shown towards each other by the two parties, but that, by means of these schools, a still greater degree of toleration will be produced. The one I visited at Wexford, like most of the Irish infant schools, had only been established five years, and contained ninety-one Catholic and thirty Protestant children. The children usually remain till their twelfth year, but the Catholics often send their daughters back again, as they are dissatisfied with the parochial schools, which are attended by those of more advanced age. The Protestant children seldom return, better schools being provided for them. The system of education at these infant schools is very peculiar, and, indeed, extremely poetical. All the instruction is conveyed in verses, which are sung by the little pupils, and, whenever it is possible, accompanied with a pantomimic acting of the subject. Almost every general movement made by the children is attended with singing. For instance, as they come into the school-room they sing the following verse:—

  1. We'll go to our places, and make no wry faces,
    And say all our lessons distinctly and slow;
    For if we don't do it, our mistress will know it,
    And into the corner we surely shall go.

When I entered the school all the little things were in the garden. At the sound of their teacher's bell they immediately took each other's hands, and marched two by two, in a long procession, into the school-room, singing the song of which the above is a portion. I recognised the air as the “Infants' March,” an old  p.223 British national melody which I had already frequently heard in Ireland. They all looked very cheerful, and shrieked to their heart's content; and even the tiny beings of three years old, who did not know how to join the song, opened their mouths as wide as if they were going to be fed with peaches. What joyousness must not this singing entrée of the little ones immediately spread over the entire school! As they all march in procession, every one hastens to join the great train; no one stays behind, and there is no chiding reception at the door. The mistress, indeed, has no time to spare for chiding, for she herself accompanies the little ones in their song. The instruction principally consists in learning and repeating these verses. Thus they have the multiplication table in verse, a natural history in verse, and an A, B, C in verse; and the mistress, while repeating the verses, points out the letter or the picture of the animal she is describing. The pictures now used in all English schools, even in these infant schools, are well drawn; and as each ox, lion, or elephant, or each A, X, or Z, is exhibited to the children, they sing a verse.

A kind of pantomimic action, accompanied with singing, is also frequently used; and in this manner all those occupations of men which can possibly be imitated by the hands and feet are represented by the children. The sowing and reaping of the husbandman, the planing of the carpenter, the hammering of the smith, the churning of the dairy-maid, are all imitated, the children at the same time singing, “This is the way the carpenter planes;” “This is the way we snuff the candle;” “This is the way we churn the butter.” Some remarks are afterwards made on every subject, as, for what purpose the board is planed—why the candle must be carefully snuffed—how good bread-and-butter tastes, and that if they have any to spare they should give it to those who have none. I have never seen these rhymes except in manuscript, and the teachers informed me some of them were composed by themselves, and some they copied from the collections of others. It is probable, however, that there are printed collections of them which chanced not to fall into my hands.

Many objects are accomplished at the same time by this combination of pantomime and song. In the first place the attention of the children is directed to a multitude of occurrences and occupations that are going on around them, and which they are thus led to imitate; and as children generally possess a strong disposition for this imitation, it is by this means assisted and developed. Being all more or less intended for artizans, labourers, sempstresses, dairy-maids, and similar employments, their arms are thus  p.224 exercised and trained, as it were, for those industrious occupations which they are hereafter to follow. The recollection of it will also throw a more cheerful light upon their future hours of labour, when they are actually engaged in that which they only imitated in their youth, in the midst of their playmates, and accompanied by their song. These pantomimes afford a wholesome relaxation from a long sitting posture, as during their performance the children are standing up and in motion; and, lastly, they exercise both the voice and the ear. As the mistress has not time to teach these verses to each child singly, they must in a great degree teach themselves. The youngest at first only open their mouths, or imitate the motions of the hands; they then learn to sing some of the principal words and catch some of the rhymes and notes. To these rhymes the whole verse is gradually added; and, finally, from the verse the clear conception and the fruitful idea begin to dawn on their minds. This practice of embellishing instruction by poetry and learning, and by committing verses to memory, is a favourite mode of teaching in England, and is every where practised, from these infant schools up to Eton College and other academies, and is regarded as a very practical method of teaching. As many very young children attend the infant schools, to whom this instruction for hours together would be too fatiguing, a bed, on which the wearied are put to rest, is part of the usual furniture of the school-room.

These infant schools having been only five years established in Ireland, little is yet visible of their effect on the education of the present generation. There can be no doubt, however, that it must be considerable, for thousands of children who formerly grew up wild in the streets, or in miserable huts, now enjoy the advantage of a more rational superintendence, and are lodged for the day in a far better house than their parents could afford them. As the Irish are intelligent, and desirous of knowledge, one cannot look on the vast numbers of schools with which their island is now being covered, with any other but the highest expectations and the fairest hopes. I believe I did not pass through a single village in which I did not discover one of these new schoolhouses, and in which a distillery, either idle or going to ruin, was not pointed out to me. Nothing can be more gratifying than to perceive the decay of the latter, and at the same time to behold the former every where rising in beauty! In Wexford, which once contained seven distilleries, there is now only one in full work. In New Ross, whence we came, and in Enniscorthy, whither we were going, the principal distilleries had ceased working. “Hear, hear!” one might justly exclaim on hearing this glorious news,  p.225 and once more “hear, hear!” The discovery of facts like these affords a higher enjoyment to the true friend of man, than the most lovely scenery or the most splendid monuments.

I have before alluded to the new Roman Catholic churches and steeples which are to be seen in almost every Irish town. In Wexford there is also a handsome Catholic college, which has been recently erected. “Our young priests,” boast the Irish, “need now no longer go to Rome or Paris to learn any thing.” If to these are added the newly-erected workhouses, with which all Ireland is now studded, one of which is to be found in every town of any importance, we shall have named all the new buildings in Ireland, and shall at the same time have marked out the principal points from which the moral misery of the land is being attacked—ignorance by the schoolhouses, poverty by the workhouses, and religious thraldom by the Catholic colleges and churches. On the whole, a tolerably clear idea may be formed of an Irish town of the present day, by conceiving it to be composed of the following elements: a number of goodly buildings, a similar number of ruined dwelling-houses, a suburb-quarter of miserable huts, some new well-built national and infant schools, some old and some quite modern Catholic churches, a fever hospital, an extensive fortress-looking workhouse, and lastly, perhaps, some barracks for soldiers.

I have designated the workhouses as fortress-like, and for this reason—they are generally situated on elevated ground, outside the town, probably for the sake of the fresh air; they are built of a gray, firm stone, are surrounded by lofty walls, and provided with small turrets and other little castellated appendages. They command an extensive prospect over the country, and are the terror of the beggars, who prefer the independence of a mendicant's life to confinement in one of these houses. Some places, in which workhouses have not yet been erected, are at this moment swarming with beggars, who have there retreated to escape from these dreaded buildings. Hitherto the poor of the country were supported almost exclusively by private benevolence, which was probably more freely and extensively bestowed in Ireland than in any other part of the United Kingdom. But this practice is now opposed and discountenanced by the system introduced by the state, and by the attempted application of the English poor-laws. The Irish, however, true to their good and charitable nature, do not like to be deprived of the exercise of their private benevolence; and being doubly affected by the assessment for the support of the poor that has been levied upon them, they are to a man discontented with this reform. Thus the beggars and their benefactors are  p.226 alike prejudiced against poor-rates and workhouses, and hope soon to be relieved from both. But the fulfilment of these hopes is far from desirable; for whatever inconvenience may accompany the transition from the maintenance of the poor by private benevolence to their being provided for by the state, there is no doubt that the latter is decidedly to be preferred.

In this respect the Irish beggars and their patrons somewhat resemble the Irish tenants and their landlords. The latter complain that the increased wish for improvement, enlightenment, and independence, which pervades the country people, produced partly by the spirit of the age, and partly by the O'Connell agitation, has destroyed the old good understanding between them, and that the tenants sometimes choose to think for themselves, and even to vote against them, their natural lords and masters. The tenants, on the other hand, lament that they are no longer guided by those who once protected them, that they no longer enjoy the confidence and the regard of their landlords, but that they are now, more frequently than formerly, driven by them from house and home. This is melancholy, and reminds me of Courland, Livonia, and other countries, where the abolition of serfdom produced complaints exactly similar. Yet for the sake of the sacred cause of freedom we must rejoice over these temporary evils, since it is to be hoped that in the end they will be compensated by a glorious result.

During the last Irish rebellion, Wexford was the scene of an unparalleled and revolting deed. At the bridge which leads to the town, across a narrow part of the bay, the rebels deprived of their lives a number of English and Protestant prisoners, by throwing them over it, and drowning them. Musgrave, in his Memoirs of the Irish Rebellion, (a work which is celebrated in Ireland, and now rather scarce,) says that most of the prisoners were piked before and behind at the same time, and flung into the water. When we recollect that these are facts which yet live in the memories of many, and that similar cruelties figure on every page of the history of Ireland—a history so rich in civil wars,—we cannot venture to put complete confidence in the present tranquil aspect of that country, and can entertain no very sanguine hopes that similar scenes will never again be repeated.


24. Enniscorthy and the Irish Clergy

Strongbow—My Companion—Vinegar Hill—A capital Place for the Wool Trade—The castle of Enniscorthy—Incomes of the Irish and English Protestant Clergy—The Murphys—Ancient Crowns

The road to Enniscorthy, the third great town of the county of Wexford, does not pass over this bridge, but proceeds around the extreme point of the bay, and crosses the water at Carrick-bridge, where the river Slaney bursts from a narrow rocky-sided valley. The old castle, whose ruins crown the rocks near this bridge, is descended from the time of Strongbow, like most of the ruins and castles in this part of Ireland, which was the principal theatre of his deeds. Strongbow is the great name which has here every where been spoken of for nearly seven hundred years. Strongbow is one of those men who acquire greater celebrity after their death, and after the lapse of centuries, in proportion as the seed they sowed grows and flourishes. Strongbow was the first of the Anglo-Norman knights who came over to Ireland, leading the way for all the troops of English soldiers and colonists who in after-times deluged the land. For three or even four hundred years, Strongbow was famed as a great knight, in that district only which the English called their “Pale.” When Henry VIII. and Elizabeth afterwards subdued the rest of the country, the other Irish inquired who it was that first brought the English upon their backs. And it is only at the present day, seven hundred years after his death, when O'Connell and the other Irish patriots are always talking about him, and haranguing against him, that he has become quite a great man.

The spot where Strongbow first landed, and where he pitched his first camp, is still pointed out, and the traces of a ramp are said still to exist there. This spot lies on the coast of Wexford, between the headlands Hook and Crook, and on the maps of Ireland is called “Strongbow's Camp.” But I was told by an Irishman that the people call it “Bag and Bun,” because the two ships which came with Strongbow were named, the one Bag, and the other Bun. Strongbow was ignorant of the best place for landing, and when he inquired of the Irish pilots, was told that he must enter Ireland either by Hook or by Crook, for that thus he might do so most securely. Hence has arisen the English phrase, “by hook or by crook.”


Enniscorthy is an old Irish town. “Very old, sir, very old; for you see”—(this you see the Irish put in every where)—“even my grandfather lived there,” said my companion on the road, an Irishman “in the commercial line.” Methinks I have never met with such strange laughers any where as the Irish. They often make bull after bull, without one being able to tell whether it was through wit or stupidity, and then they burst into a laugh at the offspring of their own cleverness. To Englishmen, such a being must be unendurable. My friend told me that we would soon arrive at Enniscorthy, and then he laughed most heartily; perhaps it might happen that we would both travel to Dublin together, and here again he laughed, while he held his two hands to his mouth. I believe this excessive inclination to laughter has been remarked as peculiar to the Gascons also.

As we had time enough in the evening, before sun-down, my laughing companion and I ascended “Vinegar Hill,” which is close to Enniscorthy, and is celebrated in the history of the Irish Rebellion. Here a decisive battle was fought between the Irish rebels and the English troops in 1798, and on the top of the hill there yet remain the ruins of an old windmill—(as the people say, but it looks more like those of a round watch-tower of the middle ages)—in which many of the rebels were hanged in retaliation for the atrocities perpetrated at Wexford bridge; so that its name might be not undeservedly changed from “Vinegar Hill” to “Blood Hill.” All this only made my companion nearly kill himself with laughing. As I thought it not improbable that he might remember some singular events of the war, I asked him what really was the commencement and cause of it, when he said that it “commenced by burning houses,” and “ended by knocking every thing to pieces.” All these little rebellion-battles, and civil-war, events have even now-a-days their practical significance, for O'Connell is now perpetually awakening the long-hushed cannon-thunder into an endless echo, and is using their artillery once more in his wordy war against the English.

On the top of Vinegar Hill, as on the tops of most of the grass-covered hills of Ireland, naked points of rock rise above the turf, and from one of these, which I climbed, I enjoyed a most delightful prospect of Enniscorthy and the valley of the Slaney. We wandered homewards through a suburb of the town called Drumgold, so named because the rebels here buried a drum filled with plundered gold.

Enniscorthy is “a capital place for the wool trade.” My friend in the mercantile line, who assured me of this, inquired whether Germany was also “a good place for wool.” Such are the questions  p.229 these gentlemen in mercantile lines in England are ever asking. But Enniscorthy is better known as being in some measure the capital of the Irish Quakers, who have a “Meeting-house” here, in which a great assembly is held every year. Here, as in other towns of Ireland, it is said that the Quakers are now relaxing much in the strictness of their principles, and even laying aside their remarkable dress. Unbecoming as is this Quakers' dress, especially that of the women, yet one sees many a pretty face and figure whose beauty it is not able to destroy. “Some of the finest girls in the country are among them,” said my Irishman: “I know one who is so beautiful, that when I see her, or even only think of her, I burst out laughing.” And aloud he laughed accordingly!

In Enniscorthy, also, there is an old castle built by Strongbow. It stands in the centre of the town, on its highest part, has four towers, and, what is more remarkable, is still in a state of the most perfect preservation, so that it is inhabited by a clergyman of the Established Church, who has fitted up for himself a most elegant residence within these ancient walls and towers. In English towns one finds old dwelling-houses more rarely than in our German cities, but in the country, on the contrary, more frequently. I passed a very agreeable and instructive evening with this clergyman, a man of a highly cultivated mind, and a perfect gentleman, with quite the appearance of a most aristocratic Tory, who in his old castle had brought together much to comfort the body and to improve the mind. We sat at an old oak table, the wood of which had been for three hundred years in its present form, and must have been the portion of a tree in the forest more than six hundred years before it was converted to that use.

Since the last “clipping” of the revenues of the Protestant clergy of Ireland, the income of the rector of Enniscorthy has been reduced from £2100 to £1000 a year. The revenues of all the Protestant clergy have not, however, been reduced in the same ratio; and those of the bishops and archbishops have suffered proportionably the least. The necessity for a further clipping is shown by a table of the incomes of these dignitaries. In Ireland there are twenty-two bishops and archbishops of the Established Church; whilst in England there are only twenty-seven. Taken on the whole, these twenty-two Irish bishops have better incomes than the twenty-seven English bishops, the average yearly income of an Irish bishop being about £7000, whilst that of an English bishop is about £6000. There are four English bishoprics with a revenue of less than £2000 a year each; in Ireland there is not one less than that sum. In England there are ten between £2000 and  p.230 £4000; in Ireland there are six. 20 In England there are eight between £4000 and £10,000; in Ireland fourteen, or the majority. In England live exceed £10,000; in Ireland two. In England are the richest as well as the poorest bishops. The two richest in England are those of Canterbury and Durham, each of whom has more than £19,000 a year. Next to these in point of wealth is the Irish archbishop of Armagh, whose annual income is nearly £15,000. On an average, the Irish beneficed clergyman is better off than an English one, the whole of the livings in England producing on an average £285 a year, whilst in Ireland they yield £372. The total income of all the bishops of the Irish Protestant church is now £151,127, and that of the English is £181,631. The eight millions of inhabitants of Ireland, of whom more than six millions are Roman Catholics, therefore contribute nearly as much for the Protestant bishops as the fifteen millions of Englishmen, who are mostly Protestants. By this scale may be measured the magnitude of the injustice done the Irish people by the existing relations and laws.

In and around Enniscorthy, the most widely-spread family-name is Murphy; and I was informed that at the residence of a wealthy gentleman of that name is still preserved a crown, which his ancestors are said to have worn as kings of Munster. It is an undoubted fact that the crowns of many similar old, insignificant, and long-vanished kingdoms still exist, and with them the old pride and claims are handed down from generation to generation. It is incredible how many ancient dust and rust-covered crowns there are yet in Europe, the possessors of which still cherish the hope of being able, at some future day, to deck themselves out with this dust and rust.


25. From Enniscorthy to the Vale of Avoca

The Ruins of Ferns—Mac Murrough—A very nice fancy Taste—Delivery of Letters and Parcels—Convictions of English and Irish Criminals—The Mountains of the County of Wicklow

Ruined kings' palaces are still more numerous in Ireland than kings' crowns. On the following morning we again saw one on the road from Enniscorthy to Arklow. It was the ruins of Ferns, the seat of the last monarchs of Leinster. “Monarchs!” In this high strain the Irish talk of their kings, although in the rest of Europe this term is reserved for the great sovereigns alone. This monarch was the well-known Mac Murrough, who invited Strongbow and the English over to Ireland; and with him the race of the kings of Leinster became extinct, and Strongbow assumed their rights. The popular traditions make Mac Murrough die of a fearful disease, which, in the last years of his life, rendered him an object of general aversion. The well-known family of the O'Cavenaghs is descended from this last king of Leinster; and the present head of that family still bears the title of The Mac . Over the ruined battlements of the Castle of Ferns there is now hanging an iron basket, in which, as I was told, a fire is lighted on occasions of great national rejoicing. I have remarked these iron baskets on some other Irish ruins, and I believe this kind of illumination is quite peculiar to Ireland.

The remainder of the county of Wexford is as level, as well cultivated, and as pleasing as its commencement. The hedges with which the fields are enclosed consist entirely of furze, and, as these were now covered with blossoms, the distinct yellow boundary lines presented a very peculiar appearance. Here and there were some fields planted with young silver firs, and even thick hedges were sometimes formed of these beautiful trees. “A very nice fancy taste, and one that is not usual in Ireland,” as was remarked by one of my fellow-passengers, who, as our coachman had previously informed me, was a “play-actor” from Dublin. Such pleonasms are genuinely Irish.

A fine inviting road lay before us, and a rival coach followed close behind, as we rapidly rolled into the county of Wicklow. We did not even waste time in delivering, in an orderly manner, the letters and parcels which we had for the little villages that lay along the road, but threw them from the coach near the houses  p.232 for which they were intended. This is a very usual custom in England. There is, however, generally some person waiting for the coach, to whom the coachman throws the letter-bag or parcel without stopping; but if no one is in attendance, he flings the object in at the house-door if it is open, or, if not, without more ado he throws it on the road, or over the hedge into the garden, having first held it high in the air, so that some one in the house may notice it, and afterwards pick it up. In the same way parcels are often thrown to the coachman as he passes, and by him forwarded to their places of destination. On the English railways, there is attached to those carriages set apart for letters and parcels a large net, which can be extended on moveable iron arms, for the reception of articles flung into them at the various stations, as the train darts past at full speed.

We passed the place where the well-known murder of a landlord named O'Brien was perpetrated a few years since. It is said that the murderer is still undiscovered, although the deed was committed in the open day, and close to a field in which many labourers were at work. So hard is it to discover an evil-doer in Ireland, where there are so many who, if they have not actually lent him a helping hand, at least feel great sympathy for the criminal. Not one-half of the committals for crimes in Ireland are followed by convictions; whilst in England and Scotland conviction generally follows more than two-thirds of the committals. This is clearly proved by the statistics of crime in both countries. In one year of the last decade, the committals in England were 24,443, and the convictions 17,832; that is, the former were to the latter as 8 to 4 4/5. In Ireland, in the same year, there were 26,392 committals, and 12,094 convictions, being in the proportion of 8 to 3 2/3. In another year there were in Ireland 23,822 committals, and 11,194 convictions; in England, on the other hand, there were, the same year, 27,187 committals, and 19,927 convictions. Hence it is evident that in Ireland it is twice as difficult to convict the perpetrator of a crime as in England.

In all the little towns through which we passed the people complained that they were now inundated with beggars, who had migrated from the larger towns where workhouses are erected, and where a stricter watch is kept over them. The last of these little places was Gorey, and some miles beyond it we entered the far-praised county of Wicklow, whose pyramidal mountains had been long beckoning to us in the distance. This county is mountainous throughout, and is almost completely surrounded by plains,—on the south by that of Wexford, on the east by that of the Barrow, and on the north by that of the county of Dublin. The mountains  p.233 of this district have all a very elegant pointed form; and the highest of them, Lugnaqilla, the Kippure, and the Djouce, rise to 3000 feet, the usual height of the highest mountain summits in Ireland. Decidedly the largest portion of the waters which flow down from their numerous glens, unite in one little river called the Avoca, which falls into the sea at Arklow.

26. The Vale of Avoca and Moore's poems

Italian names in Ireland—The Oaks of Avoca—The Ivy—The Meeting of the Waters—The Vale of Avoca—Glowing vVerses and High-sounding words—Moore's verses on Irish Scenery—Moore no English Poet—His Irish Patriotism—Rathdrum—Irish Inns—Copper Mines

This entire tract of country is rich in interesting and romantic spots and valleys; but the most celebrated of all is the Vale of Avoca, particularly the spot where its principal streams unite their waters, and shortly before it falls into the sea. The Vale of Avoca is as highly prized in Ireland, as is the Vale of Vaucluse in the south of France. It is remarkable that beautiful objects have usually beautiful names. Avoca sounds almost quite Italian, though in the mouth of an Englishman but half so, namely, “Aevocae”. A great number of these Italian-sounding names are scattered through Ireland, as Portumna on the Shannon, Liscanor Bay on the coast of Clare, the promontory Brandon, and the town Bandon, Fort Delore on the coast of Kerry, Garomna and Castello in Connemara, Matino and Matilla, and the canal harbour Portobello, near Dublin. Are these sounds the same in the Celtic language of Ireland as in the old original Celtic language of Italy; or are they real Italian names, that have been introduced into Ireland, as into other countries, for the sake of their pleasing and musical sound?

The beautiful foliage is the greatest charm of the Vale of Avoca. There are stately oaks and beeches, which form the most picturesque groups, and are entirely covered with ivy. Indeed all those rocky valleys of the Wicklow mountains, through which rivers flow, are thus adorned with a beautiful foliage; whilst the broad lidges, the pyramidal summits, and the unwatered valleys, are quite bare. On the sides of these beautiful watered valleys there are large tracts perfectly treeless. The Irish oak has a very  p.234 peculiar form, which is every where perceptible, and which distinguishes it from the English oak. But although at the first glance I could know an Irish oak by its general appearance, or by the formation of its branches, still I find it difficult to describe. Its chief characteristic seems to be, that its branches are not so bent, knotted, and spreading. There appears to me to be more straight lines than curved, greater length, and less breadth, in the Irish oak. Its principal framework of branches usually bears more or less resemblance to the ribs of an extended fan. Besides, the Irish oaks are generally not so large as the English. On the other hand, the Irish praise it for being very hard, and more durable than the English; and many works of carved wood in English buildings, the roof of Westminster-hall for instance, are said to be formed of Irish oak. The beauty which distinguishes the oaks of the Vale of Avoca, and in general those of all the glens of the county of Wicklow, is the ivy with which they are festooned. There is scarcely a single tree in this entire district that is not thus adorned with ivy; and it is in no small degree interesting to examine all the figures, various and many-numbered, with which this mantling plant ornaments the hundreds of beautiful columns of the vast leafy temple. Now it is a single, young, fresh-green shoot, that is winding like a ribbon about the knotted bark of a burly tree; now hundreds are winding round the trunk, like so many mottled serpents; then, again, the abundant leaves have wrapped an old lifeless tree, as it were, in a shaggy bearskin coat, and mounting up to the very tips and summits of its branches, have given to him an artificial foliage, with which he can no longer supply himself. As it was now autumn, and the foliage of the oaks was already somewhat browned, the evergreen ivy looked still fresher and greener by the contrast: thus every tree, with its double colours, seemed to represent at the same time spring and autumn, youth and old age. The extraordinary luxuriance with which the ivy grows here around every tree, and the manner in which it springs from the ground wherever there is a vacant spot, and clings to its object, is really wonderful; but though for the painter it makes every thing beautiful—every hut, every hollow tree, every ruined wall—it must yet be a great and serious annoyance to the husbandman and the forester. Perhaps this ivy is one of the chief, though little regarded, causes of the destruction of forests in Ireland.

The little town of Arklow lies at the mouth of the Avoca, near the sea, and from it the road ascends into the wooded vale, first through Glenart wood, in which Glenart Castle and another handsome and picturesque mansion, Shelton Abbey, stand facing  p.235 one another. The entire country between Arklow and Rathdrum, a small town about twelve miles up the valley, is rich in the most beautiful scenery. Yet the most celebrated spot is that which lies between the “first” and the “second meeting of the waters.” In the note to his little poem The Meeting of the , Moore does not say whether he meant the first or the second meeting, but the first was pointed out to me by the Irish as that which the poet intended, and even the tree was shown to me beneath which he is said to have drawn inspiration for this poem.

  1. There is not in the wide world a valley so sweet
    As that vale in whose bosom the bright waters meet.

So sings Moore; and these words the Irish interpret literally; for they do not, in fact, consider that a poet, momentarily intoxicated by the wonderful beauties of a place, may declare to the world, without the slightest intention to deceive, that this place is the sweetest in the wide world, but that when a prosaic expounder of the sublime and beautiful delivers such expressions ex cathedra, he is manifestly guilty of exaggeration. There are so many charming vales, and nature is in a hundred thousand spots of the earth so extremely pleasing and beautiful, that it is only allowable to forget this so long as a man lingers in his charming valley, and revels in his enjoyment of nature, but not when he looks out from it and compares it with the rest of the world. “The Americans,” say the Irish, “who come hither, assure us they have never beheld any thing like it. A Frenchman too was lately here, and he assured us that there was nothing equal to it in his country.” The German alone, whom they had now with them, would not thus come out with his “the most splendid scenery he ever saw in his life.” It is often with the inhabitants of a narrow district as with a person in love: the latter has obtained his ideas of the divinity of human nature, and of the fair sex in particular, merely from a single individual of it. As he is now so deeply absorbed with this individual, and studies in her all the beauties which grace the human soul, as well as the human body, he deems all this the personal merit of the individual alone; and, (though in accordance with reason he should love the entire human race with the same affection) he now casts off reason altogether, and “falls in love,” as the English say, that is, into a deep hole, from which he can only see and adore one star of the many millions which stud the vast dome of heaven. Thus have the Irish discovered the breath of heaven in their Vale of Avoca. They and their journalists and poets have laid bare and praised all its beauties: hence they have fallen in love with this vale, as if it were the only one of its kind on the entire globe.


Even those Irish who have not seen this Vale have conceived the most delightful ideas respecting it, and it is more than probable that Moore has largely contributed to this by his continually repeated lines—

  1. There is not in the wide world a valley so sweet
    As that vale in whose bosom the bright waters meet;
    Oh! the last rays of feeling and life must depart,
    Ere the bloom of that valley shall fade from my heart.

The rest of this poem is very poor, and even ends in commonplace. In the literature of every nation there are short passages like this, which, no one knows why, have found a greater echo, and have exercised a mightier effect on men, than entire great works, or than the deeds of a whole glorious life. Millions of beautiful sentences often pass away unregarded, while two or three words for ever glow and burn bright in the hearts of an entire people. Moore has a multitude of these striking and burning passages, in which he has sung, in short, affecting, and patriotic lays, the beauty of many an Irish glen, castle, and ruin, and in this manner has erected, in the hearts of the people, a monument of their fame more indestructible than brass or stone. Thus, in another famous lay, he has sung of the enchanting lake of Glendalough, at whose “gloomy shore” we arrived the following day; thus also has he sung of Innisfallen island, at Killarney:—

  1. Sweet Innisfallen, fare thee well!
    And long may light around thee smile,
    Soft as on that evening fell,
    When first I saw thy fairy isle.

Thus again of Arranmore, the largest of the isles of Arran, on the east coast 21 of Ireland, whose inhabitants, even at the present day, are convinced that from their shores they can behold Hy Brysail, or the enchanted island, the paradise of the heathen Irish;—

  1. O Arranmore, lov'd Arranmore!
    How oft I dream of thee,
    And of those days when by thy shore
    I wander'd young and free;
  2. Or, when the western wave grew bright
    With daylight's parting wing
    Have sought that Eden in its light,
    Which dreaming poets sing.
Then the waters of the Moyle, over which Fionnuala, the daughter of Lir, sails in the form of a swan, till the coming of Christianity, when the first sound of the mass-bell is to be the signal of her release:—
  1. Silent, O Moyle! be the roar of thy water,
And many other remarkable spots of the Emerald Isle.


It is a great mistake to consider Moore a great English poet. He is thoroughly an Irish genius, who only uses the English language to clothe his Irish thoughts, feelings, and sentiments. The English can therefore admire but one half of the man—his language; whilst his other half—his sentiments—cannot reach their hearts as they do those of the Irish, who regard him almost as a divinity. If a Sclavonic poet were thus to breathe his Sclavonic sentiments and patriotism in German verse, we could as little look upon him as a German poet as we can upon Moore as an English poet. Moore's patriotism is completely anti-English. His is the bloody motto which O'Connell has prefixed, to his Memoirs of the History of Ireland:—

  1. But onward!—the green banner rearing
    Go, flesh ev'ry sword to the hilt!
    On our side is Virtue and Erin,
    On theirs is the Saxon and Guilt.
He frequently calls the English the “fiend:” for instance, in his mournful poem on the battle of the Boyne,
  1. As vanquish'd Erin wept beside;—
and in The Parallel, where he compares the Irish to the enslaved Jews, and marches to battle uttering prophetic warnings against their oppressors. He feels a deep sympathy for the deeds of the old Irish heroes and kings, and sings them like a bard of old. Thus he bids the Irish
  1. Remember the glories of Brian the brave!
Thus he takes the harp from Tara's hall, and plays on it in the manner of the ancient bards:—
  1. The harp that once, through Tara's halls,
    The soul of music shed,
    Now hangs as mute on Tara's walls
    As if that soul were fled.
Even against the Danes he goes to battle at the present day, and bids
  1. ——; Erin remember the days of old,
    Ere her faithless son betrayed her.
And in the Ode on Wellington, Ireland's pride, he thus speaks of Erin's history:—
  1. While History's Muse the memorial was keeping
    Of all that the dark hand of Destiny weaves,
    Beside her the Genius of Erin stood weeping,
    For hers was the story that blotted the leaves.

Yea, even his other little poems, which we in Germany often look on as the outpourings of a general melancholy, or excessive sentiment, and deep love for nature and for man, almost one and  p.238 all point symbolically to Erin and her afflicting slavery, or her hoped-for freedom. The melancholy of Moore's poems is as deep, and colours every thing in the same way, as it breathes through the music and the poems of the entire Irish people. They are wholly patriotic in their nature, like the muse of some Sclavonic nations, which also contains poetic lamentations and vain strivings against their tyrants. Moore's love-songs mostly refer to the beauteous Erin; in his drinking songs the goblet circles in honour of Erin; and his elegies on the death of a friend end in his recognising Erin in the features of the deceased. “Erin! the tear and the smile in thine eyes”—“The last glimpse of Erin”—“The sharp avenging sword of Erin”—all these are continually recurring themes in his poems; and nothing but the deepest patriotic feeling for fatherland could have breathed two such beautiful, such affecting melancholy verses as his poem The Tear and the Smile, or as the two others of the song of Fionnuala, which thus conclude:—

  1. Yet still in her darkness doth Erin lie sleeping,
    Still doth the pure light its dawning delay!
    When will that day-star, mildly springing,
    Warm our isle with peace and love?
    When will heaven, its sweet bell ringing,
    Call my spirit to the fields above?
Such beautiful, musical verses as these are written upon the hearts of the Irish, and indelibly stamped upon their memories. They sway the people more than O'Connell's best harangues, which will be entirely forgot long before Moore's verses will cease to be sung by the people from generation to generation. Thomas Moore is a far worse agitator than O'Connell, although he remains quietly at home on his estate, comfortably seated in his easy-chair. He arouses the hearts of the Irish, and with tears, with sighs, with inspired blessings, with curses, and with song and music, he marches to do battle against the English. O'Connell fights in the van; and Moore is his bard, who stands singing at his side, O'Connell, Thomas Moore, and Father Mathew form the great triumvirate which now stands at the head of all moral movements in Ireland, each in his own peculiar field and post. They form the triple leaf of the remarkable shamrock which flourishes fresh and green on the mountain summit of Irish fame, and to which the inhabitants of Erin look up with love and admiration.

It is deserving of remark that these three men are all natives of the south of Ireland, and all from the neighbourhood of the sea coast,—O'Connell from Cahirsiveen, in Kerry, Father Mathew from Cork, and Moore from Wexford, where his father was a  p.239 humble individual, of no importance. This circumstance also proves that the preponderance of Irish patriotism is in the south of the island.

The greatest fault of the Vale of Avoca is, that it is so short, for how gladly would the delighted eye roam over more of those green meadows, those charming groups of rocks, and those ivy-mantled, ivy-draperied trees!

From the Vale of Avoca we arrived at the Vale of Avon, wherein lies the little town of Rathdrum, where we found most excellent, clean, and neat quarters with a small shopkeeper, who is, at the same time, the innkeeper of the place. This reminds me that I have not yet said a single word of all the good, neat, and clean rooms which I found every where during my travels in Ireland. The Irish inns are not so famous as the best in England; nay, even in Ireland, an inn kept by an Englishman is usually recommended with the addition—“the landlord is an Englishman, sir; you will find yourself very comfortable there.” There must, of course, be some reason for this; but so much is certain, that I never felt very anxious about the choice of my quarters, and every day I experienced the most perfect conviction that even in the smallest town I would be able to lie down in the evening in a good and clean bed. The bed and the cleanliness are, however, the principal things which a traveller may always depend upon, for the attendance is mostly slow and the fare not to every body's taste. The beds are generally so large that they take up almost the entire room, and leave only space sufficient to walk round, to look for a convenient spot for ascending this mountain of feathers and bed-clothes. The fare usually consists of mutton chops, potatoes, and tea. The latter is always drinkable and good, the potatoes are always only half boiled (I do not remember having ever eaten a perfectly boiled potato in Ireland), and the mutton chops, at least in the opinion of the eulogizing host, are always “nice,” but sometimes so hard and tough that one scarcely ventures to risk his teeth upon them. Of this description were my mutton chops at Rathdrum. I therefore did as the Irish do with their herrings,—I rubbed my potatoes on the mutton chops, and particularly on their brown roasted fat. Thos my potatoes obtained an excellent taste, and formed another description of potatoes au point.

Not far from Rathdrum, in the vale of Avonmore, are coppermines, which threaten to destroy the beautiful trees. It is well said, utile cum dulce; but unfortunately the utile is almost every where waging internecine war with the dulce. Even the salmon, which were formerly very plentiful in the river Avon, have been driven from it by these mines. “The sulphureous sulphur-water”  p.240 that is pumped up from the copper-mines is the cause of this. When the salmon run into the Avon, they either turn back immediately, or jump out of the water upon the bank, “and die dead.” These pleonasms, some of which I have already mentioned, came so often under my notice in Ireland, that I cannot help considering them as thoroughly national.

27. The Lakes and Ruins of Glendalough

The Uninhabited Mountains—George Irwin, the Guide of Glenda- lough—Description of Glendalough—The Seven Churches—Hypotheses concerning the Round Towers—Graves within the walls of the Seven Churches—Erin's Pleasure Garden—The Lake of the Serpents—The Skylark—The Bishop of Glendalough—Druidical Ruins—Father Mathew in Glendalough—St. Kevin's Bed—St. Kevin and the Fair Kathleen—A Lake in which no one can be drowned—Peculiar Clothing for the Feet—Departure from Glendalough

I had heard so much in praise of the Seven Churches and the Round Tower of the Vale of Glendalough, that I delayed but a few hours in Rathdrum, and then set out with a little one-horse car into the mountains, to visit that valley. I certainly would have shortened those hours to minutes, had I known beforehand what an incomparable spot is distinguished by the name of Glendalough. The road passes first through the valley of Clara, through which the Avonmore flows, and then some ten miles farther, in a sidelong direction, to the source of the little tributary streams of that river. The surrounding country is very thinly inhabited, and in those ten miles there is only one village, called Laragh. The mountains north of these valleys, however, are still more uninhabited, so much so that they are called “the uninhabited mountains,” and are really a phenomenon in this part of the country, which is only a few miles from Dublin. They stretch from north to south, about fifteen miles in length; from east to west, they have a breadth of ten miles; and within this space not only are there mountains, but valleys also, which are almost completely devoid of inhabitants, and, as the people say, uninhabitable. All is stony, rocky ground, with grass thinly scattered, and no kind of vegetation. The entire region is appropriated to feeding goats, which live here half wild, as in the mountains of Kerry. Nay, sometimes they become altogether wild, so that the herdsmen turn  p.241 hunters, and, instead of catching them for slaughtering, shoot them. In the last Irish rebellion, one of the rebel leaders held out against the English troops in these desolate mountains long after the rest of the country was at peace: after keeping possession for years, he was at last taken, and handed over to his executioners.

It is singular that so wild a district should be found so near the principal city of Ireland. Although there are extensive tracts in the British dominions which are much more fertile than any in Germany, there are at the same time spots infinitely more wild than any thing we can find in our own country, which yet possesses more forests and is less thickly populated; for where have we mountain regions where goats and sheep run half or entirely wild? Even on our highest Alps the cattle are every where kept within fences and watched over. I never remember to have seen in Germany such perfectly wild, neglected tracts of ground, either quite destitute of inhabitants, or with a thinly-scattered and miserable population, as are to be found here in Ireland, and also in some parts of Scotland. Thus the physiognomy of the country is a true picture of its social condition. The English have made a great military road through this wilderness, and erected barracks at the various stations, which, in the time of the rebellion, were all filled with soldiers to keep the desert in check. Some of those barracks are now turned into police stations.

At the Laragh barracks three wild glens meet,—Glenavon, Glenmacnass, and that into which we now turned, Glendalough. Scarcely had we reached the entrance of this valley when we observed a man in a purple-red coat standing at a door; and no sooner had he noticed us than he sprang upon our car, and seating himself by the driver, thus addressed me in a loud voice: “Your honour will allow me to go with you? I am the well-known guide of Glendalough: George Irwin is my name, if you please.” But I must describe the man before I allow him to talk. He had a long, matted beard, frizzled-looking, and clinging round his chin and jawbones like wool; his features were very strongly marked; his cheeks weather-beaten and thin; his forehead high and wrinkled; beneath these wrinkles glowed a pair of eyes that gleamed in their sockets; and between all those wrinkles and ruins, a boldly-arched hawk's nose raised itself. His words were rough, wild, and hoarse, and tumbled out over his tongue, like the wild bog-streams of Ireland over dark rocks and mossy stones; and his voice sounded as if it came from a hollow, and from an organ of speech wasted and worn for years by wind, rain, storm, and whisky. “That's my name, your honour,—George Irwin, the guide of  p.242 Glendalough. I have lived here from my youth in this wilderness, and know every corner of the place by heart. I know all the stories our forefathers have handed down from generation to generation to our days, and no one can tell what I know. I have showed all the places here to the great Sir Walter Scott, and his friend, the celebrated Miss Edgeworth; and I was the guide of her gracious Majesty, when she came here as a young princess, with her royal lady mother, the Duchess of Kent. There are a great many other guides here, but none of them can boast of what I can. Get down from the car here, your honour, and follow me, for I only can show you properly all the fine things that are hidden in that valley. This way! this way, your honour!”

I followed this man, who drew me after him almost by force, yet at the same time with courteousness, and with constant “your honour,” until he led me to the mountain lakes of Glendalough, which word means “the vale of the two lakes.” In fact, I do not remember ever to have had a more intelligent and entertaining guide than George Irwin, and I regretted nothing more than my inability to understand all the stories, anecdotes, and legends, which flowed from him like a shower.

Sir Walter Scott, the great Scottish poet, told me, your honour, that he knew no other spot in the world to be compared to our lakes of Glendalough, in natural beauty and romantic situation; and of the Round Tower, which your honour shall soon see, he said, that it was unique in its kind, and that in Scotland there were only the traces of two such round towers remaining, of which we have a hundred and more in Ireland, and some beautiful and perfect ones among them. Our famous Irish poet, Thomas Moore—our Tommy, as we Irish call him for shortness' sake, your honour, just as we usually call the great Daniel O'Connell simply Dan—our Tommy. I say—I know him these forty years, and he knows me very well too—has made a beautiful poem on those lakes, which your honour shall soon see. It begins—

  1. By that lake, whose gloomy shore
    Skylark never warbles o'er;
    Where the cliff hangs high and steep,
    Young Saint Kevin stole to sleep.
I know the entire poem from beginning to end by heart; but of course your honour knows it very well yourself. The young Princess too, now her gracious Majesty, was delighted with the wild charms of this spot; and I almost believe it is our Glendalough that has made her Majesty think of visiting Erin once more next year. I hope she will also come here again, and I perhaps will have again the honour of guiding her where she then,  p.243 as Princess, tripped after her mother, the Dowager Duchess of Kent, to whom I was obliged to explain every thing, and where she will now appear as mistress. We will not fail in paying high honour to her Majesty, for she will be the second crowned head who has come over to us poor Irish on terms of friendship. Henry II., William III., James, and the other English kings who came to Ireland, all appeared with arms in their hands. The only one who ever trod the soil of the island in friendship hitherto was George IV.; therefore they have eternalized his footprint in the rock at Dublin. But now, your honour, now look here: the wood is lightening here; we are coming out of it altogether; and now look, there you have a view of the much-praised scene. There you see ruins of the Seven Churches, the Round Tower in the middle, and the lakes and the mountains behind.”

So wonderful and remarkable a scene I had really never before seen. Wild, bare, rocky, and dark-coloured mountains ran out into a sharp promontory; to the right the ground descends into the valley of Glendassan, and to the left into that of Glendalough. One can see into both these vallies at the same time, through broad, wide rock-doors. In the foreground, in the midst of the basin formed by the meeting of the two vallies, lie the low ruins of the Seven Churches; and right in the centre, forming the middle point of the landscape, rises the lofty, slender, pillar-temple, that stands, in good preservation, exactly in the middle of this picturesque wilderness, like Pompey's Pillar in the midst of the waste of Alexandria. Behind this temple appear the water-mirrors of the two famous lakes; first the smaller, and behind it, the larger. The entire prospect is ruin,—ruins of nature and art. No tillage, no fields: only from the top of one of the higher rocks we saw rising a dull smoke, marking the hut of an inhabitant of the mountains: and below, in the valley, lay the cabins of two public-house keepers and guides, who offer their services and refreshment to travellers.

“All this is now in a sad condition, as your honour sees,” began Irwin again; “but formerly, when the great city of Dublin was still a turf-bog, a flourishing city stood here. There was here a high school of divinity, to which foreigners came from France and Germany, even from Italy, (from Palermo, for instance,) here to draw wisdom and knowledge from one of the light-fountains of our island. This was in the earliest centuries of Christianity. There stood here a college, a convent, many buildings for the students, the professors, and those belonging to the convent; and then, no less than seven churches! The number seven, as your honour knows, was always a sacred number all the world over, in the east  p.244 as in the west. There were seven wise men in Greece; the ancients admired the seven wonders of the world; the bishops in Asia Minor held seven councils; we are told of seven sacraments and seven deadly sins by our religion; and the efore our Irish forefathers also built always seven churches in the finest spots in Erin. Most of those groups of Seven Churches lie on our beautiful, proud river, the Shannon, the king of all the rivers of Great Britain. There are four such Seven Churches there. The first is in Lough Ree, through which the Shannon flows, on an island called Inchclorin; then at Athlone, on the bank of the river, lie the Seven Churches of Clonmacnoise; farther on, the Seven Churches of Inniscaltra, in Lough Derg; and, lastly, at the mouth of the Shannon, the Seven Churches of Scattery Island. The farthest west of the Seven Churches in our country are on the island Arranmore, from the shore of which the inhabitants think they can see Paradise in clear weather, and of which Tommy sings that he often dreams:

  1. Oh Arranmore, loved Arranmore!
    How oft I dream of thee!
I have been there too, your honour, and could tell you many things of those distant islands, but that I must show you the place here, and that I have many things still to explain to you about our Seven Churches of Glendalough. All those Seven Churches I have named, as well as the others, originated in the first ages of Christianity in our land. But even before St. Patrick brought us the light from the Holy Land—in those ancient days when Fionnuala, daughter of Lir, was still flitting around the lakes and rivers of Ireland, longing for deliverance,—even then, God was already honoured here.”

“There, on the tongue of land between the two lakes, I will show your honour some remains of Druid temples; and here you see before you the tall Round Tower, built in our land by the Fire-worshippers of the East. There are certainly some learned men, your honour, who, as I well know, will not believe that those towers ought to be ascribed to orientals, and suppose that they were built by Christians in later times, for other purposes. But this is not true; for, in the first place, all travellers who have come here have assured me that in no country in Europe is there any thing like our Irish Round Towers, and that they have seen similar ones only in the East. And besides, we common Irish know well enough of ourselves by whom those towers were raised, and what purpose they served. The priests of the fire-worshippers ascended to the top of the tower, and shouted at sunrise towards all quarters of the compass, “Baal! Baal! Baal!” to announce to the faithful  p.245 the arrival of the great star, and the time of prayer. We know this well enough, for it has been so handed down to us from our forefathers, from generation to generation. Baal, or Bel, your honour, was the name of the principal god of the orientals, as we know also from the Bible, from Bel at Babel. There is still a Round Tower in Ireland, in the county of Mayo, in the west of Connaught, which to the present day bears the name of Bel or Baal. Besides, I could show your honour, if it were not so cloudy there behind us, a mountain which to this day is called Bel's, or Baal's Mountain. One can see this mountain plainly from the Round Tower, and over it, in summer, the sun rises. I think the priests perceived the sun every morning on the summit of that mountain, and I suppose that on that account they called it the Hill of the Sun.”

I once more beg my German readers to observe, that I record these words of George Irwin, not as the over-strained fancies of an ignorant individual, but because they perfectly represent the views, opinions, and far-and-wide believed traditions of the Irish people; and because, if we will not believe that there is any truth in them, we must at least believe in as great a wonder, a strange monomania to which an entire people has blindly resigned itself.

The Round Tower of Glendalough is one of the most perfect and highest in Ireland. It is 110 feet high, and 51 feet in circumference. Besides a little doorway, which can be easily climbed to from the ground, it has four small windows near the top, and two others farther down. It appears to be built of two kinds of stone—of granite, and clay-slate wedged in between the granite blocks. It is almost impossible to view without emotion this majestic, uncommon, and also perplexing kind of building, in which all the Irish take so great an interest, that almost every one who has written any thing, has put on paper his own theory of the object of the Round Towers. Not only have professors and authors ex professo published treatises on those matters, but many amateurs of Irish antiquities have also produced their theories. When you meet with an idle rector, or a curate or vicar living alone, the one will not fail to tell you that he rejects all hitherto proposed hypotheses about the Round Towers, and has a theory of his own, which he will commit to paper as soon as his business will allow him; and the other will say, he has long since prepared a little treatise on the subject, which, on account of different obstacles, is not yet printed.

The Seven Churches lie, in the same manner as those on Scattery Island, and in a more or less ruined state, about the Round Tower, and the entire area of the ruins serves at this day  p.246 for a churchyard. The people of the glens around bury their dead here, some in the sacred precincts of the old churches, and others near them, and near the pillar-temple. Close to the foot of this primeval building I saw the recent grave of a little girl: the cross on the grave had been ornamented with cut-paper wreaths, which the wind had partially dispersed. A small division of the ruins, called the sacristy, is specially reserved for the burial of the priests of the neighbourhood. St. Kevin, the famous saint of this place, prayed that heaven might grant his petition, that all who should be buried within the circuit of the Seven Churches might on the day of judgment be saved, or at least be judged less severely. Therefore the inhabitants of the surrounding country, on I know not what day of June, assemble here, and adorn the graves and crosses of those dear to them, and the stones of the old ruins, with flowers, branches, and cut papers, in memory of St. Kevin's goodness, and in honour of their dead.

“This is a fine festival, your honour, and the entire churchyard is then full of people, singing and praying, who have streamed in from twenty or thirty miles round, and met in Glendalough. As they are free from anxiety with respect to the souls of their departed friends, confiding in their hopes of being saved at the judgment, the festival is not altogether a mourning one; and they sometimes indulge in a certain degree of gaiety over the graves. I might almost call this festival “Erin's pleasure-garden.” Yes! churchyards and ruins are indeed Erin's pleasure-gardens.”

Here also the people show several old graves as those of Irish kings, which lie surrounded by the graves of the poor of modern days. The entrance to the ruins is by an old half-ruined Saxon doorway, wreathed with ivy. Amid the stones which lie about among the ruins, and by the little stream which runs near the edge of the churchyard, are several very curious ones, to which particular virtues of a strange nature are ascribed. There is one which has a hole for kneeling in; and the prayers offered in this hole are supposed to have a particular efficacy. Then there is an ancient cross, which women embrace to render them more prolific; but as Irish women are generally blest with plenty of children, this cross is quite superfluous. In the old churches there are many strange articles of furniture which I never saw before; for instance, an ancient baptismal font, in which the children were entirely immersed, and which was also covered with a lid through which the head only appeared.

Next to the site of the ruins lies, as I have said, the first, or little lake. “It is called also the Lake of Serpents, your honour, or Lough Napeastia. This lake, your honour, is so called, because  p.247 St. Patrick banished into it all the serpents of Ireland, so that even to the present day not a serpent is to be found in all Ireland, except in the depths of this lake. The serpents were naturally very much discontented with this watery dwelling, your honour, and particularly one of them, a very big one, which came often from the lake out on the shore, and prayed St. Patrick to allow her a little freedom. The good-natured saint marked out a space near the lake, which she might look on as her own territory. The serpent now considered herself as unrestrained mistress in this domain; and when they began to build one of the Seven Churches on it, she was very much displeased, and always came out of the water by night, and threw down what had been built by day. As the workmen could not in any way get rid of her, at last St. Patrick prayed God to release him from his word pledged to the serpent, and to grant that he might be at liberty not to keep his promise, and to drive her again into the water. God permitted it, and so it was done; and the serpent was forced again into the pond, and since then dared not come out again, to disturb the work of the workmen.” I think it is sufficiently evident that this legend must have originated in the head of an Irishman.

“Is not that a wonderful story, your honour? But much more wonderful, and not less true, is what is affirmed of the upper lake, —that never since St. Patrick's time has a lark built a nest on its shore, or even been able to fly over it. For thirteen hundred years, your honour,—this is a certain truth,—one single lark has not flown over this lake. Tommy Moore, too, confirms this when he sings,

  1. By that lake, whose gloomy shore
    Skylark never warbles o'er.
This happens, your honour, because it was the skylarks who used to rouse the workmen early to their work, when they were building the Seven Churches here by the lake. The “undertakers”, who employed the workmen, took this song of the lark to mark the commencement of the day and the labour. In those days they had no clocks; and in the long winter nights, and dark overcast days in summer, they only knew how to reckon their hours by burning wax tapers. When now those larks, which had helped in so holy and beautiful a work, were dead, by St. Kevin's decree no others were thought worthy of singing their song here after those pious larks.”

“St. Kevin was the builder of those Seven Churches, your honour; and he was also the first bishop of Glendalough. Many bishops succeeded him, and many treasures, both ecclesiastical and secular, were laid up here. As long as the four Irish kings  p.248 still ruled our island, and as long as our Erin was still untroubled by foreign enemies, this place remained uninjured; but it was afterwards often plundered by the Danes, and then by the Saxons, and was often the scene of contests between the English and the O'Byrnes, a clan which lived in this neighbourhood. In the year 1309, for instance, the English ventured too far into this wild mountain country, under Lord Grey, and were attacked by the chieftain of the O'Byrnes, and defeated with great slaughter. The Seven Churches here, like all the Seven Churches in Ireland, which were all founded by ancient high-honoured Irish saints, and near which the kings of Ireland lived and were buried, fell into neglect and ruin under the English government. The bishopric of Glendalough was united with that of Dublin; and to this day, the Archbishop of Dublin is also called Bishop of Glendalough, though nothing but ruins is now indicated by the name. Your honour may remark too, that although those ruins are so completely and entirely fallen, we Irish have still preserved their names, and to this day this pile is called “Trinity Church”, that wall “Our Lady's Chapel”, and that other, “St. Kevin's Church.” And we will keep these names as long as one stone of the churches stands on another.”

The isthmus between the two lakes is covered with some traces of old ditches and masonry, which are thought by the people to be the work of the Druids. Among others, there is an entire circle of well-preserved walls, seventeen feet in diameter, which Irwin set down without hesitation as a Druidical temple. Others believe that it was merely a pen or fold, used by the herdsmen for their cattle,—a somewhat curious alternative. I am not disposed to adopt either supposition, the wall being too insignificant for a temple and too good and solid for a fold. Near the Druidical buildings stand the remains of a single stone cross, which, as Irwin argued, proved still more conclusively the heathen origin of the former, because, as he said, the early Christians often erected crosses on the sites of heathen worship, so as to consecrate them to the true God.

On the 3rd of June, last year, this Druidical isthmus was the theatre of a great temperance festival. Father Mathew having visited the neighbourhood, selected this ancient place, and appointed the meeting to be held on the day (the feast of St. Kevin) so much honoured by the Irish people. “Upon this stone wall, your honour,” said my guide, “the God-gifted man stood, and preached to the people with a powerful voice. They were collected together from all the neighbouring glens,—some from Glenmacnass and Glenavonmore, some from the Vale of Avoca, some  p.249 from the far side of Lugduff, from Glenmalure, and the goatherds of the Uninhabited Mountains,—and there were from 20,000 to 30,000 people assembled here, and among them many of the nobility and gentry. All the different temperance societies were present, with their bands of music. Twenty-four temperance bands, with their followers, passed through the little village of Rathdrum alone on that day. Never, since St. Kevin's time, were so many people assembled here for a pious object. The man of God preached and gave the pledge to thousands. I think, your honour, that those who took the pledge here, between the lake full of serpents, and the one deserted by the larks, in sight of St. Kevin's bed, in the neighbourhood of the Seven Churches, and of the old, honoured, pillar-temple, on ground, too, that was holy even in the time of our Druid forefathers of old,—I think that they, I say, will not readily break the pledge.”

On the second lake a boat awaited us, and we embarked in it, to enjoy a view of the rugged overhanging rocks of Lugduff and Mullacop, which advance to the edge of the shore. The chief wonder in these cliffs is St. Kevin's bed, a little hollow, which is seen some forty feet above the water, and is approached by narrow steps cut in the rock. It appears to have been hollowed out by the hand of man, and is so small that one person only can conveniently stretch himself out in it. It is also said by the people to possess the same virtues in regard to the fruitfulness of women which are ascribed to the cross I have already mentioned. I have neglected to observe, that whilst we continued within the bounds of Glendalough, in addition to our principal guides, we were accompanied by a party of idle women, girls, boys, and children, who followed us every where. Such a retinue the stranger in Ireland has always behind him; and he finds it as difficult lo get rid of it, as O'Connell does to rid himself of his tail. One cannot drive those people away by entreating or scolding: they run constantly after one, at first merely gaping in silence, but afterwards joining in the conversation and assisting the real guide. This our tail now rushed to St. Kevin's bed, and seemed anxious to creep in all together, until one old woman drove all the others away, proclaiming that it was her privilege to show a stranger the position of a woman in Kevin's bed. She accordingly crouched herself in it like a bird in its nest, or the image of a saint in its niche, and, as seen from the lake, presented a very comical appearance.

The legend which the Irish tell of this bed is very poetical:—“St. Kevin, your honour, was a young man, who probably felt like other young men, and also devoted the best part of his feelings  p.250 to the fair sex, until he turned his thoughts to himself, and pledged his love to higher things, and determined to renounce the world and its joys, and, above all things, woman. Hardest of all for him was the parting from the fair Kathleen, a beautiful young maiden whom he loved, and who loved him too in her heart, and lamented his attachment to holy things. Young Kevin fled from her in vain: for wherever he retired, his beloved one followed him, and by her presence kindled anew the fire of his earthly love. At last he found the lonely lake of Glendalough, and his little inaccessible cave, where he fixed his quarters by night, in hopes of sleeping here in peace; but the loving one followed his steps here also. She climbed the steep rocks, and, one morning at sunrise, discovered her beloved sleeping on his hard couch. In loving admiration she bowed herself over his couch and gazed on him, folding her hands the while, and praying to heaven in his behalf. Kevin awoke from holy dreams for holy works, and when he saw the female form looking down into his narrow cell, his first impulse was directed against her. Hastily he sprang up and pushed her back. The fair and unfortunate Kathleen fell down the rough rocks, sank in the waters below, and disappeared. St. Kevin looked after her, and when he saw the lovely form sinking, felt himself once more stirred with emotion and love. As he could not now help her, he fell on his knees, and prayed for her soul. His prayer re-echoed from the rocks, and when he looked up, he saw her spirit smiling on him, gently gliding away over the waves of the lake. He now passed all the rest of his life in seriousness and piety, and God also granted his prayer, that no one in future should be drowned in that lake. In fact, your honour, during the 1300 years that have passed since St. Kevin's time, no human being has been drowned in its waters. People bathe here indeed without scruple, but in the other one, the Serpents' Lake, no one bathes. No one ventures even to put a foot into its enchanted waters. All these things are true, your honour, and conformable to history, as I tell them to your honour; and if any authors relate them otherwise, they are wrong. We, though we write no books, nor ever read any either, have a much purer source to draw from, for we have it all handed down from generation to generation.”

In winter, however, thought I, it must be difficult to distinguish between the blessed and the enchanted water; for then it often happens that the entire valley of Glendalough is covered by one and the same great sheet of water.

The ground behind the lake looked very wild and lonely. A pair of eagles build their nest on one of the rocks, and the  p.251 mountaineers who managed our boat informed us, that they sometimes approached these eagles, armed with their shillelaghs, and deprived them of their young.

These people have a strange clothing for the feet: it is a kind of stocking, without a sole, which covers only the upper part of the foot; and there is a hole in the fore part of the stocking, through which the great toe protrudes, and thus the stocking is secured to the foot. These stockings, for which the bare foot forms the sole, are a very ancient fashion in this country; and it is only very recently that leather shoes have been introduced.

As we returned from the most distant corner of the lake, we recalled with pleasure the succession of fair scenes we had surveyed—the dark rocks, the Druidical isthmus, Father Mathew's festival, the Lake of Serpents, St. Patrick's soft-heartedness, the graves, the pillar-temple—what riches! At last we passed out through the little ivy-covered ruined gateway; and near an old hawthorn, which Irwin pointed out as marking the bounds of the town that once stood here, we seated ourselves on our car, and drove off silently, thanking the Irish for their “jaunting-cars,” whose formation allowed us so to sit, that, instead of the horses before us, we could see the vanishing landscape of Glendalough behind us, on which our eyes remained eagerly fastened as long as possible.

28. From Glendalough to Dublin

Protestant Dislike of the Temperance Cause—Copper Mines—Rathdrum—Improvements in Ireland—Copperplates in the Church—Groups of Mountains—Planting of Trees—Decoration of Country Houses—The Park of the Cunningham Family—Giant Arbutus—Glen of the Downs—The Great and Little Sugar-Loaves—Dalkey Island

At Rathdrum I was told that not one of the Protestants of that place, though they amounted to several hundreds, had taken the pledge. This I had also heard in many of the small towns of the south of Ireland. In the north, on the contrary, many Protestants have become teetotallers. I can only explain this by supposing that the Protestants of the south, being the minority of the population, are more jealous of the Catholics, and therefore less inclined to join in a movement which originated with them. The Protestants at Rathdrum appeared to me even to hold temperance in no small contempt, and to speak of it with derision. They affirmed that it  p.252 was nothing less than an universal conspiracy of all the Catholics, with which, in their town at least, the Protestants were in no way connected.

The copper mines near Rathdrum are worked by gentlemen from Cornwall, of the name of Williams, who are also proprietors of mines in America. These old mines are now worked on a new system; and no less than 2000 persons are said to be employed in the mines of the vales of Avonmore and Avoca. The managers of the mines are Englishmen, and the workmen Irish. There are several lead mines also in this district, under the direction of the Irish Mining Company. Nearly all the mountains of Wicklow contain veins of metal; nay, even gold has been found in Croghan; but I fear this discovery has realised the proverb that “all is not gold that glitters.”

In the workhouse at Rathdrum I found 300 paupers. Three months before the number had been upwards of 350; but as it was now the potato harvest, with work plentiful and potatoes cheap, many of the inmates had requested their discharge, whilst with the return of spring they would all crowd in again. I was informed that the first patient admitted into the hospital lately erected here was a German clockmaker, from which it appears that this class of artizans, who are so numerous throughout Great Britain, are to be found even in these small Irish towns.

I know not whether the Protestants of Rathdrum are especially zealous, or whether their manners and opinions are more or less conformable to those of all Irish Protestants; but I was informed that very few of them sent their children to the national school of that place. The great subject of dispute between the Protestants and Catholics, as regards these national schools, is, whether extracts only from the Bible shall be given to the pupils, or the entire and unabridged Scriptures. The former is the wish of the Catholics, and they have carried their point; the Protestants insist on the latter, but hitherto without success, since Catholic influence preponderates at the Board of Education in Dublin.

Twenty or thirty years ago there was not a single good house in Rathdrum; now the town looks very neat and regular. The question which the English so often propose, whether Ireland is an improving country? must be answered in the affirmative, in respect of a hundred different kinds of improvements. The external appearance of the towns has everywhere improved within the last twenty years; the roads, canals, and other means of transport, are improving everyday; and the cultivation of grain, and the planting of trees, is increasing, as any one may perceive, whether travelling by highways or by-ways. The increase of  p.253 schools is not less extraordinary than the diminution of crime. Even party spirit, especially in religious matters, seems, in accordance with the governing spirit of the age, to have lost its bitterness, and become somewhat milder. There is but one evil that seems to oppose an obstinate resistance to this universal improvement—I mean poverty: nay, this evil seems rather to be painfully on the increase.

In a Protestant church at Rathdrum I saw what I had already seen in many other Protestant churches in Ireland, namely, prints from copperplate engravings,—engravings from Raphael and other painters, hung on the walls of the church, as in a saloon, in place of the oil paintings which are found in German churches. In no other country have I seen engravings so highly honoured. These prints seem to me undeserving of such an honour, whilst the dignity of the church is in some measure lowered by their introduction. What a poverty in the higher branches of art does not such a substitute indicate! In many parts of Germany, in some provinces of Austria, for instance, a painter in oils is to be found in almost every village, who is able to ornament its church as it deserves. But this introduction of black engravings into a church manifests an extreme degree of coldness and insipidity in religious art, more especially as they are not at all adapted for large buildings.

It was on a Sunday that I again mounted a little car, in order more conveniently to visit some beauties of the county of Wicklow,—the celebrated Devil's Glen, the Glen of the Downs, the Rock of Glencarrig, &c. The peculiar grouping of the mountains, (a characteristic I have already several times mentioned,) which lie in clusters, or singly beside each other, while a plain extends all round them, forms a peculiar feature in the landscape, with their two open valleys on each side, or the broad level pass between them. Mountain passes usually ascend the sides and pass over the ridge of the mountain; but here you often travel over the plain, then traverse a valley between the mountains, without ascending at all, and then, after some time, come forth again on the broad plain—a mode of travelling which produces an extremely pleasing effect.

Many Irish proprietors are now planting the mountains with trees, and I observed with pleasure the new plantations in the vale of Glencarriff. The larch seems to be here, as in Scotland, a favourite tree, and several of them were covered from top to bottom with ivy, which, the people say, never climbs the pine or the silver fir. The eye is never tired of the beautiful old oaks, and the fine groups of trees which are every where seen, with the fresh meadows between them. I can perfectly understand why people  p.254 in England pay such immense prices for Ruysdaels and Hobbemas, since every Englishman who owns a park zealously endeavours to be more than a pupil of these artists, by creating actual groups of trees like those which they have depicted on the canvas. Hobbema is, at the present moment, more in vogue than Ruysdael, and thousands of pounds are paid for his pictures. Some years ago Ruysdael was in the ascendant.

Wo to that man who no longer perceives in himself any trace of vanity! It is in general an evident sign that his ruin is at hand. It is only after love of bare absolute necessity is satisfied, that the love of personal decoration, and the embellishment of whatever surrounds us, begins. I have found no country in which so many men have renounced all impulse for decoration, and all love of ornament, as in Ireland. It was therefore quite refreshing and gratifying to discover, in this part of the country, so many farmers' and peasants' houses ornamented in a very peculiar manner,—the ridges, edges, and borders of the straw-roofs being plaited like the manes of horses; and in some instances this plaiting was executed so neatly, that it looked as if an elegant border of lace ran all round the edge of the roof. At times cottages are seen quite luxurious in this straw-lace, being decked out with it like the ball-dress of a lady. Many of these dwellings belong to wealthy and aristocratic individuals, who sometimes whimsically term their sumptuous country-seats merely cottages. At times, however, they are the elegant, ornamented, suitable abodes of the farmers.

It is extremely gratifying to find in the little gardens of these cottages all the elements of which the great parks are composed,—a little spot of bright-green turf, kept in such wonderful order; a few neat laurel trees, every leaf of which seems to be carefully trimmed; some small arbutus, a rose-tree in full bloom on the wall of the house, and various other pretty evergreens. The narrow paths are kept as trim and neat, and bounded with as clear sharp lines as if in a drawing; and as the proprietor has not much land to lose in a mere pleasure-ground, the whole is often not much larger than an oil painting.

As the Avoca flows down to Arklow, so does the little river Vartry run into the sea at Wicklow. This little valley is also famed and visited for its beauties, especially for a wild, narrow defile, through which flows the river, after having thrown itself in a splendid cascade from a wild boggy height. This part is called the Devil's Glen. Profane as its name may sound, this celebrated spot observed its Sunday in a very pious and Christianlike manner, its owner having locked the iron gate placed at its entrance. Most  p.255 gardens and remarkable places, both in England and Ireland, are thus closed on Sunday, in order to shut out the shoals of curious “Sunday people” by which they would otherwise be visited on that day. This, however, was the first instance I had met with in which an entire wild valley was locked up in this way; but as an exception was made in favour of foreign travellers, I was allowed to steal in through a Sunday side-gate. On the whole, the Devil had a tolerably easy task here, compared with what he has accomplished in other parts of the world. The rocks that lie scattered about are indeed wild, rugged, and lofty enough, but the work done here was not so difficult as to require the supernatural agency of the mighty spirit by which Devil's bridges and Devil's caves of a very different character have been elsewhere constructed.

The cascade, in the back-ground of the valley, tumbles down from a wild plateau of bog, and, though now in the autumn, the bog did its best to provide it with turf-brown water; yet no part of it interested us so much as the contrast between this same brown colour of the water, and the white colour of the foam. I would have gladly returned by another, wilder side-path, on the other bank of the river; but one of the inhabitants of the cottages near the waterfall told me that Mr. S——, to whom that side of the valley belonged, allowed no one to pass that way on a Sunday. Here also the mountains have a physiognomy very usual in Ireland. Below, they are encircled with a wreath of oak and ash trees; then, a little higher up, comes a bare streak of heather; and, finally, on the very top, lie great fragments of rocks, which sometimes resemble an artificial wall.

The park of the Cunningham family, near Mount Kennedy, afforded us much more enjoyment than the Devil's Glen. This park, from its peculiarity of soil and situation, is particularly favourable to evergreens. Here are to be seen an incredible multitude of laurels, hollies, and, in a meadow, the largest arbutus in Ireland. The main trunk of this tree—the “Master-tree,” as the gardener called it—no longer exists; it was cut down, I forget why. From the root, however, no fewer than twenty-five long branches or trees had shot forth on all sides. I walked round beneath the extreme tops of the branches, and found that its circumference was not less than eighty-three paces. Another giant arbutus, of similar size, existed at Rogerstown, near Dublin, till the year 1839, when unfortunately it was blown down by a storm. These old and gigantic trees, which must have been planted at a very remote period, are daily diminishing in number, either by the fury of the tempest, or the hand of man; and their gradual disappearance may suggest the question, whether the  p.256 present generation is sowing the seeds which shall provide our posterity, five hundred years hence, with similar old trees, or whether such tree-Methusalems will never again exist on our earth?

In this garden cypresses also were growing in the open air, in a northern latitude but a few minutes removed from the fifty-third degree. There is no doubt that Ireland is that country nearest to the north in which the cypress flourishes. The rose-trees were covered with blossoms, even at this late season of the year; and I may here say, once for all, that I found them blooming every where in the open air, even in the extreme north of Ireland; and even there they rise into such high bushes and trees as to overshadow the cottages near which they are planted.

On our way from Mount Kennedy, we passed the Glen of the Downs, which is, if I may use the expression, a completely impromptu valley in the middle of a plain; for from the plain you suddenly enter a charming corridor of rocks, which is thickly hung with oaks, ivy, and bushes, and contains some glorious spots, whilst in a few minutes the quick-rolling car again emerges upon the downs. These “Downs” are very numerous in Great Britain; and the word is probably derived from the Celtic “Dun”. The English, especially in Ireland, have corrupted numbers of Celtic words, and altered them to suit their own meaning.

After issuing from the Glen of the Downs, you perceive the Great Sugar-loaf on the left, and the Little Sugar-loaf on the right. These two mountains, which taper from the base to the summit with as much regularity as an Egyptian pyramid, are the most remarkable hills in the county of Wicklow; but the names by which they are known in Ireland cannot be of very ancient origin, as scarcely three hundred years have elapsed since sugar-loaves of a conical form were first made. Both these mountains are quite bare from top to bottom.

Not far from the Sugar-loaves lies the well-known Killonderry park, and the little town of Bray; while the demesne and mansion of Powerscourt, and the little town of Enniskerry, are but a short way off. Then follows an extraordinary number of little towns, villages, parks, castles, houses, cottages, and other descriptions of country-seats, all of which are more or less distinguished by their situation and their charming pleasure-grounds. In a word, the district from hence to Dublin is most populous, and extremely rich in villages and towns; here houses and cultivation are no longer required. It is a most beautiful drive; and is to Ireland what the county of Kent is to England. We had frequent glimpses of the sea, which disappeared again behind oaks, parks, and mountains. Of Ireland—the old Celtic, turfy, wild Ireland—there is  p.257 here no longer a single trace, except it is to be found in the island of Dalkey, which is visible in the distance, on the waves of the ocean. Every thing becomes more and more English; and, finally, the traveller arrives at Kingstown, from whence he speeds off to Dublin by a railway.

29. Dublin

1. O'Connell and the Repeal Association

O'Connell—the Emerald Legion—Mottoes on the walls of the Conciliation hall—Tribunes of the people in France, Germany, Rome, and England—O'Connell in the costume of Lord Mayor—Tom Steele—O'Connell's sons and sons-in-law—Dan and his wig—Dan's habits while speaking—His language—His catch-words—Invectives against England—Physical force—America's example—Repeal!—“I offer the people of Ireland repeal”—Peel's blunders—England's weakness is Ireland's strength—England's sickness is Ireland's health—“Make you a nation again!”—O'Connell and the child—Limerick's daughters—Contributions to repeal—The graziers and repeal—O'Connell's tears—O'Loughlin—A German repealer—The Money-box—The O'Connell rent

On my return to the Irish capital, my first visit was to that man whom every stranger in Dublin must be equally eager to see as he would the Pope, if in Rome,—I mean the man whom in Kerry they call King “by courtesy,” or in joke,—who was then Lord Mayor of Dublin,—who is designated throughout all Ireland the “Immortal” and the “Great Agitator,” and for whom they have in London so many other names. It is certainly a pleasure to be able to converse for a quarter of an hour with a man so clever, so experienced, so distinguished, talented, and intelligent, and who, within the walls of his own house, is such an agreeable and hospitable host. But I will speak as little of O'Connell in his private capacity as I would of the private character of any other man I became acquainted with. Many individuals are unknown beyond the narrow circle of their private life, and these belong entirely to themselves; others, again, appear on the stage of public life, as actors, as authors, or as statesmen, and thus, in some measure, lay themselves open to criticism. Such men, so long as they wear the costume of the part they have assumed, it is allowable to judge, and speak of freely and openly, without committing any breach of decorum. Nay, one may even be their determined public enemy,  p.258 and at the same time be their sincere friend in private, or at least feel no further hostility towards them.

O'Connell, in proportion as he has made himself more public, has retained less of himself for himself than any other man in England. He every where gives himself up to the gaze and judgment of the public, whether in parliament or at public meetings, in the streets, at elections, or in travelling. He scarcely ever ceases to lead a public life, and almost every thing he does is done before the eyes of hundreds or thousands. Peel, Wellington, and other great statesmen, hide themselves in the mysteries of their bureaux and cabinets, from which they issue forth in their public measures, and in person only in parliament, or at public dinners. O'Connell, the tribune of the people, is almost public property, flesh and bone; he even speaks of his domestic concerns at his popular meetings, for he is enabled to support his house and his family only through the indirect assistance of the public.

Whoever travels in Germany, or in any other country, for geographical or ethnographical purposes, and wishes only to make himself acquainted with the character of the country and its inhabitants, need not trouble himself much about the personal characteristics of our distinguished men. To travel in Ireland for the same purposes, and to remain ignorant of O'Connell,—the man who, as Atlas supports the earth, has taken the entire emerald isle on his shoulders,—is next to impossible; for he is himself an ethnographical phenomenon, partly because for thirty years he has exercised an extraordinary influence over the formation of the character and the condition of his nation, and partly because he himself and his power is another phenomenon, which can only be explained by the character of Irish nationality.

The Irish are a people after the old model, a people almost without a counterpart in the world. In Germany, we have every where become too enlightened and too self-dependent for any individual to be able to raise himself to such preponderating authority. We laugh at all who call themselves prophets; but among the Irish the old faith in saints and miracles still exists. Here alone the mighty, the immortal, and the great still find a fertile soil, whence to obtain laurels and a halo. The Irish are enthusiastic, credulous, blind, innocent as children, and patriotic, so that they are ready to abandon themselves to the most ardent admiration of a talented individual, and to raise him aloft on their shields and shoulders, as the Romans were wont to elevate their generals. They are also unhappy, and desirous to be relieved from their sufferings, and their full, wounded hearts are consequently ever ready to applaud and shower down praises on him  p.259 who manifests sympathy in their wrongs and devotion in their cause.

In a well-regulated state, among an enlightened, well-governed people, where every one possesses some knowledge, and where every one has sufficient for his wants, the elevation of such a tribune of the people would be a pure impossibility. It was not till Rome's infima plebs began to sink in misery and vice, that the tribunes of the people made their appearance on the stage. In Ireland, there are more miserable poor beings, without rights and without property, than in any other country in the world; and it is therefore a soil suited for the production of talented, active, eloquent tribunes like O'Connell. For thirty years has O'Connell represented the vigorous and unwearied arm of Ireland, which, during the whole of that period, has been threatening England, and with which she is again wresting her plundered natural rights, one after the other, from the flames of an English parliament lighted to consume them.

I am not vain enough to suppose that I can furnish a complete portrait of a man so remarkable as O'Connell, and I will not, therefore, attempt a task for which I feel myself incompetent. I will, however, endeavour to present those of my readers who have not had an opportunity of personally witnessing a muster, or even a company, of the Emerald Legion, (as O'Connell, in his poetic flights, often calls his repealers,) with a faithful picture of such a meeting, accompanied with a few remarks on some of those individuals so often mentioned in the newspapers, who were present on this occasion. It was one of the usual repeal meetings, summoned by O'Connell to keep the fire of agitation alive among the people, and was held in the hall of the Corn Exchange. Although I arrived at the hour appointed, I found the hall already crowded to suffocation. Judging from external appearance, I concluded that the assemblage was entirely composed of such men from the counties of Kerry, Clare, and Kildare, as I had seen in their proper costume of rags in the interior of the country. To my great astonishment, very few whole coats, and not many we would call orderly and comfortable citizens, were to be seen. They were all standing or sitting on benches, ranged round the walls of the hall in an amphitheatrical form. In the middle was a table, at which some clerks and reporters were seated. A gallery which ran round the room was filled with women, boys, and girls. Perceiving that there was still some room at the table in the middle of the hall, I endeavoured to force my way to it, and instantly found a multitude of helping arms, by whose good-natured assistance I was elevated above their heads, and passed over the railing  p.260 that surrounded the table, at which I then seated myself. Rags and lappets hung down every where over the railing; for tattered clothes composed the almost universal uniform of the Emerald Legion. I do not mean to say any thing slanderous, hard hearted, or incompassionate of these poor people, who could procure no better uniform for this solemn meeting; but merely to attest the fact, that most of O'Connell's repeal friends were arrayed in rags. Next morning, however, I read in the Dublin papers that yesterday's repeal meeting was “very respectably attended,” which I conclude, from the usual omission of these words, was not always the case. The entire assembly presented such an appearance as is only seen in France or Germany when the lowest turbid strata of society is thrown up by the fury of a political hurricane. Nay, even in times of revolution, any thing like it would be sought for in vain amongst us.

At the end of the table was an elevated seat for the chairman, and another for O'Connell at its side. Over the chairman's seat waved a green flag, on which the words “Repeal! Repeal! Repeal!” were embroidered in letters of gold. On the walls of the hall, as is usually the case in England on similar occasions, were several mottoes, such as the following:—
“That people which does not desire to make its own laws, desires slavery, and deserves slavery.”
“He who commits a crime increases the strength of our enemies.”
“Repeal is Erin's right and God's decree.”

It is one of the most remarkable characteristics of the national character of the British and their political constitution, and one which has not been sufficiently admired by foreigners, that an agitation almost bordering on revolt can be borne and suffered by both, without their receiving any essential injury. O'Connell's uninterrupted career of thirty or forty years, as the popular tribune and agitator of Ireland, is not more strongly illustrative of the extreme craftiness of this able man, who, although ever verging on the extreme limits of the law, yet never oversteps them, than it is of the political freedom and national character of the whole British people, as well as of their ministers and statesmen, in whose side O'Connell must be a most vexatious thorn, and the greatest stumbling-block, whilst they have never yet ventured on a single step beyond what the law allows, or injured a single hair of his head. I will not here inquire whether it would be possible, either in France or Germany, for such an individual to persevere in a similar course of agitation for so long a time, without entering a prison or being brought to the guillotine but I will  p.261 turn to the free republics of Greece and Rome, and ask what were the ends and destinies of the popular tribunes of those states? I do not believe that in either of those republics an instance can be found of a man being able to raise and support with impunity so unheard-of a storm, against such vast aristocratic power, so long as O'Connell has contended against the aristocracy of England and Ireland. It seems to me that in this respect his case is unparalleled in history, while he is but the second who never changed his attitude. He was the agitator and man of the people thirty years ago, and the agitator and man of the people he still is. He never gave up his part, like those Roman tribunes of old who all ended in attempting to grasp the kingly crown. I do not, however, here overlook the fact, that O'Connell is yet alive, and that I should not beatify him before his death. That this phenomenon has already continued for thirty years is a wonder unheard-of till now.

The shouting and cheers in the street, and the rolling of a carriage, announced the approach of the Lord Mayor, who soon after entered, accompanied by the chairman, whose name I do not remember. I must tell the truth: I was, I think, quite free from prejudice against O'Connell, but he appeared to me somewhat comical in his lord mayor's costume. The splendid red fur-lined robe, and the long double gold chain, 22 methought did not at all become him: at least in London I saw a Lord Mayor whom all this finery became much better. This is no reproach to O'Connell, for there are many mighty spirits not made for uniforms. The cheers with which he was received were extremely animated, and each of the captains of the Emerald Legion was also received with great cheering. Men, women, and children, all shouted and joined in the noise. Among these captains none attracted my attention more  p.262 than Tom Steele, who is almost as celebrated as O'Connell himself; although, without O'Connell, he would probably be as little known as the satellites of Jupiter if there were no Jupiter. This man, I was told, had wasted no inconsiderable property, solely in agitating. He is now poor, and only more devoted to the cause for which he has sacrificed his fortune. Tom Steele forcibly reminded me of Bardolph, Pistol, and Nym's companions, or perhaps, rather of Corporal Bardolph himself. He has the long meagre figure of a corporal, with a regular red Bardolph nose; his features, however, at least at present, are somewhat more care-worn and melancholy than Shakspere's corporal. His appearance denotes a man of little or no education, and when he speaks it is altogether inconceivable how he can ever have obtained any influence or reputation among the people, except it be through gratitude for the money he has expended in their cause. Whether this man has other internal, nobler qualities which were hidden from me, I know not; but so much is certain, that I have not gone a hair's-breadth too far in my description of him. Falstaff blames Prince Henry for the bad company in which he finds him; and I must say Tom's physiognomy—judging merely from its appearance—was one in whose society I would rather not have seen O'Connell.

The room again resounded with the cheers of the multitude, in welcome of John O'Connell, “the amiable son of the Liberator,” as he was repeatedly called in the speeches that followed. The sons and sons-in-law of O'Connell all stand by their father—they are all agitators and repealers. Nay, even his little grandsons lend their aid to the cause; and very lately O'Connell had his twenty-first or twenty-second grandson made a member of the Repeal Association immediately after his birth. On that occasion he said, he was an old man and might soon die, but that he would inoculate all his own and Ireland's children and their children's children with repeal. John O'Connell, (after his father, one of the most distinguished members of the family,) has externally little resemblance to the repeal patriarch. He is smaller and more delicately formed than his sire, whose features are all a little too broad, and his countenance is by no means so remarkable. According to the general opinion, he is very talented, and deserving of esteem. What I heard him say was very pertinent to the subject, and he spoke more fluently than any other person who addressed the meeting.

The chairman having opened the proceedings with a short speech, next read the minutes of the previous meeting, and then announced various contributions to the repeal rent, which were deposited in a box on the table appropriated for their reception.  p.263 Letters were also read from persons of distinction who expressed themselves favourable to repeal.

John O'Connell then rose, and gave an account of a journey through the interior of Ireland, from which he had just returned. He described the magnificent meetings he had attended at Balliwatobber, Ballinmormagh, Kilkerrin, Kilbirry, and other equally distinguished places, where he found all the most respectable inhabitants most determined anti-unionists, and devoted, soul and body, to the repeal cause! Many priests had promised their support; and he calculated that, on the whole, at least 50,000 persons had pledged themselves for repeal at the various meetings he had attended.

Then arose Dan himself, and adjusted his wig. In the heat of his speech he often accidentally touches his wig, sometimes pushing it off a little, and then pulling it down again into its proper position on the other side. It is said that he even took off this wig at a public meeting and exhibited his bald head. On the occasion alluded to he had severely criticized the conduct of a gentleman of the party opposed to him, and, indulging in witticisms on his personal appearance, had given him to understand that he was not the most handsome man in Dublin. This gentleman replied, that so far as beauty or ugliness was concerned, he believed Dan owed all his beauty to his wig, and that if he were to take it off he would perhaps be still uglier than the speaker. At this the people began to laugh, and looked at O'Connell for his reply. Dan did not take long to consider, but actually took off his wig, and exposed his bald head, at the same time remarking, that as his opponent wished to see his bare head, he was ready to favour him with a view of it; it had become bald in the service of his country, and therefore he was neither ashamed nor sorry for it; whilst his fellow-countrymen would feel greater pleasure in seeing his uncovered head, bald and ugly as it might be, than with the wig on it. By this ready tact, and the fearless, frank disregard of himself thus displayed, he turned the laughter and the sympathy of the audience to his own side.

Besides this manoeuvre with the wig, he indulges in some other little habits while speaking. For instance, he hops or turns about on his heels as on a pivot, and even jumps up with his whole body. Every standing speaker, I believe, does this more or less, though not at such regular intervals as O'Connell. In the French Chamber of Deputies there are individuals, especially persons of small stature, who at certain emphatic parts of their speeches raise themselves on the extreme tips of their toes, and stand thus for a long time, as if they would fly after their own  p.264 fervent words. With O'Connell, however, as I have said, the motion is rather a little jumping and turning about on his heels. Even his son does the same, probably through involuntary imitation of his father. With this movement, O'Connell is for ever slightly changing his position, so that if he were previously facing the left side of the assembly, after a few moments he turns his face towards the right, and after another short interval he again turns round. There appeared to me something mechanical and automatical in this constant twisting and turning of his person. Whilst speaking, he also makes great use of his hands, in order to give increased emphasis to his words, sometimes striking the table, or any other object near him. On the present occasion the arm of the president's chair was thus operated upon, and in order to devote it more entirely to O'Connell's service, the person by whom it was occupied had squeezed himself up into one corner of his seat.

Although O'Connell's language is very clear and precise, still he does not speak so fluently as his son: he sometimes hesitates, thinks, and repeats himself; but all this ceases when he becomes warm and enthusiastic. What struck me most, was that he possessed so much of the Irish brogue. He did not, it is true, say repale, like Tom Steele, and some others who were present; but he pronounced the English th almost like d, as, for example, de wishes, with some other Irish peculiarities of accent. This brogue is so difficult to be lost, that the most refined Irishmen always retain a portion of it, which is very unpleasant to English ears; and it is said that even the Duke of Wellington cannot wholly divest himself of it.

The theme of O'Connell's discourse was that of all his speeches for forty years, yea, of his entire life, of all his thoughts and labours—the oppression of Ireland by the “Saxon.” To have heard one of his speeches, is to have heard them all; for not only is the subject, but also the leading thoughts, and even the principal phrases, almost invariably the same. He repeats, over and over again, certain violent expressions and claptraps, the effect of which on his auditory he knows by experience, and which they are never tired of hearing and applauding. Some of these effective words, which never fail in the desired effect, are “Erin,” “Poor Erin,” and the “Emerald Isle” “Bravo! bravo! hurrah!” immediately resounds from every bench as soon as he utters them. Then, “the Saxons,”—for honourable as this name is, in and per se, yet in the mouths of the Irish it has become a term of reproach by which to designate the English—O'Connell usually calls the English, at least when speaking of their unjust or violent deeds in Ireland, “the Saxons,” at the same time laying a very strong emphasis on the letter “a.”  p.265 This word is always applauded. “Repeal” also, though it occurs many hundreds of times in his speeches, is regularly cheered. In like manner he often speaks of the “Spirit of Ireland,” or of the “Genius of Ireland,” and sometimes even introduces religious expressions, as the “Almighty,” “the blood of the Redeemer,” whereon he assumes a serious and reverential look, and all his hearers uncover their heads, for I had forgotten to mention that they had all kept on their hats or ragged caps. Tom Steele wore a little low cap, which, however, did not prevent me from observing that he possesses the remarkable power of moving the whole skin of his head, with his hair, cap and all, backwards and forwards. Some people can even move the ear, and some the entire scalp: the latter Tom Steele does, and while speaking is also continually licking his lips, I believe, through mere embarrassment.

As certain words and thoughts recur over and over again in O'Connell's speeches, like the white horse in the pictures of Wouvermanns, or the waterfall in those of Ruysdael, so there are certain things which always make their appearance at the repeal meetings. Letters from distant individuals are read, applauding and encouraging the repealers; facts calculated to awaken patriotism for Ireland, and hatred against England, are hunted out from Irish history; reports of repeal meetings, held in the provincial towns, are pompously communicated, in order to strengthen the enthusiasm of those present; money contributed for the repeal cause is handed in, and some suitable remarks, thanks, and praises bestowed on the givers. Finally, whenever it is possible, some total stranger, from a distant country, as from America, is introduced, who makes a speech, or at least says a few words, declaring his own and his country's sympathy for Ireland. O'Connell himself regulates the whole, accompanying every incident and every event with a few suitable remarks, some high-sounding expressions to excite Irish patriotism, and various thrusts and cuts at England.

“England,” said he, “has every where been for slavery. Whithersoever we turn our eyes, England has reduced the nations to bondage. In Asia she has made slaves of a hundred millions of freemen. In Africa there are English slaves. Around Australia she has wound her chains. It is the nature and the character of England to subject and to make slaves of all nations, far or near, that are not able to resist her. Even Ireland, our beautiful, our unhappy Ireland, our holy island—(“Bravo! bravo! hurrah!”)—is the most striking example of England's love of despotism and tyranny. For six hundred years the Saxons—(“Bravo!”)—have exerted all their powers for nothing but our  p.266 total oppression, to plunder us for their own advantage, completely to annihilate our nationality, and to make us the willing servants of their despotic commands. For who, I ask you, is the cause of our being poor, and of our not being able to feed ourselves, and to clothe ourselves, better than we do? Who, I ask?—(“The Saxons!” replied a loud, strong voice from one of the galleries.) Yes, the Saxons are the cause of it! Who is the cause of so many, many persons—I shudder to say it—perishing yearly of hunger in our fruitful land?—(“The Saxons!” roared the same voice.) The Saxons,” repeated O'Connell. “Who has nipped our manufactures and our industry in the bud? The Saxons! Who has checked our once so flourishing intellectual development, which was formerly so greatly in advance of that of the rest of Europe? The Normans, and their brothers the Saxons! Who has hitherto prevented us from taking that rank among the nations of Europe, to which, by our natural position, and the talents God has given us, we are so justly entitled? And who is it that has made the name of Irishman less respected throughout the entire world than the name of Frenchman, Spaniard, or German?—(“The Saxons!” again thundered the voice, now accompanied by several others.) Yes, the Saxons! the English! Despotic England is the cause of all this!”

“America, too, the English once held in similar bondage; but the Americans have thrown off the yoke, and are now, to the regret of the English, a free, mighty nation. I do not say that we ought to follow the example of America in its entire extent, for to employ force is not our object. We can gain our purpose by the peaceful means of a legal opposition. I am against, and declare myself completely opposed to, the employment of physical force. I am aware there are some amongst us who have recommended the employment of force; but I hope that, on calm and reasonable reflection, they will agree with me, and allow that I am right, when I assert that were we to have recourse to physical force, we would only totally ruin our righteous cause. I do not like force, and I will not hear any more of it. Nay, I would rather withdraw myself from the stage of public life altogether, and spend the remainder of my days in undisturbed retirement, than have any thing to do with men who recommend such illegal and unadvisable means for obtaining such just demands. (No applause here.) I wish therefore not to be misunderstood, when I allude to the example of America. I would only wish you to imitate the Americans in their love of freedom and of fatherland—in their persevering opposition to English tyranny, and in their manly resistance to attacks on their rights as citizens and  p.267 men; but at the same time I do not recommend you to imitate the mode of their resistance, which was a bloody and an armed one. We can attain our object merely by assuming a menacing attitude—by constant and sustained watchfulness of our own interests—by continually exciting hatred against England, tyrannical England! and love for our own Ireland, our beautiful, much-to-be-pitied Ireland!”

“The greater numbers we can warm with the fire of enthusiasm for our cause, the better we can prove to ourselves, to the English, and to the entire world, the atrocious wrong that England has done, and continues to do us, and the stronger hope is there that we will obtain a majority in parliament, and, through that majority, justice for Ireland! For this purpose, be active and watchful. Associate, agitate, and stand by me. Give me the means of continuing the war which I have been waging for you during forty years. Yes, for forty years have I striven and fought against despotism, against bigotry, against the Tories, against England, and for Ireland—(“hear! hear!”)—and every true-hearted Irishman—(cheers)—loves me the better for it. For forty years have I wished for but one thing, striven for but one cause,—to obtain justice for Ireland, and to shake off the tyranny of England. And has my struggle of so many long years been in vain? Have we not obtained the abolition of the infamous old penal laws against the Catholics? Have we not obtained seat and voice in parliament? Do we not now share in the municipal government of our own towns? Our successes have as yet been glorious; let them inspire you with confidence that this last demand—repeal—which is to crown our entire work, will be granted, must be granted. For not till then,—till we have repeal, till as an independent nation we may stand on an equal footing with England,—not till then will Ireland flourish, not till then will any thing prosper here; but when that period arrives, all the blessings which the Almighty—(here all pulled off their caps)—has bestowed on our lovely Erin, our holy island, will unfold themselves, and contribute to our enjoyment.—(“Hear, hear!” exclaimed or rather grunted Tom Steele, who is one of Dan's criers of “hear, hear!”) There is but one means for the complete rescue of Ireland, and that is repeal: but one thing on which the welfare of all depends,—repeal! With repeal you will be happy, with repeal you will become rich, with repeal you will obtain all that you desire and, strive for. Therefore so long as I live I will cry “repeal!” and you too, as long as you live, must join in the cry. (“Bravo! bravo!” “hurrah!” “repeal! repeal!”)

“You ask me who will obtain repeal for you? I tell you, I  p.268 will obtain it for you. Yes, I say, I offer the people of Ireland repeal—(“Bravo! bravo!”)—and I assure you, that if you desire to have it, you shall have it. I will procure for Ireland the opportunity to obtain her repeal; and if she wishes for it, she need only stretch out her hand and grasp it. How often has England already deceived us? How often already have I been promised, by the ministers and by the parliament of England, that the demands of Ireland should be heard—that all the wrongs that gall her should be redressed? How often then did I delay, did I preach patience to you, calm you, and entreat you to listen to the promises of England? You obeyed me: you were quiet and silent; and Ireland waited to receive from England, as a magnanimous boon, that which she might have demanded, as her own just right. But England has never availed herself of the opportunity which I procured her for displaying her greatness and her magnanimity. When I and Ireland were silent, she forgot her promises, and the old wrongs were continued. They were unredressed by the Whigs, who were for a time my friends; and now, as the Tories are again at the helm, they are still less likely to be redressed. Repeal! I therefore exclaim, and once more repeal—energetic, individual, total repeal, is the only thing that can help us; and we must endeavour, as quickly and as vigorously as possible, to organize repeal and agitation throughout the entire country. Remember that your worst enemies, the Tories, are now again uppermost; that you have now no longer any thing to expect from the good-will of England; and that all your hopes now rest on England's enemies, on England's weakness, and on yourselves—on yourselves and on me, I confidently add. Believe me, I am watching Peel's every step; and as long as I live, I swear it, he shall not trample on, he shall not crush Ireland. I will every where throw myself in his way, and whithersoever he goes, he shall find me in his path. Confide in me. I am prepared for, and will take advantage of, every emergency. And in fact, I have no want of emergencies, and never shall; for fear not that Robert Peel is the man to throw dust in my eyes. He commits blunder after blunder; and even if he were less destitute of intellect than he is, his position is so difficult that he could scarcely avoid making blunders. Believe me, I will watch his smallest motions and turn his blunders to your advantage.—(Loud cheering.) Maybe you think I am growing old and weak. Perhaps my body is; but believe me, my love for Ireland will never become old—my zeal in our patriotic cause will never tire. No! on the contrary, the more of my allotted years I see departing, the more will I collect my strength; the more will I make it my whole endeavour to  p.269 crown my life with that result which I have had in view as long as I have drawn breath; and perhaps at the very moment that I am sinking into my grave, Ireland's grave will open, and the Genius of Erin will arise, freed from the chains of England. I am growing old and feeble; but look at England! England too is growing old and feeble. Are not the disturbances of the manufacturers, which revel in her inmost vitals, a manifest sign of her downfall? Has not her hour arrived in India? Is she not involved in an expensive war with China, the termination of which no one can foresee? Will she be able to free herself from all these difficulties? England's infirmity is Ireland's opportunity! England's weakness is Ireland's strength !—(Cheers.) When India, when China, when all the enemies of England conquer, then Ireland will appear a much-to-be-desired friend. In Europe, too, England has nought but enemies: France, Russia, Denmark, Germany, are all foes of England and friends of Ireland. England has the antipathy of all nations, for she has wronged them all at various times. Ireland has the sympathy of all nations, for she has suffered more than all of them from England's love of wrong. Believe me, therefore, and only look about you: England is becoming feeble: she will become compliant, she must become compliant; and our cause, our repeal, our happiness, and our prosperity is the nearer, the nearer and the greater is England's adversity. Most important for us are the commotions in England herself, which are to be explained by nothing else but by a widespread calamity. A gangrene gnaws at England's vitals; and this gangrene, this sickness of England, is Ireland's health. England requires our friendship: she will yet come and beg for it. She shall have it; but not until she does us justice, till she gives us repeal, and acknowledges us as a brother nation. The period when England will do this is no longer distant. I see the hour of Ireland's liberation already drawing nigh. It is very near. Yes! I may say the inspiration of that hour is already upon me—that beautiful, glorious, and longed-for hour, when Erin's genius will arise from her prison-house, and be allowed to shower down all the blessings and gifts on our island which she has intended for all her children, and which she has hitherto kept back only because her hands were manacled by England. Be only united! Stand firmly together! Forget, at least till we get repeal, all differences of opinion, all party disputes: for 'tis repeal we all need. Remain faithful to your beautiful, lovely land, to this charming green island, which calls upon you, her children, again to make her a nation. Listen to the voice of the beautiful streams of your island, which call on you—listen to the voices  p.270 which resound from the mountains, from the hills, and from the valleys,—which call out to you, “Stand firm! stand firm! and make yourselves a nation again!””

While O'Connell uttered these last words, the entire assembly became still and motionless; and the oftener he repeated these “listens,” the deeper the silence seemed to become; but when he stopped to take breath, and to pass on to something else, then the assembly breathed again, and burst forth into an universal shout of applause that I thought would never terminate. He then sat down, and a bunch of grapes was handed to him which he shared with his son; but he arose again on several occasions, in order to accompany every little incident and transaction with his remarks and suggestions. For instance, when a very little boy, about eight years of age, stepped forward, and handed in £4, which his schoolfellows had contributed to the repeal rent, and which they had deputed him to present, O'Connell gave his hand to the boy, after having first taken off his hat, and inquired his name, which he communicated to the meeting, and then addressed some words of kindness to the young repealer. It was a strange sight to see the pretty little child standing opposite this cunning old fox—for it cannot be denied that O'Connell has something extremely sly about him.

Next came a contribution from the women of Limerick. To these ladies, too, O'Connell was obliged to say something complimentary. He observed that now-a-days the ladies of Limerirk were genuine, sincere, thorough repealers, and that they had long ago won themselves the fairest and most renowned distinction as patriotic Irishwomen, at the famous siege of Limerick, in 1690, in the reign of William III., when they defended a bridge against the English, on which occasion not less than 500 Saxons were massacred.—(Ha! bravo! bravo!) Here Tom Steele arose and proposed “three cheers for the sons of Limerick, and for Limerick's beautiful daughters,” which were given with thunders of applause. Then O'Connell gave a minute account of the brilliant reception which he met with in his last visit to Limerick, and how many hundreds of converts he had made on that occasion. After that came a contribution from Galway; upon which O'Connell spoke in praise of Connaught. He said that truer Irish hearts did not beat any where than there; nay, that there was the home of the most Irish Irishmen; but he also knew that many of the large graziers and proprietors of extensive pasture lands in that province dreaded a separation from England, because they imagined that after the repeal of the Union, England would lay a duty on the import of Irish cattle.


“I believe,” continued he, “that this is an empty fear, and it is no reason why they should wish to check repeal; for, in one word, do you imagine that after the repeal of the Union the English will be less hungry than they now are? Do you imagine that after the repeal of the Union they will lose their appetite? In fact, I believe they will be just as hungry as they are at present. They relish our cattle now better than those which they obtain from abroad. And hereafter, when we are independent, when we can cultivate our pastures and our fields better, we will be able to offer them far better cattle. And should they not choose to take it then, merely because it is not Union cattle, I believe that by our independence, by our awakened industry, and our increased speculations in other quarters, we would soon be able to buy the cattle of our Connaught graziers for our own use, and, without inviting the English to purchase them, consume them ourselves. This fear, therefore, should not prevent our graziers from striving for the repeal of the Union. Besides, we also know well that the Union does not afford the least protection to our present cattle trade; for no regard for us will prevent the English from purchasing cattle elsewhere, if they can buy them better and cheaper than they can from us. This is clearly proved by the adoption of the new tariff, in which not the least regard was paid to our interests; it has, however, had no great effect on our cattle trade, and solely for this reason, that they can obtain from us cattle of a far better quality, and cheaper too, than from a foreign country.”

After this a letter from a Lord Ffrench was read, whereon O'Connell remarked that he was the first lord who had declared himself a repealer. The donation from the town of Drogheda, which contributed no less than £50, was received with particular rejoicing. O'Connell bade every town in Ireland imitate its example; and drew so vivid and affecting a picture of the genuine patriotic Irish spirit that animated that town, where there were perhaps no less than nine repealers out of every ten of its inhabitants, that the tears almost came into his eyes. Once he really did shed tears, when, alluding to the present judges of the superior courts in Dublin, who are all Tories, he spoke of a late judge, (O'Loughlin, I believe,) who was one of his personal friends. He accused the present judges of hostility towards the Catholics, and of the most prejudiced partiality for the Protestants, although he was compelled to admit that in other respects they were “perfect gentlemen,” and much to be esteemed. He said, “Bloody spots, frightful and spectral reminiscences from our history float before my eyes; and I shudder in my inmost heart when I think  p.272 of it, and when I feel myself compelled to say, that Tory and prejudiced Protestants are again the supreme judges in Ireland. Oh, how have things been changed! Did not one of my best friends lately sit on the judicial bench,—one of the noblest of Erin's sons! O, my friend! how quickly hast thou been taken from amongst us,—thou, the best judge Ireland ever saw, and in whom were united the most perfect urbanity and the most ardent loyalty,—thou man and friend of the truest love and kindness,—thou gentleman, as generous, as kind, and hospitable, as every Irishman should be,—thou man whose soul was unstained by bigotry or prejudice!”—Here his voice became higher and higher,—he stopped short, and, as I said, O'Connell wept. C'est impossible, mais je l'ai vu.

The numerous small contributions were to me more interesting than the larger ones. They included many of a shilling, eightpence, sixpence, and one even of twopence, which last was probably from a beggar. The reading of this list induced many of the persons present to send in their little contributions. One man, on an upper bench, said aloud, that he would give all he had in his pocket, and he handed down fourpence. O'Connell himself produced several shillings wrapped in paper, and deposited them on the altar,—I mean in the money-box,—observing that they were sent him for that purpose. The sums which are thus made up of the pennies and shillings of the poor, in order to enable O'Connell and his coadjutors to carry on the repeal agitation, are so extraordinary, and so large in amount, as to be almost incredible.

As a finale, a German was brought forward. He had just arrived from America, and had, I believe, brought letters of introduction to O'Connell. My countryman assured the meeting, that, on the other side of the Atlantic, no one doubted the success of repeal: he compared O'Connell with Washington; and said that the name of Irishman, which had hitherto been a stigma in America, was now, since the spirited repeal movement, and since Father Mathew's successful advocacy of the temperance cause, beginning to be a title of honour. O'Connell makes use of all possible means, and of all sorts of persons, to bring wind into his sails.

It appeared to me extremely remarkable, that during all these lengthy proceedings, which lasted several hours, I did not observe the departure of a single individual of those who were at most but idle spectators or applauders. They all held out till it became dark, and even listened with the greatest attention to those speeches in which O'Connell analyzed the policy of all the powers of Europe, and which were doubtless beyond their comprehensions.


At last, when all the letters were read, and all the contributions unpursed, and the money-box seemed pretty full, the meeting was dissolved. At the very last, Tom Steele jumped upon the table, and proposed three cheers for the Queen, three cheers for Ireland, three cheers for repeal, and three cheers for the noble German from America. All being now over, the Lord Mayor departed amid universal applause, and I saw him set off homewards in a magnificent carriage drawn by two dapple-gray steeds, and loudly cheered by the people in the streets. While I was still at the window, looking out after him, I heard a clinking and ringing behind me, and on turning round perceived that the money-box had been overturned, and the people were carefully gathering up all the run-away pennies, sixpences, shillings, and half-crowns. O'Connell's son was standing by.

I must confess that, of the whole proceeding, this money-box was what I disliked the most. I cannot excuse O'Connell, and who can—will posterity excuse him?—for making his patriotic labours at the same time a trade and a means of making money, and for driving this trade publicly, and before the eyes of all, without the slightest shame or reserve. I believe he no longer thinks there is any thing disgraceful in it, for he has intrenched himself behind such reasoning as the following:—“I was a barrister in excellent practice, which promised to become much better and more productive than it was. I turned patriot, and devoted my entire time and all my energies to my country's cause. Fellow-countrymen, this cause is very expensive to me, for I must not only support myself, and my family, and my sons-in-law, but also many other friends who help me and mine into parliament, and place me in a position to do effectively whatever I undertake on your behalf. There is nothing more just than that Ireland should pay me all the costs of this cause, and also remunerate me for the gains which, as a lawyer, I could have made, and which I have abandoned through love for her. I can therefore with the greatest justice require the O'Connell tribute from you, and can accept it with the very best conscience.” This train of reasoning O'Connell has been constantly repeating for a length of time, and it has been reiterated in all the journals of his party, and by all his friends, over and over again.

As in all his speeches he introduces requests or demands for money, or constant vindications of his just claims on his country for support and remuneration, his enemies abuse him as a “false prophet,” a “regular robber,” a “knave in politics,” a “hypocrite in religion;” and they reproach him most severely for wheedling the money out of the pockets of the poor, in order that  p.274 he may himself live in splendour. His friends, on the other hand, who contribute part of this money, say that O'Connell could not carry on the cause otherwise; that if he is to devote with advantage all his energies to the service of his country, he must ask for money, and take it; and that if they were to give no money, they would get no repeal. Without a more accurate knowledge of the real intentions and of the private resources of O'Connell, which God alone can possess, it may be difficult to decide which of these views is the most correct. It is, however, certain that O'Connell, in consequence of his patriotic labours, enjoys a very considerable yearly income, (it is said of over £10,000,) upon which he and all his family live luxuriously, far better clothed and far better fed than many thousands of those from whom he derives his rent. Furthermore, it is equally certain that O'Connell and his friends have no idea of saying, “We will go in rags, we will eat potatoes and salt, like the millions of our countrymen for whom we are striving. We will lay aside all worldly advantages, and all the money intrusted to us shall be alone devoted to the cause, and not a farthing expended on our own persons.” Their song sounds rather thus:—“If we were all lawyers and had good practice, how excellently and comfortably could we live! And that we may forget this, you must now take care we want for nothing.” With the disinterested Fabricius, with Cincinnatus labouring at his plough, with barefooted Caliphs, with the apostles and prophets, who renounced all worldly enjoyments, and with other illustrious patriots, whom the world has raised so high because they kept their souls and thoughts untainted by the atmosphere of money, and because they kept their hands undefined by the touch of that worst invention of Satan, gold;—in the same category with these great and exalted souls, I say, no one can once dare to place the O'Connells.

I do not say, however, that we should therefore look upon all that O'Connell does as resulting from interested motives of gain; or that all his zeal, his eloquence, and his patriotism springs merely from love of money, and that we should therefore consider him a manifest liar, deceiver, and hypocrite. It is easy to conceive a man who is zealous for his country and his own interest at the same time. Perhaps he commenced through pure love of his country, through pure antipathy and sincere hatred of the Tories; and unexpectedly discovered, in the course of his career, those sources of wealth which he now allows to flow on, since he finds they are of assistance to him. There are, I believe, prophetic spirits, who occupy an intermediate position between the pure exalted angel-soul and the Evil One, and who, though we may call  p.275 them false prophets, are yet prophets for all that. These individuals are something more than extraordinary men; for whilst they serve Mammon, they know how to preserve their souls ever fresh and youthful, and possess the art of keeping alive the fire of their enthusiasm, not allowing one half of their nature to be spoiled by the other. To these men, I believe, O'Connell belongs. Are there not also men who, with devotion and enthusiasm, even serve a God in whom they do not believe? Had not Mohammed his inspirations; and was he not enthusiastic in his zeal for his God, although at the same time he was crafty and cunning enough to use this God for his own purposes?

We must also consider O'Connell as a child of our own age, and in this respect make great allowances for his conduct. It is possible, it is even probable, that if, like J. J. Rousseau, he had refused the assistance of his friends,—if, like Cincinnatus, he had lived by the plough—or if, like the millions of his poor compatriots, he had clothed himself in rags, and subsisted upon nothing but potatoes, he might never have attained such power, but, on the contrary, have been despised and neglected by the people. Perhaps the present age will and must have its heroes well dressed and well fed. As the English national debt is a burden which keeps all England together, so is the O'Connell tribute a burden which keeps together all repealers. Having once pledged themselves to pay so much, this promise obliges them to continue with O'Connell. They are probably astonished at the extraordinary amount of this tribute, which a man without any external power, and merely by his eloquence and zeal, has imposed upon them, and perhaps they value him the more highly on that account. Add to this, that O'Connell is an extraordinary man—a man of the nineteenth century—the money-century,—who has risen to authority, power, and wealth, by means and ways hitherto unheard-of in the world; and who, without employing any physical force, and without making any concessions, has for forty years raised an opposition against the most powerful aristocracy in Europe; while, on his side, he has had almost nothing but a few millions of beggars as supporters.


2. The Poor-house

Irish Charitable Institutions—Poor-laws in Ireland—The House-tax—Workhouse System—Aversion to reside in the Workhouses—Discipline in them—Diet of the Paupers—Cost for each Individual—The Potato Boiler—Employment of the Beggars—Clothes Store—Desire of Freedom—Dublin the Rendezvous of the Irish Beggars—Hopes for the Suppression of Begging

Every one knows that it had long been the wish of parliament to introduce the English poor-laws into Ireland; and this, after long debating, has at length been actually done within the last few years. All Ireland is now subjected to a poor-tax; and with the money thus levied, and with some considerable parliamentary grants, poor-houses and workhouses have been erected all over the country. The number of workhouses to be erected in the island is one hundred and fifty, one hundred of which are already completed. When the remaining fifty are finished, and the whole are opened and in operation, it is in contemplation to follow up the Poor Relief Act with a Vagrancy and Mendicancy Act. Hitherto it has been impossible to prevent mendicancy in Ireland, as in England, by legislative measures, because until now there were very few asylums for the poor supported by the state. I was told that in all Ireland there were only six. Institutions for similar purposes, founded and supported by voluntary contributions, were, however, and still are, extremely numerous. In Dublin there are, for all possible purposes,—for teachers, strangers, musicians, orphans, widows, infants, Catholics, Protestants, servants, and other classes—upwards of fifty various institutions, asylums, retreats, poor-houses, and schools. Of all these charitable establishments in Dublin, one only, the House of Industry, was maintained by the state. It was the most extensive of the whole, and supplied lodging and food to no fewer than two thousand paupers, beggars, invalids, orphans, the old, the decrepit, and the insane. This was the only institution of the kind which I visited in Dublin.

Since the introduction of the English poor-laws, Ireland has been divided, like England, into districts, called “Unions.” Each house in such a union is now valued at a certain annual rent, which value is rated at two or more per cent., and the money thus raised is expended in the maintenance of the union workhouse. The city of Dublin and its environs are divided into two unions, the North Union and the South Union. All the houses in the former are estimated at the yearly value of £394,000, and in the letter at £561,000. The annual value of all the houses in Dublin  p.277 is about one million sterling. The poor-rate levied on the North Union amounts to somewhat more than £8000; in the South Union it is somewhat less than £12,000. The workhouse of the North Union is now the above-mentioned House of Industry, which has been newly fitted up for that purpose. That of the South Union I regret I did not see. The rated houses are all entered in a “rate-book,” with the amount of the rents at which they are valued. What struck me most in this rate-book was the minimum valuation at which houses were rated. There were not a few whose yearly value was estimated at one pound only. The lowest I could find was fifteen shillings a year. Even these houses, which one can scarcely imagine miserable enough, were taxed, and the one-pound house had to pay fivepence yearly. It seemed to me that the proprietor of such a habitation might himself be justly numbered among the poor; and that a certain limit of taxation should have been adopted, and these wretched hovels exempted from the poor-tax. In Ireland there are hovels which set all valuation at defiance. It is here different from what it is in England. How high ought the rent of that house to be estimated which affords its owner the shelter only of a mud wall and a tattered roof of straw?

The control of all these workhouses in England and Ireland is in the hands of three poor-law commissioners, who reside in London, and have their assistant commissioners, who reside in the interior of the country. Each of these assistant commissioners has his district, containing a number of unions, which he is constantly inspecting, and on the condition of which he reports to the chief commissioners. These reports are printed. The chief commissioners also issue annual reports on the state of the entire system of poor relief in Ireland. One of them, Mr. George Nicholls, previous to the adoption of the poor-laws in Ireland, had also made various reports on the advantages to be derived from their introduction into that country. These various reports together form a little library, which he who wishes to know Great Britain should not leave unstudied, for they are full of the most excellent remarks, and the most interesting inquiries concerning the country, and the condition of the people.

The guiding principle of the workhouse system, in the opinion of Mr. Nicholls, ought to be, that the support which is afforded at the public cost should be, on the whole, less desirable than the livelihood which the labourer can procure by his own free labour. To carry out this principle, it might appear necessary, at the first glance, that the occupants of a workhouse should in every respect be worse clothed, worse fed, and worse lodged than the independent  p.278 labourers of the district. In point of fact, however, the inmates of English workhouses are generally better off than the agricultural labourer and his family; and yet the irksomeness and annoyance of compulsory labour, the discipline, the confinement, and the prohibition of sundry pleasures which are within the reach of the independent self-supporting labourer, create such a dislike against entering a workhouse, that experience warrants our feeling confident that no one who is not altogether without means, and in the most pressing distress, will seek support in a workhouse; that every one who is compelled to enter it through distress will be sure to leave it as quickly as possible, whenever he believes himself in a condition again to earn his own livelihood; and that he will afterwards exert himself, with increased energy and greater success, to maintain his own independence.

In Ireland, it would be scarcely possible to make the lodging, clothes, and food of the poor in the workhouses worse than those of the Irish peasants; and even were it possible, it would be quite unnecessary, ineffective, and inadvisable. The Irish are thoroughly, by nature as well as by habit, a migratory people, and fond of change. The Irishman would rather wander through the entire world seeking employment, than endure the discipline of a workhouse, so long as he is in possession of his health and strength. Imprisonment, and confinement of every kind, is to the Irishman more irksome than to the Englishman. Consequently, even though he were much better off in a workhouse than he could be at home, he would never enter one except in case of the most extreme distress; and he will be sure to remain in it not a single moment longer than this distress continues. In the Irish workhouses, therefore, the opposite principle may perhaps be followed,—namely, to give the people something better than they can procure outside, in order thus to hold out some inducement to them to relinquish their free, wild, wandering misery, which they bear about the world with them, to submit themselves to order and discipline, and to partake of the enjoyment of a better, more seemly, and more human condition. For thus would be best attained the true object of workhouses, which is not merely to pave the way for the introduction of a vagrancy act, and to get rid of beggars, but also to mitigate the sufferings and better the condition of those who have been reduced to misery by imprudence, misfortune, or ignorance and prejudice. Whether this last object is kept steadily in view in the management of the Irish poor, I have some doubt, since, on the contrary, slight traces of a system of terror are connected with the erection of workhouses in this country. The discipline especially, in these  p.279 as well as in English workhouses, appeared to me to be very severe and rough, and but little softened down by kind attention or indulgence. In general, the “governors,” as they are termed, bore little resemblance to the “guardians” or “fathers” of the poor, (Armenpflegern und Armenvätern) as we justly designate similar officials in Germany. These governors are invested with great power over the poor, upon whom they can inflict severe punishments. All this is a part of the object of these workhouses. They are not intended simply as asylums for the poor, but also houses of correction, in which they may learn to put a still higher value on their golden freedom, accustom themselves to labour, and learn to live without having recourse to begging.

The food and clothing in the Irish workhouses is at all events better than the poor could have out of them; for of course they are not here allowed to be half-naked, and half-starved, the usual condition of the Irish pauper, but are supplied with whole and sufficient clothing, and proportionably good diet. The latter consists principally of the general food of all the Irish,—potatoes, oatmeal, and milk, particularly buttermilk. Certain classes only, as the sick and the children, receive bread. Public institutions, and their diet and government, are very interesting to the ethnographer, since they afford him a convenient insight into the manner of living of the bulk of the nation after which they are modelled. When, therefore, I here describe the diet of an Irish workhouse, the reader has a picture of the manner of living of the great mass of the people, at least those of them who have enough to eat.

The day's food consists of a breakfast, lunch, and dinner, lunch being given only to the children and the sick. In Ireland and England breakfast and dinner are taken at later hours than in Germany, namely, the former at nine o'clock and the latter at four. The breakfast, as is common in Ireland with those who can maintain themselves at all decently, consists of oatmeal porridge, called “stirabout,” with new milk, and the dinner of potatoes and buttermilk. The children's lunch consists of bread and new milk. In addition to this, on Sundays, holidays, and appointed days, as every Thursday, they receive a small quantity of “brose” or soup. A grown-up person receives daily, for breakfast, seven ounces of oatmeal and half a pint of new milk; and for dinner, four pounds of potatoes and a pint of buttermilk. This diet of an adult costs one shilling and fourpence three-farthings a week. That of the children costs something more, on account of the milk and bread, which is more expensive than potatoes. Children under two years of age are the most expensive, the cost of  p.280 their maintenance being one shilling and sixpence three-farthings a week, for which they receive daily one pint of new milk and one pound of bread. There is, also, a potato-diet for the full grown, and a bread-diet for the children; besides a rice-diet and a meat-diet, for certain classes of invalids; and, lastly, a fever-diet, for that class of patients which is always the most numerous in Irish workhouses and infirmaries—the fever patients.

The cost of clothing is calculated at a halfpenny a day, or threepence-halfpenny a week. The total cost of food and clothing for a pauper consequently amounts to about two shillings a week. If we reckon the cost of keeping up the house, the salaries of officers, and all other expenses, the maintenance of a pauper will amount to about three shillings a week, or about seven pounds ten shillings a year. It is, however, worthy of remark, that all these expenses, as appears from the various reports, are constantly on the decrease, especially in consequence of the increasing cheapness of provisions. The expenses vary, of course, a little in different workhouses; yet the above may be taken as the average cost of the maintenance of each pauper.

The potato-boiler in this great establishment is a perfect wonder. In it there are boiled at once 1670 pounds of potatoes. This vast quantity is divided into small portions, of three and a half and four pounds. Each of these portions is contained in a little net, in which it can be easily removed, and all the nets are placed in an immense basket, which is lowered into the water and boiled, nets, potatoes, and all. It is afterwards raised by a windlass; when all the poor people march up in military order, each receives a net with its contents, and marches off again.

In the school of this workhouse I also found the Chinese-Russian numerical frame I have formerly mentioned, which had been here introduced about a fortnight before my visit.

As in most of the public institutions in Great Britain, the chief employment of the inmates of this establishment was picking oakum—that lint which is so essential for the wounds of the English men-of-war—in a word, tow for the caulking of ships. Thousands and hundreds of thousands of hands are daily employed, in the prisons and workhouses, in untwisting old ropes'-ends, and converting them into this necessary article.

One of the most interesting portions of this great establishment is the old clothes-store, containing all the various uniforms of rags which are taken from the beggars on their admission into the workhouse. Instead of their motley equipment they are given the gray uniform of the house, with N. D. U. W. H. (North Dublin Union Workhouse) stamped upon it in large letters. The old  p.281 draperies of their liberty, together with hats, stockings, and shoes, having been first fumigated, are then folded up, ticketed with the name of the owner, and deposited in the old clothes-store. The paupers, who can leave the house at any moment, (for they need only make their wish known to the governor, and in a quarter of an hour they are free,) are of course not permitted to carry off with them the workhouse dress. If the case were otherwise, many would go in and out again merely for the sake of the new clothes. Their carefully preserved old rags are therefore restored to them, and they may then consider how they shall best find their way into their distorted sleeves, and which hole of the various gaps in their hats is the right one. It almost daily happens, that, among the 2000 paupers in the house, one or other, weary of the discipline, and longing for his old liberty, renounces his allegiance to the governor, and again obtains possession of his old rags. The clothes-store, which contained a wardrobe unsurpassed in point of variety by those of all the theatres of Europe put together, had just been opened, to search for the rags of a liberty-desiring pauper. The poor fellows must endure no small struggle of soul when they hesitate between their N. D. U. W. H. slave-costume, and their old miserable sansculotte liberty-dress. Most, however, prefer the latter. Liberty, even for the beggar, has much that is attractive about it; and the free, wild, begging, nomade life, has become as much a habit to the Irish beggar, as is to the Russian nomade his life of hunting, fishing, and cattle-grazing. Only to him who remains twelve months in the house, who has during that period conducted himself orderly, and also induced a hope that he will for the future maintain himself, a suit of clothes is given, with which he may enter anew on his thorny life-path.

Dublin is, or at least hitherto was, the principal rendezvous of all the beggars of Ireland, the great wealth and the greater population of this city, according to Mr. Nicholls, promising them a richer harvest than any other town in the country. This harvest is further increased by the gifts of chance visitors, who are called to Dublin by business or pleasure, and who are generally more accessible to beggars than the constant residents. The numerous charities which exist in this city are also a great attraction. Those Irish, likewise, who go over to England in search of employment, always leave some portion of their family, frequently the whole of it, in Dublin, where they endeavour to support themselves by begging. Moreover, all the Irish paupers and beggars which England sends back to Ireland, as a burden she will not bear, usually arrive first in Dublin, where they collect in numbers. Thus the numerous streams of vagrancy flow into this city as into  p.282 a vast reservoir. When all these circumstances are taken into consideration, with the additional fact, that, until now, with the exception of the larger towns, there existed in all Ireland no public institutions for the support of the poor,—that, except Dublin, there was no place where the destitute and the starving could be certain to find relief, and that therefore the entire flood of misery and want must necessarily flow towards Dublin,—it will not, I say, appear wonderful that there should be so many beggars there, but on the contrary it will excite surprise that their number should not be much greater. In point of fact, I believe that the fearful and melancholy pictures which former travellers have painted of the condition, and of the multitudes of beggars in Dublin, will no longer be found applicable and true in their full extent. The fearful and usual entreaty of the Dublin beggar, “Sir, I am hungry,” I expected to hear much oftener than I did. The new workhouses have probably already afforded them some relief. Whether it will be possible to carry out the proposed vagrancy and mendicancy act, and to get rid of beggars entirely, the future alone can inform us. The 150 workhouses which are to be erected in the country, will, if we suppose that each on an average can afford shelter to 500 destitutes, contain only 75,000 paupers; and it will therefore be necessary to pre-suppose, before mendicancy can be prohibited with perfect justice, that there are not more than 75,000 persons in Ireland who cannot support themselves. We do not, however, require much calculation to prove that it is extremely probable that this is far below the actual number of the destitute; and the question then is—with what show of right can the remaining hundreds of thousands, to whom no asylum is offered, be prohibited from begging?

3. Museums, &c.

Benefits conferred on Dublin by German Scholars—The Bogs Preservers of Antiquities—Remains of Men, Buffaloes, and Stags—Cervus megaceras—The Fossil Stag in the Dublin Museum—Frequency of the Cervus megaceras in Ireland—Antique Works of Art—Gold Ring-money—Bronze Pigs—Irish Distaffs—Butter, Cheese, and Iron in the Turf-bogs—Trinity College—Maps of Ireland—The Newest Map of Ireland—Splendid Works in the College Library—Grants and Donations to Trinity College—The Prayer-books—The Park

The museums and literary societies of Dublin are not a little indebted to the Germans. The museum of the Royal Dublin  p.283 Society was founded by the purchase of the collection of Professor Leske, called the Leskean Museum; to which that of Sir Charles Gieseke, a mineralogist of Göttingen, was afterwards added. The books of Baron Fagel, a Dutchman, were annexed to the library of the university; the anatomical wax models of Professor Rau, a German, who resided in Paris, were purchased by Lord Shelburne for the university; and, lastly, Professor Finnagle (here called Von Feinagle) founded a society, by which, under his direction, an institution for the education of the children of the higher classes was established, the only one of its kind in Ireland.

The most interesting collections for strangers are those of the university (Trinity College); of the Royal Dublin Society; and of the Royal Irish Academy. After the Germans, the bogs of Ireland have done most for the museums of the two last of these institutions. They are the best preservers of antiquities a country can desire; and almost all the information Ireland wishes to obtain concerning her ancient condition, she must derive from the writings and monuments found at the bottom of her bogs. Not alone the beads of gold and amber, which were worn by the women of ancient Ireland; not alone the bodies of men, but even their clothes, even the butter which they used to eat, even samples of the weed which they used to smoke before the introduction of tobacco; even the bodies of races of animals which are now extinct in Ireland,—all these have the bogs covered with a preserving layer of turf, and have kept uninjured, not even omitting furrows drawn by the plough many centuries ago. The collections of these Irish antiquities, as well as the care bestowed on their preservation, and the diligent study of them, are all very recent. So great is the present zeal for exploring and draining the bogs, that every day fresh antiquities are discovered, and doubtless much will yet be found that will render these collections more complete than they now are. The most interesting things which have been discovered in the bogs are, first, to give precedence to man, human bodies, in perfect preservation, of which one is to be seen in the Dublin museums. The skin, indeed, is dried up and tanned brown; but the entire figure and physiognomy is still plainly discernible. From the dress of this man it is supposed that he must have lain for at least five hundred years in the Galway bog in which he was found. As preservers of animal substances, one might compare the Irish bogs with the great ice-masses of Siberia. The latter, however, excel the former, inasmuch as they even preserve the flesh fresh for thousands of years. It would be interesting to compare all the substances in nature, first fluid, and then solid, with one another, with regard to their preserving qualities.


Then there are parts of the buffalo, which formerly existed in Ireland. In a treatise among the Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy, this Irish buffalo is said to differ from that described in Cuvier's Ossemens fossiles, and is particularly distinguished by a greater convexity of the forehead, by a considerable length of body, and by the shortness of the bent-down horns. But the fossil deer of Ireland is above all especially deserving of admiration and attention, on account of its extraordinary size and peculiar construction. Of this animal portions are so frequently found, that there are few Irish peasants who are not acquainted, either by hearsay or as eye-witnesses, with the “horns of the old deer,” as they express themselves. Nay, in some parts of the country, these horns are so commonly met with that, without being deemed worthy of the least attention, they are thrown aside, or applied to economical purposes. Some of the enormous antlers of this animal are used as field-gates, others as bridges over little brooks. In Siberia, a trade is carried on in the bones of the fossil mammoth, which is there so abundant, and they are purchased by private persons for all sorts of economical purposes. These fossil bones of the stag are found as well in the bogs as in the marl-strata in which Ireland is so rich. In the Isle of Man, too, the same fossil stag has been found; and of late some specimens, complete in almost every respect, even to the very smallest bones, have been placed in many British museums. The name of Cervus Megaceras has been given to this animal. Its horns resemble, in their structure, those of the still existing elk, but they are much larger, while the animal itself is somewhat smaller. The most beautiful specimen of this animal is in the museum of the Royal Dublin Society. The proportions of its principal dimensions, as I found them given in a little treatise by a member of the Irish Academy, are as follows:—

  • Length of the head … 1 foot 8 1/2 inches
  • Length of the under-jaw … 1 foot 5 1/2 inches
  • Distance between the farthest points of the antlers, measured over the skull … 11 feet 10 inches
  • The same, measured in a straight line … 9 feet 2 inches
  • Length of each antler … 5 feet 9 inches
  • Circumference of the base of antler … 1 feet 0 3/4 inches
  • Length of the backbone … 10 feet 10 inches
  • Height of the animal at the extremity of the backbone … 6 feet 6 inches
  • Breadth of the antler … 2 feet 10 inches
One can easily imagine what a magnificent animal these proportions must have composed. Each of the antlers is as long as  p.285 a tolerably tall man, and as wide as the leaf of a not small table. The animal, moreover, is much higher than the tallest ox, and at the same time built with the same admirable beauty and lightness as the most graceful stag. This one article so far surpasses in interest and beauty all the other specimens of natural history in the museum of the Dublin Society, that one has no longer eyes for any thing else; and I believe every traveller, often as this animal has been already spoken of, has contributed his mite to the glorification of its name. It is indisputably the finest animal of its kind to be found in any museum in Europe; and it is, next to the almost perfect fossil mammoth in St. Petersburg, perhaps the finest fossil skeleton that has ever been exposed to the eye of the world.

In Yorkshire, on the coast of Essex, in the forest of Bondi near Paris, in many parts of Germany, and, according to Cuvier, in various districts in the neighbourhood of the Po, parts of the Cervus Megaceras have also been found. Nearly perfect specimens of this animal have been placed in the museums of Edinburgh, Cambridge, and two or three other English towns; but all these are far excelled by the Dublin specimen in beauty, magnitude, and completeness. It is another of the singularities of Ireland of which we have already enumerated so many, that this animal should be found there more frequently than in any other country in Europe. How many questions does not this single fact suggest? It often seems to me as if Ireland had formed a little world of its own. One would sometimes feel inclined to believe it the remains of the continent of Atlantis, which did not resemble Europe in all its productions, and existed for itself alone in a hundred particulars.

Among the works of art which have been discovered in the bogs the most remarkable are those of amber, which prove that this gum was either found in Ireland, or that it was obtained in traffic from the Phoenicians. There is also a necklace of shells, which seems as devoid of art as if it were taken from the neck of a queen of the South Sea islands, and must have had its origin in the remotest ages of European barbarism. Then there is a multitude of admirable little articles of gold, rings, strings of beads, and some strange little instruments, of which, from their form, the use and object cannot with any confidence be determined. Among the beads are some of astonishing size, made out of thin plates of gold. If these ornaments, as is supposed in Dublin, all really belong to a heathen age, (which is not improbable, as they bear not a single trace of Christian art,) we must confess that the old Irish heathen were but little inferior as workmen  p.286 to the goldsmiths of the Greek colonies, and of the Bosphoran Kings of Tauria on the Black Sea, of whose works many have been lately discovered, and placed in the museums of St. Petersburg. According to Moore, gold mines were discovered in the reign of Tighernmas, an ancient heathen king of Ireland, 200 years before the birth of Christ. In a bog in the county of Tipperary, so many gold ornaments are said to have been found, that the people call it “the golden bog,” and tell a story of a goldsmith's workshop having been overwhelmed by it.

One of these articles of gold is bent nearly circular, in the form of an open ring, greatly flattened at its extremities, and of such a size as to permit its being conveniently held like a handle. The Dublin antiquaries believe that it was used on the ratification of treaties of peace. There exists, however, a multitude of similar handles, or half-closed rings, of copper, and even some of silver, which are believed to have served as coin. The most curious thing connected with this subject is, that at the present moment multitudes of similar half-closed rings are manufactured at Birmingham, of iron, and sent to Africa, where they are used as money, in traffic with the Ashantees and some other negro nations. This African ring-money so much resembles these Irish articles, that some of the former, made in Birmingham, have been placed alongside the latter at Dublin. This appears a singular shape for money; and yet we find that in two countries, so remote from each other, the same strange form was adopted. In all things, in all phenomena, natural-historical, historical, antiquarian, as well as psychological, one can never extend his inquiries too far, either in relation to space or to time. Threads and chains will then be found spun over our entire globe, and all connected like a net. Perhaps the Phoenicians traded with these African nations also. Perhaps this strange form of money, which one can scarcely believe to have been twice invented, was brought to Africa by the Phoenicians, or introduced from the wilds of Africa into the wilds of Ireland, or, vice versa, from the Irish to the Africans. As the English now make this money in Birmingham, so perhaps it was made by the Phoenicians ages ago. Do we not find the Round Towers of Ireland again in Persia; and have not monuments been discovered, even in China, similar to the cromlechs and cairns of Ireland? Not long since an account of some similar Cyclopean monuments, near Bombay, was published in the Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy.

Articles of bronze seem to have been found in Ireland more rarely than might be expected from the extraordinary number of architectural monuments ascribed to the Ostmen and Northmen  p.287 (the Danes). There are far fewer of them here than in other northern museums, for instance, in those of Copenhagen and Livonia. There are, however, a few bronze swords, like those at Copenhagen, together with a great quantity of Celts, and some bronze battle-axes. The most remarkable of these Irish bronzes are the little bronze pigs, which have been found in great numbers. The figure of this animal is usually very well imitated. Perhaps the pig was once a sacred animal in Ireland, as many sorts of beetles were among the ancient Egyptians. These relics reminded me of the ancient legend, that the old magicians, the Tuatha-de-Danaans, once, on the arrival of new settlers from Spain, transformed the whole island into the form of a pig. Even to the present day the pig is the most important and the most respected animal in Erin; the inhabitants live and exist on its blood and lard, like the Egyptians on the water of the Nile; and, were they not Christians, these subjects of her most gracious Majesty would doubtlessly at the present day worship Apis under the form of a pig, as the subjects of the Pharaohs did under the form of an ox.

Several distaffs of the most simple construction have been found —namely, a round stone, with a hole in it, in which a staff was stuck. On the staff was wound the thread, and the heavy stone, on being set in motion, served to keep the simple machinery turning round. The Irish of our own days, however, have succeeded in inventing a still more simple distaff. In place of a stone, which requires labour and art to adapt it for this purpose, they use merely a potato. This kind of distaff, of course, was not used by the ancient Irish, as Drake had not yet presented them with a substitute for the stone.

There is here a considerable quantity of the “bog-butter” which I have already mentioned, and which has been frequently found in pieces of from eight to ten pounds weight. The largest is said to have weighed seventeen pounds. Primitive antique cheeses have also been preserved in the bogs, in forms resembling none at present known in Ireland.

Iron, I was told, was generally entirely destroyed in the turf-bogs, and has only been preserved when it has remained in contact with fat animal matter. In like manner, I have been informed by many, that all the limy parts of animals, all their bones, are soon destroyed, and that the fat and skin, were alone preserved. Thus all the internal bones of the bog-man I have mentioned are said to be completely destroyed, by the moisture of the bog having forced its way through the body. If this be correct, the information I obtained from many quarters, and which I found repeated  p.288 in the treatise on the fossil elk which I have cited above, namely, that its bones are frequently dug out of the bogs, must be understood to mean, not out of the bogs themselves, but rather out of the marl-strata beneath them.

A multitude of interesting remains of Irish Christian antiquity are here to be seen,—manuscripts, crosiers, and the like,—which, by their peculiar ornaments, show that in Ireland the arts also had then entered on a very peculiar path of development, the entire style and the ideas of the painters, calligraphists, and workers in metals, being manifested in them very differently from those to be seen in any other country.

In the museum of Trinity College, Dublin, founded by Queen Elizabeth, are also many interesting Irish antiquities; for instance, an old harp, of beautiful workmanship, which is said to be that of the Irish King O'Nial. In this harp I saw, actually and tangibly, one of those musical instruments, which, in pictures of the assemblies of the Ossianic heroes, we are wont to look upon as mere ideal representations.

All the buildings of Trinity College are large, handsome, and convenient, and are all kept in the neatest order. The part most admired is the library-room, which is said to be the largest of its kind in the British empire. In 1842 the number of books in it amounted to 96,100. Of all the works I saw here none interested me so much as the new map of Ireland, which, so far as it is completed, is a truly gigantic work, and the most magnificent and best of its kind that Great Britain has yet produced. The same corps of engineers who made the last great map of England, are also employed on this of Ireland; and, as they have brought hither with them all the fruits of their experience in England, it is believed that their labours here will be still more exact; and that Ireland, which hitherto was one of those countries of whose geography but very little was accurately known, will thus, all at once, possess one of the fullest and most faithful maps in the world. It is scarcely credible, and yet it is not the less true, that all the maps of Ireland which were made during the last century, were based upon an old one, drawn towards the close of the seventeenth century, by the (in Ireland) famous Sir William Petty. Not one of these maps is to be at all depended upon, because, at a time when the British had determined the positions of a number of far-distant lands by astronomical and trigonometrical observations, and when many parts even of Russia were already surveyed, no general trigonometrical survey of Ireland had as yet been commenced. Even at the end of the last century, the map of Ireland then deemed the most accurate, was made from very inaccurate  p.289 materials by Beaufort, who was not even a mathematician or a geographer by profession, but a clergyman. Beaufort's map was drawn on a scale of six miles to an inch. The new one, undertaken at the public cost, is, on the contrary, on a scale of six inches to a mile, or upwards of a thousand times larger than the most minute and most accurate map which Ireland could boast of fifty years ago. For twelve years, some sixty persons have been employed in preparing and executing this gigantic work. Each of the thirty-two counties of Ireland is laid down, on an average, on from fifty to sixty large sheets, some counties, according to their size, having a greater or smaller number of sheets. Twenty-seven counties have been already completed; and when the whole is finished it will contain above fifteen hundred sheets, and will form, as I have said, one of the greatest geographical works in the world. The atelier for this map is in the Phoenix Park, near Dublin. I was forcibly struck by the great inferiority, in point of intelligence and education, of the persons engaged in the execution of this great work. In similar undertakings in Germany, as, for example, on the great map of Saxony, which has for a long time been in progress at Dresden, all those employed are taken from the educated classes. Here, on the contrary, all the inferior artists are merely common workmen, who probably understand nothing more than that particular part of the work on which they are actually employed. It is probable, however, that the work is so divided and directed by able superintendents, that each workman is required to understand nothing more than his own part; and still that the whole will form a complete and distinguished work.

English libraries interest foreigners most by the splendid and gigantic works, which English perseverance, English art, and English money have produced, and which one has more rarely an opportunity of seeing in our continental libraries. Amongst the works of this description which I had an opportunity of seeing at Trinity College, were the Antiquities of Mexico, a work which is said to have cost the editor, Lord Kingsborough, £30,000. A production of art, almost as complete as nature herself, is Lambert's plates and description of the genus Pinus. This Lambert devoted his talents, his life, and his fortune, to the completion of this distinguished work. It is characteristic of England to produce such men, who possess all these requisites in a high degree, and who devote them to the execution of one work, the attainment of one object. With us, in Germany, all these powers are never thus concentrated on one single point. Lambert employed a number of first-rate artists, and made them repeat their  p.290 labours until he was quite satisfied with the result. Pine-trees were never glorified in such a manner, or represented with such astonishing fidelity and beauty, as in this work, of which very few copies are said to exist.

The great work of Gough, Sepulchral Monuments of Great Britain, and another by Dugdale, the Monasticum Anglicanum, which in a series of volumes gives views and a detailed history of all the churches and abbeys of England—an entire volume is devoted to St. Paul's cathedral—were also objects of my attention. It is astonishing in how many respects England has been already illustrated by her artists, and how every evidence of human existence, every branch of science, has always been there cultivated and carried out with relation to the entire country. All the various classes of British history and British antiquities have their own works, and among them usually a standard book, of universally recognised authority.

Trinity College is decidedly the greatest and most extensive building in Dublin, and the largest college in the United Kingdom. To give a slight idea of what has been done for this college by parliament and private individuals, I will mention a few of the sums which have been presented to it. In 1758, Dr. Baldwin, its provost, bequeathed to the college no less than £80,000. Parliament granted the sum of £40,000 for building a square, thence called “the Parliament Square,” which contains many chambers for fellows and students. In 1787, parliament voted £12,000, merely to build a chapel, which, however, cost considerably more. For all this money it might have been reasonably expected that this college would be somewhat less mute and more active than it appears to be, as the English universities generally designate Trinity College their “Silent Sister.” There are, however, many persons of a European reputation who have here received their education and mental cultivation, such as Young, Goldsmith, Swift, Hamilton, Congreve, Burke, Dodwell, Grattan, Coulter, &c. The English usually complete their education at one and the same college; and each of the various universities of the kingdom is therefore constantly employed in reckoning up the great men who have been there educated, in comparing them with those produced by other colleges, and in erecting monuments and statues to them in their buildings. In our German universities this can never be the case, as we usually visit several, one after another. The German universities acquire their fame principally from their teachers; the English, from their pupils.

The chapel of Trinity College is very elegant, although far inferior to many college chapels at Oxford. In it I saw a remarkable  p.291 instance of the great nicety and strictness with which the orders of academical rank are maintained in English universities. The prayer-books in this chapel were all different in form, finish, and binding, according as they were appointed for a higher or lower academical rank. The prayer-book of the provost was a folio volume, elegantly bound, with gilt edges, and the leather studded with golden stars. For the vice-provost, there was the gilt edge, but the stars had disappeared. For the senior fellows, of whom there are seven, there was merely a simple folio, without gilt edges; while for the junior fellows, of whom there are eighteen, it diminished to an unornamented quarto. The scholars and students had to content themselves with octavos. The scholars, of whom there are seventy, compose, with the fellows, the body of the university, and they all together elect the two members which the university returns to parliament. 23 The students are divided into three classes,—fellow-commoners, who dine at the fellows' table, and pay most; pensioners, who pay less; and sizars, who pay nothing at all. As the students have their own prayer-books, they have also their own park, adjoining the college: and the fellows again have their pretty little garden, to which the masters and fellow-commoners have also admission. Through a little postern door of this garden, called the “Doctors' Gate,” because the doctors only are allowed to have keys for it,—by courtesy, however, the masters also have a key,—I again issued from the university.

4. The squares of Dublin

Merrion-square—Absenteeism—Irish Squares—Stephen's Green—Phoenix Park—Departure from Dublin

Dublin is celebrated in England for its squares. Merrion-square is said to be the most beautiful, and Stephen's Green the largest, in the British empire; and both of these are only a short distance from the little Doctors' Gate.

Merrion-square is a handsome parallelogram, with noble grass-plots, and surrounded by the finest private buildings in Dublin. The latter, as I walked along the paths of the square, presented a very melancholy appearance, with their blinds drawn down, a sign that their owners were not at home. I reckoned ten houses in succession which were all veiled in this manner. During the entire summer, and the greatest part of the winter too, the nobility  p.292 and gentry of the country are not to be found in their capital; and for this Dublin is not compensated, like London, by a more lively season in the spring.

Dublin, of course, has lost most by the union of Ireland with England. At the end of the last century, when Ireland yet possessed her own parliament, Dublin was the usual residence of two hundred and seventy-one temporal and spiritual peers, and of three hundred members of the House of Commons. In 1820, on the contrary, the city counted no more than thirty-four resident peers, thirteen baronets, and five members of the House of Commons. If, as has been calculated so long ago as in 1782, no less than two millions sterling were drained from Ireland to be spent out of the country, it may reasonably be assumed that that sum has now at least doubled itself. As Ireland is not, like other countries of Europe, remunerated for this by the visits of strangers, it may be easily conceived how sore and disagreeable this absenteeism is to the trading classes. Ireland is probably that country of Europe from which there is the greatest emigration, and into which there is the smallest immigration, of wealthy persons.

As elegant clubs are, in London, more numerous than elegant houses of public resort, so in Dublin squares are more numerous than public gardens. The wealthy and privileged classes have entirely monopolized the enjoyment of these squares. Usually, it is only the inhabitants of the surrounding houses, and a few subscribers, who are allowed to enter the square, which is enclosed with a high iron railing, and each inhabitant or select subscriber is furnished with a key for the gates which open into it. These monopolizers of squares are also protected by law against surreptitious intruders; and there is generally painted on a board set up near the gate—“Any person imitating the keys of this square is liable to a fine of five pounds.”

The entire of Merrion-square, with all the houses that surround it, belongs to a nobleman, whose name I have forgotten. The inhabitants of these houses pay a higher rent on condition that the square shall remain free and unbuilt on. The lawns of Merrion-square, like those of all English gardens, are elegantly kept; and though the whole is only twelve acres, a gardener, who has his dwelling in a corner of it, and two under-gardeners, have always plenty to do, to keep the grass and the walks in the wished-for accurate order. Between the lawns wind several serpentine paths, and here and there some line thick clumps of trees are distributed. The iron railing is every where lined with dense shrubberies, in order that those walking in the garden may feel themselves more private and concealed from the gaze of the public. The enjoyment  p.293 of these squares is, to my mind, a somewhat insipid pleasure, consisting of nothing else but walking up and down a few times to take a little fresh air. Generally, only a few young children, and their attendants, are to be seen in them. We Germans would permit the gardener to sell milk and cakes; and we would, in the morning, noon, or evening, come across from our houses to enjoy a little coffee or egg-flip (weinkaltschale). But nothing of this sort is allowed here. On the contrary, as I have already said, these beautiful grounds, which might be made so manifoldly useful to the public at large, are generally seen empty, or at most visited by a few children. During the season, in the spring, a band of music plays in the lawns, at which periods the subscribers and inhabitants, with their families and friends, come to hear it. The number of those who frequent Merrion-square on these occasions, as the gardener told me, sometimes amounts to three or four thousand. The public at large is, however, excluded on these festivals, and the gates of the square are guarded by policemen. “Indeed it is very necessary,” said the gardener, “for if we did not do so, the numerous ruffians we have in the town would soon destroy every thing.”

The other square, Stephen's Green, is almost an English mile in circumference. It is the property of the city of Dublin, but has been given to the inhabitants of the square, as a “fee farm,” by act of parliament. For this they pay £300 a year,—another example of the various legal relations in which the inhabitants of English towns stand to their squares. In the centre of these handsome grounds an equestrian statue of George II. has been erected.

A statue of the Duke of Wellington was offered to the inhabitants of these two squares, to be erected in their grounds; but it was declined on account of its great want of taste. It was therefore erected in that park which is the pride of the good folks of Dublin, where they make their first acquaintance with whatever is beautiful and blooming and grass-green in nature—in the Phoenix Park, close to Dublin. Of this park the Irish assert that it is unequalled in the United Kingdom. But beautiful as it may be, and unsurpassingly suitable as is its name, and the monument which has been erected in the middle of it—a Phoenix in flames, in allusion to the annual rejuvanescence and new blossoming of the trees and shrubs,—still I must confess that I cannot comprehend what is so displeasing to the Irish in the noble parks of London, surrounded as they are by so many splendid buildings, that they wish to extol the Phoenix Park so highly beyond every other. The avenues to it are bad, in quite an extraordinary degree; the buildings, even the Vice-Regal Lodge, are very insignificant structures; and the  p.294 green lawns are by no means so carefully kept as those of the parks of London.

The Phoenix Park lies almost quite outside the city: and as we are now once more in the open country, and have left behind us the smoky narrow town, we will not return again, much as we may have still to see there; at least not further than is necessary to find our car, which is to convey us to the north of Ireland.

30. From Dublin to Drogheda

“How do you spell your Name, sir?”—Cornishmen—Swords—Balbriggan—The Beggars and my fair singing Companion—Linen Trade

In Germany, we sometimes say to a person whose name we do not know, “May I take the liberty, sir, to ask you your name?” In England, one would do better to say, “How do you spell your name, sir?” otherwise one would derive little information from the answer, which generally consists of some corrupted, inarticulate sounds. “How do you spell your name, sir?” asked I of a man, who, having thrown his luggage into the well of the car, took his seat on the bench beside me. I received a volley of letters in reply; but as I was not yet sufficiently practised in English spelling, I was nothing the wiser, for I neither knew how to write or to pronounce it. This much, however, I know, by the final syllable pen, and the Christian name John, that my friend must be from Cornwall; for of Cornishmen is sung the following couplet:—

  1. By tre, pol, lan, and pen,
    You may know most Cornishmen.

These Cornishmen are usually called John, as the Welsh are Johnson: hence the former say that the latter are their sons. Mr. {}pen was a thorough trader, and had no mind for any thing that was not in his line. When, therefore, I told him I had come from Saxony, “Ah, Saxony,” said he, “that is a very fine wool country!” When I expressed my regret that the weather was bad, and that we would see but little of the interesting country, he replied, “that all weathers were the same to him, if business were only doing; but the worst of all was, that it was now so dull and slow.” “But it is some consolation to me,” said I, “to think that we are entering on a better-cultivated part of  p.295 Ireland, and that the cultivation of the country and of the people goes on increasing towards the north.” “It is remarkable,” observed he, “that in like manner the linen and flax become finer and better as we proceed northwards. That of Drogheda is not so fine as that of Newry; and there are some places yet farther north where still finer articles are woven.”

All this conversation passed between us while we were making ourselves as comfortable as we could on the car. At last we started off. The cloud of poor invalids, beggars, useless helpers and helpers' helpers, and hawkers of newspapers and picture-books, all of whom were proclaiming in a loud voice the important novelties contained in their papers, to induce us to buy, cleared away, and our car, with its mountain of luggage, and its sixteen outside passengers, rolled off through the suburbs of Dublin. I remarked in passing, that here also a great number of houses were adorned with ivy, in the same manner as all ruins in Ireland. As Erin is the ivy-land, so is Dublin the ivy-city.

Under a heavy fall of hail, rain, and snow mixed together—a kind of weather which the English call sleet, and which is very common in Ireland—we drove past the ruins of the cathedral of Swords. There stood beside them a large and almost perfect Round Tower, and many lordly old trees. The name Swords, although English, reminded me of the old Irish battles fought by Erin's king, Brian Boru.

Farther on we passed another ruin, the old castle of Balruddery; but at the next town, Balbriggan, quite a spectacle presented itself to me—a large manufactory! Balbriggan was the first place in Ireland in which I found a great cotton-mill. Balbriggan stockings are celebrated, even in England. From this place the north-eastern manufacturing district of Ireland may be said to begin. The ruins cease to be the principal objects of interest; and such grand groups of ruins as those of Kilkenny, Glendalough, and Cashel, are no longer to be met with in the north.

We took a little siesta at Balbriggan, and changed our horses. As we again seated ourselves on the car, we were surrounded by the usual swarm of poor people, begging us for Heaven's sake to give them a halfpenny. “There's time enough yet, gentlemen! the car's just going off!” exclaimed they, as the driver raised his whip. “There's time enough yet, your honours! Sure your honours won't go away without leaving us and our poor families a trifle! I'm not asking for myself, your honours, but for my poor dying children! Oh! oh! the car is going off, and your honours won't give us any thing!”


In the meantime it had become dark. It is by no means pleasant to be on an Irish car when night comes on, without the light of either stars or moon, as was now our case; for one cannot venture to sleep through fear of tumbling off. A stout lady, who sat at the other side of me, therefore after a while began to sing aloud. She said she did so to keep herself awake and lively. Accompanied by her song and our universal dumbness, both of which, as well as the rough sleet, continued all the way to Drogheda, we entered the last-named town.

In this entire district, and particularly in Drogheda, the linen manufacture is the staple trade of the inhabitants. In consequence, however, of the erection of extensive flax spinning-mills at Leeds, this branch of Irish commerce has of late greatly decreased, and the linen manufacture is now much depressed. In England, it is one of the most recent branches of its manufacturing activity; whilst in Ireland it is one of the oldest. The linen manufacture of Ireland has occupied the attention of the English and Irish legislatures for two hundred years; but in England it has only obtained importance since the beginning of the present century, in consequence of the introduction of vast spinning-machines. These machines have also been lately introduced into Ireland, and the flax-spinning is now conducted on quite a new system. Many towns have been losers, and others gainers, by this change. It is remarkable that the exportation of Irish linen to England and foreign countries since the beginning of the present century, has regularly fluctuated between thirty-five and fifty-five millions of yards yearly. The general lamentations of the linen manufacturers and flax-spinners, that their trade has been destroyed, may therefore probably be caused by the increase of population, and of hands seeking employment. The population of Ireland has almost doubled itself since 1800; and to prevent these lamentations, the production and exportation of linen should also have been doubled in the same period.


31. Drogheda and its Environs

The Battle of the Boyne—James II.—The Valley of the Boyne—The Hill of New Grange—Its Interior—Cyclopean Chapel—Its Indestructibility—Stone Basins—Spiral Lines, Stars, and other Figures—Builders of the Druid-temple—These Monuments attributed to the Danes—The Danaans—Supposed Object of these Cyclopean Structures—The Moat of Dowth—The Ruins of the College of Slane—Sepulchral Monument of a Netterville—A Hint to Painters—For Good Luck—Shila na Gigh—A Funeral—Monasterboice—Peculiarity of Clouds in Ireland—Moore's Description of Atmospheric Phenomena—Old Irish Crosses—Symbolism of these Crosses—Irish Opinions respecting them—Columb-Kill—The Cross of Columba—Oat-cakes—The Parlour of a Catholic Priest—O'Connell's Popularity in Drogheda—A Poetical-musical soirée—Cuchullin—Cuchullin and Connell—Song of the Fairies' Mount—Ossianic Poetry—Harp-playing—Brian Boru's March—The Fairy Queen—The Harpers' Society—The National Assembly at Tara—The Convent of the Curse—Irish Language—Decrease of Social Amusements

Drogheda is an old Irish place, but is almost entirely in the style of English towns. It is the only town in the north of Ireland the population of which is on the decrease. In 1821 it had 18,118, and in 1831, only 17,365 inhabitants. It is situated on the Boyne, which has become famous, less for its slightly dark-coloured bog-water,—one of its chief tributaries is called the Blackwater, a name borne and deserved by many rivers of Ireland—than for the blood that was once poured into it. The famous—for the English, the glorious, by the Irish, the deplored—Battle of the Boyne, in which William III. conquered James II., and drove him from the country, was fought here. This battle was to the Irish what the battle of the White Mountain was to the Bohemians, and the battle of Culloden to the Scots. The battle-field lies up the river, a few miles from Drogheda; and as the valley is distinguished as well by its natural charms, as, in particular, by its Druidical remains, and, above all, by the celebrated sepulchral monument of New Grange, I made a little journey up along the river on the following day, in company with a well-informed and kind patriot of Drogheda.

In a narrow part of the valley, where the struggle that decided the battle took place, there has been erected an obelisk, on a little block of stone, or rock, close by the river. My friend, who had  p.298 grown up in the neighbourhood, informed me, that, at the present moment, all the details of the battle live in the memories of the people who dwell around, and are handed down from generation to generation; and not these particulars alone, but all the high relationships and entire genealogies of the distinguished personages who were engaged in it. The Irish traditions still possess the peculiar precise character of the traditions of nations who have no books, and whose memory is therefore the stronger. In them every thing is described with the greatest accuracy,—the localities, the physiognomies, the speeches,—just as if the people had seen every thing themselves. Among those who fell at the battle of the Boyne were several Germans, who accompanied William from Holland, one of whom, the Duke Schomberg, commanded a part of William's troops. The people here say that the German troops had offered violence to an Irish country girl, for which her lover swore he would take revenge: but being unable to discover the actual miscreants, he selected their general, and slew him.

James II. behaved with no great bravery in this memorable battle, which was fought on the 1st of July, 1690. Seized by a panic, even while the battle was yet undecided, he sought safety in flight, and rode through the entire length of the island, at a pace that has never been equalled. In a few hours he had left behind him the entire way from the battle-field to Dublin Castle; and on the next evening he rode to Waterford, a distance of more than one hundred English miles. The Irish therefore justly call him Shamus a' cacach, that is, cowardly, or dirty James. On his part, James threw all the blame on the Irish; for when, in his flight, he reached the Castle of Dublin, and Lady Tyrconnell, a woman of ready wit, came out to meet him, he said to her, “Your countrymen, the Irish, madam, can run very quick;” her reply was, “Your majesty excels them in this, as in every thing else, for you have won the race.” At Waterford, James embarked for France. As he was in the act of ascending the side of the ship, the wind blew off his hat; and as it was evening, and the hat could not be recovered immediately, his attendant, General O'Farrell, an Irishman, put his own hat on him, that he might not take cold. James was pleased, and remarked, as he ascended the vessel, that if, through the fault of the Irish, he had lost a crown, he had gained a hat from them in its place. James's accusations of the swift-footedness of the Irish are now forgotten; but the Irish still blame him, and have not ceased to call him a' cacach. By this battle William III. confirmed, for the last time, Henry II.'s conquest, the subjection of Ireland,—a subjection which before this had to be confirmed once or twice every century by an  p.299 English army. In the centre of Ireland two new counties were formed, and were called, in honour of William and his consort, the King's County and the Queen's County.

The entire valley of the Boyne, from Drogheda as far as Navan, contains traces of Druidical monuments. Thus, on our way, we inspected the remains of a cromlech or Druidical circular temple, which is situated on a height. It now consists of only four large stones, disposed in the form of a segment of a circle. As a part of the height had been dug away for agricultural purposes, two other stories had sunk down. Farther up the valley are several large tumuli, one of which is the celebrated hill of New Grange. This hill, which is composed of an enormous mass of flint-stones, is about 50 or 60 feet high, and 200 paces in circumference. The multitude of stones of which it is formed is therefore immensely great, especially as most of them, at least those on the summit, are not much larger than common paving-stones. Round about the hill, at the edge of its base, is a circle of large blocks of stone, the heads of which are all stuck into the ground. Some of these stones have already fallen; others have completely disappeared. As the hill is surrounded by arable land, the peasants may have removed many of the stones to make way for the plough, so that the circle is no longer complete. The outside of the hill is now entirely overgrown with grass, bushes, and trees, the stones having, in the course of years, become covered with dust, mould, and clay, on which vegetation then sprang up. Here and there, however, particularly upon the summit, this green covering of grass has been removed, probably to satisfy the curiosity of man; and there the stones may be plainly seen, as well as every where else, by any one who takes the trouble to dig away the soil.

In size and outward shape, this tumulus closely resembles those which have been raised at Cracow, in honour of Kosciuzko, Wanda, and Krak. It also reminds one of the tumulus of Elpenor, and of that of Achilles, on the Sigaean promontory, as described by travellers, and by Homer in the twelfth book of his Odyssey. The mound of Patroclus, and that of Halyattes in Asia Minor, according to Camden's testimony, must be very like it. The larger of the Tartaric tumuli in the Crimea, which were probably erected in honour of Scythian or Bosphoran kings, exactly resemble it in figure, with this difference, that, in that stoneless country, they are composed, not of stones, but of earth. In the south of Russia, on the top of these mounds a figure, rudely chiselled out of stone, is sometimes placed, or even a common stone. On the tumulus of Achilles, too, traces of a pillar are said to be still  p.300 visible; and in Ireland it is affirmed that, in like manner, great blocks of stone stood on them, as final or top stones. On the summit of these mounds there is generally found a little hollow, in which the stone stood, and out of which it may have been washed away by the rain. The English call these mounds barrows when built of earth, and cairns when built of stones.

It is not, however, in its exterior appearance, but in its internal structure, that the hill of New Grange is most interesting. An opening has been discovered at the base of the hill, through which the hollow interior may be reached, and this was the principal object of our journey. For this purpose we had provided ourselves with lights, the entrance being extremely narrow and rather long. Before the entrance there is a little space protected from the wind, a kind of cave in the earth heaped up at the foot of the mound, and which was probably formed by the explorers and excavators of the entrance. Here we took off our clothes, lighted our candles, and commenced our operations. The passage, which is about fifty feet long, is somewhat obstructed with stones, so that one can only work his way in by lying on his back, while he feels his way with his feet, and pushes himself forward with his hands. As the ground is covered with sharp-cornered flint-stones, this slide-path is not the most agreeable in the world. The sidewalls of the passage are formed of large, tolerably flat stones, set up perpendicularly, with equally large stones laid across them on the top. We soon reached the convenient interior of the tumulus, where one can not only stand upright, but can also walk about freely, as it is neither more nor less than a little chapel, to which three side-chapels are appended. Having brought with us a whole bundle of candles, we hung one of them in the centre of the large chapel, another in each of the three small ones, and the remainder we attached round about to the rocks, wherever we could; and now, in this illumination, my eyes beheld the most remarkable and most interesting specimen of primitive Cyclopean architecture I ever saw. Rude and simple as every thing was, it would yet be difficult for me to convey to my readers a correct idea of the appearance and structure of these chapels.

It is manifest that they were not hollowed out of the mound of stones subsequent to its erection, for this its structure would not permit; but they existed before the hill itself, and the great pyramid of flint-stones, was raised over the roof of the chapels. As children build houses of cards, so were these chapels built of blocks of stones. A few large flat stones were placed beside one another, on their edges, to form the back and side walls, and over them a few more were placed to make a ceiling. In this way were  p.301 the three little side-chapels constructed. They of course remained open on the side where they were to communicate with the centre larger chapel. One of these chapels faces the east, one the west, and one the north; on the south is the entrance to the passage out. This opening is a door, with gigantic stone door-posts and stone architraves. The principal difficulty the old Cyclopean architects had to surmount must have been in the construction of the vaulted roof of the high middle chapel; and this difficulty has been solved by supposing that, upon the four firm bases or points of support afforded by the roofs of the little chapels and the mighty architraves of the door-way of the centre one, they laid other large flat pieces of rock, which projected inwards a little. On these again they placed similar stones, which projected inwards a little more than those beneath them, and thus gradually narrowed the space more and more. This operation was repeated three or four times, so that at last only a small hole remained open in the top of the centre chapel, which was then closed by one gigantic stone, and in this way the whole was completed. When the chapel was afterwards covered outside with a mass of flint-stones, their weight gave increased firmness to the over-lapping stones that formed the roof, and in this way the entire building must remain there, firm and indestructible, through eternity. The immense mass of stones which now lies, like a great hill, upon this chapel and its side-chapels, and upon the roof of the entrance-passage, was probably formed gradually, and in the course of time. It was and is the custom, not only in Arabia, some countries of Africa, and many others of the world, but also in Ireland and in Scotland, to heap up stones on holy places, and particularly over graves. In Arabia, in northern Africa, in some of the Baltic Provinces, as in Esthonia, and also in some parts of Scotland, usage requires every one who passes by to throw a stone upon the holy place, while he probably at the same time makes some pious wish, or repeats a short prayer. In this way great heaps of stones have been raised, in various places, in all these countries. It is probable that, immediately on the consecration of the holy place, a great portion of the stones were thrown upon it by the assembled multitude; and afterwards, in the course of centuries the original heap became a hill, a result of the pious labours of the believing.

I have said that in this way the entire Cyclopean work will endure for eternity; for, excepting the wasting away of the stones by the action of the air and weather, which, from the hardness of their nature, cannot happen in any conceivable period of time, no cause can be imagined capable of destroying these monuments. The thousands of years which have passed over these stones have  p.302 not left on them a single trace of injury. A gnawing moss-plant has not even once fixed itself inside. An earthquake, opening the mouth of the earth, and swallowing up the entire monument, is the only conceivable natural event that could destroy this chapel. But Ireland has not yet suffered this calamity, and probably never will. In all probability, it has as little to fear from man as from nature; for none of the motives which have led to the destruction of ancient buildings can exist with regard to New Grange. Many of our architectural remains have disappeared beneath the destroying hand of man, because they became obnoxious to succeeding generations. Thus were destroyed the Bastile at Paris, and many an old German castle and town. Many were demolished because their materials could be applied by succeeding generations to other purposes. Others were destroyed to satisfy avarice and curiosity, because their destroyers hoped to find either treasures or other matters concealed in them. Thus several pyramids in Egypt, several royal sepulchres in the Crimea, and in other places, have been rummaged and destroyed. Then, again, passion for art and science has all but ruined other monuments, as witness many beautiful temples in Greece. Of all these motives, however, not one can arm the inhabitants of Erin against such monuments as New Grange. Great blocks of stone, such as these, can be of no use to the present or future generations; unless the human race again returns to its old barbarism, and our architectural arts descend to the level of this Cyclopean architecture. And, even then, blocks of stone, more easily obtainable, would be found in the neighbourhood.

These chapels can no longer in any way be offensive; for the differences of opinion, and the party contentions, of which they were perhaps once the object, in the time of the Druids, just as many heathen and not-heathen temples afterwards became, and still are, have all long since passed away, and their revival is altogether inconceivable. Mere wantonness would have far too much to do in the destruction of these vast masses of stone, so that we need not entertain any fears from that cause. The art-enthusiasts, who have plundered the temples of Greece and of other countries, can scarcely find any thing here worth robbing; for these structures are only remarkable in their present entirety, and would lose their interest as soon as the individual pieces were taken asunder. Perhaps an exception must be made to this in a few respects, as I will immediately show. Curiosity and avarice can derive little or nothing from the destruction of this edifice; for here there is nothing hidden from the sight, and every one can immediately convince himself that it contains nothing more than the rude  p.303 masses of stone before his eyes. From all this it follows, that New Grange, like other similar monuments of a remote antiquity, will most probably last longer than the tower of Babylon, the obelisks of Egypt, the temples of Greece, the castles of the middle ages, and all the buildings of our own day. This reflection at once forces itself on the spectator; and, while it fills him with respect for these witnesses of a long-departed age, convinces him that they will continue to speak into as far distant a future.

We then examined the details of the three little chapels, and found them no less interesting than the structure of the whole. In each of them we saw a large stone basin, and, in one of them, two such basins, one within the other. These basins, which bear some resemblance to the baptismal fonts of our Christian churches, are the most remarkable specimens of Druidical or Cyclopean stone-cutting I ever beheld. They are great caldron-round stones, about twenty or twenty-four feet in circumference, hollowed out into a shallow cavity, like the saucer of a tea-cup. The manner in which they were hollowed out, and the entire workmanship of them, is so rude, and the circular form of the basin is so irregular, that, although it is quite evident they have been thus fashioned, not by nature but by art, it is yet impossible to conceive in what way this form has been given then. Chisel, circle, and measuring-rod seem not to have been used in their formation. It looks just as if the hollows were produced by rubbing one great stone upon another for a long time. These basins rest upon another immense stone, which serves them as a pedestal; and in the eastern chapel there is, as I have said, two such basins, a smaller within a larger. Perhaps in the other two chapels there were also similar little basins, which may have been removed for some museum of antiquities; for I remember having seen a Druidical basin of this kind in an English museum. The northern chapel, which is exactly opposite the entrance-passage, is constructed of the largest stones. One of the basins was half-full of water which had trickled from the roof of the cavern. My companion told me that he always saw this water here, whenever he visited the chapel.

With the exception of these basins, few traces of art are to be seen, and these consist of some marks here and there on the stones. On one, for example, several parallel zigzag lines have been cut. On the surface of another are some spiral lines, winding round in six or seven circles, within one another, like a helix. Then there are some little round figures with radii, which resemble stars, and, finally, a figure which seems to be meant for an imitation of flowers or fruits. Those star-like figures were perhaps meant for stars, which the old star-worshipping  p.304 Druids used to engrave upon the tombs of their heroes. All these things are very awkwardly, rudely, and by no means deeply cut. The spiral lines are the most numerous, and reminded me of the many spirals of metal wire which have been found in very old tombs, and which are supposed to have been intended for ornaments. An inscription, too, is shown in one of the chapels, on the foot of one of its side-stones. It consists of various undecipherable characters, which, as Irish antiquarians assert, belong neither to the Feadha, the common old Irish alphabet, nor to the Ogham, the secret writing of the ancient Irish; but is, in all probability, an apocryphal addition of modern date. The most remarkable evidence of human labour, however, is on a stone which forms the inner door-post of the chapel. The projecting edge of this stone is marked, from top to bottom, with slight grooves or furrows. It appears precisely as if several ropes had been for a long time drawn backwards and forwards across it, and worn in it one furrow over another. When we consider the size of the stone, this marking must have cost no slight trouble, and it is quite impossible to conjecture its object. Were these furrows intended for numerical records? The entire structure and its details, is, in fact, one of the most interesting sights one can behold. It is to be regretted that this temple is so concealed, and that, by reason of its inconvenient entrance, it is almost inaccessible to half the human race—the fair sex. Were the managers of the opera of Norma acquainted with this subterranean Druid-temple, they would certainly have represented it on the stage, and it could scarcely fail to make a great impression on the spectators.

As we were going out again, and I once more threw the light on some stones, I observed, on those which formed the inner-door of the entrance, a countless multitude of little gnats. These animals are now the only, and perhaps the most ancient, inhabitants of this colossal work. Year after year they retire here in the autumn to pass the winter, and fly out again in the spring.

When at last we regained the open air, we met two Irish peasants, and asked them by whom they believed these caverns were formed. They replied “the Danes,” which is the usual answer given by the Irish to questions respecting the origin of any ancient structure in their country. It is the Danes who have piled up their moats, the Danes to whom the oldest of their ruined castles are attributed, the Danes have erected the ancient barrows and cairns. Even the Round Towers, the ignorant common people sometimes ascribe to the Danes; and, in fact, to the annoyance of the inquisitive tourist and the friend of antiquity, there are even many among the well-educated, who, without further  p.305 reflection, repeat this opinion of the people. The Danes were in Ireland in the ninth, tenth, and eleventh centuries; while many of the monuments attributed to them manifestly derive their origin from a far earlier period. Besides, they properly occupied only the eastern part of the island; while the monuments ascribed to them are, on the contrary, found in all parts of it, and are so extremely numerous, and of such variety, that one cannot avoid concluding that the people are in error. But, on the other hand, the Irish are not deficient in boldness of imagination, as they often date their traditions from a far more remote period than that of the Danes. Nay, they are even inclined, wherever possible, to ascend centuries back, before their time; and therefore it would seem that they are entitled to some belief in relation to their Danish monuments, when they content themselves with claiming for them a date comparatively modern.

All these various considerations combined have led me to an hypothesis which I have met with in no Irish writer, namely, that the Irish people may have confounded the Danes with the much more ancient nation, of nearly the same name, the Danaans, who are said to have lived in Ireland long before the birth of Christ. These Danaans, or Tuatha-de-Danaans, were, according to Irish tradition, the third race who colonised Ireland. Of these Danaans, Moore, who repeats the popular tradition, says:—“They were a people famed for necromancy, who, after sojourning for some time in Greece, where they had learned this mysterious art, proceeded from thence to Denmark and Norway, and became possessors, while in those countries, of certain marvellous treasures, among which were the Stone of Destiny, the Sorcerer's Spear, and the Magic Caldron. Armed with these wonderful gifts, the tribe of the Danaans next found their way to Scotland; and, after a rest there of some years, set sail, under the auspices of their chieftain, Nuad of the Silver Hand, 24 for Ireland. Here, landing secretly, under cover of a mist which their enchantments had raised, these sorcerers penetrated into the country, and conquered the inhabitants in the battle of Moytura, which is also called the “Battle of the Field of the Tower.””

As so much art, and even magic, is attributed to the Danaans,  p.306 they may have easily covered Ireland with many monuments of their skill; and as their name has nearly the same sound as that of the Danes, the generations which dwelt in Ireland after the Danes may have given the latter credit for much that properly belonged to that more ancient people. Moreover, most of the remains of the Danes, or Danaans, are, even at the present moment, objects of superstition, and the scenes of goblins and enchantment! So much is certain, that Cyclopean structures, like this of New Grange, must date their origin from the most remote antiquity. It is likewise highly probable, and now the generally-received opinion among the learned, that these barrows and cairns served for some religious purpose. Some believe that they were the sepulchral monuments of celebrated heroes or kings. Others imagine that they were temples. Perhaps they may have served both purposes at the same time. In Africa, there are tribes who have no other temples, or places for prayer, than the graves of their Marabouts. In these subterraneous chapels, perhaps, not only were sacrifices offered up to the memory and the manes of the revered departed, a king or a high-priest, but also the well-being of all was implored in prayer, while on the summit of the hill a fire was kindled in honour of the Sun-god, or god of light. In Cornwall there is a cairn called Karn Leskyg, or “Karn of Burnings”. Perhaps the summit was sacred to the celestial Sun-god, or god of light, and the hollow subterranean chapels, on the contrary, to the infernal powers. The stone basins may then have served for altars, or sacrificial vessels.

There are, as I have said, many other tumuli along the banks of the Boyne, yet they are all, with one exception, far lower and smaller than that of New Grange. The people say that ancient chieftains are buried beneath these little hills. The exception is that called Dowth, or the Moat of Dowth, which exactly resembles New Grange; but it seems to me to be a little larger and higher, and outside it is not covered with bushes, but quite bare. At one spot, where the turf has been removed, one can plainly see that, like New Grange, it is composed of an immense mass of flint stones. On one side of the hill there is also an entrance, a couple of large stones, laid on one another, forming just such a door as that of New Grange. It is extremely probable that this entrance leads to a similar hollow passage, and again to a chapel, perhaps larger, perhaps somewhat varied, and at all events interesting for the sake of comparison. But, oh! disgrace to all those inhabitants of the surrounding country, with their ten thousands a year!—the entrance has not been opened any farther, and nothing is yet known of the interior. I remember  p.307 well how I abused the barbarism of the country, when I beheld, in southern Russia and among the Tartars, the many yet untouched and unopened tumuli. But should I go there again I will beg pardon of the people for this injustice, since, in a state like Great Britain, such extremely interesting and remarkable monuments stand unexamined, yes, unvalued, silent, and shut up, like the Pyramids in the desert. Would not one imagine that here, in this English country, every thing worth examining would be explored and rummaged, over and over again, by antiquarians, and lovers of science and art? But I must add, that the cairn or temple of Dowth is not the only instance of this kind.

From the summit of this hill we enjoyed one of the most beautiful prospects of the valley of the Boyne, down upon all the tumuli lying around, upon the river winding between them, and then away towards the west upon the town of Slane, where, in former times, a famous college existed, and which still lies there, as Cromwell left it—in ruins. To these old Catholic colleges, now lying in rubbish, the Irish patriots point with sadness. They once had many of them; but since the times of Cromwell and of William III. they have none. Their young people, intended for the priesthood, were all forced to complete their clerical education in foreign lands, in Spain, Italy, or France. Not till a recent period did the Roman Catholics obtain a college of their own for the education of their clergy—the College of Maynooth in the vicinity of Dublin, which now represents the university of Roman Catholic Ireland.

Not far from the Moat of Dowth, upon the estate of the Netterville family, are the ruins of an old church. They are, as usual, ornamented with ivy; and within the roofless circuit of its walls are, as is also usual, the monuments of those who, as the Irish say, “were brought home to their own people.” Among others was the white marble monument of a Netterville, which stood so extremely pleasing and picturesque between the gray church-walls and the green ivy, that I cannot understand why the English travel to Père la Chaise at Paris, and to Frankfort, to see the prosaic monuments there, while, by making a tour of the old churchyards of Ireland, they might enjoy the greatest abundance of picturesque, beautiful, and in every respect interesting sights. We have many complete collections of all distinguished English mansions: why have not a few English painters and writers joined, and given to the world an illustrated work under the title of “The Old Churchyards of Ireland?” The painter indeed must be a Ruysdael, whose unequalled Churchyard, in the Royal Gallery at Dresden, comes near in effect and poetry to an Irish churchyard;  p.308 while the writer must be a Moore or a Byron, for the aesthetic as well as the historical department should be illumined with liveliness and imagination. These churchyards, in which, amid ruins and beneath venerable trees, often in the midst of the greatest wildness and desolation, the noble and the poor are buried, are unquestionably the most significant symbols of the condition and mode of thinking of the Irish people. The Irish are much attached to every thing that is old, and imagine that they can find their last long rest only among the dust of “their own people,” and in that place with which so many old traditions and legends are associated, although these witnesses of the days of their ancient glory now lie in ruin and decay. Full of love for their old churches, for their old traditions, for their old recollections, generations after generations lay themselves down here amid these shattered walls, and seem to hope that Ireland too, as well as themselves, will one day arise from her ruins to a new and glorious life.

I visited this church, however, not on account of the old monuments, but for something else,—namely, Shilagh na Gigh, that is, in English, “Cicely of the Branch,” whose name relates to an extremely remarkable old Irish custom, which again reminded me of the East—this time the old East of Herodotus. The Irish are no less superstitious than the Romans of old, and, like them, “ill luck and good luck” is the principal object of their thoughts and cares. A hundred thousand things and events are signs of “ill luck:” meetings, looks, words, sounds, natural phenomena, feelings of various kinds, become signs of ill luck under certain circumstances. The look of a sorceress is especially dreaded. “She overlooked my child, and it now fades in his bloom,” is the expression used on such occasions.

As in nature every poison has its antidote, so likewise, in the world of Irish superstition, there are as many things that bring good luck as there are that bring bad luck. For good luck they spit upon the penny they receive, lest it may be enchanted and infected with ill luck. For good luck they dip their children in holy wells, or have recourse to various charms, when the ill luck of a look or of a mere word is upon them. Even adults, even men, have sometimes a dark and melancholy feeling that a spell of ill luck has been thrown around them by some person or other; and, among the various remedies they adopt to counteract it “for good luck,” is this:—“Persuadent nempe mulierem, ut exhibeat iis quod mulieres secretissimum habent.”

There once were—and whatever was once in Ireland, one may be almost certain that it is still there—women, who made a profession  p.309 of this, and who, whenever a young or old man was tormented by the idea of ill luck, permitted him to try this means for good luck. These women were, and are still, called Shilagh na Gigh: the origin of this name I have not been able to learn. It may be, however, that the belief gained ground that the mere image would be sufficient; and the priests, so thought an Irishman whom I questioned on this subject, did all in their power to increase this belief, in order to diminish the use of the original remedy itself. Female images were therefore made to answer the purpose of living women, and were also called Shilagh na Gigh. They were built into the side-walls of the chapels, probably in order that thus they might be the more potent. My companion, who was intimately acquainted with Irish customs and antiquities, assured me that he knew of ten or eleven old chapels with these figures, and that one of them was still to be seen in the southern wall of the above-mentioned chapel of the Nettervilles. To convince myself of this, I went there, and after some search I found a little female figure in the place described. It was chiselled out of one of the stones of the wall, in low relief, “nuda erat, nec non exhibuit, quod juvenes “for good luck's sake” spectare optarent.” My companion remarked, “they call it also a female exhibition.” I thought of the women whom Herodotus says frequented the temple at Babylon, partly perhaps also “for good luck.”

Here is another proof that this western island is full of peculiarities to be met with in no other country of Europe. Look whatever way one will, he will find some in Ireland. Thus, on our return to Drogheda, we met a funeral, and it struck me that the bier was very rudely constructed. On inquiry, the people told me that little art was here employed on the bier, because it was never used more than once, but immediately after the burial it was broken to pieces, and thrown into the grave. I afterwards found that this custom was pretty general in the north of Ireland. They destroy it in the churchyard, either by hewing it with a hatchet, or placing it between the forked limbs of a tree, and thus breaking it to pieces.

I had scarcely entered Drogheda at one side, before I had again to quit it on the other, in consequence of the resolution of some enthusiastic friends of antiquity, with whom I had the good luck to become acquainted in that place, and who would not suffer me to depart until I enjoyed a sight of their celebrated Monasterboice. These (in Ireland) famous monastic ruins lie a few miles to the north of Drogheda, and I set out for them the next day. They consisted of the remains of some churches, and a Round Tower, and are some distance from the high road, so that we had  p.310 to reach the lonely and deserted pile by narrow by-ways. Monasterboice, or, as it is called in the Irish language, Mainistir-Buite, i. e. the Monastery of Buite or Boetius, owes its origin to a celebrated abbot or bishop of that name, who lived towards the close of the fifth century, and was a disciple of St. Patrick. Many abbots and professors of this monastery distinguished themselves, and are all famous in Irish annals. The most celebrated of them was Flann, who died in the year 1056. He was the last great original authority of the old Irish language, in history, poetry, and eloquence, says his biographer Adamnán; and of him it is also said—

  1. Flann, of the great church of sweet Buite,
    The last professor the country of the three Finns was Flann.
There is said to be still extant a multitude of historical poems written by him. But the work for which he is most celebrated in Ireland, is his Synchronisms of the Irish kings, and of the Oriental and Roman emperors, and the head monarchs of all Ireland, as well as its Christian provincial rulers, and, finally, the kings of Scotland of Irish descent. 25

Monasterboice, in remote times so long the seat of piety, art, science, and learning, lost its importance and fell into ruins after the English took possession of the kingdom of Meath, to which it belonged.

Not far from the ruins, on a bleak height, lay a few huts of Irish labourers; and then the road led down into the plain, in which nothing was to be seen but these ruins in the centre. They lie together, lonely and melancholy, in a picturesque group; and while all around was bare, they were overshadowed by some old trees, which found support and protection between their walls. At the side of the high Round Tower, around whose lofty broken summit ravens and rooks were fluttering, and between the low ivy-mantled church-walls, a couple of lofty stone crosses showed themselves, erect and uninjured, while the intermediate spaces, as usual, were filled with old and falling, and new and upright, gravestones. The dusky hue of the turfy soil around, the bright-yellow foliage of the trees amid the ruins, and the green sward at the base of the buildings, all these various colours gave an extremely picturesque appearance to the interesting group of little crosses, churches, tower, and gravestones. Then there was no one to be seen, except myself and the guide whom I had chosen at the huts; and the entire sky, as is usual in Ireland, was full of cloud-mountains of the vastest and most grotesque shapes.

I here again felt the truth of an Irish writer (Petrie), who, describing the Irish landscape, says,—“The colours with which nature  p.311 has painted the surface of Erin, are quite peculiar to our island. There is not a shade of green which does not adorn her soil, from the brightest yellow-green to the darkest brown-green. In no other land are these colours of equal strength and depth. Even our bogs, with all their variations of colours, with their purple, their red, brown, black, by their violent contrasts add still more beauty to it, and complete the national individuality of our landscape. Nay, even our clouds, too, have in a high degree a quite peculiar character, which is the result of the moisture of our climate. They have a vastness in their forms and shapes, a strength of light and shade, seldom seen in other lands. Irish clouds are one moment sunny and glittering, and in the next moment they are rolling their dark shadows over the landscape, and shrouding it in melancholy gloom.” These words of another clearly express what every traveller in Ireland will see, especially what he says respecting the clouds. Ireland is the richest cloud-land in Europe, and every painter should come here to study clouds. This is also partly true of the whole islands of Great Britain, and explains why, in the works of all English landscape painters, such great attention, such detailed execution, and so much trouble is bestowed on the sky; and also why Howard, the first who attempted a classification of clouds, was an Englishman.

What I have remarked respecting the clouds, might be also said symbolically of the political and moral heaven of Erin. As clouds upon clouds rise from the Atlantic Ocean, and envelope her in an ever-varying and ever differently tattered mantle of gloom, with beams of light flowing down through the rents, so clouds upon clouds continually emerge from the sea of events, and shroud in constantly-changing forms the oppressed and straitened spirit of her people, who dream on in sad despair, being but occasionally permitted, in the warm sunshine of prosperity and joy, to resign themselves to a passing ecstasy. One cannot help believing that he perceives the character of a people, and the national history of their country, depicted in the natural scenery and climate of their land. These changing clouds of an Irish sky continually remind us of Moore's poems:—

  1. Erin! the tear and the smile in thine eyes,
    Blend like the rainbow that hangs in thy skies!
of his shades of sorrow:
  1. Has sorrow thy young days shaded.
of his sun-gleams of joy:
  1. As a beam o'er the face of the waters may glow!
 p.312 of his weeping stars:
  1. At the mid-hour of night, when the stars are weeping.
of his lingering and vanishing light:
  1. 'Tis gone, and for ever, the light we saw breaking.
of his sunbeams amid rain:
  1. Though dark are our sorrows, to-day we'll forget them,
    And smile through our tears, like a sunbeam in showers.

We at length arrived at the ruins themselves; and at the same time there also arrived one of those stormy hail-showers, rolling over the landscape. The hail rattled down between the old shattered walls, and we had to creep for shelter into the Round Tower, the door of which was here fortunately near enough to the ground to allow us to slip in with ease. This tower is of the usual height of 110 feet, but may have been somewhat higher, as its summit is now broken. It has also the usual circumference of 50 feet. Though I was always glad to be able to visit one of these singular buildings, I found nothing in this tower of Monasterboice to distinguish it from others of the same kind. The ruined churches likewise have nothing to distinguish them, beyond the picturesque charms common to all Irish ruins. Here, however, are the three remarkable crosses I have already mentioned, erected in honour of the three celebrated Irish saints, St. Patrick, Boetius, and Columb Kill.

These crosses belong to the most remarkable of the old Christian antiquities of Ireland, being decorated with great art, and better preserved than others of a similar description. They are composed of several large blocks of stone, laid one over another, are from twenty to twenty-four feet high, and are ornamented from top to bottom with graceful sculptures. Their form is quite peculiar, and in no Christian country have I seen any thing like them. On a pillar, about fourteen feet high, which stands on a broad pedestal, is fixed a cross, with four arms of equal length, each of which becomes somewhat wider towards the centre, in the same manner as the cross of the Knights of Malta; the arms of the cross are bound by a large stone ring or circle, the segments of which pass from arm to arm. It looks as if a stone cross and a stone ring were united into one figure. The pillars, crosses, rings, all are covered with sculptures, which afford plenty of subjects for thought to the Irish antiquary. Their whole appearance proves that a very peculiar style of Christian art existed in ancient Ireland; and, by the manner of their lines and drawings, reminded me of the paintings and embellishments of the old Irish manuscripts which I had seen at the college library in Dublin.


The pillars and the arms of the cross are, of course, four-sided; each side is bordered with twisted lines or spirals; and the entire is divided into little squares, in each of which is a scene from the Old or New Testament history; for instance, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Paradise, Hell, the Passion, &c. In Paradise, I remarked a couple of harpers. The Irishman could not conceive a Paradise, in which he could not find his beloved national instrument.

The spiral borders and the ornaments, which serve here and there to fill up, are quite peculiar. Thus, on one cross I saw intertwined snakes, winding round a human head; on another, a woman with a long dog hanging to each ear,—perhaps a scene of torture from the Irish hell. Two dogs, of slender forms, twisted into a very peculiar figure, almost like snakes, occurred very often. I could not learn the meaning of these dogs, which appear so frequently on the old Christian monuments of Ireland. At Dublin, I saw a crosier, which was covered all over with these slender little dogs, wrought on the back of its crook. They probably refer to the legend of some Irish saint.

A very peculiar drawing, which I had already noticed on several Irish antiquities, again presented itself to me on Columba's cross, and on that of St. Patrick. It was a perfectly regular circle, in which many twisted, wavy, and spiral lines were intertwined. On one of these circles was a hand, neatly chiselled, in bas-relief, upon the stone.

I began to consider what the monks could have meant by these signs, unquestionably symbolical; and when I could not find any thing better, I conceived that by the circle they perhaps intended to signify the globe of the world; by the twisted and knotted, snaky and spiral lines, the various and stormy eddies and whirlpools of human life and passions, which flow through that globe; while the hand, lying upon it, represented the hand of the Creator and Father of all things, who rules all these confused lines, and will one day reduce them all into harmonious order. When I had finished this solution, I asked my attendant Paddy his opinion respecting the hand, and the circle beneath it? Taking off his hat, he replied: “I'll tell your honour. Look! there was a woman who baked a cake one Sunday, and broke the commandment: but when she caught hold of the cake to take it up, it remained hanging to her hand, and she could never get it off again; and the holy St. Patrick therefore had it carved on the stone here, to remind and to warn us for ever to keep holy the holydays and Sundays, as we are commanded. That's it, your honour!” added Paddy, and he put on his hat again.

On the foot of one cross various monsters are carved, probably  p.314 symbolic of heathenism and the foes of Christianity, in the midst of which the cross has gloriously raised itself, whilst they lie in chains at its feet. “These crosses, your honour, were never set up here by the hand of man,” said my Paddy, “but were brought hither from Rome by angels, and stood up of themselves the moment they were laid in the churchyard, and placed themselves in the hole of the pedestal in which your honour sees them standing. The angels had nothing at all to do with it, your honour. The crosses did it, as I said, of themselves. The cross of the holy Columb Kill only has been set up by men.”

Columb Kill, called also Columba, is one of the most celebrated of the Irish saints. He was, as is said of most Irish saints, of royal lineage; for on his father's side he was descended from Nial, who was the father of many kings; while his mother, Aethena, was of the princely house of Leinster. Before she bore her afterwards so celebrated son, she had a dream which I will here narrate, partly in proof of the great celebrity of this saint, partly to give my readers a sample of the fantastic nature of Irish dreams. Adamnan, an Irish author, who wrote so early as the seventh century, relates this dream thus:—“There appeared to the princess Aethena, as she lay awake one night shortly before her delivery, an angel from heaven, who brought her a veil of wonderful beauty, on which were embroidered and painted the most charming flowers in the entire world. Aethena was astonished at the beauty of the flowers, and wished to catch hold of the veil; but the angel lifted it up, and spread it out; and, when the princess asked him why he so soon deprived her of the present he had displayed to her, he made answer, that this veil was a type of a great and honourable gift she would receive, which likewise she could not retain long for herself, but would be obliged soon to send out into the world. The princess then saw the veil ascend into the air, and spreading itself out wider and wider, slowly depart from her. At last she beheld it, covered with beautiful flowers and glittering stars, spread itself far away over the valleys, mountains, plains, and forests.” 26

Shortly after she bore Columba, or, as he was at first called, Crimthan, for the name of Columba was afterwards given to him when the dove-like simplicity and innocence of his character became known. Kill, as we have already remarked, means, in ancient Irish, the same as church; so that Columb Kill signifies “the dove of the church.” Not merely were his labours confined to Ireland, where he founded monasteries and schools, but he was of the greatest importance to Scotland also, whither he emigrated, and whose great apostle he became. The cross which was here raised in his honour, among the ruins of Monasterboice, once fell  p.315 down and was broken, but has been again set up in its present mutilated condition. At its foot, which stands in a square hole in the pedestal, some water had collected. My Paddy assured me that this water remained here the whole year, and never dried up, even though rain should not have fallen for a long time. People come from far and wide to wash their diseased limbs with this “sweat of Columba's cross.” They also scrape and scratch off the moss which grows on the surface of the cross, wrap it carefully in paper, take it home, and, “for good luck,” mix it in their tea.

Has it ever been the custom, any where else in Christendom, to erect large handsome crosses, near churches, to particular saints, as chapels are built, in order there to pray for them? or is this also a custom peculiar to the Irish Christians alone?

I returned on foot to the little hut on the rising ground, where we had left our car, and, as another heavy shower of hail was pouring down on the ruins and the dark fields, I was compelled, for the sake of shelter, more closely to inspect the interior of the cabin. Here I particularly observed the mode of preparation of these oaten cakes which I had seen carved in stone on the cross of St. Patrick, and which form so conspicuous a feature in the whole domestic economy of the north of Ireland and Scotland. These famous oat-cakes are made of coarsely ground oats, the principal grain of Ireland and Scotland, in the following extremely simple and even rude manner. The meal is formed into a thick paste with water, and spread upon a warm circular plate of iron (called a griddle), which is found in every Irish cabin, and is heated by a few handfuls of lighted straw. The paste is spread out on this like a thin pancake, and in a few moments is fit to eat, and dry like biscuit. As the people call this cake, and as they eat these oat-cakes every day, it might lead one to suppose, that, as cake-eaters, the Irish and Scotch live very luxuriously. These cakes, however, taste not much better than flour mixed with water, and afterwards dried. Nevertheless, many persons are passionately fond of them; and the Irish usually assure the stranger, when they show him their oat-cakes, that they are exceedingly wholesome, strengthening, and nourishing, which can only be true of them when compared with the watery and unnutritious potato. The English, who are generally very inquisitive about our black bread—the word black27 horrifies them—and often maliciously remark that such food would not be given even to horses in their country, completely forget that, in Germany, oats are given to horses, and that many  p.316 millions of inhabitants of their empire would think themselves fortunate in the extreme if they could only get this black bread, and that the Irish call this dried paste cake, and consider it the most nourishing food they can procure. All through Scotland and Ireland, particularly in the north, as well as in the north of England, oat-cakes are at home, and he who is fond of them may enjoy them even in London.

The Irish harp, too, which I had seen in the picture of Paradise on the stone cross at Monasterboice, I again found during my sojourn at Drogheda. It was at the house of a Roman Catholic priest, who gave us an Irish musical-poetical soirée, which I reckon one of the most agreeable soirées I ever attended. The reception room of this gentleman, like that of many Irish patriots, was adorned with portraits of Father Mathew, of Moore, and of O'Connell. The latter I scarcely recognised, for he was painted in various colours, with a mantle trimmed with fur, and had his lord mayor's golden chain around his neck. He looked like an old Irish king. Besides these, there were pictures of two celebrated Irish landscapes and ruins, and portraits of some Irish saints and apostles. In one picture was Father Mathew in the open air, on a grassy mound. Behind him, in the dark background, stood a Christian cross, and through the cloudy sky a stream of light poured down upon it. Before him kneeled and stood the lame, the blind, and the healthy, to whom he was preaching. This picture was interesting to me, as an illustration of the opinions which the Irish entertain of this remarkable man.

Drogheda is a very Irish town—the last genuine Irish one the traveller meets with on this coast as he advances northwards; for, after it, every thing is more inclined to the Scotch. Nay, Drogheda is perhaps more Irish than many a town in the south or west of the island. The population is almost entirely Roman Catholic, and but very few Protestants are to be found there. Drogheda is therefore one of the greatest strongholds of O'Connell, and was much eulogized by him in the speech I heard at Dublin. The Drogheda Argus, a large paper published here, contains, in almost every number, some out-and-out repeal-articles, the subject of which is the necessity of a renewed organization of the repeal agitation, and the “struggle for a national existence.” The suburbs of Drogheda are genuinely Irish, miserable, filthy, falling cabins; and many persons are likewise to be found in the neighbourhood, who understand and speak the old Irish language, and say that they cannot speak English with comfort and fluency. Nay, according to what I was told by the inhabitants, I must believe that the Irish language is far more general in and  p.317 about Drogheda than at any other point of the eastern coast of Ireland.

As I was now about to take leave of the old Celtic soil, all these matters combined to render me more desirous to be present at such an Irish poetical-musical soirée.

The first person who came forward was an Irish declaimer, a man from among the people,—I know not whether a gardener, a carpenter, a ploughman, or a “broken farmer,” 28 but I was told he knew a countless number of old Irish poems and songs. He came in and thus addressed me:—“Out of friendship for him (meaning the priest) I am come: he told me that there was a foreigner here, who wished to hear some of our old Irish poems, and I will gladly recite to him what I know.”

“I am much obliged to you,” said the priest; “but if you were to recite all you know, we would be obliged to listen to you all night, and perhaps many other nights besides.”

“It is true our forefathers have handed down to us a great number of poems from generation to generation; and very beautiful ones they are too, sir, if you could only understand them. How beautiful is not the song of Tober a Jollish, that is, of the glittering spring, which is but three miles distant from our town; or that of Cuchullin, the Irish champion, who went to Scotland. Shall I begin with the song of Cuchullin, your reverence?” “Do, my son, and God bless thee!”

The man began to declaim, and recited for a quarter of an hour without once stopping. The subject of his poem was as follows: Cuchullin was an Irish youth, of princely blood, who went to Scotland to perfect himself in the use of arms. As from all quarters people resorted to Ireland to complete their spiritual, religious, and scientific education, so the Irish youth used to go over to Scotland to practise the arts of arms. In Scotland, Cuchullin fell in love with the daughter of his teacher, Conlear, and swore eternal fidelity to her. But when he returned to Ireland, after completing his studies, and took up his residence at his father's court, occupied in the contentions and battles of his fatherland, he grew up to be a great, mighty, and distinguished man, and forgot his Scottish mistress, who, her love being now turned into hatred and contempt, meditated revenge for the insult offered her. She bore a son, the fruit of the hypocritical love of Cuchullin. This son she had instructed in the use of arms, and all things necessary for a hero: she chose him as the instrument of her revenge, while at the same time, as a memento of Cuchullin, he became an object of her hatred. When Connell,—if I  p.318 mistake not, this was the name of her son,—had grown up to man's estate, she sent him over to Ireland, commanding him to seek out the far-famed Irish hero Cuchullin, (whom she had taught him to envy and to hate,) to challenge him to fight, to humble, to conquer, and to slay him. That he might do this the more surely, she put him under enchantment, so that, even against his will, he would be obliged to deprive his father of his life. Connell landed in Ireland, and at last, after many chances and adventures, met his father, the great champion Cuchullin, on the battle-field. Connell too was a great Scottish hero, and both were long known to each other by fame; besides, it was customary for the Irish and Scottish heroes to envy, to seek each other, and to fight. On account of their nationality, on account of their fame, and on account of the personal and special enmity and declaration of war on the part of Connell, they were both the bitterest foes. They were only ignorant how closely they were connected by blood. Their combat was long and obstinate. Connell, indeed, the moment he saw Cuchullin rushing towards him on his proud steed, felt himself seized with a strange, melancholy, and, to him, inexplicable, feeling. This sadness and this sympathy, by which he felt himself drawn to his enemy, became still greater when they engaged hand to hand. When he came so near him as to be able to look into his eye, he was seized with a strong foreboding that he to whom he stood opposed, with the murderous sword in his hand, was his long-sought, long-lamented father, over whose existence so impenetrable a mystery had prevailed from his earliest childhood,—whom he so often, according to his mother's account, had believed to be dead, and of whose existence he again at times used to hear something. He fought against his inclination, he parried the blows of his father, he shunned the fight, he wished to throw away his arms, and to save his body and soul by flight. But then again the enchantment his mother had laid him under, seized him with all its power. He pressed again to the combat; with fury, as if impelled by evil spirits, he attacked his father. His soul struggled and resisted in vain; and while he drove his sword, guided by unseen powers, through his father's breast, his own heart broke in the dreadful struggle. Both fell at the same moment from their horses beside each other: the one slain by the weapon of his son, the other thrown to the ground by the excessive agony of his soul. Connell grasped the hand of his dying father; while the revengeful spirit of the enchantress Aithuna hovered exulting over the scene of blood. All now became clear to Cuchullin, while the night of death darkened around him, and his eye-strings brake.


I, or course, did not understand a single word of all this recitation, but my host was kind enough to relate the story to me afterwards. To understand, however, was not so much my object as to convince myself, by my own ears, that this old Ossianic poetry is still living and extant here in Ireland among the people. The reciter was, as I have said, a simple man, and his recitation was as simple, unadorned, and undeclamatory as himself. Sometimes, however, when carried away by the beauty of the poetry and the ideas, he became animated, and even appeared much affected: he would then look at his hearers, as if he expected their sympathy and admiration for himself and his poem. Sometimes I remarked that the metre of the poem changed; and I was told that this was the case in all their poems, and that the metre always adapted itself to the subject. On the battle-field, the father and the son had a dialogue, which they said was the most beautiful part of the whole poem; but that they could give me no idea of it, for when translated into prose it would lose all its sublimity; and that I, being unacquainted with the language, could form as little idea of it through the medium of any other language as a blind man of the splendour of the sun.

After this he recited a Song of the Fairy Mounts. The subject was a story often and every where repeated in Ireland, of a fairy queen who finds a youth sleeping on a mountain, falls in love with him, and invites him to go with her, while she tells him of her power and greatness, and the splendour of her fairy palace. He is at last persuaded to do so, but on the condition, that, when he dies, he shall be brought home and buried with his own people. The queen grants this, and takes him away with her. This story reminded me of Goethe's Erl-King29, and of many similar Hungarian and Russian legends. I once thought that the story of the Erl-King had sprung from the German mind, but now I would no longer venture to define the circle to which this legend is limited. It seems to me to have gone from the west of Ireland into the very depths of Asia. Even in the legends of the Greeks there is something similar,—the abduction of Ganymede by Jupiter's eagle, and the residence of many other mortals with the Gods.

This reciter told me that most of what he knew was very ancient, and was chiefly Ossianic poetry, of which there was a great deal here in Drogheda, among the people. I had already heard this, and I afterwards heard it repeated at other places in the north. The county of Donegal, in particular, was described to me as full of still living Ossianic poetry. From what I have learned in Ireland, I am much inclined to believe, what others have already  p.320 asserted, that Macpherson borrowed the materials for his so-called Poems of Ossian from manuscripts and popular traditions in the north of Ireland. So much is certain, that a cursory but observant traveller will perceive more indications of Ossianic poetry in Ireland, than an equally cursory and equally observant traveller in Scotland. The whole Irish people, as well the old Irish in the west as the Saxon-Irish in the east, are far more imbued with a poetic spirit than the people of Scotland, including both the Saxon in the Lowlands, and the Celtic in the Highlands.

“Oisin,” in pure Celtic Irish pronounced “Oshin,” was—as is now generally acknowledged, since Macpherson's accounts of him are on all sides declared fictions—no Scot, but an Irishman, as well as his father Fingal, or, as he is properly called, Finn Mac-Cul. “Finn Mac-Cul, your honour, was in those days just such another as our Irish Wellington in these,” said our old reciter to me. Ossian was, as at least my Irish friends believed, born at Tara, the ancient capital of Ireland, where he spent the greater part of his life. As between the Irish and Scotch every thing becomes a subject of controversy, they have also mutually quarrelled about their heroes, as well as about their missionaries and saints. The more cunning, and, in the field of literature, more active Scotch, have adorned themselves with many a plume stolen from Ireland. Macpherson was not the only, although he may have been the most talented, and most successful, perverter of Irish poetry.

This poetry was followed by music—music from that instrument of which the Irish poet, Samuel Lover, sings—

  1. Oh! give me one strain
    Of that wild harp again,
    In melody proudly its own,
    Sweet harp of the days that are flown!

The harp was produced, and a blind young harper prepared to play some old Irish pieces. I was told, that he was one of the most distinguished harp-players in the surrounding country; and, in fact, his music enraptured us all. The first piece he played was Brian Boru's March, at the famous battle of Clontarf, on the bay of Dublin. The Irish king Brian Boru, who had made himself sovereign of all Ireland, overcame the Danes at this great battle, in 1014. He himself, however, was slain, shortly after the battle, by the Danish leader Bruadair; and thus Ireland gained a great victory, and lost her greatest monarch. The music of this march is therefore powerful and wild, and at the same time melancholy. It is at once a song of triumph and of mourning. The rapid changes, and the wild beauty of the air, was so great,  p.321 that I believe, if the people had not been in the habit of marching to this music for more than 800 years, it would now place itself by the side of the Marseillaise, the Rakotzy, and other famous marches. While the Irish listen to these old airs, and think of these old deeds, and while their hearts beat at the recollection of their former glory, their present slavery rises up before them; and they perhaps look forward into a free and glorious future, with the same feelings as they look back towards a once glorious past:

  1. But, Isle of the West,
    Raise thy emerald crest,
    Songs of triumph shall yet ring for thee.
So sings Lover.

After Brian Boru's march followed the air of The Fairy Queen, a very old Irish piece, as I was told. This much I can say, that it was quite a charming composition,—so soft, so enchanting, and so wild, sportive, and playful withal, that during its performance I could think of nothing but the dancing of fairies and the singing of elves. I afterwards heard it several times on the piano, but on that instrument the music was far from being so soft and rich as from the harp of this blind young minstrel. Although this second part of our evening's entertainment, which was given in a language universally intelligible, afforded me much m