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THE LAKES OF KILLARNEY.
Two months are past since we saw Killarney; but erery stood in a rapid transit throngh a small portion of the succeeding day and night brings it more distinctly to country ; but he that has looked upon any of the more our vision. We looked upon those lakes and moun- afflicted districts of that land with his own eyes, howtains with slight book-knowledge of them; we lost no ever imperfectly, is in a better position than before to enjoyment in the dreary labour of note-taking; we weigh the mass of evidence, embarrassing and contramade no passing thoughts (sweet or bitter) prosaic, by dictory as it is, as to the extent, and causes, and attempting their registry. But Killarney, in its graceful possible remedies, of Ireland's great social disease. He and solemn aspects, in sunshine or in mist, will be to will have learned one thing at least, -that the word a joy for ever."
' famine' is not a metaphorical expression which means “Ah! that such beauty, varying in the light
considerable distress, but the term which alone conveys Of living nature, cannot be pourtray'd
the real state of human beings who would die for want · By words, nor by the pencil's silent skill;
of food, if help were not bestowed upon them. Good But is the property of him alone
God! that there should be the bulk of a nation that Who hath beheld it, noted it with care,
cannot say, in holy trust, " Give us this day our daily And in his mind recorded it with love."
bread !" We have not alluded to "bitter” thoughts unadvisedly. The journey from Dublin to Killarney is accomplished An eloquent and philospohical French writer has de- in less than thirteen hours. The Great Southern and scribed the physical contrasts which the neighbourhood Western Railway carries you a hundred and forty-five of Killarney presents :-"On approaching the Lakes miles, from Dublin to Mallow, in seren hours and a of Killarney, and halting near the Abbey of Mucruss, half. This steady progress of twenty miles an hour we look upon two scenes essentially different. On enables the traveller to see the country more advanone side, uncultivated fields, sterile bogs, monotonous tageously than in an English express-train. Yet what plains, where feeble rushes and consumptive pines can we see worth recording in the rapid and monotonous gloomily vegetate, wide stretches of heath, intersected transit by the iron road? We first roll on through a here and there by low rocks,—this unvarying aspect, tolerably fertile country, not badly cultivated, but destitute of all beauty in its wildness, proclaims only presenting few remarkable objects. The Wicklow the poverty of Nature. It is impossible to imagine a mountains linger in our view, with no rivals to break more barren and desolate tract. But on the other the monotony of the level. We pass through the side, a totally different prospect bursts on the view. Curragh of Kildare, and then gaze upon the ruined At the foot of a chain of mountains, of gracefully varied Cathedral and the mysterious Round Tower by its outline, separated from each other by a succession of side. Now and then we descry a mansion on a hill charming lakes, are spread rich and fertile plains, green slope, with fair plantations and smiling meadows, and and smiling meadows, forests, gay with ferns and a hamlet at its feet that we might fancy the abode of verdant undergrowth; here, cool shades, secret grottos, peace, did we not know what Irish hamlets for the mysterious caverns--there, wide vistas, bold summits, most part are. In the distance is the famous Rock of an unbounded horizon ; – the margin of the silver Dunamase, crowned with the ruins of the castle of streams covered with luxuriant shrubs,-everywhere, Strongbow, the great English earl, who won the fortress, abundance, richness, grace,-everywhere the extraordi- not by the strength of his arm, but by marriage with nary accident of Nature at once most beauteous and the daughter of Mac Murrough, king of Leinster. It most fruitful. Thus, at one and the same time, two is strange that, with these marriages and intermarriages, aspects present themselves to the eye which are abso- in the early times of the conquest, there should have lutely opposed-here the perfection of abundance, there | been six centuries of hatred between the Celt and the the extremity of barrenness.”
Saxon. Saxons and Normans became one race in a But the “bitter” thoughts have their source in feelings century or two. But the Rock of Dunamase may solve kindred to the analogy which M. Gustave de Beaumont the mystery. The wars of conquest were succeeded sees in this his picture of Killarney. He says, “It by the wars of religion; the castle of Strongbow was 18 The Image of Ireland." The physical contrasts battered into ruin by the cannon of Cromwell. We are here somewhat overcharged ; but the contrast that ride on, through large tracts of peat moss; but the forces itself upon our mind, between the exquisite love- distance is varied by the bold outlines of the Slieveliness of the inanimate creation and the debased con- bloom and the Devil's-Bit mountains. It is a bleak dition of a portion of the noblest of God's works that we country, with occasional patches of fertility. There trace here and all around, mixes up the people mourn- are towns about the line,-most with small trade, some fully in all remembrances of the scenery. The great dilapidated, all somnolent. They have to be awakened question of the condition of Ireland is not to be under. | by the inevitable course of agricultural improvement,
But as yet
befo soli befo
when thousands of acres shall no longer be untilled, have still some miles of dreary bog to pass through, while Labour folds her hands and starves.
till at length the road is bounded by branching trees, hundred and seven miles from Dublin we reach the and there are signs of opulence around us. Limerick junction. Some twenty miles beyond is we see no Lakes. At a turn of the road we are in a Kilmallock, the stronghold of the great Desmonds. long street, filled with gaping and importunate crowds : Thirteen miles further, and we are near Buttevant, the -it is Killarney. Here is want, and the simulation land in which dwelt Edmund Spenser,—where of want. According to Colonel Clarke, an Inspector
of Unions in the West of Ireland, the beggars or “Mulla mine whose waves I whilom taught to weep,”
Killarney have the faculty of thriving anyhow: “There still flows,—where the Castle of Kilcoleman still exhibits is a regular class of professionals at Killarney, who have a blackened ruin, telling of fire and slaughter rather than been supported by the public visiting there for many of the immortal Faery Queen.' We have sad thoughts; years : they prefer begging to going into the workhouse, and they are not brightened by the portentous beggary or receiving out-door relief; their condition has not that we encounter when the train rests at Mallow.
materially deteriorated since the period of the distress; We have now forty miles to travel over by coach or they pick up sufficient from a certain number of people car. In the immediate neighbourhood of Mallow the about the country. A kind of freemasonry has always road is very beautiful, running by "hedge-rows green," existed among the beggars of Killarney ; they do not with occasional glimpses of the Blackwater river. allow interlopers." In five minutes we are out of the About eight or ten miles beyond Mallow we enter the hubbub, galloping on a real ricketty Irish car towards mountainous district. The only stage between Mallow the Victoria Hotel. The gates of an avenue fly open, and Killarney is Millstreet; and here the coach stops - the Lake is at our feet. The most charming of inns for a quarter of an hour, while the famished passengers is before us,—and the kindest of hostesses accords us groan over chops unrivalled in their grease and tough- a welcome that makes us at home in a moment. And ness, and ham that has been metamorphosed into solid now for dinner in right earnest. salt. A dreary quarter of an hour !-disappointment A gray evening. In the constant twilight of June within-an army of mendicants without! However
we can dimly trace the outlines of the mountains long hungry, we have consolation in the mountains before after sunset. Thin clouds float slowly beneath their us; and soon the Paps lift their conical heads; and heads, and seem almost to kiss the lake. The moon is then the Reeks tower over the plain in solemn grandeur ; climbing the sky, “with how sad steps." Ever and and we fancy that the Lakes are at hand. But we anon the quiet water is bright with one long silver
drea Irisi Mai
pro the girl ber wit feri tol
streak. But how small the lake looks; how close of the beings that we saw would have been in their seem the mountains. Islands! they appear no bigger graves but for the pound of Indian meal a day that a than buoys! Will the morning light give breadth and humane law was allowing them during the terrible grandeur to the scene ?
season of scarcity that precedes the harvest. It is a Sleep, the sleep of fatigue for a few hours—and mystery. There is grievous error somewhere-perchance then reveries and sorrowful remembrances. Faces, guilt. We fear that the bulk of happier English are such as we never saw till this day, array themselves not wholly guiltless. We have not denied our purses, before us. Sounds, such as we have heard in the but we have not probed the evil. We have shut our solitary wail of some one of the unhappy, but never eyes. We have dozed over the thrice-told tale. It is before in the fearful clamour of a multitude, ring in time we were awake, and searching into the root of our ears. There is speechless gesticulation, too, more the matter. dread to recall than any sound. We used to read of
Broad day. We look out upon the Lake in its Irish beggary as a compound of misery and fun. At beautiful repose beneath the shadows of the mountains, Mallow, and Millstreet, and Killarney, there were and the distempered dreams are fled, to suggest serious professional beggars in abundance; but even with them and abiding thoughts. the fun was gone. There were other beggars-pallid At some half mile from the Victoria Inn there is a girls, boys prematurely old, tall skeletons of men considerable hill, upon which stand the remains of the bending with inanition and not with years, mothers church of Aghadoe. (Cut, No. 1.) It is the most acceswith unsmiling infants vainly stretching towards the sible eminence from which we can obtain an adequate fevered breast. And yet the workhouses, we were view of the Lower Lake. At the corner of the lane which told, were open to all, and they were not filled. Many leads to the hill, a guide presented himself—a sorrowstricken inan. This was not a man of song and legend, quietly told us what we were going to see ; and when of mirth and obsequiousness. He lived in a hovel, at we saw it had no superfluous raptures to bestow upon the foot of the hill : he clung to his potato-holding the "genius loci,"--an excellent fellow, from the behis potatoes had failed—and the dole of Indian meal ginning to the end of our four days' experience. Our was therefore withheld from him, under the clause of crew, till we became better acquainted, were silent and the Poor-Law Extension Act, which requires that no reserved. We had a very light infliction, throughout occupier of more than a quarter of an acre shall obtain our stay, of what Gerald Griffin describes as “the outdoor relief. He was a fitting guide to a deserted | teasing of the guides, and the lies of the boatmen.” church and a populous cemetery, where skulls and Innisfallen! Coleridge says, “ Expectation is far coffin-planks are scattered about in wild confusion - higher than surprise ;" and who has not had “expectone tenant of “the house appointed for all living" ation" raised by the name of Innisfallen? We pulled evicting another, as if the land-struggle were never through a heavy swell from the west, which gave to end. Within that mouldering doorway, the sole us some faint notion of the occasional dangers of monument of the elaborate architecture of the old the Lower Lake, and soon neared the famous islet. abbey, all is now a scene of desecration. The peasant | There it rests-one mass of brilliant green on the kneels in pious agony at the head-stone of his father's bosom of the dark wave. As we come nearer and grave;-in a few years his father's bones are bleaching nearer we trace the exquisite forms of its woods, in in the mountain wind.
all their wondrous variety of foliage, dropping to the Yes! Killarney is magnificent !
One gleam of sun to light up the
brilliant mass,-and then a mist creeps down from the " In the distance Heaven is blue above
mountains, and Innisfallen is in her tearful mood. Mountains where sleep the unsunn'd tarns.”
(Cut No. 2.) Half an hour's ramble, in spite of mist On the opposite shore of the lake beneath us, gigantic or shower, o'ercanopied by elm and ash as we tread hills, clothed with magnificent timber to the water's edge, the dewy greensward, or looking out from some with " cloud-capp'd ” heads, Toomies and Glena; rising little bay, bright with holly and arbutus, over the over these, the glowing Purple Mountain and the bright lake—and we leave Innisfallen-happily withmighty Reeks; the Lake studded with green islands ; out knowing that some of the trees have been cut every variety of outline--every combination of colour. down since a lady tourist first visited it, and that she Let us away, and look into the inmost bosom of this last saw it “with soreness of spirit :" enchanting region! A boat !- a boat! This is, indeed, a "trim-built wherry," and a fitting
"Sweet Innisfallen, fare thee well!
May calm and sunshine long be thine : crew-four “boys,” with frank Irish faces, that will
How fair thou wert let others tell, light up under a joke. They have had a hard time, poor
While but to feel how fair is mine!” fellows! Colonel Clarke, in his examination before the Lords' Committee of the present year, on the operation
And now our little craft is steered across the Lake, of the Irish Poor-Law, told a sad tale :--" This last that we may land at O'Sullivan's Cascade. O'Sullisummer the unfortunate state of the country entirely van, and more especially O'Donaghue, will soon be deterred persons from visiting Killarney; and so far “familiar in our mouths," when our boatmen become from benefit being derived there, I was informed that talkative—but not as yet. We land at a little cove, the proprietor of the Victoria Hotel was a dead loser and find ourselves in a thick covert, treading upon soft of £1000 by the season. ...
I believe there were moss, as we ascend a gentle hill. Gradually the path a great many boatmen thrown out of business. The grows narrower--the plash of waters fall on the earvisitors were so few at Killarney last summer, that, in a rapid rivulet is beneath, dashing through the underfact, there was nothing doing of any sort.” Out of wood-and at length we stand before the solitary their privations, past and present, may they learn the Fall. Here is no basin where the troubled waters rare virtue of prudence. Gerald Griffin has described may rest in their course, as at the Lower Fall of them, in The Collegians :'-"Them boatmen arn't Rydal. The torrent rushes on, hiding itself in the allowed to dhrink anything while they're upon the green banks, as if glad to escape from noise and light, lake, except at the stations : but then, to make up for into silence and mystery. This is indeed a charming that, they all meet at night at a hall in town, where Fall-severe in its beauty-unspoiled by art—especially they stay dancing and dhrinking all night, till they solemn now the mist is on the hill. Here the botanist spend whatever the quollity gives 'em in the day. may revel in the search for plants which belong only Luke Kennedy (that's this boy) would like to save, if to the West-mosses and ferns little known in our he could ; but the rest wouldn't pull an oar with him, southern woods and water - courses.
Bree's Fern if he didn't do as they do. So that's the way of it. (Lastrea Recurva), according to Mr. Newman, is the And sometimes afther being up all night a'most, you'll admiration of botanists in the neighbourhood of Kilsee 'em out again at the first light in the mornin'.” larney ; and at O'Sullivan's Cascade he observed it in At the helm of our boat sits what is here termed the most graceful and beautiful luxuriance.
To the a bugle." John Spillane, one of the sons of a unscientific eye, the prodigality of growth exhibited famous sire, was our musician and our steersman. He by these feathery forms-dark purple stems, contrasting
with the brightest green of the crisped leaves—is suf- | hands of the clergy; notwithstanding which, we find fieiently striking. The foliage around us is quivering the abbey was plundered in this year by Maolduin, son with approaching steps. We look about expectingly. of Daniel O'Donaghue. Many of the clergy were
slain, and even in their cemetery, by the Mac Carthys." · Satyrs and sylvan boys are seen,
But the O'Donaghue, whose legends are associated with Peeping from forth their alleys green.”
every island of these lakes, and of whom we are now Two emaciated little girls, preternaturally pallid, have beginning to hear unceasingly, was (at some dateless watched the arrival of the stranger, and are come to period) the lord of Ross-brave and wise, beautiful and offer their gleanings of the woods—a hart's horn—a generous. Unfortunate, of course, he was, so one of wild nosegay. Poor wretched children--all mirth of the islands is O'Donaghue's prison ;-a mighty leader childhood is vanished from their faces. In the moun
of chivalry, so another is O'Donaghue's horse ;-learned, tain-hovel where they crouch, there has been grievous and therefore a rock must be O'Donaghue’s library ; want. They have become acquainted with the bitter- jovial and hospitable, so a cave is O'Donaghue's cellar. ness of life very early. And we are pleasure seeking ! On every May morning he is seen gliding over the We are surrendering ourselves to all sweet thoughts lake on a white steed, and he has a palace under the and influences! “ The sunshine of the breast" is waters, whence he issues to gladden the eyes
many driving out all remembrances of fear and trouble. But who have actually beheld him. Philosophy has disnow, when we think of that quiet place in the luxuriant covered that the appearance of the O'Donaghue is an woods, the faces of these poor children still haunt the optical illusion, and that the boatmen do not wholly spot, and make us sad. We understand now, when i palm their stories upon the credulity of the stranger. . we read the evidence of a resident in the county of Such an illusion, if we may venture to say so, is the Mayo, the exact meaning of his words :
spirit which is just now attempting to raise up a “Will you describe the condition of the infants and nationality out of Celtic remains, and Irish literature. young children ?"
The antiquities of every country are full of instruction, “ They look very bad indeed: they seem almost like and Irish antiquities especially so. They tell of past animals of a lower class; they are wasted and wan.” ages of feudal barbarism ; but these are associated with
There is direct testimony that in the Killarney dis- the song of the bard and the learning of the priest. trict this terrible indication of the ravages of famine is On every side there are ruined castles, dilapidated too apparent. A competent witness speaks of "the abbeys, mysterious towers, cairns and cromlechs. Most wretched emaciated appearance of the children.” Other wisely has the hand of taste and public spirit intertourists will see these very children; and, perhaps, fered to prevent the lamentable desecration of all these will come home and talk of Irish beggary.
objects which had been going on for many a year. physic, Pomp.” May these heirs of misfortune live Translate the old popular songs, cherish the native to see brighter days ! May they, escaped from pinching music, search into the ancient annals of the countrywant, surround the stranger, as he was wont to be but let not the men of ability and various knowledge surrounded, with smiling faces, unheedful of naked feet who are labouring at this good work believe that a true or scanty drapery-such a group as Ireland has often nationality is to be founded upon the memories of the shown to the delighted artist-joyous and graceful in times which preceded the English conquest. We may the simple labours of happy poverty! (Cut No. 3.) be prejudiced; but to us it appears little better than
We run up the Lake under the shadow of Glena, the weakness of a false enthusiasm to lament over the and look back lingeringly upon Innisfallen. There is decay of the Irish language; and to stigmatize the the little ruined oratory which gave us shelter from the efforts to disseminate the use of English, as a tyranpassing shower-a relic of the abbey which existed, nous and selfish policy. Upon what do we Englishaccording to the 'Annals of Innisfallen,' twelve cen- men found our nationality? Not upon the legends of
The material works of the monks have Arthur, or the victories of Athelstan--the learning perished, but their higher labours tell of ancient learn- of Eadmer or the verses of Cædmon. We read the ing and its isolated civilization. The · Annals' have Saxon war-song of the battle of Brunanburgh with been translated and printed as recently as 1825 ;-one antiquarian delight,- but when we hope to be "free of the original copies is in the British Museum. No or die” we think of “ the tongue which Shakspero one of the population speaks of the humble labourers spake." In our view, the true Irish nationality had in the arts of peace who dwelt here for ages; and better be raised upon the great names in literature of whose records, combined with those of their country, Swift, and Berkeley, and Burke, and Goldsmith, and come down to the fourteenth century. But the memo- Edgeworth, and Moore, and a hundred other illustrious, ries of the barbarous chieftains who once ruled over than upon the relics of the old bards, pagan or Christhese lakes and mountains in devastating power, lingertian ;—and one lesson from the real civilizer, "the man still in music and legend. One of the records in the who makes two blades of corn grow where one grew * Annals' is to this effect :-"Anno, 1180 ; this abbey before," is to our minds more precious than all the of Innisfallen being ever esteemed a paradise and a
dreams of the barbaric splendour of the Mac Murroughs secure sanctuary, the treasure and the most valuable and O'Neals, and all the glories of the hill of Tara. effects of the whole country were deposited in the The shower is of short duration.
We have seen