On Saturday, August the 7th, 1852, we landed at Kingstown Harbour, and about 11pm, found ourselves on Irish ground for the first time.
Kingstown is now a large an fine town, though as recently, I believe as 30 years since, it consisted of nothing but a cluster of fishermenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s cabins with a harbour, if it may be so called, only fit for fishing craft. In 1817, the present magnificent harbour was commenced, and although for years in a state of efficiency, it is scarcely yet completed. It is said that Ã‚Â£800,000 have been expended on this admirable work. Dunleary was the old name of this place, ill-exchanged, I think, for its present name in the year 1821, on the occasion of the visit of George VI to Dublin. Since the foundation of the harbour the town has increased wonderfully, and now contains a population of more than 10,000. The actual population according to the census of 1851, is 10,453, being an increase of 3224 since 1841. Many of the streets and terraces are handsome, and the vicinity is sprinkled over with many pretty villas; the whole commanding a charming view of Dublin Bay and its northern boundary, the Hill of Howth.
We took up our abode at RathboneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Hotel, a large and on the whole, an excellent establishment, – yet, constantly reminding us, by sundry little intimations that we had got into a less nice and more careless country than we had left on the eastern side of the Irish Channel. In a very good bedroom, for example, the bell-rope had been broken and was not yet repaired; the window blind was crippled and would not work; the swing mirror could not be steadied for want of a fitting screw; and the sole resource against being stifled on a hot night, was to keep the window up by the poker, there being no pullies to the large and handsome sashes. Water was occasionally found wanting where it was most wanted; and there seemed, every now and then, to be a lingering doubt among the servants, Ã¢â‚¬ËœwhoseÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ special duty it was to attend to the particular bell that happened to be ringing. Yet, for all this, the hotel was by no means a bad one, as to accommodation, attendance, or living; and it is but doing justice to it individually to say, that its defects as well as excellencies were more or less shared with it by all the hotels we visited in Ireland. And it certainly would be unjust not to add, that their excellencies, speaking generally, greatly preponderated over their defects.
When leaving this Kingstown hotel on the following day, a little incident occurred which was also somewhat characteristic of the new people we had come among. I was in a great hurry to get a parcel tied up, fearing that I might be too late for the inexorable rail. Some twine was needed to complete the job, and as none could be immediately found in the room, the maid who was the operator, after a momentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s delay, coolly went to the sideboard drawer, and taking thence the cord of a window blind, complete with all its brass pullies, (perhaps the very one wanting in my bedroom,) cut off as much as was needed, and therewith did up my parcel in a trice.
Being uncertain whether we should return to Kingstown, we thought it best, before proceeding to Dublin, to ascend some greater height, in order that we might have a still more complete view of the bay. Accordingly, we went to Dalkey by the athmospheric railway, and there took a car to the top of Killiney Hill. From this height Dublin Bay is conspicuous in all its extent and beauty; and a charming scene it is, well deserving this slight trouble to command it. This short railway (only one mile and Ã‚Â¾ in length) is remarkable for its great deviation from the level line, rising no less that one foot in 115 to within a few hundred yards of Dalkey, and from thence to the terminus, as much as one in 57. With so great a declination, it will readily be understood that the trains return to Kingstown without any aid from steam or other power but their own gravity.
We reached Dublin (a distance of about 5 miles) by the railway, in time to visit the Phoenix Park and see Ã¢â‚¬â€œ exteriorly at least, – itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s principal objects, the Military Hospital, the Constabulary Barracks, the Zoological Gardens, the Wellington Testimonial, the Phoenix Pillar and the Vice-regal Lodge. None of these except the Zoological Gardens claim particular attention. The collection of animals is very good and of considerable extent. The space is, however, too much filled up by thick shrubberies. This being Sunday afternoon, we were admitted to view the collection for one penny, an arrangement made for the convenience of the poorer classes, and which we would recommend to the consideration of the directors of our own gardens in the Regents Park. The Phoenix Park itself is a splendid expanse of ground, containing, it is said, between 1700 and 1800 statute acres and being about 7 miles in circumference. It is, however, greatly inferior in general beauty to our smaller London parks, and is not to be compared with our Richmond Park,, and still less with the truly royal domain of Windsor, in point of variety, extent and beauty of the views.
We took up our abode at the Imperial Hotel, Sackville street, a capital establishment in every respect; with excellent attendance, although the servants are paid by the house; and with moderate charges Ã¢â‚¬â€œ everything supplied being of the best kind. All that I have to say of Dublin I will say in this place, although we paid it a second visit, as will be seen in the sequel.
I own myself to have been a good deal disappointed with Dublin as a city. To say nothing of its extent, it is greatly inferior, in many other respects, not only to London, but to several towns in England and some in Scotland. Its site is flat and monotonous, and its streets and squares possess no architectural beautyÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Ã¢â‚¬Â¦Ã¢â‚¬Â¦..Ã¢â‚¬Â
St. PatrickÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s (Cathedral) is now undergoing repair; and it is to be hoped that, when completed, greater pains will be taken to keep it decently clean than it is at present. I never saw a church in so discreditable a state. One part of it may be literally said to be converted into a dove-cot, as its roof is filled with pigeons, and its floor in a state not to be described.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I did not make any attempt to visit the abodes of the poor in the obscure recesses of Dublin, preferring to see the condition of this class of persons in the smaller towns and in the country, where – the degrading influences that prevail in all large cities, in all countries being absent Ã¢â‚¬â€œ they might be seen under circumstances more characteristic of the individual nation. Such of the common people as we had yet seen and conversed with impressed us as favourably by their civility and shrewdness; but we were rather startled by the intensity of the brogue. Some of the speakers were actually unintelligible to us. The novelty, however, soon ceased to be a novelty; and after a week or two, the peculiarity of the intonation, as well as of the phraseology, was found to be rather agreeable than otherwise.
As yet, we had seen no signs of misery and hardly any beggars, though we could not fail to be struck by the general inferiority of the dress of the labouring classes, when compared to that of their English brethren. Ill-fitting coats, with disproportionate length of tail, were common; and holes in the outer garment, showing the white within, were not rare. This struck up the more remarkably as this day was Sunday, and many of the clothes were obviously Sunday clothes. I shall, hereafter, have something more to say on this general untidiness of the Irish as to dress; and will only further remark here, that it prevails, in a greater or less degree, even among those of whom better things might be expected. In one of the waiters at our excellent hotel, I observed a little of the white within, even when he was in attendance in the coffee-room; and, in another part of the island, the landlord of a respectable country inn once presented himself in a like dishabille.
Having seen as much of Dublin as we thought necessary at present, we set about the first object of our country journey, – a visit to the county of Wicklow, of whose beauties weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d heard so much. We left the city early in the afternoon for Bray, taking advantage of the Kingstown and Dalkey railways as far as they went, and completing our journey in an Irish car. In this short distance we had an opportunity of witnessing one of the disadvantages of this mode of conveyance, as we should have got thoroughly drenched by a sudden and very heavy shower, had it not fortunately overtaken us close to a roadside-blacksmithÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s forge, into whose open door we drove bodily, without licence or ceremony, yet evidently not unwelcome. Here we waited till the rain was over, the time being well beguiled by the conversation of two or three stalwart forgemen, who seemed nothing loath to postpone their work for the sake of a travellerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s gossip.
Among other subjects of talk with these good people, an incidental remark brought up the subject of fairs and drinking, with the comment that the ancient glories of both had vanished since the advent of Father Matthew. While evidently half regretting this, my informant readily admitted that the change was for the better. He mentioned, however, a recent anecdote of himself and a friend, which proved that there still lived in the embers some of the old fire. His friend after a successful campaign in England as a railway labourer, returned home with Ã‚Â£25 in his pocket. A fair happening to fall in his way immediately after his return, he went to it, of course, taking my friend of the forge with him, and as many of his other friends as he could lay hands on. The result was, that my informant Ã¢â‚¬Ëœgot kiltÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, as he said, at the end of the second day by the strength of the potheen, while his friend and treater held on for a day or two more, – that is to say, as long as his cash lasted.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Descriptions of glen of the Dargle, and the waterfall on the Powerscourt estate follow.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Bray is a small scattered town, nearly a mile in length, and finely situated on both sides of the river Bray, which is the boundary between the counties of Dublin and Wicklow, the town consequently being in both counties. The population has remained stationary during the last ten years, being, according to the census, 3169 in 1841, and 3152 in 1851: it is chiefly catholic. Bray is much frequented by the people of Dublin as a summer residence and bathing place. The hotel is a large establishment, and well conducted by its very intelligent landlord, Mr. Quinn; we had however, some difficulty in obtaining accommodation in it owing to the unusual number of strangers then in Ireland. This house has the most extensive pleasure grounds I ever saw attached to an inn. The flower garden is a full quarter of a mile in length, extending, in the form of a narrow slip, down to the sea-shore.
Both on our arrival and departure from this place, we had the first specimen of what we saw much of afterwards, the active and most obtrusive beggary which disfigures most of the public haunts in the South of Ireland. Our carriage was followed Ã¢â‚¬â€œ hunted I may say Ã¢â‚¬â€œ by a crowd of children, some of whom were, in the most literal sense of the words, half-clad.
On leaving Bray in the morning, following the instructions of our landlord, we first visited the demesnes of Lord Meath (Kilruddery), and Sir George Hudson, (Hollybrook)Ã¢â‚¬Â
Description and opinion of houses and glen of the Downs.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“A short distance beyond the glen we left the carriage, and ascended a small hill, in order to improve our view. The view thus obtained was indeed very fine, comprehending the wide slope of richly cultivated tract, terminated by the open sea and the bay of Wicklow, with its beautiful headland. In our ramble we came upon a secluded hamlet, called the Downs, containing eight or ten cottages, and one gentlemanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s house uninhabited. These being the first abodes of the rural poor we had come in contact with, I was curious to enter their interior. I found them all very wretched. They consisted respectively of one small apartment without any partition, with rough mud floors, and with either no window or with an opening so small as hardly to deserve the name. There was no furniture but a broken chair and small wooden box, and a small filthy settle bed in one corner. This bed, we were told in one cottage, was occupied by the poor womanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s two sons, while she herself slept on the floor. For these wretched cabins they paid from 3d., to 6d., and even 10d., per week. A larger double cottage paid a rent of Ã‚Â£3 per year. This was divided into two apartments. In one end, besides two beds, there was a loom for weaving a strong composite cloth of wool and cotton yarn which was spun by the daughter. Some of the cottages were occupied by families whose fathers or brothers had recently emigrated, and from whom they were looking for means to enable them to follow. In the poorest of the cabins, occupied by a helpless old woman, I found a dog which belonged to one of these emigrants, with which the poor creature divided her scanty meals out of affection for his absent master.Ã¢â‚¬Â
A description of the DevilÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Glen follows and
Ã¢â‚¬Å“One side of the ravine (the right) belongs to Mr. Synge, of Glenmore, whose beautiful house, called Glenmore Castle, is seen among the trees at its entrance. The other side belongs to Mr. Tottenham of Ballycarry, who has constructed an excellent footpath along the river side to within a short distance of the cascade.Ã¢â‚¬Â
From DevilÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Glen to Newrath-bridgeÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Ã¢â‚¬Â¦..
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The hotel at Newrath-bridge, besides excellent accommodations and a most civil landlord, has the additional charm of being a solitary house among beautiful scenery. Like the inn at Bray, it overlooks an extensive garden and combines all the comforts of an inn with the quiet of a private house in the country. It adjoins the classic grounds of Rosanna, the residence of the celebrated authoress of Ã¢â‚¬ËœPsyche;Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ and it is said to be a favourite resort with those whom PsycheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s lord has just delivered into the hands of Hymen.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Description of Glendalough and the Seven Churches.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“At the upper end of the glen, about three miles from the Seven Churches, the lead mines of Luggamore are situated. We did not visit them. Our guide told us that the Cormishmen employed in these mines had tended to improve the cottages in the neighbourhood, by exhibiting in their own, a better arrangement, greater cleanliness, and a more comfortable mode of living generally. There is assuredly much room for improvement. I found the cabins in this place of the same wretched character as those visited the day before. In one, occupied by a widow, there could hardly be said to be any furniture. She paid for it a rent of one pound per annum, which was chiefly obtained by the exertions of her son, a lad of some fourteen years of age.
On the banks of the lake, I visited a cottage of the better order, and found that it was intended as a lodging-house for stray anglers as come to fish in the lough. The cottage contained a decent bedroom, with a wooden floor, with two good beds for visitors. The board and lodging together amounted to a pound a week. The mistress of this cottage was still a very good looking woman, although she was forty six years of age, and had had fourteen children. In the course of a short conversation with her and her husband, I became the depository of a small piece of family history, which, as it was not confided to me as a secret, I cannot refrain from recording here, as a sample of that simplicity and candour, which have struck me as such conspicuous features in the Irish character.
The good wife having told me that she was married at fifteen, I was curious to know what had led to so early a union. Without a momentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hesitation, and evidently without the consciousness of telling anything extraordinary, she gave me the following explanation in the presence of her husband. She said, being n only child, and the sole support of her mother, who was a widow, she felt that, as her mothers health was beginning to fail, she must do something more effectual for her future maintenance. Two ways were open to her, – one, service with a farmer, the other matrimony ; the latter being in her option, through an offer to her by her present husband, who by the bye, was obviously much older than his partner. After much deliberation, she decided on marriage, Ã¢â‚¬Å“althoughÃ¢â‚¬Â (she added, pointing to her husband) Ã¢â‚¬Å“I did not then like him at all, at all!Ã¢â‚¬Â I of course, rallied to her good man on a confession so little flattering to him; but he confirmed its truth, adding, however, that she came soon to like him well enough – Ã¢â‚¬Å“almost as well as he liked her;Ã¢â‚¬Â and, what seemed to him still more remarkable, – Ã¢â‚¬Å“that she made as good a manager as if she had been thirty instead of fifteen.Ã¢â‚¬Â The good coupleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s married life had evidently been a happy one; and the current smoothness of its current seemed to receive no ripple from the present candid recurrence to what must have been a grievance in its day.
My guide was obviously a kind-hearted fellow, and spoke well of his neighbours. Every one had a good word from him, and he was evidently anxious that the poorer members of his hamlet should participate, with himself, in the travellerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s bounty. He was forty-five years of age, and, for a wonder, was not yet married, owing, he says, to having to support his old mother. He pays Ã‚Â£3 for his cottage, but lets off part of it to a lodger, who pays half the rent. Among the people pointed out to me by the guide, was a nice, cleanly dressed young woman, who, he said, worked hard to support herself and a baby, left in her charge by a sister gone to America. Her sisters husband died almost immediately after his arrival, and his widow had not yet been able to send for her child, or to send much money for her support. The young nurse, had, however, received from her sister one remittance of a pound, a sum which, she regrettingly said, had been diminished by eighteen pence for postage, and eighteen pence as discount! There was something deeply pathetic in this regret. I fear we too often forget how great such Ã¢â‚¬Ëœlittle things are to little men,Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ The young woman spoke cheerfully and confidently of soon receiving a fresh supply from her sister.Ã¢â‚¬Â
A description of the journey from Ã¢â‚¬ËœLarachÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ through the valley of Clara to Arklow follows.
Ovoca (or Avoca)
Ã¢â‚¬Å“There are two Meetings of the Waters, the upper, already mentioned, formed by the junction of the greater and lesser Avon (for this is the meaning of the terminations Ã¢â‚¬ËœmoreÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ and Ã¢â‚¬ËœbegÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ (placenames), and the lower, about four mile down, formed by the union of the Aughrim with this double stream now termed the Ovoca. It is close by this last meeting that the Wooden Bridge Inn is situated, the comfortable resort of all explorers of the beauties of the vale.Ã¢â‚¬ÂÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Ã¢â‚¬Â¦Ã¢â‚¬Â¦Ã¢â‚¬Â¦Ã¢â‚¬Â¦
Ã¢â‚¬Å“There are mines on both sides of the river. That which we visited lies on the right bank, and is called Ballymurtagh. Those on the other side are called the Cronbane mines. The ore of the Ballymurtagh mine is a sulphured of copper, but the sulphur is in places so predominant, that the produce in sulphur is more productive than in metal. The ore is exported to England for reduction, being conveyed to the pier at Arklow by a tramroad running down the valley. The ore, at the period of our visit, was yielding only about three per cent., of copper, while the less metalliferous portion was said to give a return of sulphur amounting to one-third. There were about 200 men employed on the mine, all Irish except the manager, who is a Cornish man. He told me that nothing could exceed the attention, industry and soberness of the men. He said they were much more manageable than his own country men and worked contently for much smaller wages. Many of them are strict Ã¢â‚¬ËœTeetotallersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, though of late years a considerable portion of them had broken their pledges, and again indulged in strong drinks, but not so as to interfere materially with their work, or seriously affect the general sobriety of the mass.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Descriptions of Castle Howard, Ballyarthur and Shelton Abbey.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Next morning I paid a visit to a small farm in the neighbourhood, tenanted by an old man of seventy-five, an Orangeman or Protestant, who had been Ã¢â‚¬Ëœout in the Ã¢â‚¬â„¢98.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ He paid Ã‚Â£20 for about nineteen acres of good land, and some wild pasturage along the shore. His house is not much better or cleaner than that of a mere cottier, only larger. He keeps a good many cows, and sends the produce, in the shape of butter slightly salted, to Dublin, once a fortnight. His grandfather and father occupied the farm before him, and he has still a lease of it, for his own and his sonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s life. He has three sons and one daughter. One son is a gardener, and out in the world, gaining a living; another has gone to America and obtains a good livelihood as a servant on a railway in New York. His eldest son and heir lives with him on the farm, as does also his daughter, who seemed to be the only woman on the establishment. His land was not in good order, through he seemed to have had a tolerable crop, both of corn and hay. The potato crop had suffered, as indeed throughout the whole country Ã¢â‚¬â€œ one third, at least, being destroyed. He spoke doubtfully of being able to pay his rent, and grumbled, because some time back it had been raised. He said he and his predecessors had built all the houses on the farm at their own expense, and he thought it hard that they should now be charged in the rent. This was the first distinct intimation we had of Tenant-Right.
I was amused to find that, like many of his betters of the orange school, the farmer regarded the temperance proceedings of Father Matthew as a political, that is, a rebellious movement, originating with the priests and repealers. He readily admitted, however, that the system of teetotalism had been productive, while it lasted, of great social benefits, and had left behind it much more of general sobriety than existed before its introduction.
Our sensibility to natural beauty, if not our gallantry, might, we feel, be justly called in question, if, after what we had seen of it in the places commemorated in this chapter, we did not say one word of the most animated of all the forms of beauty that we had seen Ã¢â‚¬â€œ that, namely, of the women and children. We shall have another opportunity of referring to this matter; but we must allude here to the fact of our being struck, on the very threshold of Ireland, with the unusual attractions presented to us by many of its women, and even by many of its children, though seen in all the disadvantages of dirt and rags. In one of our country hotels (I carefully withhold the name, mindful of the fate of Mary of Buttermere, betrayed through the printed encomiums of a tourist,) we were waited on by a young damsel, who might, I think, be regarded as a Ã¢â‚¬ËœperfectÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ beauty, especially by the admirers of the RubenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s school. Her features and expressions were faultless.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Arklow is a moderate sized bustling country town, with a population, according to the last census, of 3300, making a difference of only 46 persons between this and the enumeration of 1841. The upper and better portion contains some good houses and a fine church and chapel. The lower portion of it, on the flat shore, by the harbour, is chiefly inhabited by fishermen, and is very squalid and filthy. There is a pretty good trade here, the exports being principally mineral ores and fish; but the entrance to the small harbour is very shallow and unsafe. According to the Parliamentary returns, the proportion of Catholics to Protestants in 1834, was more than double, the number of Catholics in the whole parish, being 4347, and of Protestants only 2037. I believe the same proportion (nearly) still holds good. There is a fine National School here. At the time of my visit there were 150 boys in attendance, and a considerably larger proportion of girls. There was one master and two mistresses, all Catholics. There were no Protestants in the school, the Protestant clergymen discountenancing the attendance of the children of their flocks, although it would appear that no interference in regard to religious instruction takes place on the part of the teachers. It is part of the system of these schools, that all religious instruction (confined mostly to learning the Catechism) is prohibited during ordinary school-hours. According to the Report of the Commissioners of National Education, the number on the books of this school, in September 1850, was 214 boys and 224 girls; and in September 1851, was 210 boys and 247 girls. The boys at this school are permitted to remain as long as they please, the education being such as to fit them for the office of clerk or tradesman. I found the head boys working in vulgar fractions, and their writing was good. There is also a Protestant school in connection with the Church Education Society. According to the last Report, there were in the preceding year (1851) 37 children on the roll, and an average attendance of 27.
I visited a (so-called) Protestant school, a little distance from the town, supported by a benevolent lady in the neighbourhood. The number of children on the books was from 50 to 60, and of these about 30 were present. Only about one seventh or one eighth of the children were Protestants. In this school, the scriptures are read daily, and the liturgy of the Church of England used. In these, all the children are expected to take part; but the mistress (a Protestant) told me that she believed some of the Catholics said their own prayers mentally, while professing to join in the Protestant formula.
I had not an opportunity of inquiring minutely into the state of temperance in Arklow; but I learned that a number of the pledged children of Father Matthew had marvellously decreased, there being now perhaps hardly more than fifty in the town, where there had once been a thousand.
We left Arklow in the forenoon, intending to sleep at Carlow, and proceeding thence by the railway to Kildare, to join the Dublin train on its way to Cork. Advancing for a short way along the banks of the Aughrim river, we turned to the left through a rather wild country, chiefly the property of Lord Fitzwilliam. This property extends for many miles over a series of long and low valleys, mostly boggy in the centre, but partially cultivated on the slopes. The district possesses no feature of beauty, but it is fairly peopled.
In the hamlet of Killaveny, in the centre of this district, I passed some time in a peat-cutterÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s cabin, discoursing on various local matters. Lord Fitzwilliam was represented as a good landlord in his ordinary dealings with his tenantry. He had, also, at his own expense, sent out a large portion of the population to America, and more were preparing to follow. My informant indicated the extent of this emigration, by stating that the chapel of Killaveny, a large building, was not now one half so full on Sundays as formerly. Many of the emigrants had already sent home a good deal of money to their relations. One girl who had gone to Australia, and was there employed as a servant, had sent home no less than Ã‚Â£20 to her mother, though she had only been from home for four years ; and she expressed her intention of assisting all the members of her family to join her in the new country. This turf-cutterÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s cottage was superior, both in size and accommodation, to many I had seen in Wicklow. It had two apartments Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a Ã¢â‚¬ËœbutÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ and a Ã¢â‚¬ËœbenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ as the Scottish cotter names them, – and could boast of both chairs and a table, besides beds in the inner room. As there was no ground attached to it, the rent was only Ã‚Â£1 per annum. The man had no pigs, and I may here observe, that I had scarcely seen any pigs since my arrival in Ireland Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a blank which was proved to be almost general by my subsequent experience. Since the failure of the potato crop, and consequent famine in 1847, when the whole race was devoured, the cottagers have not been able to buy or maintain pigs, there having been a considerable destruction of the potato crop every season since.
It is customary here, as elsewhere, for neighbouring farmers to grant the cotters ground for planting their potatoes, on their finding manure for the soil. But with their pigs went their manure, and if they obtained land for their potatoes, they had to pay for it; and so they went from bad to worse.
There is a National School in the parish, and the turf-cutter lamented greatly that there was at the time no mistress, as he was anxious to send some of his children to it.
In coming along the valley, we had been struck with one farm in a very superior order to the others, and saw several boggy fields under the process of deep draining. The farmer, we were told, was a rich enterprising miller, who was expending on his land the gains he made by his mill. A curious fact connected with this draining Ã¢â‚¬â€œ if it is a fact, and I see no reason to doubt it Ã¢â‚¬â€œ was mentioned to me by my intelligent friend as he sat by my side on his wifeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s table, with his huge bare legs besmeared with dark peat-earth up to his knees. He said that the millers draining operations had been going on for years, and that the men employed in them had been brought from England. Most of the men he said, had domesticated themselves in the place; several had married, and none of them intended to return to England again. My informant added that the chief cause of this settlement of the strangers was, that they preferred some of this countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s customs to their own. The Irish, the Englishmen said, were friendlier and kindlier to one another, went more to the houses of each other, and so had more pleasure than their countrymen in England. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I tell the tale as Ã¢â‚¬Ëœtwas told to me;Ã¢â‚¬Â and when I compare what I afterwards saw of the cordiality, jollity, and fun of the Irish peasantry, even under the pressure of extreme poverty, with the cold, dull, matter of fact and business habits of the English labourers, I felt no great surprise that, by a certain class of men, the Irish hovel should be preferred to the Saxon cottage.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We arrived at the village of Coolattin between two and three oÃ¢â‚¬â„¢clock, and were not a little disappointed that, owing to a mistake of the Arklow job-master, we could obtain no fresh horses to take us on to Carlow. We were therefore obliged to wait till our horses rested. Fortunately there is a very tolerable inn at the place and we were enabled both to dine comfortably and see the neighbourhood. Coolattin is one of those artificial villages that we see spring up at great menÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s gates, brand-new, stiff and staring, with no traces of the olden time, and with none of that softened and varied look that always characterises hamlets that have grown up and decayed and been renovated insensibly. It, in fast, contains few other houses than the inn, the schools, the blacksmithÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s shop, and the establishment of Paddy Ã¢â‚¬Å“the Merchant,Ã¢â‚¬Â which designation in Ireland means a retail dealer in all things. The houses are all bright and fresh as a new pin, having been only recently erected or restored by the great lord of the land, Earl Fitzwilliam, whose Irish residence is close at hand.
Coolattin Park, is of small extent, but contains some timber and is watered by a small river, the Derry, one of the feeders of the Slaney. The house is a plain building, but of considerable extent, and is at this moment receiving a large addition. Adjoining the park is Lord FitzwilliamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s own farm, which looks, amid the wild and half-cultivated region around it, like a garden in the wilderness. This farm is of great extent, the fields large and symmetrical, well fenced, and covered with the finest crops, – the turnips and even the potato fields looking green and without a weed. The friend who travelled with me, and who is learned in matters agricultural, exclaimed as soon as he saw it, – Ã¢â‚¬Å“ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a farm at last, and IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll wager the farmer is a Scotchman.Ã¢â‚¬Â We found on enquiry that this was a fact; and we could not help lamenting that such a scene as this was so rare in Ireland. It is very probable that Lord Fitzwilliam may have been hitherto a loser, instead of a gainer, by this magnificent farm, as the outlay must have been great to bring it to its present condition. It must, however, eventually not only repay the cost, but bring a good return for the capital invested. In another, and still more important point of view, it must even now repay its benevolent and spirited possessor a hundred-fold, by the pregnant and enduring example afforded by it, to all his tenantry and the country generally. As in matters of morality, one can hardly live with very good men without insensibly profiting by their examples; so it would seem hardly possible that the rude and slovenly and unproductive culture handed down unchanged from their fathers to the present generation of farmers in the barony of Shillelagh, should long resist the contagion of the bright example set them at Coolattin.
I was informed that the estates of Lord Fitzwilliam, in the county of Wicklow, produced a rental of about Ã‚Â£40,000; and that he derived about Ã‚Â£2,000 more from some other property in the county of Kildare.
There is nothing note-worthy on the road from Coolattin to Tullow. The country, however, is richer and better cultivated, and this improved state was observable over the whole of that part of the county of Carlow through which we passed. Tullow is a reasonably neat country town, with a population of about 3000. It has remained nearly stationary since the previous census, having only decreased by 134; the population in 1841 being 3097, and in 1851, 2963. It is divided by the river Slaney, here a large stream, with a handsome bridge over it. The principal inn is built close to the bridge, the wall of its best sitting room being washed by the stream. Tullow is conspicuous by its lofty church tower and spire, which are visible at a great distance.
The country around is well cultivated and agreeably varied in surface; the mountains of Wicklow forming a conspicuous feature in the distant landscape.
John Forbes, M.D., F.R.S.
Smith, Elder & Co., Cornhill