September 25. Took the road to Nedeen, through the wildest region of mountains that I remember to have seen; it is a dreary but an interesting road. The various horrid, grotesque, and unusual forms in which the mountains rise and the rocks bulge; the immense height of some distant heads, which rear above all the nearer scenes, the torrents roaring in the vales, and breaking down the mountain sides, with here and there a wretched cabin, and a spot of culture yielding surprise to find human beings the inhabitants of such a scene of wildness, altogether keep the traveller's mind
p.87in an agitation and suspense. These rocks and mountains are many of them no otherwise improvable than by planting, for which, however, they are exceedingly well adapted.
Sir John Colthurst was so obliging as to send half a dozen labourers with me, to help my chaise up a mountain side, of which he gave a formidable account: in truth it deserved it. The road leads directly against a mountain ridge, and those who made it were so incredibly stupid, that they kept the straight line up the hill, instead of turning aside to the right to wind around a projection of it. The path of the road is worn by torrents into a channel, which is blocked up in places by huge fragments, so that it would be a horrid road on a level; but on a hill so steep, that the best path would be difficult to ascendit may be supposed terrible: the labourers, two passing strangers, and my servant, could with difficulty get the chaise up. It is much to be regretted that the direction of the road is not changed, as all the rest from Cork to Nedeen is good enough. For a few miles towards the latter place the country is flat on the river Kenmare, much of it good, and under grass or corn. Passed Mr. Orpine's at Ardtilly, and another of the same name at Killowen.
Nedeen is a little town, very well situated, on the noble river Kenmare, where ships of one hundred and fifty tons may come up; there are but three or four
p.88good houses. Lord Shelburne, to whom the place belongs, has built one for his agent. There is a vale of good land, which is here from a mile and a half to a mile broad; and to the north and south, great ridges of mountains said to be full of mines.
At Nedeen, Lord Shelburne had taken care to have me well informed by his people in that country, which belongs for the greatest part to himself, he has above one hundred and fifty thousand Irish acres in Kerry; the greatest part of the barony of Glanrought belongs to him, most of Dunkerron and Ivragh. The country is all a region of mountains, inclosed by a vale of flat land on the river; the mountains to the south come to the water's edge, with but few variations, the principal of which is Ardee, a farm of Lord Shelburne's: to the north of the river, the flat land is one-half to three-quarters of a mile broad. The mountains to the south reach to Bear-haven, and those to the north to Dingle Bay; the soil is extremely various; to the south of the river all are sandstones, and the hills loam, stone, gravel, and bog. To the north there is a slip of limestone land, from Kilgarvon to Cabbina-cush, that is six miles east of Nedeen, and three to the west, but is not more than a quarter of a mile broad, the rest, including the mountains, all sandstone. As to its rents, it is very difficult to tell what they are; for land is let by the plough-land and gineve, twelve gineves to the plough-land; but the latter denomination
p.89is not of any particular quantity, for no two plough-lands are the same. The size of farms is various, from forty acres to one thousand; less quantities go with cabins, and some farms are taken by labourers in partnership.
Soon entered the wildest and most romantic country I had anywhere seen; a region of steep rocks and mountains which continued for nine or ten miles, till I came in view of Mucruss. There is something magnificently wild in this stupendous scenery, formed to impress the mind with a certain species of terror. All this tract has a rude and savage air, but parts of it are strikingly interesting; the mountains are bare and rocky, and of a great magnitude; the vales are rocky glens, where a mountain stream tumbles along the roughest bed imaginable, and receives many torrents, pouring from clefts, half overhung with shrubby wood; some of these streams are seen, and the roar of others heard, but hid by vast masses of rock. Immense fragments, torn from the precipices by storms and torrents, are tumbled in the wildest confusion, and seem to hang rather than rest upon projecting precipices. Upon some of these fragments of rock, perfectly detached from the soil, except by the side on which they lie, are beds of black turf, with luxuriant crops of heath, &c., which appeared very curious to me, having nowhere seen the like; and I observed very high in the mountainsmuch higher than any cultivation
p.90is at present, on the right handflat and cleared spaces of good grass among the ridges of rock, which had probably been cultivated, and proved that these mountains were not incapable from climate of being applied to useful purposes.
From one of these heights I looked forward to the Lake of Killarney at a considerable distance, and backward to the river Kenmare; came in view of a small part of the upper lake, spotted with several islands, and surrounded by the most tremendous mountains that can be imagined, of an aspect savage and dreadful. From this scene of wild magnificence, I broke at once upon all the glories of Killarney; from an elevated point of view I looked down on a considerable part of the lake, which gave me a specimen of what I might expect. The water you command (which, however, is only a part of the lake) appears a basin of two or three miles round; to the left it is inclosed by the mountains you have passed, particularly by the Turk, whose outline is uncommonly noble, and joins a range of others, that form the most magnificent shore in the world: on the other side is a rising scenery of cultivated hills, and Lord Kenmare's park and woods; the end of the lake at your feet is formed by the root of Mangerton, on whose side the road leads. From hence I looked down on a pretty range of inclosures on the lake, and the woods and lawns of Mucruss, forming a large promontory of thick wood, shooting
p.91far into the lake. The most active fancy can sketch nothing in addition. Islands of wood beyond seem to join it, and reaches of the lake, breaking partly between, give the most lively intermixture of water; six or seven isles and islets form an accompaniment: some are rocky, but with a slight vegetation, others contain groups of trees, and the whole thrown into forms, which would furnish new ideas to a painter. Farther is a chain of wooded islands, which also appear to join the mainland, with an offspring of lesser ones scattered around.
Arrived at Mr. Herbert's at Mucruss, to whose friendly attention I owed my succeeding pleasure. There have been so many descriptions of Killarney written by gentlemen who have resided some time there, and seen it at every season, that for a passing traveller to attempt the like would be in vain; for this reason I shall give the mere journal of the remarks I made on the spot, in the order I viewed the lake.