- The grassy courtthe mossy wall
Vaultbarbacanand turret tall
With weeds that have o'ergrown them;
Though silent as the desert air,
Yet have their eloquence, and bear
Mortality upon them.
- Yes! these are talismans that break
The sleep of visions, and awake
Long silent recollections;
That kindle in the mental eye
Romantic feelings long gone by,
And glowing retrospections.
The scenery of the Blackwater, where it falls into the sea at Youghall, is bold and rocky; but the character gradually changes to one of richness and fertility.
In the progress up this river, at every bend made by the course of the boat, attractive objects are continually presented to the eye, or renewed and improved by a change of position. Several ruins, to each of which historical or traditionary recollections are attached,
p.120overhang its banks; some clothed in ivy rising out of wood, whilst others appear sternly elevated on a naked point of rock: these are agreeably relieved by many seats and hamlets scattered on the shore, and the distant Galtee Mountains form a noble termination.
Rincrew is the first ruin approached from Youghall; it stands on an eminence immediately over the river, and may be distinctly seen from thence. It is reputed to have belonged to the Military and Religious Association of Knight Templars, and being forfeited to the crown, was granted, in 1586, with Strancally, Ballynatra, and other lands, to Sir Walter Raleigh, who afterwards disposed of his Irish estates to the first Earl of Cork. I have been told that the river here is fished and navigated by means of small square boats called corracles, similar to those used in Wales, composed of basket work and covered with skin or oil cloth; of these we saw none, but passed more than one bark of fragile texture and pigmy dimensions, in which a rosy-cheeked lass tugged stoutly at the oar.A boat, sharp pointed both at bow and stern, and somewhat resembling a canoe, attracted our particular notice; it was guided by two young countrymen with paddles, and kept alongside our barge for about three miles, though the movement of the paddlers, when compared with that of our boatmen, appeared playful and insignificant.
The castle of Temple Michael, at present a complete section of a heavy square tower, is about a mile from Rincrew, and adjoins the house of Mr. Smith, situated close to the river, which here spreads into an extensive sheet of water, and formerly encompassed an island, called Dar Inis or Molana.
On this island, recently united to the main land, some ivied walls induced us to leave our boat, but they did not present a subject worth sketching; as some hand, certainly not that of an artist, has been busy here clearing away congenial weeds and brambles, and
p.121the fragments of ancient tombs have given place to a grassy neatness. This destruction of monuments is the more to be regretted, from popular tradition naming Molana as the burial place of Raymond le Gross, 11 to whose personal skill and bravery the conquest of Ireland is mainly owing, and of whom Giraldus Cambrensis has left us so noble a character. A modern tablet has been put up in the interior, with an inscription recording the circumstance. In Archdale's Monasticon may be found the names of many abbots, with some particulars relating to the monastery of the little island of Molana.According to Smith, it was founded by St. Molanfide, for regular
p.122canons, in the sixth century, and, being forfeited, was amongst the lands granted to Sir Walter Raleigh.
Ballinatry, the seat of another Mr. Smith, is close to Molana;from the water the gardens appear conspicuous, and seem laid out in the taste of the last century. In the next reach of the river, the remains of Strancally Castle break boldly on the view: Strancally was one of the strong holds of the Desmond family, and the atrocious cruelties committed in this castle called down the particular vengeance of Elizabeth's government, by whose orders it was blown up; the forcible effects of the explosion may still be easily discerned in its shattered fragments; and it is probable, the semi-destruction of Temple Michael was effected by the same means and at the same period. Our boatman pointed out the mouth of a passage excavated in the rock, which is reported to have communicated with a dungeon, stained by Many a foul and midnight murder
Thomas Gray, The Bard II. 3, Line 11.and from whence the bodies of slaughtered victims were precipitated into the tide. Numerous arbitrary and despotic acts of the Earls of Desmond are minutely related to the present day by the peasantry; and if an impartial history of their times could now be drawn up, it would present a catalogue of tyrannical and savage deeds, at the mention of which humanity must shudder.
Drumana, recently the seat of the Earl of Grandison, is placed on a precipitous rock above the water, some distance, and at the opposite side from Strancally. The present house was built on the site of a castle that belonged, with those already described, to the Fitzgeralds, and is the reputed birth place of the long lived Countess of Desmond, the number of whose years approached so near those of old Thomas Parr. This wonderful lady, being deprived of her jointure by the attainder of the Earl of Desmond, at the advanced age of one hundred and forty, crossed the Channel to Bristol, and, travelling
p.123to London, solicited, and obtained relief from James the First. In this part of the country her death is attributed to a fall whilst in the act of picking an apple from a tree in an orchard at Drumana.
Drumana, richly surrounded with wood, is decidedly the most beautiful picture on the passage to Lismore. Strancally is more striking, as part of the ruin still retains nearly its original height, and the dark stateliness of its time tinted walls bestows an air of desolation and solemnity which the adjacent scenery is calculated to increase, the appearance of the ground being barren and neglected.
- Brown in the rust of time it stands sublime,
With over hanging battlements and towers,
And works of old defencea massy pile!
And the broad river winds around its base
In bright unruffled course.
The views of Drumana, on the contrary, exhibit the strongest marks of industry and improvement. Extensive plantations meet the eye in every direction, and the distance is closed by a range of mountains with a particularly well-shaped outline. The loftiest of these is Knockmeledown; its height is reckoned at two thousand seven hundred English feet above the level of the sea, and, on the top, Major Eeles, 12 of eccentric memory, lies buried, with his horse and gun beside him. About Drumana, for some space, rocks and trees hang beautifully over the water, and form a variety of delightful combinations.
Proceeding forward, the village of Affane appears on the right, remarkable in Irish history from having been the scene of a severe conflict, about the middle of the sixteenth century, between the clans of Butler and Fitzgerald, in which three hundred of the latter were
p.124killed, and their leader (Gerald, Earl of Desmond) wounded. An anecdote of this fight is related by many writers, remarkable for the dignified and spirited retort of the wounded Desmond, who was made prisoner, and as his antagonists were bearing him on their shoulders from the field, a leader of the Ormond party rode up, and exultingly exclaimed, Where is now the great Earl of Desmond? when raising himself, indignantly he replied, Where, but in his proper place, on the necks of the Butlers! The lands of Affane are said to have been given by Garret Fitzgerald, for a breakfast to Sir Walter Raleigh, who introduced cherries into Ireland, and, according to Smith, first planted them here, having brought them from the Canary Islands.
Two miles farther is Cappoquin, a neat village, with a pretty church spire, rising above a cluster of cabins, and wearing altogether a more inviting aspect than most Irish villages can boast: here is the first bridge across the Blackwater, and although wooden, of some antiquity, as an act was passed to repair it in the reign of Charles the Second.
At Cappoquin, the course of the river changes from due east to due south, which direction it follows between eleven and twelve English miles, when it falls into the sea at Youghall, about sixty miles from its source; Ptolemy calls this river the Daurona, and the Irish name of Awin-dubh or the Black River, used by Spencer, probably originated in the peculiar strength and gloominess of its reflections, an effect we observed more than once during our excursion. The depth of the Blackwater is unequal, and the navigation impeded by beds of gravel. Lord Orrery in his Letters speaks of a communication by water to Mallow, a distance of forty miles, for boats of tolerable burthen; but this at present is impossible beyond Lismore, even for the smallest craft. Some years since, a canal was commenced above Mallow, and extensive remains of the undertaking are to be seen in that neighbourhood; to pecuniary causes the failure of this plan is
p.125attributed, and no effort has since been made to obtain the important advantage of inland water carriage.
From Cappoquin to Lismore the banks of the river become still richer and more close; magnificent ash trees dip their waving branches in the stream, and have attained a surprising growth and beauty. Within about two miles of Lismore, the frequent stoppages occasioned by locks induced us to land, and pursue the remainder of the way on foot; a walk of increasing beauty brought us within view of its fine castle, rising out of trees, above an extensive bridge with numerous arches, and one of striking dimensions. Of this approach the annexed drawing by Miss Nicholson will convey a correct idea.
Lismore is recorded to have been one of the most distinguished seats of learning in Ireland, and the existence of numerous monasteries and colleges here is boasted by modern authors on the faith of early annalists. The traveller, however, who expects to find remains of ancient building at Lismore, will feel disappointed, as few if any vestiges of its former greatness are now to be discerned.
From the earliest period its history presents a catalogue of destructive conflagrations, and these, in some measure, account for its being almost totally destitute of ancient edifices. In the seventh century, Lismore is described as a famous and holy city, full of monasteries and cells, the resort of pious men from Britain, and half of it an asylum into which no woman was permitted to enter. It is, however, chiefly memorable from the council held by Henry II. in 1172. Take the words of old Matthew Paris, which have occasioned so much discussion: Rex, antequam ab Hibernia redibat, concilium congregavit apud Lismore, ubi leges Angliæ ab omnibus gratenter sunt acceptæ et juratoria cautione præstita confirmatæ.
At present, Lismore is a small and inconsiderable town, though a bishop's see, united to that of Waterford in 1363. The cathedral has nothing attractive in exterior appearance; about a third part has recently been fitted up for service, in the florid Gothic style, and the
p.126carving of the oaken throne, pulpit, desks, and stalls, together with the entire effect, superior to any thing similar that I remember having seen in Ireland.
The entrance to the castle is under an old gateway, with towers, from whence a level walled avenue, shaded on one side by a row of aged and stately pine trees, leads to a second gateway, over which are sculptured the arms of the Earl of Cork, with the often quoted motto, God's providence is my inheritance. This is the entrance into an extensive court yard, the north and east sides of which, if not recently erected, are so disguised as to have a modern appearance.
A tame eagle was pluming his feathers in the sun beside the door of the castle, and the sight of that monarch bird in its present situation, chained to a slight wooden perch, seemed a fine emblem of the wild and lawless spirit of feudal days, controlled if not subdued by the power of civilization, beyond the reach of which it had long soared in proud and fancied security. There was no difficulty in obtaining permission to see the interior. A book lay on the hall table where strangers write their names, and a servant is in attendance to conduct them from room to room. The guide, though particularly civil, was totally ignorant of any anecdotes connected with the place; in vain I inquired for the apartment consecrated by the memory of the philosophic Robert Boyle, who was born here; for that, where the feeble monarch James II. is said to have started back from the window, appalled at beholding its height above the river; or for any of those places identified with Raleigh or Broghill. Had I not been previously aware of the association of these names with Lismore Castle, I should have gone through its chambers with as little interest as through those of any other well furnished house; in fact, it is no more, and the local association of such sacred titles as soldier and statesman, philosopher and poet, is never once recalled to the memory, a visionary charm that should be religiously preserved. Little will therefore be found attractive in Lismore Castle, beside the
p.127natural beauty of its situation. It was built by King John when he visited Ireland in 1185, and four years after destroyed by the Irish, who regarded, both with fear and jealousy, the construction of every English fortification. On being rebuilt, Lismore Castle became an episcopal residence, until granted with the manor and other lands, at the yearly rent of 13£. 6s. 8d., to Sir Walter Raleigh, to whom Lismore is indebted for the foundation of a free school. From Sir Walter, this estate past into the possession of the first Earl of Cork, and in the rebellion of 1641, the castle was bravely defended by his third son, Lord Broghill, against the Irish. The conclusion of a letter from that young nobleman to his father on this occasion has been much eulogized: My Lord, says the gallant writer, fear nothing for Lismore, for if it be lost, it shall be with the life of him that begs your lordship's blessing, and styles himself, your lordship's most humble, most obliged, and most dutiful son and servant, Broghill.
The manuscripts in Lismore Castle are frequently referred to by Smith, but I could learn nothing respecting them; my inquiries were answered by a positive assurance that no such collection ever existed; but from Dr. Smith's character for correctness, as well as from the internal evidence of such parts as have been printed in his works, there can be no doubt of their authenticity. These manuscripts appear to have been title-deeds and letters of the Boyle family, the latter replete with extensive historical and biographical materials relative to the intrigues and troubles of 1641, and it is to be hoped were removed and are preserved by order of the Duke of Devonshire, the present possessor of the castle. 13
The visitor of Lismore should make a point of seeing Balleen, the
p.128seat of the Rev. Dean Scott, about a mile distant from thence. By the kindness of Lady Listowel, Miss Nicholson was furnished with a letter of introduction to Mrs. Scott, and an evening ramble in these charming grounds was one of much enjoyment.
The Blackwater is here deep, and though rapid, pursues its course quietly, gliding amidst knotted stumps and twisted roots that skirt the banks, and which with the trees appear to have resolved as with one consent to grow in the most romantic forms imaginable. Every group might become a study for the pencil, and the river, like a black mirror, is of that dark, transparent quality, which I have frequently observed to reflect forms even more distinctly than they appear. The opposite woods and castled eminence of Lismore give additional beauty to the scene, and its magic is completed by the lulling sound of the river murmuring amongst distant weirs.
- the fretful melody
Of water, gurgling through the rugged weir,
Brought on the breeze.
Between Lismore and Fermoy the carriage road is indifferent, and the character of the Blackwater less worthy the notice of the pictorial tourist.
We explored one wild glen called Ballydouve, three miles from Lismore, where a few miserable cabins (if I may speak paradoxically) stood in lonely association; an adequate idea of the wretchedness of these habitations can scarcely be formed from description. From these hovels the smoke of the turf fire has seldom the option of escape by a chimney, in default of which it issues from the door; sometimes they possess a window, but this is a luxury not general. The floor is bare earth, so uneven that the four legs of a chair are seldom of use at one time, and baskets and utensils lie around in an indiscriminate litter; a pig, the wealth of an Irish peasant, roams about with conscious importance, and chickens hop over every part like tame
p.129canaries. Such is a picture of dwellings within twenty miles of the principal trading city in Ireland. Few of the smoke dried inmates understood English, and I was not only surprized, but shocked, at finding the deplorable want of comfort exhibited in the condition of these poor people. A wooden bridge was constructing across the river at the time of our visit, and it is to be hoped that the increase of communication may be conducive to improvement.
The dilapidated towers, or, as they are called, castles of Liclash and Carrickabrick, are at opposite sides of the Blackwater, within a short distance of Fermoy, a town indebted for its importance to the extensive barrack and mail coach contracts of the late Mr. Anderson. At the last peace, the government works were discontinued, and the military withdrawn; since when, its rapid prosperity has as rapidly declined. A spirit of industry and enterprize no longer animates the place; the once busy inhabitants have comparatively relapsed into indolent habits; and with the speculations of Mr. Anderson, the vital strength of Fermoy seems to have departed.
About a mile and half distant is Castle Hyde, the seat of Mr. Hyde, to whose ancestor, a grant of six thousand acres of the Earl of Desmond's forfeited ground was made by Elizabeth, as a reward for his military services in England, during the commotion caused by the invincible Armada. The lyric production of a drunken cobler, descriptive of Castle Hyde, is so popular as to require notice, which its originality perhaps merits, and also from the well known song of the Groves of Blarney being an acknowledged imitation of this composition, of which the following quotation may serve as a specimen.
- The bees perfumingthe fields with music,
As you rove down by th' Blackwater's side.
The trout and salmon, play at back gammon,
All to adorn sweet Castle Hyde.
Rising behind Fermoy is seen the mountain of Cairn na Thierna, in
p.130English the Lord's heap, a name expressive of the Cairn or heap of rude stones on its summit, a monument of remote ages, and generally believed to mark the burial-place of some primitive chief.
To enjoy, indeed to see the scenery of the Blackwater between Mallow and Fermoy, a tract dignified by the name of the garden of Ireland, frequent detours must be made from the carriage road, as it is otherwise impossible to form an adequate idea of the adjacent country. Sir Richard Hoare complains feelingly of this circumstance.
The grounds of Castle Hyde join those of Creg, the residence of Colonel Stewart, which are laid out in good taste, with steep and shadowy walks beside the river, and contain an old castle that formerly belonged to the family of Roche, feudal lords of the district of Fermoy.
Two miles beyond Creg is Ballyhooley, an inconsiderable village, dignified by the ruins of another and more extensive castle of the Roches, standing on a rock with the present parish church, and the remains of the ancient onea combination seen to great advantage from Convamore, the domain of Lord Ennismore, whence it affords an excellent subject for the pencil; as these structures give a poetic relief to the massive richness of the surrounding wood which overhangs the winding course of the river.
About a mile above Convamore, the Awbeg, named by Spencer the Mulla, meets the Blackwater, and their mingled currents glide onward beneath the rocky cliffs of Renny, part of the estate granted to that poet. On the low ground between the conflux of these rivers are the venerable remains of Bridgetown Abbey, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and founded by the Roche family, who at various periods added considerably to its endowments. In 1375, Thomas, the Prior of Bridgetown, was selected to proceed to England, in compliance with a writ of Edward III., directing that chosen persons should be sent from Ireland to advise on the government of that
p.131kingdom, and other important matters. This circumstance and the demolition of a bridge by Cromwell, from whence its name was derived, are the only historical facts recorded of Bridgetown Abbey. It contains few monuments of importance, except one on the south side of a large chapel near the site of the altar. It is a Gothic arch, of light and elegant proportions, within a considerable and heavy projection. The extreme wildness of construction in this arch is remarkable, the termination of one side being square and massive, the other slight and sharp. Irregularity seems to have been the designer's chief object, and yet an uniformity of effect is preserved. About the middle of the corner moulding, on the altar side, a head in high relief is most unaccountably placed, without any thing similar to correspond as a balance, and an inverted armorial shield, charged with one fish (the present Roche arms are three) is deeply marked in outline on the front of this monument, supposed to be that of the founder, Alexander Fitz Hugh Roche, but no vestige of an inscription can be discovered.
In a small chapel parallel to and adjoining the greater one, there is another tomb belonging to the same family, simply inscribed
A. D. 1634
And in both chapels numerous architectural fragments and gravestones lie scattered on the ground. Amongst these fragments, some grotesque corbels and pieces of highly wrought tracery were to be seen. On many of the old grave-stones was sculptured a cross, enriched in various ways by means of intersecting circles and fleurs de lis; several were without lettering, but on such as had a legend, it generally ran along the border; I observed one in the great chapel covered with a Latin inscription, in the Roman character, but so oddly confused that I was totally unable to decipher it, although every letter and many words could be distinctly made out, some of
p.132the words mingled with the ornamented cross, attached to which were two busts in bas-relief of the rudest workmanship. Of these uncouth works I have copied the most striking, together with a few architectural remains which I observed lying on the ground.
- Thus in a corner of some ruin'd pile
Lie name and titlesfragile to the touch
Of curious finger, that perhaps may try,
Once in an age, those antique characters
And rudely chissel'd chyphers to explore,
Perhaps in vain!Yes, poor Ephemera,
This is the end of all your hoped renown,
To be forgotten, and unknown!
The cloisters and refectory may be traced without difficulty; the former is now a naked square court used as a ball alley by the neighbouring peasantry.
Leaving the Blackwater, and following the course of the Awbeg through a wild and rocky glen, for about a mile and a half, we reached the village of Castle Town Roche. Its appearance was romantic, and, comparatively speaking, cleanly; the greater part is built upon the side of a thickly wooded eminence, crowned
p.134by an ancient embattled tower, that rises with an air of command. Through the valley, or rather glen, beneath, ripples the Awbeg, whose natural beauty is enhanced from the endearing appellation applied to it by Spencer in his Fairy Queen, And Mulla mine, whose waves I whilom taught to weep.
Spenser, Fairy Queen Book 4 Canto XI.
The village church is modern, and without pretensions; from a stone imbedded in the outside wall, I copied this inscription: Orate Pro Bono Statu Domini Maurici Roche viceco mes de Fermoy et Domine Elinorie Maurici et Pro Anima ejus Anno Domini 1585.
The castle is conspicuous at a considerable distance; the present owner is Mr. Widenham, who recently resided in an adjoining house. It was formerly the chief seat of the Roches, whose loyalty having fallen under suspicion in Elizabeth's reign, Sir Walter Raleigh was instructed to secure the head of the family, an enterprize of considerable difficulty and danger, which he executed with extraordinary calmness and resolution. The policy of this act has been stigmatized as treacherous and disgraceful; but in whatever light it may be viewed, the personal courage and self-possession of Raleigh appear still the same.
Being aware that Fitzgerald, the Seneschal of Imokilly, at the head of seven or eight hundred men, intended to intercept his march, Raleigh left Cork, with a small troop of only ninety, so unexpectedly, between ten and eleven o'clock at night, that he escaped any engagement, and arrived at Castle Town Roche the next morning.
p.135Alarmed at the approach of English soldiers, a show of defence was immediately made by the inhabitants, that subsided when Raleigh, attended only by six men, confidently advanced to the castle gates, and requested permission to speak with Lord Roche, who, though surprized at the visit, received him with apparent cordiality; and while Sir Walter detained that nobleman in conversation on indifferent matters, the men admitted with him contrived to give the entire of Raleigh's party entrance, each of whose muskets, we are told, was loaden with two balls. Lord Roche, perceiving his castle occupied by an overpowering force and resistance impossible, addressed Sir Walter with increased kindness, ordered refreshments for his men, and invited him to dinner. After the banquet, Raleigh informed his entertainer of the cause of his coming, and exhibited a commission for his apprehension. Lord Roche made some slight remonstrances, but ultimately surrendered; and Sir Walter, with the same promptness of manner that had already proved so eminently successful, carried his noble prisoner, together with his lady, across the mountains to Cork the same night, which proved dark and stormy in the extreme, and thus again escaped encountering the Seneschal of Imokilly. But the charge of disloyalty against Lord Roche proved unfounded, and he afterwards became distinguished for his support of the English cause in Ireland, three of his sons and many of his followers having lost their lives in the service of Elizabeth.
During the rebellion of 1641, the greater part of the estates of this family were forfeited, and Maurice Lord Roche was attainted and outlawed, having refused a composition offered by Cromwell. His lady, in 1649, defied the parliamentary forces, and heroically defended Castle Town Roche for some days, until compelled to surrender by a heavy fire from a battery raised in a field on the opposite side of the river, still called the Camp Field, and from whence Mr. Nicholson's drawing was made.
Lord Roche's attachment to Charles II., with whom he is said to
p.136have shared his pay derived from a military command in Flanders under a foreign government, was only rewarded on the restoration of that monarch, after considerable delay, by a trifling pension, notwithstanding the impressive memorial of Lord Orrery 14My Lord,The lady that waits upon your Grace with these is relict of Lord Roche, as he was commonly called, whose ancestor was attainted and lost his title and a large estate about the rebellion of 1641. His late Majesty was pleased to give him a pension here during his lifeI think it was £200 per annum, which I believe was the only support of him and his family. Since his death, his widow, being destitute of support, made application to his present Majesty for a pension, for the maintenance of herself; and, as I understood by her, my Lord Carteret gave her hopes, that his Majesty would grant her request; but, as nothing is yet done in it, she thought proper to go over to England to solicit in person. I believe she has some friends there who will assist her with their interest, but as your Grace's good will must be of the greatest service to her, I humbly recommend her to your Grace to help her to somewhat that may be a subsistence for her, since I am fully persuaded she is at present without one. As for the particulars of her case, I refer your Grace to her own relation. in his behalf to the Duke of Ormond, and the exertions of the latter nobleman and Lord Clanrickard to obtain an adequate remuneration for conduct so loyal and so generous.
It is a melancholy fact, that after the Restoration, Lord Roche, with a wife and six children, were reduced to such abject poverty that it is stated they would have starved had it not been for the private charity of individuals.
Necessity, therefore, and the loss of ancient wealth and honours, seem to have compelled this family, like many others, to enter into the service of continental powers, in which they distinguished themselves on various occasions. About the middle of the last century, a lineal descendant, employed by the King of Sardinia, became
p.137particularly conspicuous for his bravery, in sustaining at Casal, with only six hundred men, a siege of thirty-two days, against a body of twenty-five thousand; and on his capitulation, as a tribute to such gallant conduct, the French and Spanish generals received him in the most complimentary manner.
The eccentric Sir Boyle Roche was a scion of the Fermoy family; he was, for several years, a member of the Irish parliament, and so renowned for his propensity to blunder, that as many bulls are attributed to him as witticisms to Curran, or puns to Lord Norbury; Sir Boyle however possessed, in addition, a large share of shrewdness, and his absurdities have often quelled the storm of political debate, when the eloquence of the most highly gifted orator would have but augmented the tempest.
From Castle Town Roche we returned to the Blackwater, and visited Clifford, the seat of Mr. Martin, about a mile beyond Bridgetown, and midway between Fermoy and Mallow. The Blackwater, if not flooded, may be forded with safety beneath the house, from which circumstance, and a large limestone rock that overhangs the river, it has received the appropriate and descriptive name of Cliff-ford.
Highly cultivated and improved, planted with peculiar taste and care, and surrounded by picturesque objects, it is difficult to conceive a more fascinating spot. The house is small, and completely concealed by trees; from a tablet in the hall, I transcribed these beautiful lines:
- Parva domus! nemerosa quies
Sis tu quoque nostris hospitium laribus
Subsidium diu: postes tuas Flora ornet
Rambling through the domain, we came to a retired rocky hollow, containing an urn of considerable size, upon a proportionate pedestal, and shaded by trees so closely planted as to cast, even at noon-day,
p.138a congenial monumental gloom. I have heard that the hospitable owner of Clifford erected this urn, intending his heart to be deposited in it after his death, which the inscriptions on the pedestal seem to confirm. 15
In the path along the river side, from Clifford to Killavullan Bridge, pasturage, wood and water are finely arranged in the landscape, and form a luxuriant contrast to a heathy, barren-looking mountain that ascends behind the ruined castle of Carrignaconny (the Rabbit's Rock) and its surrounding plantation. Carrignaconny was the estate of Sir Richard Nagle, attorney general to James II., and speaker of the House of Commons, whose bigotry has been condemned by all parties, and even reproached by James himself.
The pass of Killavullan is singular and romantic; on the descent to it are some ruins, called Monanimy, reputed to have belonged to the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. After crossing the bridge, the road winds round a mass of steep limestone rock, in which are
p.139natural caverns, used as habitations by the peasantry. One of these was the dwelling of the village smith, the light from whose forge threw a broad and vivid reflection across the road, that lay in the solemnity of deep shadow. The evening closed in so fast as to urge our rapid advance towards Mallow, and the remark before made on the difficulty of obtaining correct information respecting distance, may be illustrated by giving a dialogue verbatim, which occurred on our walk:
How far is it to Mallow?
Och! I don't know.
Do you live there?
Is it at Mallow? I do.
Do you think it two miles from hence?
Indeed, and two miles would not take you to Mallow.
Is it ten miles?
It is not; it may be four and a bit when you get over the mountain you will be there in less than no time.
Rockforest, Sir James Cotter's seat, and Carrig, that of the Franks family, on opposite sides of the Blackwater, were passed in twilight; but our weary way was cheered by a magnificent sun-set.
Mallow has been called the Bath of Ireland, not from any striking resemblance between the buildings of these towns, but from a similarity in the societyinvalid water drinkers, and those who, with moderate incomes and easy dispositions, prefer passing through life in the gaiety of a genteel circle, to exertion or study.
Pleasure is therefore the object pursued by the inhabitants of Mallow, and the morning visit and nightly assembly, to those who are of listless habits and fond of amusement, would doubtless make the place very agreeable. Strangers of respectability require but a slight introduction to receive attention; and the genuine kindness and hospitality shown by the residents to such, must long be remembered with gratitude. The appearance of the town is ancient and
p.140and irregular; there are some good modern houses in the upper part, but the lower principally consists of mean looking shops, with old fashioned projecting windows over them; the first floor is let as lodgings, which enables the shopkeepers to pay heavier rents than I apprehend the sale of their goods would justify, as the trade of Mallow is necessarily very limited. It has a well built, though a narrow bridge, mentioned as the only one across the Blackwater, in 1666, by Lord Orrery, who recommended the repairs of the castle that commanded it. Under some of its arches are several most unaccountable inscriptions which I can make nothing out of. The walls of a castle still remain in the grounds, and close to the dwelling house of Mr. Jephson, to whom the proprietorship of Mallow has descended from Sir John Jephson.
The district of Mallow was part of the forfeited Desmond property, and bestowed by Elizabeth on Sir John Norris, Lord President of Munster, whose memory has been embalmed by Spencer, in a sonnet addressed to him with a copy of the Fairy Queen.
Spenser, To the right noble Lord and most valiaunt Captaine, Sir John Norris knight, Lord president of Mounster.
- Whose warlike prowess, and manly true courage,
Temper'd with reason, and advisement sage,
Hath fill'd sad Belgia with victorious spoil,
In France and Ireland left a famous gage,
And lately shak'd the Lusitanian soil.
Sir John Jephson having married the daughter of the lord president, the estate was granted to her heirs by letters patent, in the reign of James I.
Lord Strangford has inscribed his translation of Camoens to the late possessor (his kinsman), for many years the representative of Mallow in parliament; the present member is Mr. Wrixon Beecher, whose recent marriage with Miss O'Neill has deprived the stage of that accomplished and amiable actress.
Mallow was the scene of a smart conflict, in the commotions of
p.1411641, and also of 1690. 16 Lord Montgarret marched into it with the Irish forces in February, 1642, when the town consisted of two hundred English houses, thirty of which were strongly built and slated, beside its two castles.
In the census taken this year (1821,) the number of the houses is stated to be 607, and the inhabitants 4,146.
A walk with stately trees beside a canal leads to a tepid spa. It has a neglected appearance, from which may be inferred, that the salubrious effects of this fountain are not now held in so much estimation as some years back, when I recollect the Spa Walk mentioned as the favourite promenade, and much praised for its neatness.
The spring is estimated to discharge twenty gallons per minute, and the temperature of water at about sixty-eight degrees of Farenheit. The taste I found soft and rather agreeable.
Miss Nicholson's drawing of Mallow was made from the suburbs on the south side, whence the castle appears, backed by trees of well varied forms; but the chief entrance to the town is through rows of wretched cabins, every way calculated to create an impression unfavourable to the place. The vicinity abounds with gentlemen's seats, which possess an aspect of comfort and elegance, but the surrounding hovels create a melancholy comparison.
The new line of road between Cork and Limerick passes through Mallow, and is of noble proportions; the principal point considered has been an uninterrupted level, to accomplish which, the road is carried round the base of hills and over the intervening glens on bridges
p.142having much the appearance of aqueducts; but too little attention has been paid to the convex formation, and the construction of drains for carrying off the water, a matter of importance when we consider the lowness of situation, as well as the general wetness of the Irish climate. It would also be an improvement if the stones used in the repairs were more broken than at present, and distributed in a more careful and judicious manner.
A long time is now required to produce a proper surface, as it takes many months to effect an union between large lumps of stone, thrown together without the aid of gravel or smaller pieces to fill up the interstices; and one side, much cut up, and with numerous ruts, is travelled in preference to the other covered by a rough and heavy coat of stones. The old roads in Ireland were invariably constructed over the highest points of ground, and, until lately, a journey was performed by a series of ascents and descents. Road making, or rather jobbing, at one period (and that not very remote), formed a regular matter of traffic to the country gentry, who, being generally on the county grand jury, had influence in obtaining presentments. It has been facetiously said that the Irish squires of the rack-rent school usually bequeathed a law-suit and a score of mortgages with the estate to their eldest son, and left their road contracts as a provision for the younger childrento be serious, the fact of the misapplication of large sums of money voted to improve the country by roads, that might facilitate the conveyance of produce and means of travelling, is notorious.