Having received the congratulations of all my valued friends in Edgeworthtown on the fine weather which seemed to smile upon my journey, I took my departure with regret from a place where I would gladly have lingered; and rolled on, through the centre of Ireland, towards that main artery of the land, the glorious Shannon, which, flowing from the north, pours its waters in a south-west direction. The usual method of travelling in Ireland, on those roads where no stage-coaches run, is on a jaunting-car. These jaunting-cars, or outside cars, as they are also called, are constructed on precisely the same plan as those we found in Dublin. They are two-wheeled, have a seat for two persons on each side, and are drawn by one horse. In the centre, between those two seats, is a recess for luggage, called the well. The shafts are fixed to the body of the car, without any hinge; so that when the horse gallops, the comical and violent motion affords much pleasantry to some, whilst in others it produces something akin to sea-sickness. The cars are, of course, without covers; and since it is usually raining in Ireland, the traveller must not neglect to envelope himself and his effects in a waterproof of English invention. The horse, driver and all, are hired at the post-station, at the rate of sixpence per English mile, exactly one-half what is paid in England for a one-horse carriage. Since the horse, the oats which feed him, the plain wooden car, the obliging driver, and his food, which consists of bread and potatoesin a word, all that you pay foris produced in the country, this proportion of Irish to English prices probably extends to all the necessaries of lifethat is, as one to two. To a traveller who desires to see the country, these cars are much to be recommended. They allow him the most delightful independence; and as he is bound to no particular route, he can go about the country
p.46in any direction by paying his sixpence for every mile: and his legs being half out of the vehicle, he can readily jump off and on, and need pass nothing unexamined. Besides, in the driver he has a talkative Paddy, who, for the sake of the counterpoise, usually sits, not on his own box-seat, but on the other side-seat, dos-à-dos with his passenger. He is not disinclined, however, to turn this dos-à-dos into a vis-à-vis, and enter into conversation with the traveller, and show him the country. Being himself full of curiosity, he does all in his power to satisfy that of his passenger; he stops whenever the latter wishes it, drives more slowly when he perceives that he is observing any thing; and often adds, when he believes he has said something clever, Will your honour plase to put that down?
On one of the many lovely sunny days which even Ireland enjoyed in the autumn of 1842, I rolled away, in a conveyance such as I have described, towards the Shannon, in order, by means of this beautiful river, to pursue my travels in the south-west of the island. In this most central part of Ireland, from its eastern shores to the Shannon, there are no natural beauties to admire. The country is flat, and the attention is therefore more directed to man and his works. Alas! they can afford him no pleasure, for the former appears mostly in rags, and the latter are generally in ruins. Ruins should not be suffered in any country where order is prized. They should be removed, either because the materials of which they are composed might be applied in new, useful buildings, and the room which they occupy can be turned to a better use; or because, by their total downfall, they threaten the safety of men, and are besides disagreeable objects to look at. Ireland, however, is the first country in Europe for ruins; and here you have them from all periods of history, from the oldest times of the Phoenicians, down to the present day. Some of these ruins are supposed to be the remains of temples erected by fire-worshippers from the East;6 others are looked upon as Druidical remains, or castles of the old Celtic kings of the island. Portions of the churches built on the introduction of Christianity are numerous. The period of the Danish dominion has also bestowed on the land another extremely rich collection; and down to our own days each century, nay, every decade, has left its ruins here. For multitudes of dilapidated buildings are to be seen in every directionof buildings that seem not only to have recently fallen into decay, but also to have been but recently built. During my journey I did not see a single village or town entirely free from such recent ruins. In many places we found whole rows of desolated and falling houses, standing side by side, in tens and
p.47twelves. As melancholy tales of war and poetic legends are wont to be associated in the minds of the people with the ruins of old castles and churches, so to each of these more modern ruins of dwelling-houses is attached a still sadder tale of wrong committed in times of peace. The cruel ejectment of a tenant by his landlord, the mournful emigration of the poor inhabitants, brought on by necessity, or the want of means to repair their houses, are usually assigned as causes for their decay. Generally speaking, the people are not very communicative on this subject. Oh, it is a very sad story, sir, say they: it is better not to speak of it; or, It seems, the landlord does not care much about it just as it happens, so he leaves it.
The painter is better off; for as there are multitudes of plants in Ireland, especially on the walls, Irish ruins are usually very picturesque. The most beautiful ivy climbs all over them; while wild roses, yews, beeches, and similar plants and trees, nestle every where between the walls. In some countries of Europe, as Livonia, Courland, and Poland, the ruins are almost entirely naked; but in green Ireland it is quite the reverse. Often have I seen the most wretched huts, mantled in a beautiful robe of full, rich ivy, worthy to clothe the ruined walls of a royal castle of by-gone days; and I am convinced that many a cabin is now made habitable only by the ivy, and would surely fall asunder if it were destroyed.
Another phenomenon, not less remarkable than the ruins, is the rags. As the Irishman inhabits his house as long as possible without giving it any repair, and then deserts it as soon as it has become wholly untenable; so he wears his clothes as long as a single thread of them will hold together, never giving the tailor an opportunity of earning a penny by repairing them. In other lands there are poor people enough, who, though rarely able to exchange their old clothes for new ones, yet do all they can to keep them in a wearable condition. Thus, in Russia, the peasants, forced by their climate, stitch patch upon patch over the holes of their old sheep-skins, and even the very poorest rarely exhibits his bare skin, which, in Ireland, is freely exposed even by persons far above the condition of beggars, and whose circumstances may be called comfortable. To wear the very coarsest clothes is in no country deemed disgraceful; but (except in Ireland, where a naked elbow or a bare arm seems to offend no one,) to appear in rags is no where allowed, save only to those whom the extreme of misery has plunged into such deep despair as to make them despise all sense of decency and feeling. The Irish rag-garments have something quite peculiar about them. Rags so completely rubbed away by
p.48wear and labour, so reduced to their original threads of wool, nay, so totally reduced to dust, are no where else to be seen on a human body. On the elbows and the other angular parts of the body, the clothes hang like leaves dropping from a withered rose. The edges of the coat hang down, fringed, as it were, with tatters; and it is often impossible to distinguish either the outside of a garment from the inside, the top from the bottom, or the sleeves from the body. Legs and arms no longer find their accustomed places. Every morning the drapery is arranged in a different manner; and were it not pretty much the same in the end whether the breeches be used as a coat, or the coat as breeches, it might appear quite a wonder how such a heap of various rags, held together by mere threads, can be put on at all. The rags of the Irish appear the more comical, since the cut of the national costume is that of our dress-coat. With us, the lower orders wear only the long frock-coat, enveloping the body all round, or, when at work, short round jackets. In Belgium, France, and other countries, the labouring classes wear very convenient blouses. In England, too, blouses, (or smock-frocks) are worn in many counties, and amongst these may be found numerous excellent models of garments most suitable for a working agriculturist. Paddy, it is probable, does not find any of these genteel enough; for he has chosen the French dress-coat, with its high useless collar, its swallow-tail hanging down behind, and its open breast. To this he adds short knee-breeches, with shoes and stockings, or gaiters; so that, as regards the cut of his clothes, he is from head to foot a rale gintleman. Such a dress is the least suitable and the most ridiculous that could be chosen by a working man. It affords him no protection against the inclemency of the weather, and is much in his way when at work; yet it is quite universal in Ireland. It is almost inexplicable how this has happened, since the Irish labourers are alone in the world in this respect. It is said that vast numbers of old coats are constantly imported from England, where the farmers wear them, but not the labourers. Perhaps the low price at which these old garments are sold, may have induced the Irish to lay aside their national garb, which has now completely disappeared, and which was probably much more suited for them, and to mount their dunghills in a coarse and tattered ball-dress. The greater part of these coats are, however, made in the country itself, out of a coarse gray woollen cloth, which they call frieze; and hence these coats are also termed frieze-coats.
It is on Sundays only, and then amongst the more comfortable class of peasants, that the frieze-coat is to be seen in its complete
p.49perfection, with its full complement of four buttons behind and six before. On week days, not only are the buttons sometimes wanting, but it often falls into that strange condition I have described. Sometimes one of the swallow-tails is totally wanting, while the remaining one hangs dangling down quite melancholy looking, mourning, as it were, over its departed comrade. Not unfrequently are these long-pointed laps seen dangling by one or two threads, yet it does not occur to Paddy to keep them up by a few stitches, or to release them from their painful situation by one final cut. Every morning he draws on his dress-coat, with its dangling tails, and wears it until it drops off of its own accord, and then just as it happens, so he leaves it. These long tails being usually the first part to separate from the coat, Paddy should long since have taken the hint, and adopted the more convenient jacket. He would then no longer find it necessary, as he does whilst the coat is yet new, to turn up these tails while at work, and tie them with a piece of cord.
His head-dress also quite harmonizes with this dress-coat. It consists, not, as it ought to do, of a light waterproof cap, but of a most comical, miserable, and disfigured hat of felt or silk, which, Heaven alone knows how often! has been resolved by the rain to its original pulp, and then dried again. That the higher and independent classes should be content with a head-dress so unsuitable and inconvenient as our hat, and be prevented from laying it aside by fashion, is quite intelligible; but that among millions of the labouring classes so ridiculous an article of dress should remain in vogue for years is to me inconceivable, and irreconcilable with that sound common sense which is the peculiar characteristic of the masses. Paddy, however, arranges the thing after his own fashion, and in time makes the stiff hat pretty soft, and low like a cap. The brim he mostly turns up away from his face in front, and bends it down behind. The crown soon falls in; but as this is an important part, it is retained in its place by twine, until it will no longer hold together; and even after the crown is completely gone, and the hat has become, properly speaking, totally useless, Paddy still wears it for some years longer, merely for the sake of ornament. The very sight of such peasants at work in the fields or the farm-yards appears highly comical, for they look less like peasants than broken-down dancing-masters, who have been cruelly treated by Dame Fortune. I say comical, for even in his deepest misery Paddy has always so much that is whimsical about him, that one is often more disposed to laugh at than to weep for him.
Nothing presents a greater contrast to this tattered, poor, and
p.50meagre Irishman, than that animal which is usually the inmate of his housethe pig. This animal you meet every where, and so well fed, so fat, so round, and plump, as you will scarcely see it any where else. There is a legend among the Irish, that, as the first foreign conquerors were approaching the island, the enchanters, magicians, and priests, in order to frighten away the invaders, transformed the entire country into an enormous pig. In fact, if you contemplate the figure which the coasts of the island describe, you may discover, in its graceful oval, some similarity to the round form of an Irish pig. At all events, the legend seems to indicate that the pig was in old times an animal highly valued in Ireland. So much is this the case now, that I know but one other country in Europe where it is equally esteemedI mean Wallachia. There, as in Ireland, you see every house surrounded by a multitude of swine; and from thence, too, numbers are yearly exported to the neighbouring countries, as they are from Ireland to England and Scotland. The Wallachian pigs, which grow up in the woods, are much wilder than the Irish pigs, which are literally reared up with the family of their owner. As the Arab has his horse, the Greenlander his dog, so has the Irishman his pig. It may, perhaps, sound strange, but it is not the less true, that he feeds it quite as well as his children. It is admitted into his dwelling-room, in which it lives, either roaming at large like the rest, or it has its own corner, as the children have theirs. He shares with it his best potatoes, his milk, and, if he has any, his bread too, for he knows that the pig will indirectly repay him twofold. On the pig rest the best hopes of every poor Irish peasant, for it frees him from his greatest load and anxiety. The pig pays the rint, is the expression you hear constantly repeated. If you hurt a pig, they say, Let the poor thing alone, it must pay the rint for us; or if you praise one, Yes, it is a useful beast, it pays our rint,that source of all the poor Irishman's cares. The high rent which he has to pay his landlord is the worst of all his earthly sorrows. It is said that the goat, which is more easily fed, has lately been taking the place of the pig; but this can only be true of some single district, for the pig is still the predominant animal throughout Ireland.
In front of most of the farm-houses that I passed I saw a couple of hawthorn bushes, clipped into crosses, pyramids, and other shapes, as is the fashion in England. All along the road too they were very common, and the trunks of some of them were extremely thick, and apparently of a much more advanced age than they are to be found in Germany. These thorn-bushes, when in spring they are laden with thousands of lovely white blossoms, are
p.51the delight of the country people. The accounts given by English authors of the vastness of the ancient Irish forests seem almost incredible; but be this as it may, there are now districts in Ireland where these hawthorns are the only remains of the trees and woods in which they were once so rich, and in many large tracts no other species of tree is to be met with. Of all the countries of Europe which have been reduced to great poverty in timber, through bad management of their forests, Ireland has suffered most. But as in the Swiss cantons, in southern Russia, in Greece, in the Baltic provinces, and in England, so in Ireland it is hoped to compensate for former bad management by re-planting trees. The larch seems to be the object of special attention, and I saw numerous young plantations of this beautiful and useful tree, but always in little patches, and never in such extensive tracts as we find the pine and other trees in our own well-wooded fatherland. As the English require much timber for their famed wooden walls, it is with them infinitely more costly than with us; and there being in Ireland so many acres lying waste, on which beautiful oaks or silver firs might be produced, it is incomprehensible why more energetic exertions have not been made to plant these tracts, now remaining perfectly useless, with the trees I have mentioned.
Ballimahon, the second place at which we changed horses, is a little town, known throughout the surrounding country, like Lanesborough, and other places in the county of Longford, for its great egg-market. People are constantly to be seen with baskets on their heads, going about from cabin to cabin purchasing eggs, which they then take to the market, from whence they are shipped by the canal to Dublin, and from thence to England. Liverpool, and even London, are in a great measure supplied with Irish eggs.
Through narrow and crooked bye-ways, where ivy-mantled cabins, hawthorns, and numberless fields badly cultivated by rag-clothed Paddies, frequently met my view, I arrived at Athlone. All the principal towns of the first and second classes, as Dublin, Belfast, Waterford, Cork, Limerick, Galway, Sligo, Londonderry, &c., lie on the coast; the towns in the interior of the island are of the third class only. One of these is Athlone, which is almost in the very centre of the island, and seems, on this account, entitled to be the capital. Indeed, it was at one time contemplated to make it the seat of government; and it is at present the chief military station, from whence, in case of internal disturbances, or foreign invasion, any given point may be most speedily reached. It is fortified, and contains in its barracks troops of every descriptionartillery, cavalry, and infantry.
South of Athlone, we crossed a portion of the Bog of Allen. This great bog composes, under various names, a considerable part of the extensive plain which runs from east to west, from Dublin to Galway, dividing the island into two parts, a mountainous south and a mountainous north. Cultivation, and consumption of the turf, have already removed considerable portions of this morass; but the hollows and valleys are often entirely filled with it, and here and there are to be seen vast, wide tracts, covered with this fruitless bog, which generally presents the appearance of a reddish, unvaried, uniform surface. On its borders stand pretty clumps of trees, and the cultivated fields often come down close to the edge of the turf, as in Switzerland the flowery meadows extend to the very edge of the glaciers. From these bogs vast quantities of turf are sent to Limerick by the Shannon, and to Dublin by the canals; for, with the exception of the wealthy in the seaport towns, all the people of Ireland yet burn turf, which is more easily obtained from the surface of the ground than the hard stone-coal from the depths of the earth. The size and extent of the Irish coal-fields are yet unknown, they having hitherto been very imperfectly worked. When all the turf is consumed, the coal-fields will attract more attention; but although many districts already experience a scarcity of the ordinary fuel, some centuries must elapse before it is entirely exhausted. In the northern plains of Germany, where there are many turf-bogs, the people have a regular plan for reproducing the turf. They cut it in square holes of a certain size, in which the bog-water collects. In this water, marsh-plants spring up, and by their decay and deposits new layers of turf are gradually formed, which, after thirty or forty years, can be cut again. Thus they possess an inexhaustible source of profit and fuel. In Ireland they know nothing of this. The turf is always cut away, wherever nature has placed it, without any regard to its reproduction. Many villages already weep over their last sod of turf; and it is a melancholy sight to see, here and there behind the houses, very diminutive mounds of fuel, pared away all round, and which one can easily calculate will not last beyond a limited time.
The Irish call their turf-fields bogs, as the English call them mosses or moors. Bog is probably an old Celtic word, as it also appears in the French bogue. The turf they call peat.
One of the most remarkable phenomena connected with these bogs is, that they develope themselves from their centres, and burst over their sides. The edges and sides often become dry, and form a kind of wall around the central mass, where, as it continues moist, the growth of the marsh-plants is greatest. The
p.53centre, therefore, soon rises higher than the edges, and this greater elevation is quite apparent if you look over the surface. Now there are usually a number of little brooks and streamlets through which the surplus water of the bog flows off; but it sometimes happens that these streams are choked up, and then the moisture increases in the centre, until the bog at last overflows its borders, wasting fertile fields, overwhelming houses, covering trees, and the property of men; like the Schmutzlawines in Switzerland, or the lava-streams of volcanoes. This has frequently happened both in the present and in former times; and in this way the bogs may have extended themselves over so large a portion of Ireland. Many interesting articles, which are often dug up, afford strong evidence of such sudden eruptions; as trunks of trees, implements of labour, skeletons of men, and those of animals which no longer exist in Ireland. One of the most remarkable of these articles is what is called the bog-butter. This substance looks like meerschaum, is of the same pale colour, and about as hard as a dry cheese. Some contend that it is real butter, which has been thus altered by the bog-water; but if this is the true explanation, one is inclined to ask why bog-cheese or bog-bread is not also found? The most probable conjecture is, that it is produced by some process of fermentation in the bogs.
Shannon Harbour, where we arrived in the evening, is a little place near the junction of the Grand Canal with the Shannon. As this canal goes direct to Dublin, and the Shannon is navigable from hence to Limerick, Shannon Harbour is the centre point of the traffic between those two cities. At present it consists only of a good hotel, and a row of stores alongside the canal, with an appendix of cabins for Irish labourers. A branch of the canal also leads towards Galway; so that Shannon Harbour, by reason of its central position, may yet become a place of some importance. At present this internal trade of Ireland is very inconsiderable. In the warehouses I saw little else beyond a large quantity of Galway oysters; and as these did not greatly interest me, I turned to the past, which lay near me in the shape of a ruined castle, once the abode of a celebrated Irish hero and leader against the English, of the name of Mac Oghlan, who possessed six castles in this neighbourhood. One of these we had already passed on the road. Although on the outside it appeared a perfect castle of the middle ages, and was completely covered with ivy, yet it is inhabited by its present proprietor, who seems to have converted it into a very comfortable dwelling. I have met with many instances in Ireland of old ruined castles, which are still partially inhabited.
Another lay about a mile and a half distant, and a young man accompanied me to show me the way. It was dusk when we reached it; and when I made a movement to leap over a ditch to go up to the castle, which was on the other side in the middle of a potato field, my guide remained behind. I desired him to follow me; but he shook his head, saying, he would rather wait upon the road until I returned. I soon discovered that the cause of his lingering behind was his fear of the good people, of which the Irish are as much in dread as of the Evil One himself. I was, however, curious to see how far his fears went, and pretended to compel him to attend me to the castle, at the same time informing him that, unless he did so, I would not give him the shilling I had promised him. Oh, I don't care about it! muttered he to himself. I therefore inspected the castle by myself, but it contained nothing but window-holes, fallen vaults, and loop-holes, without anything remarkable. Not far off stood a small house which had been pointed out to me at Shannon Harbour, and whose inhabitants I was told knew many traditions concerning the old castle. I now directed my steps thither, and called a woman whom I saw at the door. At first, she seemed to consider whether she should obey my call, and asked what I wanted; but when I approached her, she commenced shrieking and ran off at full speed across the fields, to a cabin at some distance. The direction in which I came through the potato field from the castle may have seemed rather suspicious to her, and my foreign accent may have completed her terrors. My guide I met again in Shannon Harbour. He had run without stopping all the way, and did not think himself safe till he was sitting in his mother's house, beside the turf fire. His mother scolded him, it is true; but who knows whether she would have gone to the castle herself! Wherever English civilization penetrates, there the good people gradually disappear. It appears to me, however, that they disappear very slowly indeed; for in whatever part of Anglicized Ireland I happened to be abroad in the twilight, I have invariably found myself surrounded by crowds of good people.
Not far from Shannon Harbour, a few miles up the river, are the very interesting ruins called the Seven Churches. This place is held sacred since the first introduction of Christianity. The ruins of the churches are situated near the beautiful bank of the river, and among them, it is said, are the graves of many Irish kings. I had opportunities, afterwards, of seeing many holy places of this kind, and will return to the subject.
As Shannon Harbour has its Mac Oghlan, so has every locality its famous hero, who once ruled the surrounding country as king
p.55or chiefwho still lives in the legends of the people, and whose descendants one frequently meets with. For almost every Irishman of respectability prides himself on being descended from some King of Munster, Leinster, Connaught, or Ulster. Many even still assert that they are the true representatives of these ancient kings, and are also looked upon and treated as such by their friends. A great number of forfeited titles are still maintained par courtoisie, in the families and among the friends of those claiming them; and there are persons who, though their names are not to be met with in the peerage, either as lords or peers, are yet in private life looked upon as higher than either, and called princes. The most ancient of these genuine Irish families, who do not derive their nobility from the English peerage, are the so-called Milesian families, who trace their pedigree from Miletius, the conqueror of Ireland, the second son of Heremon, King of Spain, who came over to Ireland, some say 500, and others 1000 years before Christ. Some assert that most of the Irish names which begin with O, as O'Connell, O'Donnell, O'Sullivan, indicate such a Milesian antiquity. There are historians enough, however, who reject as mere fables all these old legends of Heremon Miletius, of the Tuatha-de-Danaans who inhabited Ireland before the time of Miletius and his Spaniards, and of the Firbolgs, who lived before the Tuatha-de-Danaans, and many years prior to the birth of Christ. A few, among whom is Moore, partially believe them; but it is certain that, even to the present day, the common people repose the utmost confidence in these old traditions, and will probably continue to do so for many ages. Every Irishman has the history of Miletius, Heremon, the Phoenicians, Spaniards, Tuatha-de-Danaans, &c., as completely by rote as a German schoolboy has the history of Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, &c. Therefore, even supposing there may not be a particle of truth in these stories, it is still a remarkable fact, first, that the Irish, like the Indians, should have built up for themselves a system of traditions whose roots descend into the grayest antiquity; and, secondly, be the problem solved as it may, that an entire people should, at the present day, suffer itself to be led by imagined legends and feigned names, and speak of them with as much clearness and confidence as if they had only happened yesterday. If this is not an historical, it is at least an ethnographical and psychological problem; and I believe that nothing similar to it is to be found in any other part of Europe. In Italy there are no living and talked-of traditions of the kingdom of Janus, or the sovereignty
p.56of Saturn; nor in Germany or Scandinavia are there to be found, except in books, any sagas of Odin, or of our immigrations from the East. In France, also, Caesar has silenced all the old Druidical and Celtic traditions; yet the Saxons have not been able to banish Miletius and his companions from Ireland; for here old primaeval traditions are every where hopping about, as fresh and lively as if they were children gifted with perpetual youth and immortality.
Even under Norman and Saxon family-names in Ireland, old Celtic races often lie hid: these families having, in times of persecution, laid aside their ancient national names, and assumed new Normanized or Saxonized appellations. Thus, the real old Irish name of the well-known family of Fitz-Patrick is Mac Guillo Phatrick, i. e. the son of the servant of St. Patrick: the Irish Mac being changed for the Norman Fitz (fils, in French,) which also means a son. The old name, however, is always handed down from generation to generation by means of such expressions as we are properly called so and so; and the people prefer calling these old families by their genuine ancient names.
I met, at Shannon Harbour, a member of one of these old Irish families; and as, notwithstanding their pride of extensive and celebrated ancestry, they are very social and communicative, we spent the evening very pleasantly in conversation. The most interesting communication of my friend was the plan of an estate, which, he said, his family had possessed for 1800 years, first as independent princes, and afterwards as vassals of the English under an altered name. On this territory, of perhaps forty English square miles, there are no less than eighteen old ruined castles, and two ruined towersa ruin for every two square miles. If this might be taken as a standard for all Ireland, there must be in that country, since it contains 32,000 square miles, some 16,000 ruins of castles and towers; and perhaps this number is not much over the truth. My friend and his map were from Connemarathe Irish highlandsa wild, mountainous district in the western part of Connaught. He praised beyond measure the hospitality of the gentry of that country, particularly the O'Flahertys, which is the most extensive family there, and the descendants of the ancient kings or sovereigns. There the gentry live very stylishly, as my friend expressed himself, are extravagant, and give parties and banquets as in the olden times; for the Irish, especially in those western parts, are in general fond of show. Hence it is that their estates are so heavily mortgaged,
p.57and so badly managed. These mortgages, the consequence of extravagance, are every where adduced as one of the chief causes of the decline of Irish agriculture.
Connaught, and especially the mountainous Connemara, was the principal refuge of the old Celtic Irish, when driven by the English from the eastern parts of the island. It may therefore be compared with Wales, whither the ancient Britons were driven by the Saxons. The Irish language is most spoken in these western districts, and the English least understood. In the eastern parts of the island, therefore, a western is almost synonymous with a barbarian, or a savage. Leinster, on whose borders we were now standing, is almost completely Anglicized, and only in some inconsiderable localities is the Irish the prevailing language of the people. It is the same with a great part of Munster, although there the Irish language is more frequently heard. The largest portion of Ulster has been Scotticized, yet Irish is still spoken in some districts. The greatest part of Connaught alone remains purely Irish. Leinster is the province of light, Connaught is yet in darkness: there is the greatest cultivation, and the paradisiacal land of Wicklow; here, the greatest poverty, barbarism, and superstition, and the wilds of Connemara. These differences are often observable in trifles: for instance, in Leinster, as in England, the common people eat the entrails of sheep, but never those of the swine; the latter, on the other hand, are eaten all through Connaught, according to the old Irish usage, but the former never. The inhabitants of Connaught, too, often call the people of Leinster Saxons; but this distinction is current in Ireland only, for in England they all indiscriminately pass for Irishmen, and a Saxon from Leinster is never considered an Englishman. He has, it is true, adopted the English language, and many English habits; but he has at the same time taken so much from the Irish, and has so invested himself with their original character, that the English proverb with respect to those Saxon Irish, Hibernis ipsis Hiberniores, contains a good deal of truth.
As between the population, so there is also, in the opinion of the natives, a remarkable difference in the climate of the East and the West, slight as their distance from each other may appear. The West is deemed far more rainy than the East, and in the mountains of Connemara it is said never to cease raining. Now since Ireland, as every body knows, is yet more foggy and rainy than England, while we North Germans justly decry the latter for its humidity, there seems to be a continued
p.58increase in the moisture of the atmosphere all the way from Holland to the western coasts of Ireland.
The next morning we embarked in the steamboat which navigates the Shannon, by which river and its lakes we intended to proceed to Limerick.