IRENE DWEN ANDREWS
MONTH IN MAYO,
(SPORTING AND SOCIAL)
BY GEORGE ROOFER,
AUTHOR OF 'FLOOD, FIELD, AND FOREST;' 'TALES AND SKETCHES;
'THAMES AND TWEED,' ETC., ETC.
ROBERT HARDWICKE, 192, PICCADILLY, W.
PRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, STAMFORD STREET AND
I ASSUME that the preface to a book, if read at all,
is read after the perusal of the book itself ; it is
assuredly so written. It seems therefore to savour
of impertinence, or at least of a waste of the
reader's time, to obtrude a long detail of the
author's intentions upon one who is at the time in
a position to judge how far he has succeeded, or
otherwise, in carrying them out.
In the following pages, as in all my other little
works, my object has been to impart such know-
ledge on the subjects of sporting and natural
history as I believe myself to have acquired.
Some time ago I resided, during a portion of
each year, in a wild corner of County Mayo,
where I had purchased a tract of five thousand
acres, and where I rented, for thirty pounds a year,
on a long lease, the shooting over upwards of
thirteen thousand acres more, and which I enjoyed
until Irish shootings rose in value, when I was
informed that my lessor had no title whatever to
During this period I had many opportunities of
studying the habits and customs of the " natives,"
and I have embodied, in the guise of a partly
imaginative narrative, not a few of my personal
reminiscences. My former books have, I am proud
to say, received as much praise as I could desire,
and far more than I ever expected or even hoped
for, from young people of both sexes, and it is to
them more especially that I now commend my
" MOJJTH IN MAYO."
THE LODGE .
"THE SMALL STILL" 13
GROUSE SHOOTING 26
MY FIRST FISH .... -33
AN IRISH BULL .. 43
SEA FISHING 50
FOX AND OTTER HUNTING .. 60
SEAL SHOOTING 68
THE EAGLE'S NEST 75
"THE LITTLE PILL" 86
"LONG TONY" 93
A WALKTHROUGH THE " PHCENIX PARK,"
A FEW PRACTICAL HINTS ON HORSE DEALING 132
THE BLIND FISHERMAN 145
CROSSING SWEEPERS 150
THE FIRST OF OCTOBER 154
THE FIRST OF FEBRUARY .. 159
CUB HUNTING 166
FOX HUNTERS AND GAME PRESERVERS .. 172
A MONTH IN MAYO.
" WHEN will I be back for yer 'onner ? " inquired
the car-driver, as he handed from out the " well "
of the car a gun-case with my name and address
legibly printed on it, a fishing-case, portmanteau,
dressing-bag, and bundle of wraps and waterproofs.
"When will I be back for yer 'onner?" There
was reason in the question, for, as Tim expressed it,
" Divil a sowl that had the English, or knew what
dhrink meant, barrin' butthermilk and potheen,
or had slept out of a cabin not maning his Rivir-
ince or his 'onner was there within thirty miles of
Tim spoke truth : there was not a church, nor
a house, nor a shop, nor a post-office, nor any other
token of civilization within that distance of the lone
lodge at which, on the strength of a general but
2 THE LODGE.
hearty invitation from an old friend of my father,
I, a Cambridge man (?), had just been shot off.
" Let me see," said I ; " this is Thursday come
down for me, will you, on Wednesday ? "
" Shure I will, yer 'onner ; I'll not fail."
" Tim, you thief of the world ! " roared a voice from
the clouds. " Tim, you thundering vagabond ! "
" That's me, shure enough ; long life to yer
'onner, I'm moighty glad to see ye looking so fresh
" Do ye see this, Tim, you murtherin' villain ? "
" I do, yer 'onner."
" What is it at all ? "
" Shure it's the blunderbuss herself ; the holy
Virgin save us ! "
" Now, Tim, by this and by that, and by every
book that ever was shut and opened, if you come
out to Bogleeze till I send for ye, I'll put the con-
tents of this into ye. Do ye hear that, and be
d d to you ? "
" Shure, yer 'onner is the gintleman entirely, and
I'll not show my face in the demesne till yer 'onner
sends for me."
" You're a good boy, Tim ; get out of that, will
ye, and ask Mrs. Maloney for something to eat ;
maybe it's hungry you are, Tim ? "
" Thank yer 'onner kindly for that same ; but it's
THE LODGE. 3
mighty little appetite I have at all, and what I
have I keep for the dhrink."
" Well, get along in with ye to Misthress
Maloney, and see what she's got in her cupboard."
" God bless yer 'onner ! Long life to yer 'onner !
It's the foine gintleman you are entirely."
The arbitrary speaker, who now descended from
the upper regions, out of which his voice had been
heard, to welcome his young guest, presented by
no means an ordinary appearance. He was at least
six feet two in his socks, and his attire, a flowered
dressing-gown reaching down to his ankles, made
him look even taller than he was ; his age some
fifty, " or by'r Lady, three score," but hale and
hearty, and except by a sprinkling of grey hairs on
head and beard, showing little sign of old age ;
there was a pleasant, kindly expression in his
bright eye, which seemed to glitter with suppressed
fun and humour, and a joke seemed to be ever
playing round the corners of his expressive mouth.
To my thinking, he bore upon his face and in his
manner the characteristic marks of the Irish gentle-
man of the day before yesterday courteous but
shrewd, humorous and slightly sarcastic, open,
friendly, observant, and discriminating. The warm
greeting and implied approval of the personal
appearance of the young man before him were
4 THE LODGE.
highly flattering, and went straight to a heart ever
open to kindness.
" Cead mille failtha ! A hundred thousand
welcomes ! I'm right glad to see your father's son
in these wild parts. It's not in a hurry we'll let
you go, unless you weary of an old man and bad
" Old, my dear sir ! you don't look much
older than myself; and as for cookery, it's not
so long since I left school, where the word was
unknown. It's precious jolly, I tell you, finding
myself here, and I'm very much obliged by your
receiving me so kindly."
The car in the meantime had moved off; the
little mare that had trotted, without apparent effort,
thirty English miles, having been refreshed by a
drink of water and a hatful of corn, was perfectly
ready to trot back again, and return that night if
" A thousand welcomes, my dear boy ! " cried the
old man, wringing my fingers, and marshalling the
way down a narrow passage to the foot of a rather
" Thady ! hurry now ; bring up the luggage
and some sherry and biscuits ; and put the rod-
case in the hall, and give the gun-case to Larry,
and what is it, you little disciple ? " this to a
THE LODGE. 5
ragged, breechless, stockingless, shoeless, capless
varlet, some six years old, with sturdy legs, blue
eyes, and flaxen, unkempt hair. " What is it
you're wanting, you little mischief?"
"Shure, dadda's afther takin' the pledge, and
Minnie sent me to ax yer 'onner to sarve him."
" Your Minnie ! Why, you young sorrow, Minnie's
" Yes, shure, but dadda's got a new Minnie, and
she bid me bring him to yer 'onner to take the
Here entered a wild-looking man, lightly clad
in what was once a shooting-jacket, evidently of
English make, but sadly dilapidated, a pair of
corduroy breeches loose at the knee, worsted
stockings, and strong clouted shoes. He carried
an old-fashioned muzzle-loading gun in the hollow
of his arm, and at his heels, evidently abashed at
the company he was in, but comforted and en-
couraged by the child's countenance, followed a
well-bred, half-starved Irish retriever, a yellowish-
brown, curly-haired beast, with hazel eyes and a
sandy top-knot, a member of perhaps the wisest
race of dogs in existence.
" Well, Larry, what is it ? What scrape have you
been getting into now, that you want to take the
pledge again ? "
6 THE LODGE.
"Faith, yer 'onner, it's the pledge I'd be after
taking and keeping for Katie's sake, and Dinny's
there, the crathur."
" Faith, thin, yer 'onner, she's a little gal that
lives foreanent the chapel down bey ant there."
"What, Katie McGrath ?"
" Just herself, yer 'onner ; I'm married upon her
" And why didn't you tell me about it, Larry ? "
" Troth and I would, yer 'onner, but thim things
are best not talked too much about before they
come off. The pledge, yer 'onner ? "
"Why, Larry, it's not six months since you took
it, for a year and a day, and you were found
screaming drunk on your own threshold within a
" Faix, thin, and that's thrue for yer 'onner, but
it was not forsworn I was ; I swore not to taste
the dhrop ' inside the house nor outside,' and
it was sitting on the threshold itself one leg
in and one leg out that I took an eggshell, or
maybe two, of the craythur. It was my sister's
" But you took the pledge again, Larry, not six
weeks since, and you were roaring drunk on Tues-
day was a week ; you know it, Larry, and you had
THE LODGE. 7
sworn not to taste liquor on the face of God's earth
or under it."
" That's blessed thruth itself, an' I'd scorn to tell
a lie, let alone swearing one. It was in the boll of
the ould pollard nut that I sat, when the little
dhrop was brought to me : it was the christening,
and troth, that same came mighty quick after the
wedding ! "
" Well, come and take the pledge at once, then,
and mind you keep it, or I'll tell his Reverence and
your new wife too."
" I, Larry Toole, do solemnly swear '
" Beg pardon, Mr. Blake," whispered I ; " you've
got a volume of the Sporting Magazine there, not
"Good enough for him, the blaggard ! " was the re-
sponse, and the newly-married convert to teetotalism
departed, deeply imbued with the sanctity of the
oath, and resolved to observe it, at least until he
could find a specious pretext for breaking it.
Locking his arm in mine, and reiterating words
of kindliest welcome, the old man now led me
down a long passage and up a steep stair to the
first floor the only upper one, in fact and open-
ing the door, as he passed, of a plainly, but com-
fortably furnished bedroom, with the brief intima-
tion, " Your den, my dear boy ! " ushered me into the
8 THE LODGE.
drawing that is, the sitting room, as distinguished
from the dining-room below. It was a long, low
room ; a bay window at the end, facing the west,
admitted a flood of mellow light as the setting sun
shone on the glittering streams, and alternating
black and golden pools of the distant river. The
mountains in the background, streaked with silvery
stripes, the streams awakened into life by the recent
downfall, the dark plantations of firs, and the still
purple heathery knolls in the foreground, formed a
picture which would have gladdened a painter's eye.
But in the immediate foreground, in the deep em-
brasure of the window, the bright beams of the
setting sun illumining her golden hair, and tinting
her joyous face, my eye rested on an object that,
for the time, excluded any other. I gazed, and as
I gazed I felt my fate my young heart's affec-
tions were fixed irrevocably fixed.
Laugh not, blase boy of the present day ; smile
not, sage of the past time : we lived in a day
when chivalry, or something akin to chivalry, still
existed ; when to ride across two counties to in-
quire of the well-being of " the ball's fair partner,"
was as nothing ; when the flash of a bright eye
kindled feelings indelible, ineffaceable until sup-
plemented by other flashes from other bright eyes,
" Eyes looked love to eyes that spake again."
THE LODGE. 9
But why expatiate ? She, the arbitress, as I felt, of
my destiny stood before me,
" In full, voluptuous, but not o'ergrown bulk."
Miss Honoria O'Hara, by which name she was
introduced by Mr. Blake as, "My niece," was, with-
out doubt, considerably my senior why do boys
always fall in love with their grandmothers, whom
the rubric forbids them to marry ? but she was
" beautiful exceedingly " ; with golden hair and
bright blue eyes, a light, elastic tread, and faultless
figure, slightly inclining to the embonpoint, but above
the middle height. She advanced towards me, and
at her uncle's introduction, " My niece, Miss Honor
O'Hara ; my old friend's son, Mr. Charles ,"
she held out her hand with winning frankness. I
have seen whiter and smaller hands, but as I took
and bowed over it, I mentally swore that never was
hand so fair and faultless, and as I pressed it, reve-
rentially, in my own, dubbed myself her true knight
from that time for evermore.
" Shure, Mr. Charles," said the sweetest voice that
ever issued from mortal lips, " we've wearied for ye."
I murmured out some boyish acknowledgment.
" I may call you Charlie" she pronounced it
Chorley " may I not ? Your father's sister-in-law
and my mother were first cousins once removed,
io THE LODGE.
Of course, could there be greater happiness ?
And so in ten minutes I found myself perfectly at
home, and in twenty as much at my ease, barring
the intense fire that was kindled in my bosom and
consuming my heart, as though I had dwelt in
Mayo and under my kind friend's roof all the days
of my life.
We had salmon for dinner, fresh, hard, curdy
salmon, such as had never before gratified my
palate ; the sauce, the liquor in which it had been
boiled. Was it that Honor had caught the fish, or
was it really the most delicious fish I had ever
eaten ? Speaking calmly, and after long later ex-
perience, I pronounce in favour of the reality. No
one who has been accustomed to the luscious, half-
frozen, half-rotten, ten-days-from-the-water fish, not
uncommonly a kelt, which is sold at a fabulous
price in London, and eaten with its rich adjunct of
lobster sauce and dressed cucumber, can form the
least idea of what a salmon fresh from the river
and properly dressed is like.*
* The following recipe for cooking fresh salmon is offered to the
reader. It is an extract, but I know not from whence : " Put
rather an extra allowance of salt in the water ; have your fish, cut
in slices of rather less than an inch thick, ready ; when the water
boils fiercely then throw in an additional handful of salt : this will
form a sort of crust, into which plunge the slices. Serve up, with
the liquor in which they were boiled for sauce."
THE LODGE. n
" Can ye fish, Charlie ?" asked my host.
I confessed my ignorance of the gentle art ; but
added, to save my credit, I was reckoned a fair
" Never mind, then, Honor shall teach you !
There's not a man or a boy, let alone the girls, in the
Barony can come near her for tying a fly or throw-
ing one. You'll give him a lesson, Honor darling !"
A smiling assent was returned, and the dinner
passed merrily away.
I remember that dinner as though it were yester-
day. After the fish, we had an Irish stew and a
brace of grouse, a rice pudding with jam tartlets,
some capital cheese, and roast chestnuts by way
of dessert. Beer or ale there was none, but the
whisky was superb, and a bottle of decent sherry
left nothing to be desired.
" Are ye for the screw or the kettle, Charlie ? "
asked my kind host, as the dishes were removed.
" Are ye for the screw or the kettle ? "
The meaning of the rather enigmatical question
dawned at once upon me, and, evidently to his
satisfaction, I pronounced in favour of " the kettle."
" Honor darling, make a brew for the two of us ;"
and the bright girl at once busied herself in the
mystic compound : it was delicious ! " And now,
Honor, sing your old uncle a song."
12 THE LODGE.
There was no coy refusal on the young lady's
part, but sitting down at once to the piano, she
poured forth song after song, mostly Moore's Irish
melodies surely the sweetest songs that ever were
set to music.
I hung upon the notes, and listened with my
whole soul, as well as with my ears. I was en-
tranced, fascinated, enchanted. No wonder ! under
the combined influence of music, beauty, Moore's
melodies, and whisky punch. Mr. Blake, who had
signified his satisfaction, not only by words and
by beating time to the airs, but occasionally by
joining in the melody, had subsided into a sound
slumber, and his snores were rather out of tune ;
in fact, a drawback to the perfect harmony of
the performance, although Miss O'Hara managed
to utilize them as far as practicable. He awoke,
though late, all too soon, and conducting me to the
door of my bedroom left me, with a hearty Irish
blessing, to my repose.
"THE SMALL STILL."
VERY sound were my slumbers, and very fresh I
awoke in the morning. Hastily dressing, I sought
to examine the premises before my host should
have risen. It was still early, but, as I soon found,
I was the last, not the first, up. Crossing the
paved courtyard, and passing under the rustic arch
which formed the entrance to the ill-kept garden, I
found Miss Honor, looking, if possible, fresher
and lovelier than on the previous evening. An
ample scarlet scarf, or cloak, was thrown over her
shoulders, and hanging in graceful folds about her
person, was twisted in some mysterious manner
coquettishly around her head, so as to form a com-
plete covering, or hood, out of which her dark eyes
seemed positively to glitter. The rather short
petticoats, I had before remarked, conduced to
the appearance of grace and activity which every
motion betokened. She was gathering parsley,
and she held a bunch of that " crisp, curly herb " in
14 " THE SMALL STILL?
one hand, as she frankly held out the other and
warmly greeted me.
" It's the lobsters I'm picking the parsley for,"
she said. " Do you like lobsters, Mr. Charles ? "
" I thought you were not to call me that name,"
"Well, Charlie, then, do you like lobsters
fresh lobsters ? Have you ever tasted one ? "
" Yes, often."
" I daresay, what you call fresh lobsters in
London. I never saw one there ; they are stale
before they are boiled. Wait now till you taste
our lobsters, fresh this morning from the Atlantic."
" Why," said I, " they are alive when they are
boiled in London ; horribly cruel it is, too."
" They're stale for all that ; but never mind,
Charlie, wait till you've tasted ours ! "
We walked together to the room in which we
had dined the previous day, and found Mr. Blake
already seated at the table. Our English ideas of
a breakfast are, after all, very limited ; to under-
stand what is meant by the term one must travel
northward or westward. For my own part, I had
never witnessed a table so furnished with good
things before fish, flesh, and fowl, salmon, chops,
and grouse, tea and coffee, eggs, milk, and honey ;
conspicuous above all, the bright shells of half a
" THE SMALL STILL.'"' 15
dozen small lobsters, peeping with their round
black eyes from their fringe of parsley, and looking
like scarlet poppies in a field of green tares ; then
there were scones and stirabout, jam and mar-
malade, fresh butter and clotted cream, brown
bread and white, rolls and buttered toast. I did
ample justice to pretty nearly all these delicacies,
and my youthful appetite evidently raised me in
the estimation of my hospitable host.
" Charlie, my dear boy," he said, " I've cut out
your day's work for ye. You'll not mind my not
asking your leave, but Larry and I were in your
room before six this morning, and he said it would
be murder to awaken ye ; faith, Charlie, you looked
like a snoring cherub."
I blushed, and expressed my gratitude and
acquiescence in any plan he was good enough to
suggest. It had been arranged that I should shoot
my way across the bog " mountain," Mr. Blake
called it to the Deadman's Pool, so designated
from the fact of a poor starved peasant, who,
having been found on the bank there, dead from
hunger, lay buried, in unhallowed ground, under a
large flat stone hard by. At this pool Jemmy,
the under keeper, was to meet us with the fishing-
rods, and Miss Honor half promised to accompany
him and give me my first lesson in the art and
16 " THE SMALL STSLL."
mystery of throwing a fly. Of fishing, save as
practised by the patient race of punt-fishers on the
silver Thames, I was, as I have said, profoundly
Our breakfast over, accompanied by Larry, who
was waiting at the gate with a brace of well-fed
but rather ragged-looking dogs, coupled together,
at his heels, I started forth highly excited at the
prospect of my first essay at the two long-wished-for
objects of my sporting ambition, grouse shooting
and salmon fishing.
Our course, for a considerable distance, lay along
the pleasant banks of the river, which, still swollen
and turbid from the recent rains, my companion
averred would be in fine order for fishing by the
afternoon. I cheerfully acquiesced in Larry's sug-
gestion, and trudged cheerily along, elate with hope
and brimful of joyous anticipations.
There was indeed everything to exhilarate and
encourage one ; the air was fresh and crisp, the sun
shone brightly, but not too ardently, the birds were
singing their autumnal songs, and the coffee-coloured
water came rattling, roaring, dancing down, leaping
over the rocks, and constructing huge balls of
yellow-tinged foam, which floated merrily along,
and, careless of the rapids which vainly sought to
engulph them,- circled demurely round the outer
" THE SMALL STILL." 17
edge of the whirlpool and sailed gracefully away,
assisting in some quiet corner in the manufacture
of a treacherous crust of fictitious solidity. In
places the river, struggling through a group of
detached rocks, might readily have been crossed
dry-foot by an active man ; in others, stretching
over a great bank of flat shingle, it spread uncon-
fined for sixty yards or more, in a uniform depth of
less than a yard. In others, the yellow broom, and
the bright red berries of the mountain-ash around
the steep rocky banks were reflected in the water ;
a pair of eagles soared far above our heads, and
the water-ouzel, the prettiest and most calum-
niated* bird that frequents the mountain stream,
ever and anon flitted before us, and settling on a
nearly submerged stone, faced us with spotless
white waistcoat and bright inquiring eye ; appa-
rently satisfied by the scrutiny, she sat confidently
as we passed, merely jerking her apology for a tail
by way of salute. Even the croak of a pair of
carrion crows, unwontedly tame, fell musically on
my ear, but the sound jarred discordantly on that
of my companion.
* A long and interesting controversy on the habits of this little
bird CJ ' urdus cinctus) was carried on a year or two since in the
pages of Land and Water ; the result being its complete vindication
from the charge of devouring the eggs of salmon, which had been
ignorantly laid to its charge.
18 " THE SMALL STILL."
" Bad luck to thim crows," he muttered, adding
some words in Irish which sounded very like a
curse, " not loud, but deep."
To my question he poured out a string of objur-
gatory ejaculations, I fear but too well merited,
against the character of what Waterton termed
" the warrior bird."
" He dhrinks the egg, yer 'onner, he murders the
young birds, he drives the old grouse from her nest,
the thief of the world ! "
I fear the accusations are but too true ; the
hoodie crow, the great pest of the moor, is not
content, like the hawk, with killing and devouring
the prey he requires for his sustenance, but, like the
fox, and some of the weasel tribe, kills for the mere
pleasure of killing ; and having discovered a nest of
eggs or a covey of newly-hatched birds, he will not
leave a solitary one, but returns time after time,
destroying and hiding what he cannot eat. When,
immediately afterwards, I stumbled over a nest
built on the ground* amid the heather, containing
* This is not the only instance I have met with of birds, under
difficult circumstances, building in unaccustomed places. I have
taken kites' and some species of hawk's eggs from nests built upon
the ground ; and it maybe in the recollection of some of my readers
that a pair of kites hatched two eggs on the floor of their wretched
cage in the Zoological Gardens. Let the situation of the nest,