Henry David Inglis.

A journey throughout Ireland, during the spring, summer, and autumn of 1834 online

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Lord Lorton's domain, and then passes through a rather fine
country, to Carrick-on> Shannon. Here, I again found that
majestic river which I had parted from a month before : and
I still found it the same noble stream. The Sharon, at Car-
rick, is upwards of two hundred miles from the sea ; and I
scarcely could discover any diminution of the stream, which
flows a hundred mUes lower down. From Carrick and its
neighbourhood, T made two excursions ; one down, and an-
other up the river. There is much interest in the banks of
the river for ten or twelve miles down, passing Jamestown
and Drumsna. Up the river, the interest is less. Leitrim
is a miserable little place ; and betwixt that town, — the last
on the Shannon, — and Loch Allen, there is little attraction.
Loch Allen is certainly the true source of the Shannon.
Like every other lake. Loch Allen has its feeders. Two con-
siderable streams fall in at its head ; and many small rivulets,
— ^upwards of twenty in number, — fall into it from different
directions around ; but these are the feeders of Loch Allen,
not the source of the Shannon. It is only where a great
river enters a lake, after a long previous course, that the lake
is not properly the source of the river which flows out of it.
Such, for example, is the Rhone, which, after a long course,
enters the lake of Geneva, which is nothing more than an
expansion of the Rhone : but as nothing deserving the name
of a river flows into the head of Loch Allen, the loch is cer-
tainly entitled to be considered the source of the Shannon.

Loch Allen is not in itself an interesting, or beautiftd, or
picturesque lake ; neither is the scenery on its banks suffi-
ciently bold, to make the smallest approach to grandeur : it



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282 LOCH ALLBN.

is merely wild and solitary ; and the only further interest
which the lake possesses, arises from its being the source of
the Shannon. The lake is embosomed in hills of a moderate
elevation, not picturesque in their outline, nor clothed with
wood ; and there are some, though not many, islands scattered
over its surface ; and upon one of them, a small monastic
remain is still visible. Loch Allen is about seven miles long,
and varies from one to four in breadth ; and its average depth
is said to be greater than any of the lower expansions of the
Shannon. The chief mountain boundary of the lake, is " the
Iron Mountain," — so designated from the riches which it
contains in this valuable metal. In all the gullies which have
been worn by the mountain floods, iron ore is to be found in
great abundance, both in large masses and in minute particles ;
and the under strata of the neighbouring heights is com-
posed of alternate layers of iron and limestone. It is now
more than forty years since iron works have been established
in this neighbourhood, known by the name of the Arigna
iron works, — ^Arigna being the name of the stream which
flows by them, and which joins the Shannon, just as it flows
out of Loch Allen,— one branch of the river, indeed, emptying
itself into the lake. Little advantage has hitherto resulted
from working the Arigna iron works ; but there is little
reason to doubt, that — ^the Shannon navigation being now
extended to Loch Allen — capital embarked in these works
would find a profitable investment.

I had now seen the banks of the Shannon from its mouth
to its source ; and I think I may venture to say, -that although
' we cannot find od the banks of the Shannon that precipitous
wood scenery, which distinguishes the Rhine, nor the extreme
richness and softness, which lie along the Loire, or the
Garonne, infinitely greater variety is found throughout the
course of the Shannon, than is presented either on these or
any other rivers that I recollect. And the Shannon possesses
one attribute, which, as far as I know, is exclusively its own.
It is navigable (with some slight interruptions) from its mouth
to its source, a distance of 234 miles. In the extent of its



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JOURNEY TO SNNISKILLEN. 283

navigatioD, therefore, though not of its course, it ranks -with
many of the great continental rivers. The interruptions to
its navigation, which consist of rapids here and there, have
all been overcome by canal cuts ; though much yet remains
to be done, both in improving the canals, and the navigation
of the river itself. The whole fall of the Shannon, from Loch
Allen to the sea, is one hundred and forty-six feet, — ^which
is only seven inches and a fraction in - a mile : and it is a
curious fact, that the greatest fall is not during the first part
of its course, which one might naturally expect, but in that
part which approaches the sea. From Killaloe to Limerick,
a distance of but fifteen miles, the fall is ninety-seven feet ;
and from the source of the river to Killaloe, the whole fall is
but forty-nine feet.

I now left Carrick for Enniskillen. .The road from Car-
rick to Ballinamore possesses but little interest. A number
of small lakes, with one of considerable size, lie on both sides
of the road ; but none of them possess any remarkable attrac-
tions ; and the country is in general poor, and badly culti-
vated. I visited one or two houses on the road, the dwellings
of small landholders, and found the inmates in a very poor
condition, and holding their land under men as needy as
themselves. ^

Ballinamore is a small town, existing, and existing very
badly, by agriculture. The whole of the neighbourhood, with
very few exceptions, is fearfully rack-rented : the land, which
is generally poor, is let by competition to the highest bidder ;
and rents are covenanted for, that can never be paid. The
property of Lord Southwell, however, which ia situated in
this district, is an exception. It is unquestionably amongst
the nobility, and the largest proprietors, that these excep-
tions are chiefly to be found, — a fact that may probably be
attributable to the better circumstances of the great pro-
prietors, who are not, generally, so embarrassed as the smaller
landowners. I found that the landholders in the neighbour-
hood of Ballinamore were necessitated to send every particle
of produce, except potatoes, to market, to make up their



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284 ENNI8KILLEN.

rents ; and that they lived as miserably as the owner of the
poorest cabin.

The country between Ballinamore and Swanlinbar, — ^part
of which is in Leitrim county, part in Cavan, — I found very
little more interesting than that between Carrick and Balli-
namore. There is a poverty look about every thing. The
country is but half cultivated; and it supports a needy
gentry, crushed farmers, and a miserable peasantry. After
passing Swanlinbar, things improve. Improvement is visible
in the aspect of the country ; and a decided improvement in
the appearance of the houses and their inhabitants.

I remained a day in this neighbourhood (not in Swanlinbar),
that I might have an opportunity of visiting Florence Court,
the seat of the Earl of Enniskillen, and the surrounding
country. This beautiful seat is situated at the foot of a fine
chain of hills ; and the unequal surface of the ground over
which his lordship's park extends, gives great picturesqueness
to the views, and has materially assisted art, in the embellish-
ments which she has scattered around. Many fine old trees
beautify this domain, and the grouping of wood is very effec-
tive. Florence Court wants water only, to make it a para-
dise. This mansion is every way worthy of the grounds
which surround it.

The approach to Enniskillen, from Swanlinbar, struck me
greatly. A rich, broken, and beautiful country lies on either
side of the road ; a mountain outline bounds the greater part
of the horizon ; and the town of Enniskillen itself rises on
the opposite side of a broad sheet of water, covering a con-
siderable extent of elevated ground, and presenting a bold
front of strong bastions and grey walls.

The situation of Enniskillen is every way delightful.
Loch Erne, the noblest, in point of extent, of any of the Irish
lakes, and which has been called the Winandermere of Ire-
land, — an appellation which I shall by and by endeavour
to show, it is well entitled to, — spreads into an upper and
lower lake, above and below the town, though, from the
distance between them, which is not less than four miles.



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SNl^ISKILLEN. 285

they ought rather to be considered two distinct lakes.
This communication between the two lakes is not more
than river breadth, and in one part separates into two
branches, encircling a tolerably elevated island; and upon
this island stands the town of Enniskillen. Two handsome
bridges connect the town with the mainland, at each end
of the island ; and almost the whole of the island is covered
by the town. On the opposite banks of the water, on both
sides of the town, the scenery is of .the most na«t description.
When I visited the neighbourhood, the com harvest was
just beginning, and the hay harvest was nearly over. On the
sunny slopes that rise on all sides, the golden fields of ripe
com were beautifully mingled with the brilliant green that
follows the destruction of the meadow. Abundance of wood,
and the broken surface of the country, gave sufficient shade
to the landscape, which was, on all sides, imaged in the still,
deep, broad waters that surround the town ; and altogether,
I shall long preserve in my memory the recollection of this
beautiful spot.

But this is not all I have to say in favour of Enniskillen ;
I found it one of the most respectable-looking towns I had
seen in Ireland ; and its population, by far the most respecta-
ble-looking, that T had anywhere yet seen. I speak of course
of the lower classes ; and I make no exception of either
Dublin, or Cork, or Limerick, or any other place. I saw a
population, — the first I had yet seen, — without rags ; I saw
scarcely a bare foot, even among the girls ; there was a neat,
tidy look among the women, who had not, as in other places,
their uncombed hair hanging about their ears ; and the men
appeared to me to have a decent farmer-like appearance.

Enniskillen is a busy, and a rising town ; improvement is
everywhere discernible. Many new buildings are seen ;
thatched houses, scarcely at all ; and the suburbs even are
respectable. Enniskillen abounds in respectable shops ; and
I never saw shops better filled than they were on market
day; I understood that many of the tradespeople were
wealthy, and that the retail trade is brisk and profitable.



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286 ENNISKILLBN.

This, and the generally improvmg condition of the town,
which possesses but little manufacture, are evidences of the
prosperous condition of the surrounding agricultural popula-
tion, — and, by implication, speaks favourably also of the
landlords. Lords Enniskillen, Ely, and Belmore, are the
three great proprietors ; but there are many resident gentle-
men besides. The town belongs altogether to Lord Ennis-
killen, who is' generally well spoken of, and who in letting
his land endeavours to ascertain its real value. I found the
farmers of this neighbourhood enjoying some comforts, and
not so ground down to the earth as in the south and west.
Potatoes are not the sole diet here : the country is a most
fruitful one ; and much of the wheat and oats is consumed
in the surrounding district. There is some export of grain
to Deny, Armagh, &c., but the. greater part is consumed.
The export of live cattle and pigs, from Enniskillen to Derry,
is also considerable. Most important advantages would
accrue to Enniskillen, by opening an inland navigation to the
sea : and nothing could be easier than this. From the town,
there is already an uninterrupted navigation through Loch
Erne, to the exit of the river, which, not eight miles distant
from the lake, falls into the bay of Donegal : and half of this
distance, the river is already navigable ; so that it requires
but a cut of four miles to open a water communication, not
only from Enniskillen, but from the upper lake to the sea, —
a distance of not less than sixty miles. It is almost impos-
sible to calculate the benefit which would be conferred upon
the great extent of country bordering on the two Loch Ernes,
by this very obvious and unexpensive undertaking.

Enniskillen enjoys also a considerable linen trade. From
three to four hundred pieces are sold at each fortnight's
market ; and it speaks well for the prospects of the trade,
that many merchants leave the market disappointed of pur-
chases; and that three times the quantity actually sold,
would find buyers if it were brought to market. It is a fact,
that greatly more flax seed has been sown this year, than on
any former year.



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ENNISKILLEN. 287

The population of Enniskillen is about one-third Protestant :
and the town and neighbourhood are Conservative in their
politics. Three newspapers are published in the town, all
Conservative. One is Toryish, a second Tory, and a third
high Tory. It is singular, that in a town like this, there should
be no circulating or public library.

The price of provisions in Enniskillen is reasonable.
When I visited it, potatoes were at S^d. a stone; 120 lbs.
of oatmeal were sold at 8s. 6d. ; second quality of flour was
Is. 6d. per stone. Meat was from 5d, to 6d. per lb. ; fine
fowls, lOd, a couple. Labour in town was at Is. a day ; but
for constant employment, lOd. ; and in the country did not
exceed 8d. The provision and retail trade of Enniskillen is
of course benefited by the town being military head-quarters.
During eight months in the year there is pretty full employ-
ment for labour in Enniskillen. Just before the com harvest
began, and after the hay harvest had finished, I saw about
eighty persons in want of employment, and waiting for
hire.

One of the most finished domains in Ireland, — or, I might
say, in the British dominions, is Castle Coole, the seat of the
Earl of Belmore. It contains within it an extraordinary
variety of fine scenery. The disposition of wood, water, and
lawn, is as near perfection as can be produced by the imion
of nature and art. The beech and oak trees, everywhere
scattered over the park, are of the most gigantic dimensions ;
and there is a beautiful specimen of close sylvan scenery,
where the game is preserved. Within the park, too, are
several smooth oval mounts, beautiful to look upon, and from
which all the charming variety of the landscape is seen to
perfection. I climbed to the top of the conical hill above the
castle, called Topid, and enjoyed a very extensive, and cer-
tainly a very engaging prospect. Among the objects most
conspicuous in the landscape, are two round hills towards
the north, called Bessy Bell, and Mary Gray, — names familiar
to every one.

The mansion of Castle Coole is the finest house in the



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288 BNNISKILLEN.

modern style, that I had seen in Ireland. There is a beauti-
ful fa9ade ; a portico, with four columns in the centre, sup-
porting a pediment ; and two equal wings are connected with
the centre, by handsome colonnades of fluted pillars, of the
Doric order. The interior is equally magnificent; and
splendid mirrors, porphyry pilasters, and inlaid doors, remind
one of the palaces and churches of Italy and Spain.



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289



CHAPTER XXIV.



Devenish Island, and its Round Tower — Kesh— Loch Erae, the Winander-
mere of Ireland — Character of the Lake-^The County of Fermanagh, and
its Population — The Clergy of the Church of Ireland — Church Reform —
Land, Land-owners, and Landholders — Labourers — Journey to Loch Dergh
— Pettigo — Loch Dergh, and its Island — The Pilgrims — ^Dctaib of the Doings
there— Visit to the Island— Extraordinary Scenes— Further Details— Popu-
larity of this Pilgrimage.



Onb of the most interesting spots in the neighbourhood of
Enniskillen, is Devenish island, with its round tower, and
other ancient rehcs. It stands just where the lower lake
expands ; and is about two miles from Enniskillen. One
may visit it either by boat from Enniskillen, or follow the
road from the town, and make use of the ferry-boat. The
island slopes gently from the water's edge, in a fine green
swell, but is entirely destitute of wood ; and is said to con-
tain upwards of seventy acres. The round tower of Devenish
is considered to be the most perfect in Ireland, and, altoge-
ther, the finest specimen of these singular structures. The
height of the tower is eighty-two feet ; the thickness of its
walls three feet five inches ; the circumference forty-nine
feet ; and the diameter, inside, nine feet two inches. Twelve
feet above the door- way there is a window, angularly pointed ;
and, higher up, another window, nearly square. Still higher
%re the four windows, common in all these towers ; and the
k^y-stone, above each, is ornamented with a human head,

o



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290 KSSR.

But the round tower is not the only relic on Devenish
island. There are also several monastic remains ; particularly
the ruins of an abhey, which is situated on the most elevated
part of the island. Some parts of the abbey are yet in a
considerably perfect state of preservation, particularly the
tower ; from the summit of which an extensive prospect is
enjoyed over the lake and the surrounding country. The
other remains, on the island, are in a less perfect state ; and
their workmanship is of a far ruder description than that by
which the abbey is distinguished. Next to the rock of
Cashel, I look upon Devenish island to be the most interest-
ing spot in Ireland, to those who are attracted by the union
c^ the antique and the picturesque.

I left Enniskillen, greatly pleased with the town and its
neighbourhood. I had seen no such fine and fruitful country
since I had visited the counties of Tipperary and Limerick ;
but there is greater beauty here, imited to as much cultivation.
The country about Enniskillen is more undulating and wavy ;
and the distant outlines are more striking : nor had I seen in
any town in Ireland a peculation so little ragged, and altoge-
ther so respectable.

It is very likely that many of my readers never heard of
the town of Kesh, or Kish, as some caU it. It is a small, a
very small town, or rather a village, situated near to the
right bai^ of Loch Erne, about ten miles from Enniskillen.
H^^, or at least in its neighbourhood, I remained for three
or four days, making myself acquainted with ^e beautiful
lake close by ; and observing and inquiring into the condition
of the inhabitants of the neighbouring country. The road,
between Enniskillen and Kesh, does not keep all the way
close to the lake, though sufficiently near to enable the tra-
veller to catch beautiful glimpses; and, now and then, to
command the greater part of its expanse. Ely Lodge, the
residence of the Marquis oi Ely, and its surrounding grounds,
are seen to great advantage on the road to Kesh. Hiey lie
on the opposite side of the lake, just at the point where the
road first begins to skirt it.



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LOCH ERNE. 291

I said that Loch Erne has been called the Winandennere
of Ireland ; and that it might be easy to justify the propriety
of the appellation, which was, no doubt, intended as a com-
pliment to Loch Erne. In length, breadth, and shape, Loch
Ehme and Winandermere do not greatly differ ; and inasmuch
as the character of beauty, rather than of sublimity, is ap-
plicable to both, the comparison is just. I presume it is on
account of these resemblances, that Loch Erne and Winan-
dermere have been likened to each other. I think, however,
that if the claims of these two lakes were examined more in
detail. Loch Erne would bear away the palm; and chiefiy
upon this ground, that there is no part of it without high,
claims to beauty ; whereas the lower end of Winandermere
is greatly deficient in those attractions which have earned so
high a reputation for the lake generally; but which are
chiefly to be found in the centre and upper parts of it. Loch
Erne, round its whole circumference, does not ofTer one tame
and unmteresting view; everywhere there is beauty, and
beauty of a very high order. In some places, the banks are
thickly wooded to the water's edge : in other places, the
Betirest and smoothest slopes rise from the margin, shaping
themselves into knolls and green velvety lawns ; here and
there, finely wooded promontories extend far into the lake,
forming calm sequestered inlets and bays ; and, sometimes, a
bold fore-ground — ^not perhaps of mountains, but of lofty
hills^ — juts forward, and contrasts finely with the richness
and cultivation on either side. And what shall I say of the
numerous islands — far more numerous than those on Winan-
dermere, and as beautiful as the most beautiful of them ; —
some of them densely covered with wood ; some green and
swelling ; and some large enough to exhibit the richest union
of wood and lawn ; some laid out as pleasure-grounds, with
"pleasure-houses," for those to whom they pertain; and
some containing the picturesque ruins of ancient and beautiful
edifices ^ Nor must I forget the magnificent mansions that
adorn the banks of Loch Erne, and which add greatly to the
general effect of the landscape. Without making any enu-

o 2



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2D'2 COUNTY OF FERMANAGH.

meration of these, I would particularize Ely Lodge, Castle
Caldwell, and the charming domain of General Archdall, rich
in all that constitutes the perfection of beauty.

I shall not easily forget, — ^nor would I ever wish to forget,
the delightful hours I one day spent on the shores of this
more than Winandermere of Ireland. It was a day of un-
common beauty: the islands seemed to be floating on a
crystal sea ; the wooded promontories threw their broad
shadows half across the still bays ; the fair slopes, and lawny
knolls, stood greenly out from among the dark sylvan scenery
that intervened ; here and there, a little boat rested on the
bosom of some quiet cove ; and in some of the shallow bays,
or below the slopes of some of the green islands, cattle stood,
single or in groups, in the water. I confidently assert, that
lower Loch Erne, take it all in all, is the most beautiful lake
in the three kingdoms; and but for the majestic Alpine
outline that bounds the horizon on the upper part of Lake
Leman, — Lake Leman itself coidd not contend in beauty,
with this little- visited lake in the county of Fermanagh.

The county of Fermanagh is Conservative, and considera-
bly Protestant. It will, no doubt, be deemed a curious fact,
that the parish in which I rested a few days, Magher-Cul-
moony, — a parish fourteen Irish miles long and several
broad, — contains not any one place of worship, of any deno-
mination, except the parish church. It is doubtful if there be
another example of this in Ireland, or, I might perhaps add,
in England either. Such examples would not have been so
rare, if the church of Ireland had possessed more ministers of
religion, like, in character, activity, and talent, to the Protes-
tant rector of Magher-Culmoony. I am not one of those
who ascribe all the evils of Ireland to Popery ; but I am one
of those who think Protestantism the better religion for the
people, and the safer for the state ; and think also, that it
ought to have been, and ought still to be, the study of
government, to encourage the growth of Protestantism, by
every wise and legitimate means; nor can I let slip this
opportunity of observing, from all I have seen and learned in



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COUNTY OF FERMANA.OH. 293

Ireland, that one of the most certain means of increasing
Protestantism in Ireland, will be, such measures of reform in
the Irish church, as will encourage and reward the working
clergy, at the expense of those who do not, or who will not
work; as will sweep awav pluralities, and forbid non-
residence; as will place Protestant education on a better
footing ; and as will provide for the final and effectual settle-
ment of the tithe question.

But to return to the parish of which I was speaking.
During the incumbency of the present minister, the Protestant
congregation has increased more than one half: and in the
adjoining parish of Fintona, under the same individual, the
results of piety and activity are equally favourable. A Pro-
testant congregation of seven hundred, may be seen there
any Sunday ; and the Protestant congregation, has increased



Online LibraryHenry David InglisA journey throughout Ireland, during the spring, summer, and autumn of 1834 → online text (page 25 of 34)