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Title: Ulster
Author: Gwynn, Stephen Lucius, 1864-1950
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Ulster" ***

produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive)



Described by Stephen Gwynn
Pictured by Alexander Williams



Beautiful Ireland


_Uniform with this Series_

Beautiful England




AT THE GAP OF THE NORTH            5

"THE BLACK NORTH"                 13

THE MAIDEN CITY                   28

TIRCONNELL                        37



Muckross Bay, Killybegs, Donegal               _Frontispiece_

Narrow Water Castle, Carlingford Lough                     8

Cave Hill, Belfast                                        14

Carrickfergus Castle, Belfast Lough                       20

The Giants' Causeway                                      26

Fair Head, Co. Antrim                                     32

Londonderry from the Waterside                            36

Tory Island from Falcarragh Hill, Donegal                 42

Muckish and Ards from Rosapenna, Sheephaven, Donegal      46

Mount Errigal from the Gweedore River, Donegal            50

Glenveagh, Donegal                                        54

The Entrance to Mulroy Bay, Donegal                       58

[Illustration: ULSTER]


Ulster is a province much talked of and little understood--a name
about which controversy rages. But to those who know it and who love
it, one thing is clear--Ulster is no less Ireland than Connaught
itself. No better song has been written in our days than that which
tells of an Irishman's longing in London to be back "where the
mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea"; nor indeed is the whole
frame of mind which that song dramatises, with so pleasant a blending
of humour and pathos, better expressed in any single way than in the
phrase "thinking long"--an idiom common to all Ulster talk, whether
in Down or Donegal. And when I who write these lines "think long"
for Ireland, it is to Ulster that my thought goes back, back to the
homely ways and the quaint speech of northern folk, hard yet kindly,
with the genial welcome readier even in their rough accent than in
smoothest Munster: for these things there rises in my mind the vague
aching, half-remembrance, half-desire, which we call "thinking long".
It is a far cry from Belfast, with its clang of riveters, to the vast
loneliness of Slieve League or Dunlewy; and yet the great captain
of industry, nurtured and proven in the keenest commerce, has upon
his tongue, in his features, in the whole cast of his nature, these
very traits which endear themselves to me in some Irish-speaking
schoolmaster of western Donegal. Soil, climate, and common
memories--these are what identify and what bind. No man gets his
living too easily in Ulster, and need makes neighbourly. Protestant
and Catholic have to fight the same battle with hard weather--of which
perhaps even the summer traveller may form some judgment; they are
rewarded by the same loveliness which makes a fine day in Ulster the
most enchanting upon earth; and they fend against the stress of storm
by the same warm shelter, the same glow of the turf-piled hearth.

The Ulster of which I shall write in these few pages is the Ulster of
four sea-bordering counties only, Donegal, Derry, Antrim, and Down,
since beyond doubt these exceed the other five in attractions. Only
let a word be said of two great lakes. Lough Erne, which belongs
mainly to Fermanagh, though bordering Donegal in part, is to its
champions the Cinderella of Irish waters, and some day it will come
into its inheritance of fame. Lough Neagh, with its eighty miles of
shore, divided among five counties, has never been seen by me but in
tranquil loveliness, one vast sheet of shimmering blue; and whether at
Antrim, where many memories have their monuments, or at Toomebridge,
where the Bann flows out majestically, has seemed well worth a day's
journey--the more because its beauty is set among lands not fertile,
yet prosperously tilled and inhabited by people, not rich indeed, yet
safely removed from the stress of poverty. Not far from it is Armagh,
a cathedral city, richer in associations than any in Ireland. If I do
not write of Armagh, it is because the oldest of these associations
has its monument also at the southern gate of Ulster, where the
division of the province is best marked.

Carlingford Lough, according to modern geography, marks that division,
but in truth the lough's southern shore, the rocky promontory of
Cooley, belongs to Ulster by all titles, though it be included in
the modern county of Louth. A steamer will carry you from Holyhead
to Greenore (where is a hotel with the inevitable golf links) and
land you nominally in Leinster. But all that mountainous headland is
inhabited by folk who still keep the Gaelic speech alive among them,
and whose remote forbears owned in far distant times the overlordship
of Ireland's most famous champion, when Ulster had a pagan chivalry,
the Red Branch Circle, which is to Irish legend what the story
of Arthur's knighthood is to British romance, or the tale of the
Nibelungs to Germany. Cooley (in Irish, _Cuailgne_) was the fief of
Cuchulain; and the Brown Bull of Cooley was the object of that great
foray made by the rest of Ireland upon Ulster, which is related in the
oldest and finest of all Celtic hero tales.

Cuchulain's dwelling was outside Cooley, outside Ulster proper; his
stronghold was Dundealgan, the "Thorn Fort" which gives its name to
Dundalk. It was an outpost guarding that pass in the hills, the gap of
the north, through which the railway, leaving the plains of Leinster,
winds into the mountainous and threatening regions of Armagh and Down.


All the story of Cuchulain's hero-feats can be read in Lady Gregory's
admirable version, _Cuchulain of Muirthemne_; but Cuchulain's fort you
can see for yourself. It stands close to the town of Dundalk, visible
from the railway, a flat-topped mount, surrounded by a trench some
thirty feet deep, with a steep outer rampart surrounding this in its
turn. The whole is now tree-covered. Mr. Tempest, an antiquary of
Dundalk, whose exertions have saved this monument from the spade and
plough, thinks that he has identified, a couple of miles south of
Dundalk, the place where Cuchulain died. Cloghafarmore, the "Big Man's
Stone", at Ratheddy is one of the "standing stones" found through
Ireland, as through other Celtic countries, and tradition identifies
it with the pillar to which Cuchulain made his way from his last
fight. For ninety days, he and his charioteer Laeg, and his pair of
horses, Black Sanglain and the Grey of Macha, had harassed and held
back the host of Ireland, destroying champion after champion, singly
or by groups, in fights at each ford, and raining missiles upon the
main body with marvellous sling-throwing; but at last, encompassed and
at bay, he had got his death-wound with his own charmed spear, which
passed through the bodies of nine men in its last flight from his
hand. When, flung back at him by Lugaidh, last survivor of the sons
whose father Cuchulain had slain, it had ripped his body open, the
wounded warrior, holding his bowels together with one hand, staggered
to this pillar stone, and bound himself to it by his scarf, so that
even in death and defeat he might still stand upright. So he stood
propped, while the Grey of Macha, loosed from its harness, defended
him with teeth and hoof, letting none approach, till men saw that on
the hero's shoulder a raven had lighted. "It is not on that pillar
birds were used to settle", said one of his foemen. Then the grey
horse knew that life had ebbed away, and she left the body to its
despoilers. But the man who struck off Cuchulain's head, and took it
with him, had his own head struck off by a comrade of the Red Branch
before he reached the plains of Liffey.

Such is the fierce temper of that old hero-cycle; but if its heroes
are not to be outdone in fierceness neither are they in generosity.
How much is legend, sheer invention, none can say: the great
earthworks at Armagh, Cuchulain's fort at Dundealgan, and a hundred
other things testify to a truth behind the tale. And it is fairly
well established that the race which had its centre at Armagh was
not the race which governed from Tara: the Red Branch was Pictish,
Tara was Milesian. How distinct the racial types show where they have
survived tolerably pure is hardly realized, save by some such chance
as befell me, when, at an exhibition in Limerick, I was summoned to
look at a strange foreign folk from the north. They were girls from
an Irish-speaking district in Donegal--not far from Rosapenna--pretty
girls, too, but among the big, buxom, oval-faced, soft-bodied
Southerners their short profiles, their high cheek bones, and hard,
bright colour showed as strange as if they had been from another
quarter of the world.

All the subsequent stages in Irish history meet you about the shores
of Carlingford--Carline-fiord; its name tells of Danish settlements.
The old castle in Carlingford town was erected by de Courcy at King
John's bidding; the monastery was Norman built too, by Richard de
Burgo, Earl of Ulster, but the Norman rule in Ulster was closely
limited to a few strongholds on the coast. The Narrow Water Castle,
which Mr. Williams has drawn against its background of the steep
richly wooded slopes which make the chief beauty of this beautiful
lough, is on the site of a thirteenth-century fortress, but that was
destroyed in the Great War of 1641, and this building dates from
Charles II's reign. At Warrenpoint a tall obelisk records the name of
Ross of Bladensburg, one of the many brilliant officers whom Ireland
gave to Wellington's armies--with how many thousands of the unnamed
peasants to fill the ranks that they led! All those wooded hills
behind Rostrevor, the little watering-place that nestles snug among
them, looking south to the sun and the hills of Cooley, speak of
comfortable days and territorial dominion. Behind those same wooded
hills lies the southernmost point of industrial Ulster, Newry town,
with its whirring looms.

These are some of the stepping-stones to guide one through Irish
history; yet how many more might be added! Where the road and rail
strike north from Dundalk, as they rise to that pass which is the
famous Gap, you reach Faughart, scene of the battle where Edward Bruce
ended his disastrous adventure of conquest in Ireland. And on the
plain below, William and Schomberg had their camp and mustered their
army before it set out to march upon the Boyne.

Memories of war--Pict and Connachtman contending for Cuchulain's head;
the Dane plundering and trading; the Norman building his strongholds;
the Scot heading Ireland's endeavour to shake off the Norman yoke;
that other convulsion in 1641, and then new castles built; the
Dutchman landing, and his triumphant march; and from the subdued
Ireland, thousands, tens of thousands, of soldiers, gentle and simple,
issuing forth to uphold the English name. Yes, but other memories are
there too. Some maintain that here Patrick landed on his mission. But
at all events at Faughart, in the fifth century, Brigid was born, the
"Mary of the Gael", "mother of all the saints of Ireland". Her work
was done in Leinster, but surely her birthplace here on the threshold
of Ulster should not be overlooked.


I shall assume that from Dundalk and its neighbouring beauty, that
narrow lough winding among the hills, you go straight to Belfast,
with the glorious range of Mourne Mountains on your right hand to
make the journey attractive. At "Portadown upon the Bann", where the
Pope has a bad name, you are not far from the focus of the industrial
north--at all events of the great linen industry. From the train you
will see fields white as snow with bleaching webs; and it is said
that one cause of this trade's localization is a special suitability
of climate, like that which makes Lancashire head of the world for
cotton-spinning. Belgium can beat Ireland in producing flax--can get
50 per cent more for the same weight of finished fibre--but in the
spinning and weaving Ulster is unapproachable. Unhappily, as in all
textile trades, the individual withers and the machine grows more
and more: hand-loom damask weavers, who can still make a product
marvellous for craftsmanship, find their occupation gone--the machine
runs them too close.

What the linen trade has been worth to Ulster can never be counted.
It was the one industry which England's jealousy spared, and even
(after long refusal) grudgingly fostered, in those very decades when
her manufacturers were urging Parliament to stamp out and destroy the
woollen trade. Its existence preserved in this corner of the country
that industrial habit which means not only an inherited skill but the
transmitted aptitude for factory work, with its regular hours and
mechanical routine, so unlike the conditions of labour on the land, in
which all the rest of Ireland has found--since 1800--its only resource.

Even agriculture has been helped by the proximity of towns where
all, down to the labouring classes, have money to buy with. The
district which centres about Portadown is to-day foremost of all
Ireland for the culture of fruit and flowers, though neither climate
nor soil specially favours it. One beauty that Ulster has far more
generally than any other province is the flower-bordered cottage. They
grow orange lilies in fine profusion, but they grow other and less
emblematic blossoms as well.

[Illustration: CAVE HILL, BELFAST]

Belfast--when you reach it--is not calculated to charm the eye. It has
the features of any English manufacturing town so far as its buildings
are concerned, and the finest structures it can show (without
disparaging its handsome Town Hall) are the vast fabrics which rise
in the dockyards, such ships as have never been built in the world
before--marvels of symmetry and strength. To see them in the building
up is to watch, perhaps, the most impressive exhibition of human
skill and energy. Ireland, for all its defective development, can
boast of heading the world in certain enterprises: Guinness's brewery,
Harland and Wolff's engineering works, and Barbour's great net and
rope factory at Lisburn are, each in its kind, the biggest and best in
Europe, or out of it.

Once you get down to the water in Belfast, beauty is abundant, and
for my part I like best the view from the docks. But Mr. Williams has
chosen a distant indication of the town under the bold headland, at
whose foot it lies so well. This aspect of Cave Hill does not show
its strange feature--the vast Napoleonic profile flung up against
an eastern sky. Time was when Belfast must have been curiously
divided about that portent; for in the Revolution period northern
Ireland was fiercely republican. It was on Cave Hill that Wolfe Tone,
most formidable of all Irish rebels, with a group of young Ulster
democrats, founded the Society of United Irishmen.

Belfast does not dwell much on these memories to-day, nor indeed on
any memories; her interest is in the prosperous present, the growing
future. And although it has its absurdities, notably in the claim to
be more populous than Dublin (a result achieved by omitting Rathmines
and Pembroke, townships separately governed, but as much part of
Dublin as Kensington and Chelsea are of London), the strong pride
of Belfast is amply justified. It is not its proximity to Scotch
coalfields nor its moist climate (dear to spinners) which really makes
its fortune, it is the hard-bitten, restless, courageous spirit of its

Like Dublin, it has close access to places of great natural
charm. Just beyond Cave Hill, on the north shore of the lough, is
Carrickfergus Castle, whose grim strength Mr. Williams has excellently
suggested. It was built within six years of the Norman invasion, by
de Courcy, first grantee of Ulster; and here, as at Carlingford, the
invaders managed to retain their grip. The Bruces wrested it, after a
fierce siege, from de Lacy, who then held it, Robert Bruce aiding his
brother; but on Edward Brace's defeat it fell back to the English. In
the ultimate conquest of Ireland it marked a great moment, for here
William of Orange landed, and pious care has recorded the flagstone on
which he first set his foot.

At Carrickfergus you are already well advanced on the prettiest road
in all Ireland--that which skirts the northern shore of Belfast
Lough, then, crossing the neck of Island Magee peninsula, carries
you past Larne's inland water, and from Larne follows the cliffy
shoreline up to where Fair Head marks the northern limit of Antrim's
eastward-looking coast. Then, cutting in behind the Head, it emerges
on the pleasant town of Ballycastle, sheltered in its bay, and so
follows the coast again past the castles of Dunseverick and Dunluce,
famous ruins, and past the Giant's Causeway, that still more famous
piece of an older and more majestic architecture. Portrush ends
your journey if you be a golfer; but dearer to me than the links at
Portrush are the sandhills beyond Portstewart and the long strand at
the entrance to Lough Foyle--ten miles of a stretch, but the Bann's
outflow divides it. No other beach that I have known is rich in such
a variety of shells; on no other sandhills do the little delicate
sandflowers, ladies'-slipper, thyme, ladies'-bedstraw, and the rest,
grow so charmingly.

Now, in all that long coastline what to write about? First, perhaps,
its geography. A line of high hills, or low mountains, runs north from
Belfast, and beyond Larne they approach close to the sea. Westward
of them is prosperous industrial country, draining into Lough Neagh
or the Bann--a country of thriving towns, Ballymena and Ballymoney,
with many factories. But east of this is the marginal land, running
steeply down with short watercourses to the sea, and this is the
country of the Glens of Antrim; lordship of the MacDonnells, who were
also Lords of the Isles. The sea here--_Sruth na Maoile_, the Stream
of the Moyle, is a link rather than a barrier; you could row across
with no great danger in a skin-covered boat; and at this point the
Gael of Alba and the Gael of Eire have been always one race. The
Irish that I heard spoken by old men whom a Feis of the Glens had
gathered together in Glen Ariff was few removes in sound and even in
idiom from the Highland speech; and all tradition, whether Ossianic,
in the stories of Finn and his companions, or that older cycle of the
Red Branch, brings the Scotch islands and west coast into full touch
with Irish legend. It was to the Isle of Skye that Cuchulain went for
his training, to be taught by a woman warrior--whose name that island
keeps as the Coolin Hills preserve his name; it was from the Scottish
shore that Cuchulain's son by the daughter of this warrior-queen came
over to contend with the Red Branch heroes, refusing his name in
order--so the deserted witch designed it--that his father, the one man
able to master him, might unknowingly slay his own son. I took down
from the lips of an Ulster peasant, not able to read or write, and
perhaps with ten generations behind him of folk who never used the
pen, the carefully guarded text of a poem framed not later (from its
language) than the fifteenth century, which told the tragedy of that
slaying. There is a touch in that ballad fine as any I know, when the
dying lad says to his vanquisher:

     "Cuchulain, beloved father,
     How is it you did not know me
     When I flung my spear so sluggishly
     Against your bristling blade?"

That was the only sign he could give. Knowing himself, knowing his
antagonist, yet sworn not to reveal the secret, he could only make
a cast so half-hearted that surely Cuchulain might pause to wonder
whether it was indeed an enemy who threw the spear.

These legends linking the coasts together suggest the charm of that
eastern shore; not the magic of infinite distance, not the Atlantic's
illimitable blue, but a continual tempting of the eye with that
shore beyond the sea, sometimes not visible at all, often faint, an
exquisite mirage, yet sometimes so vivid and distinct that you can
discern even the whitewashed cabins on the farther side.

The mountains of the glens have no marvel of beauty. Slemish, lying
back from the rest, is best marked, with its flat top, which is
indeed evidently the crater of some volcano, forced up in the wild
convulsion that has left its other traces in the basalt of Fair Head
and the Causeway. Marked, too, it is in history; for on its slopes
Patrick in captivity herded his master Dichu's swine. Yet this was on
the landward of the hills, in the valley of the Braid, which drains
west into Lough Neagh, and stands outside the grouping of the glens.
Tibullia, another peak easily discerned, is distinguished by having
on its summit a formation of flints where man of the Stone Age had a
regular factory; chipped and flaked implements, marred in the making,
can be found there (by the knowing) in basketfuls.

But the true distinction of these hills is that they have found their
poet. Samuel Ferguson first in his ballad of "Willy Gilliland" (which
has its climax by the walls of Carrickfergus) celebrated the stretch
of green "from Slemish foot to Collon top". But it is a later singer,
the poetess, "Moira O'Neill", who in her _Songs of the Glens of
Antrim_, has made all their names resound: from "Slemish and Trostan,
dark with heather", to "ould Lurgethan" where it "rises green by the
sea". And not the hills only but the glens--Glenann, for which the
emigrant "does be thinking long"; "lone Glen Dun and the wild glen
flowers", with the little town at the outflow of its river, Cushendun,
_Cois-an-duin_, Dun-foot. Her volume should be in the hands of every
traveller in the glens, unless its verses are already written in his


This Antrim coast has one charm distinguishing it above the rest of
Ireland--its variety of geological formation. At the foot of Glen
Ariff, Red Bay is called after the sandstone cliffs past which the
road is cut, and in one place the rock makes an arch near an old
castle. There is a cave, too, at various times inhabited. At Fair
Head one reaches the basalt, and this huge promontory faces the sea
with cliffs whose columnar formation gives that odd suggestion of
human workmanship which reaches its climax at the Causeway. This black
basalt with the numberless fissures is a good rock for birds to build
in, but a very bad and treacherous dependence for those who climb to
pry after their nests. Beyond the Causeway comes a line of white chalk
cliff, such as is familiar to all in the south of England, but very
strange to us in Ireland; though the sea off the Antrim coast is too
deep to have that opaline appearance--as though milk were spilt into
it--which the Margate tripper knows.

I have never yet been able to bring myself to write about the
Causeway, which is a geological freak very curious to look at, and
quite worth the sixpence you have to pay for admission, since a
company enclosed it some years ago. But in Ireland we expect to have
our cliff scenery free. The guides there will tell visitors plenty of
comic stories about Finn MacCool. But Finn, in authentic Irish legend,
is not a comic figure: he is the centre of the Ossianic tales.

That country north of the glens--which stop at Ballycastle, where
Glen Shesk and Glen Tow have their meeting--is called the Route, and
so keeps alive a memory of a period older than the Ossianic legends.
Dal Riada, or Dal Reuda, that is, the "Portion of Reuda", was the
name given to a principality established by one Reuda, who about the
second century broke off with a body of followers from the kingdom of
Ulster, and established rule on both sides of the narrow seas. Reuda
was of the Pictish race, probably; and here in the north the Picts
held out longest against the invading Milesians, who came (according
to modern theories) drilled foot soldiers, to defeat the earlier
chariot-fighting warriors. But the Milesians pushed their conquest
here also in about the sixth century, and Fergus, an offshoot of the
northern Hy-Neill (Sons of Niall), the dominant Milesian house, made
a petty kingdom for himself on both shores; and from him the kings of
Scotland traced their descent. This prince, Fergus Mac Erc, has left
his name on the Irish coast, for Carrickfergus is shown as the rock
on which he came to wreck, when sent adrift by tempest in one of his
crossings between the two portions of his kingdom.

Shortly after its establishment, this kingship, or chieftainship,
lost its Irish character and centred in Scotland. But relations were
constant--though by no means constantly friendly--and the Lords of the
Isles held Rathlin Island for many centuries. However near the Irish
coast this island lies--only divided by some five miles from the base
of Fair Head--the sound between it and the mainland is so dangerous,
with its racing tides, as to be an effectual barrier; and very often
passage may be easier made from the Scotch coast than from the bay of
Ballycastle. At all events, the Mac Donnells owned Rathlin when Robert
Bruce needed a refuge, and the castle is still there in which the
Bruce sheltered for seven years--and in which it was that he watched
the spider's patience and drew the moral for his own far-off designs.

The Mac Donnells were one of three great clans who divided a disputed
lordship in Ulster before Ulster (last of the provinces) was finally
subdued. The Mac Donnell lordship was the least authoritative and
(although it traced descent to the sixth century) the latest in date.
O'Neill and O'Donnell, the true Gaelic overlords of Ulster, sprang
from two sons of Niall of the Nine Hostages, High King of Ireland
from 379 to 405. Of their sons, Conall settled himself on Donegal
Bay, and Eoghan (or Owen) on the Inishowen hills. Tyrconnell--_Tir
Chonaill_--takes its name from the one son; Tyrone--_Tir
Eoghain_--from the other. About these centres power grouped itself,
each chief having sub-chiefs or _urraghts_ under him, each with his
own sept. It was only in the tenth century when Brian Boru was High
King that the hereditary surnames came to be adopted--O'Neill for the
lord of Tyrone, O'Donnell for the princes of Tyrconnell.

Their country was remote of access, difficult of passage for troops;
their people were hardy; and so it happened that in the reign of Henry
VIII, and even of Elizabeth, when all else in Ireland had been fairly
brought within British sovereignty (even the O'Briens of Thomond
submitting) O'Neill and O'Donnell could still hold their own. But
mutual jealousies and border feuds weakened the Gael; the O'Neills
were the strongest people, yet the O'Donnells on one flank and the
Mac Donnells on the other often sought advantage by English alliance.
Shane O'Neill, perhaps the most dangerous foe that Elizabeth had to
meet in Ireland, of whom Sir Henry Sidney wrote that "this man could
burn, if he liked, up to the gates of Dublin, and go away unfought",
met his crushing defeat at the hand of Irish enemies, the O'Donnells,
who routed him on the Swilly river near Letterkenny; and in his
trouble he fled to unfriends on the other side, the Mac Donnells, in
whose camp at Cushendun he was poniarded, and his head sold to the

Yet after his day another O'Neill, Hugh the great Earl of Tyrone,
levied desperate war on the English, in close league with a successor
of the O'Donnell who defeated Shane; and though the Mac Donnells gave
them no direct assistance, they also made an effort at that time to
throw off the invader's yoke. The history of Ireland under Elizabeth
is largely the history of war with these three clans--and a shameful
history it is, full of horrible records of treachery and cruelty.

Each of the three peoples threw up remarkable leaders in the
final struggles under the Tudors, and no figure of those days is
more notable than the MacDonnell chief, Somhairle Buidhe, "Yellow
Charles", Sorley Boy, as the English wrote him: and often the State
Papers had occasion to write his name between 1558, when he came to
lordship of the North, and 1590, when he died (singularly enough)
a natural death in his own castle of Duneynie and was buried among
all the Mac Donnells in the Abbey at Bonamargy near Ballycastle. Two
sayings of his are memorable. They showed him the head of his son
impaled above the gate of Dublin Castle. "My son," he retorted, "has
many heads." And in truth that stock sprung up like nettles after
cutting.--Elizabeth, in one of the phases of her diplomacy, sought to
enlist this warrior on her side, and sent him a patent for his estates
and chieftaincy as Lord of the Pale, engrossed on parchment. They
brought him the writing to his castle of Dunluce, and he hacked the
scroll to shreds. "With the sword I won it," he said; "I will never
keep it with the sheepskin."

Nevertheless, time brought him counsel, and when Sir John Perrot,
Henry VIII's bastard, came and battered Dunluce with cannon, Sorley,
now eighty years of age, made his submission and travelled to Dublin,
to pay his homage to the Queen's picture, going on his knees to kiss
the embroidered pantoufle on the royal foot. After his death, his son
Randal joined the rising of Hugh O'Neill and Hugh O'Donnell; but when
that last great effort to throw off England's power was foiled by the
defeat at Kinsale, the Mac Donnell made submission, and Elizabeth's
successor, James, who after all had a natural kindness for the Mac
Donnells (seeing that they were to the last Scotch rather than Irish)
accepted his submission and endowed him with the whole territory from
the Cutts of Coleraine to the Curran of Larne.

Dunluce, which stands on a projecting rock, approached only by a
narrow footway over a very deep natural trench, has to stand a battery
more continuous than Perrot's cannon could bring to bear. The sea is
under it, for a cave pierces the rock, and wind and wave are for ever
straining at the old fortress. Part of it fell in 1639, and to-day
they say the whole ruin is menaced with collapse; and, since it stands
in private grounds, no public authority can intervene to save it.

[Illustration: THE GIANTS' CAUSEWAY]

For some heads the crossing of that wall into Dunluce has a danger;
and a fall would be serious. But the real test of resistance to
giddiness can be made at the famous hanging bridge which joins the
mainland with the island rock of Carrickarede, near Port Ballintoy.
The bridge consists of planks laid two abreast, and lashed to ropes;
a single rope is the only handrail. The people use it to get out to
their nets and boats for the salmon fishing, which are kept out here,
and also, since there is grass on the island, for carrying sheep
across on their backs. For my own part I stepped on to it readily
enough; but when it bent down steeply under me, and inclined to swing,
the surprise was not pleasant. And though I forced myself to cross it
a second time, back and forward, to convince myself that there was no
necessity for qualms, I cannot say that the qualms wholly disappeared.
As for carrying a sheep over, or a bale of nets, heaven defend me! But
I never heard that anyone, native or tourist, drunk or sober, came to
grief there! The drop is about eighty feet into deep water between


Adjoining the Route, and divided from it by the River Bann, is
County Derry, which was once the territory of the O'Cahans, chief
_urraghts_ or sub-chiefs of the O'Neills. When the O'Neill was by
adoption of the clans installed after the Irish usage at Tullaghogue
in County Tyrone, it was the O'Cahan who performed the ceremony of
inauguration. With these facts two memories connect themselves for
me. The first is that when the Gaelic League was established, to save
the language of Ireland from oblivion and decay, amongst those who
joined it was the Reverend Dr. Kane, a mighty orator on every Twelfth
of July, when the anniversary of the Boyne is celebrated. "I may be
an Orangeman," he wrote, "but I do not forget that I am an O'Cahan."
Many of us who did not share his politics cherish his memory for that
saying. The other associated idea for me is that, once setting out
with other nationalist speakers, I was followed by a strong body of
police. Asking why, I was told they were to prevent an attack on us in
Tullaghogue, which is now a strong Orange centre!

Coleraine is where you join the train to get to Derry, and the rail
skirts the shore of Lough Foyle--easternmost of the great succession
of sea loughs which make the distinctive beauty of Donegal.
Inishowen, its western shore, is included in that county by English
geography, though this peninsula never formed part of Tyrconnell.
Its lordship was always disputed between O'Neill and O'Donnell, and
the best evidence of its separateness is given by the ecclesiastical
boundary, which here, as always, follows the old tribal demarcation.
All the rest of Donegal is comprised in the diocese of Raphoe, but
Inishowen falls under the see of Derry. One result of that was
traceable in the fact that _poteen_ (illicit whisky) was freely
procurable in Inishowen long after its manufacture had ceased in
any other part of Donegal; for the austere decree which the present
bishop of Raphoe--an O'Donnell and a ruler of men--proclaimed against
this "smuggling" had no effect east of the Swilly, though throughout
Tyrconnel it was heard and obeyed, to the great advantage of his
people, whom the old traffic (which I remember flourishing in spite
of law and police, fines, seizures, and imprisonments) had seriously

Derry and Raphoe have for a century been in the Protestant Church one
united see, and in the days before disestablishments, made a princely
preferment. You can see the proof of it at Castlerock, where the line
from Coleraine strikes out on the shore of Lough Foyle by the long
Magilligan strand. Here is Downhill, the seat built in the eighteenth
century by that amazing prelate Lord Augustus Adolphus Hervey, Earl of
Bristol and Bishop of Derry, who took a leading and not a very pacific
part in organizing the volunteers and in winning Ireland's legislative

"He appeared always", says Sir Jonah Barrington, "dressed with
peculiar care and neatness, generally entirely in purple, and he wore
diamond knee and shoe buckles; but what I most observed was that he
wore white gloves with gold fringe round the wrists and large gold
tassels hanging from them." A troop of horse headed by his nephew
used to escort him everywhere and to mount guard at his door. Later,
growing tired of Ireland, he migrated to Italy on the plea of ill
health; and though many of his costly purchases were sent home to
Downhill, where unhappily a fire destroyed the most valuable, he
never came back, but remained abroad (says the austere Lecky, himself
born on the shore of Lough Foyle), "adopting the lax moral habits of
Neapolitan society", and in extreme old age writing letters to Emma,
Lady Hamilton, "in a strain of most unepiscopal fervour".

There are no such bishops nowadays, but my childhood was familiar
with the last of Lord Bristol's successors under the old order--the
late Bishop Alexander, most eloquent of divines, afterwards Primate
of Ireland. His talents brought him to the episcopate, while still
a young man, only a year or two before disestablishment, and the
life-interest in his £12,000 a year came to be compounded, not only
for his own benefit, but for that of the Church. While the financial
negotiation was still in progress, my father, then rector of a parish
in Donegal, and financier-in-chief to the diocese, sent his bishop out
for a day's driving in charge of a young curate, and trysted to meet
them on Mulroy Bay. Arrived there, he saw with dismay the bishop, not
on land but afloat, being sculled by the curate through the numberless
rocks and swirling currents of Mulroy in a battered curragh--a hundred
thousand pounds of ecclesiastical capital divided from submersion by
a piece of tarred calico. And the famous orator, even at that period
of his life, could not have weighed less than eighteen stone. Long
years after, the curate, become venerable in his turn, remembered and
recalled for me the rating which he received when at last he landed
his passenger.

Another memory from the same source may be worth recalling. Downhill
is the house which Charles Lever describes in his novel, _The
Bramleighs of Bishop's Folly_, though the story has no historic
connection with the house or any of its inmates. But Lever knew this
"Bishop's Folly" in the days when he was a dispensary doctor at
Portstewart, and my father remembers well how _Harry Lorrequer_ came
out by instalments in the _Dublin Morning Magazine_, with what delight
he heard them read aloud, and how sudden was the addition of interest
when one day the news came in that the anonymous author was no other
than their own dispensary doctor--the brilliant young collegian for
whom a place had been suddenly created in this outlying village during
one of the visitations of cholera. After that, whenever the doctor
came to call, a shy boy used to creep into the drawing-room and
ensconce himself, apparently with a book, out of sight behind a sofa,
where, undisturbed by apprehensions, he could be all ears for the
rattling talk of that wonderful tale-teller.

Lever learnt a good deal in Portstewart from a neighbour, W. H.
Maxwell, author of _Wild Sport of the West_, who lived in those days
at Portrush. But it was the west and south of Ireland that always
drew Lever--his florid taste in incident and humour found its choice
elsewhere than in the discreet greys and browns of Ulster character.
And east of Lough Foyle he was still in the Ulster which politicians
mean--the country of the plantations. Derry is in reality its frontier
town, though the Scotch strain and the Protestant element ramify out
from Derry a certain distance into Donegal.

[Illustration: FAIR HEAD, CO. ANTRIM]

But the frontier town, like all frontier towns in a country
that has been much fought over, keeps an intense, militant, and
aggressive character. Derry stands for the extreme type of Protestant
assertion--oddly enough, for in the beginning of its history, it
was the monastic seat, Doire Coluimchille, "Columba's Oakgrove", to
which that great apostle of Christianity looked back from his mission
overseas--"thinking long" in Iona for--

     "Derry mine, my own oakgrove,
     Little cell, my home, my love".

There is no reason to doubt the authenticity of that Irish poem,
transmitted in ancient manuscript, which a scholar has thus
translated--Columba's lyric cry towards the Ireland which he had left.

Yet, after all, the new is more to us than the old, and Derrymen have
good right to be proud of Derry walls. The famous siege was a great
event, the resistance was indeed heroic, though I think that popular
fame has selected the wrong man to be the centre of hero-worship. A
tall column which rises from the walls behind the bishop's palace
is Walker's monument, and Walker was no soldier but an elderly,
loquacious, and somewhat vain, preacher. If contemporary records
are any safe guide, the true organizer and inspirer of that long
resistance was Murray--whose fame, I am glad to say, is kept alive
by a Murray club. Yet the man who best of all, perhaps, deserves
commemoration has no memorial in Derry. The siege had lasted from
April 18, and on June 13 the town was already starving when a fleet
was sighted in Lough Foyle. Kirke, who commanded it, lay outside,
intimidated by the defences of the narrow channel. So it went on for
six weeks; but there was at least one Derry man with the fleet who
could brook the delay no longer. This was Captain Browning, of the
_Mountjoy_, and he insisted that attempts should be made to run the
batteries and to break the boom, whose site is still preserved in the
name "Boom Hall". The _Mountjoy_ was a merchant-man, and another, the
_Phoenix_, of Coleraine, joined the venture, and a frigate was sent
with them to help in drawing the enemy's fire. The _Mountjoy_, with
Browning himself at the helm, headed straight for the boom under full
sail, struck it, and with the impact the boom gave. But the shock
caused a rebound which flung the ship back on a mudbank, and at the
same moment Browning was shot down at his post. The _Phoenix_ had
slipped already through the gap and was away with her full cargo of
meal. Boats were out from the forts to seize the _Mountjoy_; but she
fired a broadside, and the recoil lifted her off the bank, and she too
slipped through, carrying the body of her dying skipper to the wharf
of the city which his courage and determination had rescued from
famine and from enforced surrender. Life stayed in him long enough to
let him hear the cries of welcome, to know that the goal was reached,
the blockade broken, and his city saved, before the rush of blood from
his pierced lungs finally choked him: and surely no man ever died a
more enviable death.

Yet in truth it was the people who had rescued themselves. In the
previous month of December, before hostilities were really declared,
King James had been imbecile enough to withdraw the troops which held
the city. A fresh garrison under Lord Antrim was marching in, and was
seen actually outside the walls. The city fathers deliberated; it was
thirteen prentice boys of the town who armed themselves, rushed to
the Ferryquay gate, seized the keys, and locked it in the teeth of
Antrim's men, when they were within sixty yards of the entrance.

This deed is commemorated annually on December 18th, when Lundy, the
officer who commanded in James's interest, is duly burnt in effigy--or
used to be. Nowadays Catholic and Protestant are so evenly balanced in
the "Maiden City" that such demonstrations risk a formidable riot, and
are accordingly kept in check.

But the embers are always hot, and crave wary walking. Once a concert
was being held, "strictly non-sectarian", and it had been decided
to omit "God save the King", which in Ireland is made into a party
tune. All went off smoothly, and the building was being emptied, when
suddenly war rose. The organist, a stranger, had thought it would be
proper to play the people out with "Auld Lang Syne"--not knowing that
to this tune is sung "Derry Walls", most aggressive of Protestant

Derry walls are there, broad and solid--you can drive a coach on them.
But, what is more important, you can there find the best entertainment
that I know in Ireland. A little hotel, whose doorway gives on to the
east wall, is kept by Mrs. MacMahon, and all persons of understanding
go there to get the kind of meal which you may hope for in the
pleasantest north of Ireland country home: the fruits of the earth,
the fowl of the air, the fish of the sea, each according to his kind
(not omitting Lough Swilly oysters), with the home-made bread, which
is one of Ulster's greatest charms. It is not an elaborate modern
hotel. If it were, you would not get the sort of entertainment that
I describe; but to stay there is to get an insight, and a most happy
insight, into the homeliness, the hospitality, the shrewdness, and the
good housewifery of Ulster.



Donegal has become to-day the best pleasure ground in Ireland. Second
only to Kerry in natural beauty, and superior to it in grandeur,
for Kerry has no cliff scenery to compare with Slieve League and
Horn Head, it has far more variety of resource than the southern
county--or, in two words, it has golf and Kerry has not; and it has
much more free fishing. It is equipped as a playground, and as a
playground I shall write of it--with this preface. When I was a boy,
between thirty and forty years ago, there were only two passable
hotels west of Lough Swilly, Lord George Hill's at Gweedore, and Mr.
Connolly's at Carrick. Both of these were built for men who wanted
to fish and shoot; and to reach them meant in literal truth a day's
journey into the wilderness. There was no railway in the county except
the little line from Derry to Buncrana; and it was the regular usage
for strangers to bring introductions which got them hospitality from
the resident gentry. I remember scores of such casual visitors at the
big, old rectory where I was brought up.

To-day there is hardly any point in the county more than ten miles
distant from a rail--Irish miles of course, and hilly ones. But when
the train takes you from Derry to Burtonport, curving in behind Lough
Swilly, and following all the northern coast to its extreme remotest
corner, you may fume, as I have often fumed, at the vagaries of that
wonderful organization; you may think it amazing to be a matter of
three hours late in a journey of four hours, as has happened to me;
still, it is well to remember how you might have had to drive the
same distance on an outside car in such wind and rain as Donegal can

And of course the delays I speak of are probably not so usual as at
the first wild beginnings of that traffic. No longer, probably, will
you see the engine driver getting out to replenish his supply of fuel
from a wayside turf stack; no longer will you need to scour the whole
countryside for a truckload of luggage casually mislaid. It is only
fair to add that where I finally unearthed our possessions was at a
mountain siding near two excellent salmon pools, with which I then
became acquainted and where I subsequently caught fish. If the engine
does break down anywhere on that run there is sure to be a little
river within a mile or so, and it is quite worth putting up your rod
and going out to have a try; at least one man to my knowledge returned
triumphantly with a good salmon--the messenger sent to fetch him
having come in handy to gaff it.

But in all seriousness tourists have got to remember that these
lines are not there for holiday traffic. Goods and passengers travel
together, and the real purpose of the whole is to give a market
to the thousands of cottagers along that wild yet populous shore.
What it means is that the coast fisherman who nets a salmon now can
sell it for perhaps twopence a pound less than it will fetch in
Billingsgate--tenpence, a shilling even, for summer fish. In the old
days there was no one to give him more than perhaps a shilling for
his whole fish. And in truth in the old days a Donegal peasant hardly
conceived that he could be the legitimate possessor of a salmon.

That is the real change. In the days that I remember, the country was
owned by the landlords, was governed by them and by their agents, with
assistance from the Church of Ireland clergy. To-day a great part of
the land is owned by the people who till it; it is all governed by
them. And in increasing measure they own even the game, most jealously
guarded of seigniorial rights.

Take, for example, the little town of Milford. I remember it a
miserable line of hovels, with only two decent buildings, the
agent's house and the always imposing police barrack. To-day it has
an excellent hotel, and every look of prosperity. I remember when
every soul in it and for ten miles round was in the grip of a really
tyrannical landlord, whose murder, when it ultimately came, was indeed
an act of what Bacon calls "wild justice". Much of the improvement
visible here is due to the able and courageous man who succeeded the
"old lord". But, good landlord or bad landlord, no man can ever again
hold that countryside at his pleasure, cowering under the threat of
eviction. Rent is fixed by a court, and while a man pays his rent he
is irremovable. And within a short period every man will be paying,
not rent, but instalments of purchase for the land which he and his
predecessors have worked--which in nine cases out of ten they have
reclaimed from bog and barren moor. With the ownership of the land the
game rights must ultimately go, and in many cases already they have
gone. The hotel proprietor at Milford, an enterprising man, had, I
found, bargained with not a few tenant purchasers for the exclusive
fishing of little lakes in their property and for the shooting over
their moors and bogs. That is the attraction which he has to offer to
visitors, who, now that the country is opened up, come in shoals. On
Lough Fern, the big lake adjoining, it was unusual to see two boats
fishing, three made a rarity. Now, in summer, there will be fifteen or
sixteen out. And not only that, but boats have been put on seven or
eight of the numberless smaller lakes and bogholes which nobody ever
fished at all, except once in a blue moon, when a curragh would be
carted over. Some of them breed good trout, and now these are being
stocked with a new strain of fish. All this means the circulation
of money in the country where poverty before was universal, where
famine even was not unknown. A failure of the potato crop to-day is a
grievous loss: thirty years ago it meant something like starvation.

What took me to Milford the other day was significant of the new
order. I was with a departmental committee appointed to consider how
the fisheries of Ireland would be affected by the substitution of
peasant proprietary for landlord ownership; and our main purpose was
to emphasize the value of the interests involved, the possibility
of increasing that value, and the necessity for combination unless
the whole were to be destroyed. And here was no question merely of
providing an attraction for the summer visitor: it meant conserving a
mainstay of livelihood for hundreds of labouring men.

When I was a boy a regular feature in that countryside was the fish
pedlar--some old man or old woman with a donkey and two creels,
hawking round fish that had been carted up from the coast by
Sheephaven. Along the prosperous settled shores of Lough Swilly, by
Ramelton and Letterkenny, these poor folk found a market at the end
of a day's journey. It was a poor market and a small one. But since
the railroad was instituted, the fish pedlar takes a back place. Fish
goes straight to the great towns, and it has been worth men's while to
organize for catching the summer run of salmon which skirt the coast
in June and July. From Malin Head to Arranmore, and from Arranmore
into Donegal Bay, scores of thousands of pounds must have been earned
in this way during the past seven or eight years by the coast-dwelling
folk, half-farmers, half-fishermen, working through the short nights
in their four-oared yawls. A lucky crew will earn ten pounds a man in
two months' fishing--in a country from which each year thousands go
across to Scotland or Lancashire for field labour and are content if
they bring home ten pounds for their season's toil. It is easy to see
how great an added source of prosperity this fishing means. Yet if
the fish are killed out in the breeding streams, it ends the fishing;
and when a river is divided into a hundred interests instead of one,
no individual has a sufficient inducement to preserve the stock of
salmon. A lesson in citizenship has to be learnt; public opinion
has to be created. Donegal is leading in the attempt to develop
co-operative preservation of game and fish, and whoever helps that
endeavour is doing a good turn, not only to the interests of sport,
but to the interests of Ireland.


Golf, which for the present is even a greater attraction than
sport, does not extend into the wilder parts of the country; though,
indeed, twenty years ago Port Salon and Rosapenna, where the most
famous links are, were outlandish enough: it is golf that has brought
them well into the pale of civilization--over-civilization, some of us
grumble, when we see smart frocks among the sandhills by Downings Bay.
Yet anyone who goes to Rosapenna, and has curiosity enough to enquire,
can learn the whole history of a great industry's development within
a score of years--for Downings is the centre of a most prosperous
herring fishery, and the girls and boys from that outlying region are
fetched at high wages to do skilled work in curing herring wherever
herring are being caught, as far south as Dublin Bay, and very likely

And if I had any choice of all the fine places in Ireland to spend
a holiday in, I would choose the one which makes the centre of Mr.
Williams's sketch from Rosapenna--the low headland of Ards, jutting
into Sheephaven, with wood of oak, and fir, and beech, and ash, so
exquisitely blended, spread for a covering over ground so beautifully
diversified; with little bays and creeks of blue water over the
cleanest and tawniest sand running up into the heart of wooded or
heathery slopes. Nowhere else is the scent of the brine so clean and
strong across the other pungencies of heath, and bog-myrtle, of oak,
and of bracken; nowhere else that I know does a perfect day give such
fulfilment of desire.

Rosapenna shore and the village of Carrigart are too much dominated
by the hotel and by foreign ways for my liking; but on the opposite
shore, where Portnablah gives a harbour (not safe, alas!) to the boats
of my friends, is the place of all my affections. This rocky little
townland is set thick with whitewashed cottages, and here it has been
an old custom for Irish folk from Derry and Letterkenny to come to
the salt water and find homely quarters. The "bathers", as they are
called, have of late years grown to be a multitude: if you want rooms
in a farmhouse there you must bespeak them far in advance, and no
wonder. If my ghost haunts any place it will be there, where the white
road to Dunfanaghy (white, for this is a limestone tract), leaving the
wall of Ards demesne, rises to a crest with a few houses (filled with
bathers) on the right; and on your left is Sessiagh Lake, prosperously
stocked with trout, and watched over by an old herring fisher, still
able to pull a stout oar when the strong gale catches that high-lying
water, but for the most part happy to drift contentedly and spin yarns
about the men and the things and the fish that he has known. Quick
with his tongue, too, in a leisurely way. "I suppose people very
seldom die here," said a stranger, commenting on the healthiness of
the situation. "Never more nor once," said old Tom.

Beyond the houses and the limekiln and the glimpse of Sessiagh's
delusive waters (Heaven knows how many blank days I fished there!)
is a line of grassy hillocks--the mass of Horn Head blocks the view
beyond them to the west, but full north, suddenly, held in the curve
between two of these little summits, you catch sight of the Atlantic
blue. Blue, it may be, or purple, or greyish green, or black almost,
with white spray flying; but there it is, held as if in a cup--the
very quintessence of the saltness, the strength, and the freedom of
the sea. When the herring are in, you shall see it dotted over with
smacks and yawls, and here and there a curragh crawling slowly on the
water like some black insect; or at night all a-twinkle with lights,
till you rub your eyes and wonder if a town has not suddenly sprung
into being. And all about, the steep shores of the bay are patched
and striped with careful tillage, crops, well-tended, nestling in for
shelter under every rocky hummock; and nestled, too, into the folds of
the ground, are the white-fronted houses, with stone pegs across their
eaves for cording to lash the roof secure against their terrible gales.

It is worth while being there in bad weather, to watch the run of
sea on those cliffs; sometimes, in a sinister calm, rolling in
mountain-high, tearing itself to whiteness on the long black spines of
rock; and then, after this forerunner, comes the storm itself. It is
then, when you see the smacks running in for shelter, or when, after a
night of this, you see them put out to pick up costly nets that have
been cut adrift to save men's lives, and that still must be recovered
even at grave peril--it is then you will realize how these people take
a grip of their country and cling to the foothold for which all life
is a struggle.

Yet life goes merrily there. In the winter through some parishes there
will be dancing almost every night in one cottage or another, and the
crowd is thick on the floor and about the big turf fire.


These people are for the most part pure Irish, and west of Dunfanaghy
all are Irish speakers. Under Irish rule it was the territory of the
M'Swineys, chief urraghts of the O'Donnell, and Doe Castle, at the
outfall of the Lackagh, was the fortress of the chief of the name.
Owen Roe O'Neill made his landing here, Cromwell's most formidable
opponent in Ireland--removed at last either by sickness or poison.
Here Red Hugh O'Donnell was fostered by Owen M'Swiney of the Battle
Axes before the treacherous kidnapping at Rathmullen. There were three
M'Swiney clans--M'Swiney Doe, M'Swiney Banaght in the west of the
county, and M'Swiney Fanad in the peninsula that divides Mulroy
from Swilly. Each had its own war tune, and a schoolmaster friend of
mine--himself a Sweeny--who collected native airs, had got two of the
three, but not the third; until at last he heard of an old bedridden
man in Fanad who might have it. He rode the twenty miles from his home
at Gartan, with fiddle on his back, and found the old peasant wavering
on the brink of death, yet still able to frame feebly the whistle or
lilt, which my friend picked up on the strings of the fiddle bit by
bit, till gradually he had it all, and, there and then, by the dying
man's bedside, set the cabin ringing with the oldtime war march of his

Another M'Sweeny that I have known was Turlough, the famous piper of
Gweedore, whose repute has travelled far overseas. Aristocrat he is to
the finger tips--saddened indeed because those fine finger tips have
been coarsened by spade labour. "Look," he said to me; "can there be
any music in these hands?" He told me his own generations, connecting
him back with the hereditary bards of the M'Swineys, and I said that
he must know the history of the county better than most. "No," he
answered; "I was never curious of these things, except just as they
concerned myself and my own people."

Mr. Williams's picture shows Errigal where it rises by Gweedore over
Dunlewy Lake--one of the grandest among Ireland's mountains. But the
most striking view of it is east of Gweedore, where the little river
flows out by Gortahork; and here is a thing of much interest, the
Cloghaneely College, where folk go to study Ulster Irish amongst those
who have it for their native speech. Still farther east is Falcarragh,
and the view which Mr. Williams has given adds less than due emphasis
to the astonishing castellated outline of Tory where it rises out of a
tremendous depth of water. I never landed there, though I often talked
with the Tory fishers, including one who had made his fortune at the
goldfields and come back to the place of his birth among the rocks
and the fish heads. There is one sheltered spot, one growing bush,
and one only, on Tory. There, of course, Irish is the language, and
they maintain the practice of verse, chiefly for purposes of satire;
quarrels are revenged in rhyme. I talked to a red-bearded mountainy
man near Gortahork about this, but he said it was a peevish thing to
do; he would rather have a skelp at a man. In truth there is an old
feud between Tory and the shore, and fierce battles have been waged.
I do not know why so few people stop at Falcarragh: there is a good
little hotel, the views are beautiful, there are three little rivers,
all holding salmon, and, at the point where the longest of them flows
out across the long range of sand beach west of Horn Head, there is
a view of Tory and of Horn Head that passes all I know. Running water
across sand, clean sand dunes and grey bent, pure illimitable sea and
high cliffs, sunsmitten or in shadow--there is landscape reduced to
the simplest terms of a broad elemental beauty.

Also at Falcarragh there must be the makings of a links equal to any
in Ireland. The line of dunes runs for several miles along the sea,
ending in one of the strangest natural features I know, the huge
mountain of clean sand which centuries of westerly gales have piled up
against the rocky mass of Horn Head. That famous head is in truth an
island, the counterpart of Tory on its seaward face, yet in the gap
between it and Dunfanaghy such a deposit of sand has accumulated that
only a small causeway has been needed to give access from the mainland
to the tiny farms and the one demesne.

If in Donegal you want to buy Donegal homespun, Falcarragh is a good
market for the product, since some weaving is done about there with
an eye to local wear; and what the Donegal man means to wear, the
Donegal housewife "tramps" in soapsuds and water till the web thickens
into a fabric fit to turn weather. On the western shore, by Carrick
and Ardara, where is now the headquarters of this industry, cloth is
produced solely for export, and the English ladies and gentlemen for
whom it is designed seek softness and fineness rather than solidity.
Indeed the countryfolk themselves treat this merchandise with frank
scorn: they fancy something far less flimsy for their own use, and in
old days, when nothing but homespun was worn, it used to be sent to a
tacking mill and battered till the cloth had the thickness of felt.
But the tacking mill at Bunlin, whose big wooden mallets rising and
falling used to interest us children, is a ruin now; and the homespun
of to-day, with its multitude of pleasant colours, is very different
from the massive greys or heavy indigo-dyed frieze which used to come
from that mill.

The industry has been a godsend to that country, and one wet day in
the little village of Carrick was redeemed to me by the chance of
seeing all these folk, men and women, come marching over the hills
with the baled cloth on their backs, and then watching the bargaining
that proceeded among the various buyers. I bought, too, but I believe
the merchants will not allow the people to sell to tourists any more.


I have not written yet of that western shore which stretches southward
from Dungloe (much haunted by sea-trout fishers) to Glenties, Ardara,
Carrick, and Killybegs. The most beautiful place that I know on it
is at the mouth of the Gweebarra River where it flows out due west
between a line of sandhills which shine dazzling white in the sun
against the immensity of blue. No place is less known; but you can
reach it easily from Portnoo, where is a hotel. And off Portnoo is an
island where on certain days in summer a pilgrimage takes place, at
spring tides, for it is essential to walk barefoot to the island. The
ceremonies performed with certain stones are Christianized in form,
but evidently had an origin long before Christianity. Glenties, some
eight or ten miles farther south, is at a point where several glens
converge (_na Gleantai_, the Glens) in the valley of the Ownea River,
famous for its salmon fishing, which is now vested in purchasing
tenants who have attempted to introduce co-operative preservation.
If the experiment succeeds it will mean better preservation than has
ever been known before; if it fail, I fear that one great source of
the salmon supply will be wiped out, with loss to sport, and with loss
much graver to all the labouring fishers who live by that industry.
But, as things stand, the man who wants good fishing is more likely to
get it cheap at Glenties or Ardara than any other place known to me.
In both towns there is a decent hotel. Ardara stands near the outfall
of the Ownea but actually on a smaller river, the Owentogher, which
is not only very picturesque, but a good stream for salmon and sea
trout, if only it could be preserved. And one of the most pleasant
bits of fishing I ever had was on a tiny stream, the Brocky, which
comes down a mile farther on and was fishable before the tearing flood
had subsided in the bigger rivers.

Glenties and Ardara are places where you go for sport, though the
beauty of mountain and river is all about you. But for scenery Carrick
and Killybegs are your destination. Killybegs is the terminus of that
light railway which runs from Donegal town along the north shore
of Donegal bay, past the Marquis of Cunningham's wooded demesne at
first, but gradually getting into wilder country, till at last it
reaches this trim little town on its magnificent harbour. Warships use
that harbour, and there is nowadays a good fishing fleet operating
from it for the herring and mackerel; but of other commerce it knows
little. Yet for the lover of boating and bathing it would be hard to
discover a more attractive spot. There, too, you can see the parent
factory of the Donegal carpet trade; and pretty it is to see the big
looms, with a row of six or seven little girls bareheaded (and often
barefooted) in front of each, with nimble fingers knotting on the
tufts of richly coloured wool, or driving them down into their place
in the solid fabric, while the pattern grows slowly before you on
the wide warp. It is odd that so rare a merchandise should come out
of these impoverished regions, for no costlier carpets are made; but
labour is cheap, and willing, and skilful, and nowhere else is factory
work done under more wholesome or happy conditions. All the big room
seemed to be a-ripple and a-play with the young faces and the swift,
graceful movements of these children, for most of them are no more
than children; and small though the wage they earn, it is a big thing
in that countryside, where the old-age pensioner with five shillings
a week seemed at first to himself or herself rich beyond imagination.
There is another of the factories at Kilcar, halfway to Carrick, built
in a sheltered nook almost by the sea; and another in the wild tract
between Gweedore and Falcarragh.

To the west of Killybegs begins that wonderful line of cliff
stretching away past Carrick and Glen Columbkille, and girdling all
the projecting headland till it runs back to Loughros Bay, near
Ardara. For wildness and for majesty this region has no equal, except
in Achill; and it has what Achill lacks, the charm of rivers. Mr.
Williams's pictures illustrate well the coastline, which even when
it is low runs out with huge flag stones and giant boulders into
the deep--fit buttress against such waves as roll in there even on
a day of calm. Everything is big there; distances are long, and a
mile never seems to get you far in any direction. It is a country to
walk, the finest of all the countries known to me; but I would gladly
supplement my walking with a bicycle, travelling one of the roads as
far as it will carry me and then leaving it simply by the ditch at
the roadside, among the osmunda fern which grows everywhere free as
the heather. It commits you to return that way; but what you leave
by the roadside is as safe as if Argus watched it--unless, indeed,
some mountainy heifer should pass that way and eat it: they will
chew anything from a fishing rod to a suit of clothes. I have seen
embarrassed bathers pursuing an active cow, who carried essential
garments in her mouth, still masticating them even while she pranced
in her clumsy gallop.--Carrick is the centre for this country and
Slieve League the great excursion; it is a fine walk down by the
little port of Teelin and then up the track which winds along the
cliff edge of the mountain--perhaps the finest view of all is when you
are halfway, with seven or eight hundred feet of sheer cliff below you
and the steep face towering up another thousand above. At the somewhat
overrated hazard of the One Man's Pass you would fall, I dare say,
sixteen hundred feet before you reached the water; but from the top a
pebble may be dropped two thousand feet plumb into the sea.

[Illustration: GLENVEAGH, DONEGAL]

Horn Head is only seven or eight hundred feet; yet because the cliff
face there is undercut, and the Horns themselves project so oddly,
it always seemed to me a dizzier place than the greater cliff. The
really marvellous thing at Slieve League is that view across Donegal
Bay to the mountains of Sligo, Benbulbin of magic fame, and along the
wild Mayo coast that stretches out and out to the west till the long
promontory is finished off by island rocks, the Stags of Broadhaven.

Yet, since I scorn to deceive, what endears Carrick to me is not its
cliff scenery, but its little rivers and its people. I know the rivers
are too small: you cannot seriously hope to kill salmon there except
in a raging flood, and then your flood runs off in a couple of hours:
I hooked four fish there inside the first hour after breakfast, killed
two of them, and never touched another all day. But for sheer beauty;
for infinite variety in the shape and colour of flowing water (the
most beautiful thing to me on God's earth); for pools where the eddy
swirls past clean rock with glossy ferns in every crevice; for banks
where the scent of bog-myrtle is all about as you brush through the
heather; for anything that can entice the eye of an angler, I never
saw the equal of that main stream. The little Owen Buidhe, too, in its
boggy glen, has attractions of its own, deeper pools and seductive
corners; but it is the Glen River, flowing down from Meenaneary, that
haunts my vision when in London I crave for the things that I desired
in boyhood, and love more in middle age.

And of all the human beings whom I have known among the peasant folk
of Ireland, none had ever quite the charm of old Charlie Carr, the
gillie who fished with me at Carrick. By an odd chance, he was no
sportsman. He would want you to be pleased, and to catch fish, if
so you fancied it; but I remember how my vanity was hurt when, on a
difficult day, I had hooked and landed a fine sea trout, the first
that anyone had seen for a long time. "Them O'Hagans was great people
too", he said as he shook the fish out of the net, calmly pursuing his
discourse about the ancient days and the generations of old, and the
lore of those few books which he had, and studied with passion. He
was no true shanachie; what of Irish legend and song his memory kept
had no real value. He was a lover of knowledge, not for vanity, not
for the sense of power, but simply because it added to the richness
of life--one of God's gifts that he welcomed as the sunshine. If
ever I met a happy nature, a soul without spot, it was this Irish
peasant; if ever I have seen letters full of grace and simplicity
they were those that reached me once in a rare while from that lonely
glen, asking, never for himself, but perhaps that I would give a
prize to some school children, or the like, and always full of an
affection that knew no difference between man and man. I can see now
the wonderful blue eyes in that kind face, a handsome peasant face
with its fringe of grey close-cropped whisker. If I remember a word
of complaint from him, it was when he saw his neighbour go by on a
car--a man no soberer, no more industrious, no better educated than
himself, yet one who had had the instinct for buying and selling, for
putting penny to penny and pound to pound. The neighbour was a good
man too, in his way; kindly and friendly, prompt to do a service, yet
not to be reckoned amongst those elect upon earth whom everyone using
discernment will have recognized on his way through life, of whom not
a few that I have known have been Donegal peasants. But none had quite
the grace, the simplicity, and the distinction of this old dreamer and
student who carries net and basket by the Glen River without repute
among men.

For all my love of Carrick I could hardly conceive of living there.
It is too bare, too vast. And though there is no frost, though every
second bush you see in summer is crimson fuchsia full of blossoms, yet
winter must be of a terrible loneliness. But the Donegal that I was
brought up in--Donegal of more inhabited and habitable shores by Lough
Swilly and Sheephaven and Mulroy--does seem to me a place not for
summer visitants only. However, this book concerns itself with summer,
and nowhere is summer more delightful. Of course it rains often, and
sometimes hard. "Did it rain ony wi' ye?" "It didna tak time to rain;
it just cam doun buckets," is a fragment of descriptive dialogue. But
take the country as I saw it in mid-July, when London was stewing
on a griddle of asphalt and flags, and when English country was all
one monotonous deadened green with heavy haze dimming the blueness.
Out at Bunlin, beyond Milford, all was green too; I looked from the
steep road across a glen breast-deep in bracken, with the curve of
Cratlagh wood beyond, and nearer me trim fields of green oats and
turnips. There was beauty of line there in Mulroy with its score of
scattered islands, in the hills, not very high, but very mountainous,
bold, and jagged, falling from the peak of Lough Salt to the glen, and
to the Mulroy water, crest by crest, sharp to the last little rocky
hillock. There was beauty of colour too, for the green of the bracken
was broken by silvery grey stone, with glint of mica in it, showing
up through the fern, and crowned or set about with purple cushions
of heath, here and there a foxglove adding another and a brighter
purple. There was wonderful beauty of detail in the wooding nestled
into the hills--wild growth, scrub oak, light, feathery ash and
birch, with the gleam of silvery stems, Scotch fir and larch--planted
trees, yet falling naturally into forestation which had none of the
heaviness, the citizen look of elm and sycamore. All was light, hardy
and strong--not a wilderness, but a cared-for country where the eye
wandered over a fair expanse of varied beauty, lying there in full
summer without summer's drowsiness or blowsiness. Lightness, airiness,
was the note of it all--light air, breath of bog-myrtle across the
salt of the sea; and even the decent homely people, lacking the graces
of Cork and Kerry, had yet in their motion and in their eye just the
dash of wildness which marks the Celtic strain.


Next day was Donegal all over--fresh breeze, clouds driving swiftly,
and then bright sun, lighting up a lovely blueness. We were out on
small lakes up among the hills, two of us who fancied ourselves not
a little as fishermen, and got no encouragement for that faith; but
after all what could be pleasanter, airier, or more resting and more
bracing at once? and how good one's lunch is on the stones by a reedy
shore! I had to go back to London, and the car took me to Rathmullen
on the Swilly shore; and when the little steamer put out from the pier
it seemed to me that of these lovely loughs this is after all the
most beautiful. All was grey and green in the westering light; the
hills on the Inishowen shore opposite showed softer than the crags by
Mulroy. They were green now, with the olive green of young heather; in
another month they would be glowing purple. The lough as we crossed it
was a great round lake throwing arms west and south-west to Ramelton
and Letterkenny, beyond which all was bathed in a sunny haze. As we
ran farther out, the western mountains of Inishowen came in sight,
then suddenly beyond Dunree the sea gap opened, letting the eye out
to limitless ocean; and soon the sheer crag of the Binn of Fanad was
disclosed flanking that portal on the west. Looking back to the shore
we left, the Devil's Backbone writhed sinister and jagged along the
crest of the Knockalla range behind Rathmullen; and away to the west
in the sun haze, accustomed eyes could make out the faint shapes of
Errigal and Dooish.

History was all about us, evident in actual landmarks. On the hills
which divide the lough from Derry stood out boldly the ring of stone,
the great circular fort, which was the Grianan of Aileach, chief
seat of the northern Hy Niall, whose kinsfolk reigned in Tara. Here
Patrick preached about 450 A.D., baptized Eoghan, founder of
the great Tyrone clan, the O'Neills. Here, in a later age, came an
O'Brien of Thomond, one of Brian Boru's earliest successors, to avenge
a raid of these Northerners on Clare, and the stones of Aileach were
carried away to be built into the cathedral at Limerick. Over at
Rathmullen is the beach from which the boy Hugh O'Donnell was rowed
out to see the English ship which lay at anchor, offering hospitality
with black treachery behind; for the crew cut their cables while the
young chief and his company were below seeing the vessel's stores, and
sailed off with the prisoner so dishonourably made, to the Castle of
Dublin, where Hugh lay for years immured, captured but not submissive;
attempting escape after escape with unfailing heart till at last he
got loose, and after bare deliverance from death in the snow-covered
hills was free to exact a reckoning for the wrongs he had suffered.

On a low hill beyond Inch Island rises the square town of Birt, which
has memories of another chief, Cahir O'Dogherty, lord of Inishowen.
Cahir was fostered by the M'Devitts of Birt, and when Red Hugh claimed
lordship over Inishowen, the M'Devitts sought English protection
for their foster-brother and got it. The O'Dogherty became the
Englishmen's ally and helped to pronounce forfeiture on O'Donnell and
O'Neill after the two great earls took their flight in 1607--setting
out from this same ill-omened port of Rathmullen. But a new governor
of Derry arrived, quarrelled with Cahir O'Dogherty and struck him.
The blow was dearly paid for. Cahir went back to Birt, called out
the M'Devitts, and sacked and burnt Derry. But the Irish power had
been broken beyond retrieving when the earls fled, and O'Dogherty was
soon a mere outlaw on his keeping. They ran him to earth finally by
Doon Well, near Kilmacrenan, where he was shot dead in the encounter.
Doon Well is famous to-day, but I doubt if many there remember Cahir
O'Dogherty's fate, or even that on the Rock of Doon took place the
installation of each O'Donnell prince. What is remembered is the
sanctity of the holy well, whose water still draws thousands of
pilgrims and still works miracles of healing.

History more modern is in view at Lough Swilly, for here the English
fleet brought in their prizes after the action with Bonaparte in 1798,
and brought more than they knew, for they had captured Theobald Wolfe
Tone, the most dangerous enemy to England that Ireland had in those
or perhaps any other days. To-day there is a strong guard on Lough
Swilly. Dunree--_Dun Riogh_--means the King's Fort and the king has
his fort there, of the most modern type, commanding the entrance to
this great haven, with an armament very unlike that of the martello
towers which are dotted about, marking another of England's recurring
scares--the scare of the "French colonels" under the lesser Napoleon.

All these things came into my mind as I sat on the beach by Fahan and
watched the colour fade out and new colour take its place--masses
of dark green where there had been shimmers of grey and blue. Other
memories came there too--less historical: it was there that somewhere
in the 'seventies I had my first sight of a real railway train.
I carry away from Lough Swilly my earliest as well as my latest
impression of pleasant, beautiful Ulster, enhanced by a grateful
thought of the dinner which Mrs. MacMahon provided for one about to
take a long night journey. And whoever leaves the north of Ireland
with such impressions on his mind will have no cause to quarrel with
the close of his holiday.

Yet it is not well to depart leaving unexplored the mountainous
peninsula of Inishowen which separates Lough Swilly from Lough Foyle.
This great ridge of land is dominated by the graceful shape of Slieve
Snacht ("Snow Mountain"), a model of what mountains should be: bold
and peaked, yet with swelling curves that balance on either flank,
it fills the centre of a distance more impressively than far loftier

Inishowen was owned by the O'Doghertys, a clan who, tossed between
Tyrone and Tirconnell, had at least great staying power, for the
saying is--you cannot beat a bush in Inishowen without "rising" an
O'Dogherty. Their castles remain, and at Green Castle, on Lough
Foyle, is the work of greater men, Norman-planned, Richard de Burgo's
fortress. Many traces, too, of a far older period are to be seen.
At Carrowmore, not far from Culdaff, is a "souterrain" with five
chambers--a great mansion, in short, for these burrowers. Rivers and
lakes, too, are there with fair fishing, though I believe that a
certain old professor in Derry has skimmed the cream of it all in his
learned leisure, any time this fifty years. But the Castle River at
Buncrana is a fine salmon stream still, and the links there constitute
an attraction for very capable golfers--though not equal to those at
Port Salon on the opposite shore. In a word, if you cannot get to the
west of Lough Swilly you may be very well content with the east of it;
and though much of infinite beauty and interest lies beyond, when you
have seen and known Lough Swilly and its shores, and the people who
live on them--that mixed race, Scot and Irish, lowland and highland,
Protestant and Catholic, all neighbourly together--why, at least you
will have had a very fair chance to know and love, not the Ulster that
people rant about or rail at, but Ulster as it really is.


_At the Villafield Press, Glasgow, Scotland_

Transcriber's Notes

The Table of Contents has been added for convenience.

Illustrations have been moved to paragraph breaks.

Page 34: Replaced the oe ligature with oe in the two instances of

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