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Title: Leinster - Beautiful Ireland Series
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 "Leinster - Beautiful Ireland Series" ***

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  Described by Stephen Gwynn
  Pictured by Alexander Williams



Beautiful Ireland


_Uniform with this Series_

Beautiful England




  Bay of Dublin from Howth Cliffs                            _Frontispiece_

  Killiney Bay and Bray Head                                              8

  Near Abbeyleix, Queen's County                                         14

  The Port of Dublin                                                     20

  A Hawthorn Glade, Phoenix Park                                         24

  The River Liffey at Palmerston                                         32

  Portmarnock Golf Links                                                 38

  The Meeting of the Waters, Woodenbridge                                42

  St. Kevin's Bed and the Church of the Rock, Upper Lake, Glendalough    46

  On the River Boyne at Trim                                             50

  The Bridge of Slane, River Boyne                                       54

  On the River Slaney at Ballintemple                                    58

[Illustration: LEINSTER]


Leinster is the richest of Irish provinces, the heart of Ireland, and
for beauty it can challenge any of its sisters, save in one respect
only: it lacks the beauty of wildness. What it has to show of most
beautiful lies within twenty miles of the capital. There is no city
north of the Alps which has so lovely surroundings as Dublin--or so
varied in their loveliness. Sea and mountain, plain and river, all come
into that range of exquisite choice. But everywhere in it the beautiful
frame of nature has been modified and beautified by man.

Since it is not possible, in the small space available, to describe
exhaustively the features of this great province, which stretches from
the sea to the Shannon and from the Mourne Mountains to Waterford
Haven, a selection must be made and indicated at once. First, then,
the county of Dublin itself, infringing a little on Kildare. Secondly,
the Wicklow Mountains and their glens. Thirdly, that rich valley of the
Boyne, which was the heart of the ancient kingdom of Meath. But, before
details are dealt with, some general idea of the topography must be

Suppose you are on deck when the mail boat from Holyhead has been two
hours out, or a little more (I write here for strangers), you will see
Dublin Bay open before you. To your right, making the northernmost horn
of the curve, is the rocky, almost mountainous, peninsula of Howth,
and ten miles north of it you see its shape repeated in the Island of

Except for that, to the north and to the west, coast and land are
all one wide level, far as your eye can reach--unless by some chance
the air be so rarefied that you discern, fifty miles northward, the
purple range of Carlingford Hills (still in Leinster), and beyond them,
delicate and aerial blue, the long profile of the Mourne Mountains,
where Ulster begins.

But to the south of the city (where it lies in the bight of the bay,
spilling itself northward along the shore to Clontarf of famous
memory, and southward to Kingstown and beyond) mountains rise, a dense
huddle of rounded, shouldering heights, stretching away far as you can
see. Near Dublin they almost touch the shore: one rocky spur comes
down to Dalkey Island, which was the deep-water landing place before
Kingstown harbour was built: it rises into the peaked fantastic summit
of Killiney Hill. Beyond it the coast curves in a little, giving a bay
and valley in which lies Bray, our Irish equivalent for Brighton. The
Bray river marks the limits of County Dublin; and beyond Bray again is
the high, serrated ridge of Bray Head, fronting the water in a cliff.
Landward from it rises, peak by peak, that exquisite chain of heights
which from Little Sugarloaf to Great Sugarloaf runs back to connect
here once more the main body of mountains with the sea.

Mr. Williams in his picture has shown Bray Head and the lesser
Sugarloaf in a glow of light which turns their heather covering to a
golden pink; and from his vantage on the slope of Killiney, he has been
able to catch the shape of Wicklow Head beyond and between the nearest
summits of this chain.

South of that, you, from your steamer, can distinguish how the margin
of land between mountain and coast line widens progressively. Wicklow
Head shoots far out into the sea; and beyond it you can trace the long,
low coast of Wexford projecting farther and farther from the hills.
Wicklow, in truth, is a ridge of mountains, with small apanages of
lowland on each side; Wexford, a level space east of the mountains
which separate it from the vast central plain, nearly all of which is

This mountain range, trending south and a little west from Dublin, is
the main feature of Leinster--well marked in history. All the rest
of the province was the most fertile, the most accessible region in
Ireland, and therefore the first to be subdued. The Normans made,
indeed, their first landings in Wexford and Waterford, but they
quickly consolidated their power in Dublin, which was itself a city of
foreign origin--which, even when they came in the twelfth century, was
Danish rather than Irish. Centuries after that, when southern Ireland
had slipped completely from under foreign control, the "pale"--the
district centring round Dublin and varying from reign to reign in its
limits--always remained subject to English law.

But the pale, however far it might stretch west and northward, stopped
at the base of the Dublin hills. There the Irish clans of the O'Tooles
and O'Byrnes held sway in strong fastnesses; and even in the nineteenth
century, after the last great rising of 1798 had been put down in blood
and fire, Michael Dwyer could still hold out on these hills so securely
that Emmet, escaping from his ill-starred attempt in 1803, found
sanctuary within two hours' march of those castle gates which he had
failed to storm.


Climb those hills as Emmet climbed them. If you care to follow the
most tragic romance of Irish history, get your car driver to bring you
where Bride Street joins Thomas Street, not far from the house where
Lord Edward Fitzgerald was taken (a tablet marks it). There, in the
wedge of mean yards enclosed by Bride Street and Marshalsea Lane, was
the site of Emmet's armoury and arsenal, whence he issued out that July
night--to how ghastly a failure! Then you can drive up Francis Street
(the route he followed in escaping) and so to the Green at Haroldscross
where he used to meet Miles Byrne, the Wexford rebel, Emmet's
right-hand man, but later a colonel of Napoleon's army with the cross
of honour upon his breast. Beyond the Green is a little range of houses
on the right; somewhere there Emmet was taken by Sirr. Farther still
towards the hills is Rathfarnham, where he lived during the long months
of elaborate preparation; and here it was that his faithful servant,
Anne Devlin, refused to betray his movements though they half-hanged
her between the shafts of a cart Farther still, beyond Rathfarnham, a
road takes you past the Priory, the abode of John Philpot Curran, that
famous orator and patriot, whose daughter, Sarah, was the heroine of
Emmet's romance and of Moore's lovely song, "She is far from the land
where her young hero sleeps". In the grounds of the Priory and of the
neighbouring Hermitage, "Emmet's Walk", "Emmet's Seat", are shown: that
old story has left many marks. Curran's name has not been so cherished:
instincts are quick in Ireland, though it is only within the last few
years that we have learnt how mean a part the great orator played in
that tragic history. Yet it is worth glancing at the Priory, for here
came all that was famous in Ireland's most famous day: famous orators,
famous duellists, patriots, and placemen--worse even than placemen,
for Curran's closest friend was Leonard MacNally, who for a lifetime
posed as the champion of men like Emmet, and for a lifetime sold their
secrets to Government, while acting as their advocate in the courts
where they were tried for dear life.

All the great houses that stud the lower slope of these hills, with
parks about them, and with much beautiful decoration inside, are work
of that period in the eighteenth century when Ireland had her brief
prosperous hour, when her capital was in truth a metropolis. To-day,
as you rise above this belt of wooded land and make your way out on
to the slopes of Three Rock or Kilmashogue or Tibradden--the nearest
heights--you will look over a country not much changed in aspect
probably, save that land which was then cornbearing is now nearly all
in grass. The city itself spreads wider than it did in Grattan's
day--there has been a great movement out along the shore of the bay.
But the building has been mostly of houses for people with small means
and narrow ambitions. The great houses of great men that clustered
within a short radius of College Green are great houses no more. South
of the river they have become public buildings: Lord Castlereagh's
a Government office in Merrion Street, "Buck" Whalley's the old
University College, and so on. But on the north side, Lord Moira's
mansion, once a marvel of splendour, is to-day a mendicity institution;
and few of the fine houses of that period have had even so lucky a
fate. With their elaborate, plaster-moulded ceilings, their beautiful
entrance fanlights, and all the other marks of that admirable period
in domestic architecture, they house squalid poverty to-day, each room
a tenement. The growth of Dublin is illusory. In Grattan's time it was
one of the great capitals of Europe. To-day it is something between a
hope and a despair.

But this is history. I return to topography.

From your height on the Dublin hills you can look over two-thirds of
Leinster. Southward, the mountains hide Wicklow and Wexford, Carlow
and Kilkenny. But over all that vast plain, stretching in champaign
north and west, your eye can travel till it reaches far into Ulster
on the north, and westward there is nothing to stop it between you
and the Shannon. This is a country of many rivers. The Liffey flows
out below your feet. Five-and-twenty miles northward the Boyne has its
estuary. All the rest of the plain is drained southward--part into the
Shannon, and so ultimately westward, but most into the great systems
of the Nore and Barrow; and ill they drain it. For twenty miles inland
is choice soil, but beyond that you reach the central bog of Allen,
where long expanses of brown heather or of land only half-reclaimed
make up a landscape of melancholy charm. Such a scene as Mr. Williams
has drawn somewhere in the Queen's County is intensely typical of this
midland country. Even where the furze blossom makes a flicker of gay
colour, the whole effect is dismal, and its loneliness is constantly
accentuated by what he has suggested, the flight of wild marsh-haunting
birds: the trees are apt to be stunted and weather-twisted by winds off
the "stormy Slieve Bloom", whose veiled purple shapes are shown against
the western sky in his picture.

Yet the folk of this outer pale are "kindly Irish of the Irish"--none
kindlier; and I have often thought the character of Ireland could not
be better expressed than in a chance phrase I heard in the talk of a
girl from that low-lying region. "My father used always to tell me:
'Put plenty of potatoes in the pot, Maria. You couldn't tell who would
be stepping in to us across the bog'."

Leaving out of sight, because I must, the famous city of Kildare with
its Cathedral (half-church, half-fortress); the broad lakes of West
Meath, endeared by hope to patient anglers; the city of Kilkenny,
where something of Ireland's prosperity remains unbroken, where the
Butlers' Castle stands undestroyed, where are churches that were never
ruined (almost a prodigy in Ireland); saying nothing of Lissoy, where
Goldsmith lived in the village that his pen immortalized; briefly,
dismissing about two-thirds of Leinster with a wave of the hand, let me
come back to Dublin and its environment.


Of Dublin itself, what shall be said? A much-travelled Belgian priest
told me recently that only in Naples had he seen such widespread marks
of destitution, and in Naples they have little to suffer from cold. A
young Irish nationalist, London-bred, describing the emotion with which
he made his first visit to the country he had worked so hard for, said
that his week in Dublin left one leading impression on his mind--the
saddest people he had ever seen; nowhere had he heard so little
laughter. He had lived near poverty all his life in London and yet had
not seen so many pinched and drawn faces. All this is true, especially
on the north bank of the Liffey. And yet an artist who came with me
once to the city spent his days in rapture over the beauty of the
public buildings. That also is true. The King's Inns, the Four Courts,
and the Custom House on the north side of the river; in College Green,
the front of Trinity College and the old Parliament House, (still--in
1911--the Bank of Ireland), are all splendid examples of the severe
Georgian style of architecture, which found even happier expression in
many noble and nobly ornamented dwelling houses. All this building was
done in the latter part of the eighteenth century, when Dublin had its
day, when it was in reality the capital of Ireland.


Traces of its earlier history are found in the Castle, Norman built,
but standing where the Danish founders of the city set their stronghold
by the ford above the tideway; and in Christ Church, first founded by
the Danes when in the eleventh century they came over to Christianity.
Skilful restoration of the cathedral has disclosed much of the early
fabric--Norman work on Danish foundations. And yet that ancient Danish
stronghold interests me no more than Cæsar's Londinium; nor does the
medieval city hold any charm for my mind--lying as it did outside
the real life of Ireland, merely a fortress of a foreign power.
Strongbow's tomb is there to see in Christ Church, but to my thinking
a far more significant monument is to be found in the other cathedral,
St. Patrick's. Dublin as we know it, the capital and centre of an
English-speaking Ireland, really dates from the eighteenth century;
and its first outstanding and notable figure was Jonathan Swift, the
immortal Dean. The Deanery, in which were spent the most remarkable
years of his splendid and sinister existence, stands outside the main
entrance; near that entrance, in the south aisle, surmounted by a
small bust, is the marble slab which enshrines his famous epitaph. I
translate it:--

    "Jonathan Swift, for thirty years Dean of this Cathedral, lies
    here, where fierce indignation can no longer prey upon his heart.
    Go, traveller, and imitate, if you can, him who did a man's part
    as the strenuous upholder of liberty."

The liberty which Swift upheld was the liberty of Ireland. He sought
to free Ireland from that system of laws restricting all industrial
development, whose consequences are with us to-day. He came to Dublin
in 1715, a politician in disgrace, and was hooted in the streets. Seven
years later he was king of the mobs, and no jury could be bullied to
convict, no informer could be bought to denounce, when Government
sought the author of those pamphlets which every living soul knew to be
his. He began the work which Grattan and the volunteers completed--yet
he was an Englishman and no lover of Ireland. Born in Ireland by
chance, bred there of necessity, consigned to a preferment there
against his hope and will, he was spurred on to work for Ireland by
that _saeva indignatio_ which his epitaph speaks of, which he himself
renders in this sentence of a letter:--

    "Does not the corruption and folly of men in high places eat into
    your heart like a canker!"

The greatest perhaps of British humorists, he died mad and miserable;
and died as he expected to die. His other monument is Swift's Hospital,
built for a madhouse out of the money willed by him in a bequest, which
his savage pen thus characterized:--

  "He left the little wealth he had
  To build a house for fools and mad,
  And showed by one satiric touch
  No nation wanted it so much".

In the north transept an epitaph written by Swift marks the tomb
of "Mrs. Hester Johnson, better known to the world by the name of
'Stella', under which she is celebrated in the writings of Dr. Jonathan
Swift, Dean of this Cathedral". The world has always wanted to know,
and never will know for certain, whether she ought to have borne the
name of him who celebrated her. But his bones were laid by hers, and
still lie there, under a column in the nave; though the indecency of
antiquarians dragged out their skulls when the cathedral was under
restoration, made a show of them at parties, and preserved a memorial
of this outrage in plaster casts, now deposited in the robing-room.

You can see also, in the vestry, not a cast, but the authentic skull
of William's General Schomberg, who fell in glory at the head of
victorious troops crossing the Boyne. You can read also Swift's epitaph
on the tomb which Schomberg's relatives and heirs declined to pay for,
leaving the pious task to Swift and his chapter. The Latin sentence
keeps the vibrant ring of Swift's indignation. If only his ghost
could write the epitaph of those who ransacked tombs and groped among
mouldering relics of the immortal and unforgotten dead, to find objects
for a peepshow! Yet after all it is in keeping with the story. In the
dark end of Swift's life, while he paced his guarded room between
keepers, servants used to admit strangers for a fee, to see that
white-haired body which had once housed so great and terrible a mind.

St. Patrick's Cathedral, which Swift made famous, dates, like Christ
Church, from Norman builders; but it was renovated fifty years ago at
the cost of Sir Benjamin Guinness, head of the famous brewery. Christ
Church, on the other hand, was rebuilt out of whisky--the restorer
was Mr. Henry Roe. Broadly speaking, the century which began with the
legislative Union was marked in Dublin by the growth of distilling and
brewing and the decay of all other industries. Guinness's is to-day one
of the sights of the city, and admission by order, easily procurable,
will take the visitor over the biggest thing of its kind anywhere
to be seen--and, let it be said, one of the best managed. Nowhere
are workmen better treated, and no rich manufacturers have made more
public-spirited use of their wealth. Dublin owes to Lord Ardilaun not
only the opening but the beautification of St. Stephen's Green, once an
enclosure but now a very attractive public park in the middle of the
city's finest square. We may well thank Providence for this one great
industry--but of how many it has had to take the place!

Dublin in its metropolitan days was a true centre of craftsmanship
and art. I have spoken of the architecture, which used so finely the
dove-coloured limestone of Wicklow. Gandon, who designed both the
Four Courts and the Custom House, was not Irish, but Ireland gave him
his opportunity and in Dublin only can he be judged. No great painter
adorned that period among us; but all the subsidiary arts flourished
exceedingly. Horace Walpole used to send across his books to be
bound; Sheraton, Chippendale's rival, was a Dublin artist-craftsman;
glass-cutting, silversmiths' work, all these things furnished men with
infinite skill of hand and grace of design. Within twenty years after
the Union all these things had vanished like a dream.

Except Guinness's stout, the nineteenth century has little to show that
is local and characteristic and excellent. It can best afford to be
judged by Foley's admirable statues of our Irish worthies. Burke and
Goldsmith stand outside Trinity College, to which they belonged--though
poor Goldsmith had even less cause than Swift to love the stepmother
of his studies. Doubtless Goldsmith was not easily distinguished from
the ruck of troublesome undergraduates, and that dignity with which the
sculptor has invested his odd and appealing ugliness was not evident
except to the eye of genius. Grattan holds the centre of College
Green, a dominating figure near those walls which he filled with
stately eloquence. O'Connell, the great tribune of a later day, stands
lifted on an elaborate monument in the street, and facing the bridge,
which now bear his name--at the other end of that broad promenade and
thoroughfare (which part of Ireland still calls Sackville Street,
not so much out of love for a forgotten Viceroy as out of dislike to
the change) there will stand from 1911 onwards a newer memorial to a
later leader--the monument which Augustus Saint Gaudens designed to
commemorate Parnell. The famous American sculptor has set his bronze
figure, of heroic size, on a low pedestal; but behind it rises an
obelisk of brown Galway granite, inlaid with bronze and crowned with
tripod and leaping flame. Thus Dublin possesses the only work by this
artist (Dublin born, of a French father and an Irish mother) which the
United Kingdom can show, save for the small medallion of Stevenson
in Edinburgh. In America, where he lived and worked, his fame is
established by many examples.

Moore, a national hero hardly less popular in his day than even
O'Connell or Parnell, has been much less happy in his statue. It faces
the Bank of Ireland in Westmorland Street, and is, in truth, very
absurd and ugly. But Moore's volatile charm of countenance, which a
hundred contemporaries describe, did not lend itself to reproduction in
bronze. More interesting by far is the tablet in Aungier Street, which
marks the little shop where he was born and bred, and from which he
issued forth on the most amazing career of social conquest recorded in
the annals of society. The earliest and best of the _Irish Melodies_
were written in Dublin about 1810; but Moore's parents had before
then moved to a little house near the Phoenix Park, where the son's
influence procured his father a sinecure.

[Illustration: THE PORT OF DUBLIN]

The group of poets who succeeded Moore--writers of the Young Ireland
Movement in 1848--find their commemoration in the bust of James
Clarence Mangan, recently erected in Stephen's Green--almost as
unobtrusive as was in life that strange and unhappy genius.

To-day, as the world knows, we have poets neither few nor
unremarkable--Mr. Yeats chief among them; and one of the intellectual
landmarks of Dublin is the Abbey Theatre, standing obscurely enough,
but not obscure in the world. Here have been produced the poetical
dramas of Mr. Yeats himself, the still more notable prose dramas of Mr.
Synge, together with much work of Lady Gregory, William Boyle, Padraic
Colum, and many lesser names; and they have been produced by a company
of Irish actors--first formed by Mr. W. G. Fay--who have displayed an
amazing range of talent. Any visitor to Dublin who cares for a beauty
and an interest wholly unlike that of the usual machine-made play ought
to try and see a performance at the Abbey.

For the artistic life of Ireland--past, present, and to come--Dublin
is your only ground of study. Among the things which every lover of
Ireland should have seen are two--the Book of Kells in the Trinity
College Library, the Cross of Cong in the Kildare Street National
Museum. The craftsmanship of art was never carried to a higher
point than in the marvellous illumination of that manuscript, the
equally marvellous inlaying of the famous reliquary. These are only
the masterpieces, each in its own kind; they are the index of a
civilization which existed before the Norman crossed to Wexford.
How far back native Irish civilization stretches is matter for the
archæologists; but in Kildare Street is a wonderful collection of the
ornaments, weapons, and utensils, from gold fibulæ to flint arrowheads,
which are the documents of that research.

And at the other end of the history, belonging rather to the twentieth
century than the nineteenth, is the choicest collection of modern
painting which these islands can show--the Municipal Gallery in
Harcourt Street, gathered together by the enterprising genius of Sir
Hugh Lane. The house itself is a monument of the eighteenth century:
it belonged to Lord Clonmell, judge, placeman, and duellist; and it is
a fine example of the Georgian domestic architecture. The gallery is
rich in pictures of the Barbizon school, and with them can be seen the
work of a living Irish landscape painter who worked in his youth along
with that group. If Mr. Nathaniel Hone had chosen to exhibit outside of
Dublin, his name would to-day be widely known, and there are pictures
of his there--pictures of the low-lying Leinster coast by Malahide
and Rush--well able to hold their own beside the famous Frenchmen's
masterpieces. There also can be seen an interesting gallery of
portraits by a painter, bred and trained in Dublin, who, although still
young, is reckoned among the greater names of British art--Mr. William
Orpen. The portraits are not all examples of his best work, but they
are strongly characterized studies of contemporary men and women widely
known in Ireland and outside Ireland. Another artist is represented
there too, but not at his best: for an adequate example of the work of
Walter Osborne, whose untimely death robbed Ireland of more than she
could afford to lose, it is necessary to visit the National Gallery of
Ireland--on all accounts, indeed, well worth visiting. But this one
picture of a tree-bordered meadow, with cattle grazing quietly in the
sun-dappled shade, and beyond it the whitewashed front and blue slate
roof of a long shed, renders a subject so characteristic of Ireland,
so characteristic above all of Leinster, in its exquisite colour, its
sense of large air, its leisurely charm, that no one can look at it
without there stealing into his heart that beauty of Ireland, which is
not scenic, which has no striking features, and yet which is the most
intimate, the homeliest, and perhaps the loveliest of all.


Beauty of this kind stretches away from Dublin north and west over the
broad fertile plain of Fingal, the territory of the "White Strangers",
the fair-haired Norsemen. You can find such beauty, with scenic
accessories, in the famous Phoenix Park--so called by corruption
of the Gaelic name given to a well there, _Fionn Uisge_, the Bright
Water. The wide expanse of the park has lovely glades, deer-haunted
like the one which Mr. Williams has pictured; it has backgrounds of
mountain, the Dublin hills looming up to the south; it has foregrounds
of cricket matches, or, better still, of hurling. Hurley is the most
picturesque game I have ever seen played, except polo; and polo,
too, in the summer, you can watch in the Phoenix at its very best,
though the splendid ground is less beautiful than it was before the
great "February storm" of 1903 swept down the long line of elms which
bordered it. Still, in "horseshow week", when the cup matches are on,
all the world can go and see, "free, gracious, and for nothing", one of
the finest spectacles that modern civilization can afford.


Skirting the park to the south, and trending westward, is the valley of
the Liffey, and no one looking at the unsightly, sometimes unsavoury,
stream which divides Dublin would guess at the beautiful water which
the Liffey-bred salmon reaches in a couple of miles after he has
left the sea. Mr. Williams has drawn a reach of it, still in the tidal
limit, at Palmerston, halfway to Leixlip--that is Salmon Leap: the
Norse name tells its story of the city's founding. The picture shows
the steep wood leading up to green expanses of the park on the south
side; and in the gap seaward, all the vague expanse of brick and
stone. Within an easy ride from the park--how often Swift rode it!--is
the village of Celbridge, where his "Vanessa", Esther Vanhomrigh,
settled herself to be near the man she loved so fatally. The Liffey
where it borders Vanessa's Marley Abbey, and lower down, where it
skirts Castletown demesne, may challenge comparison for beauty with
any of Ireland's rivers. By its bank famous men grew up--Charles,
George, and William Napier, sons of the beautiful Lady Sarah Lennox;
nephews, therefore, of Lady Louisa Connolly, whose husband then owned
Castletown, and first cousins of Lord Edward Fitzgerald, whose home was
near by, at Carton, the seat of his father the Duke of Leinster. The
conqueror of Sind and the historian of the Peninsular War got their
schooling in Celbridge. They formed in their school a class of boy
scouts against the troublous days of the "Ninety-Eight" rising; and
yet their sympathies were largely with their cousin, Lord Edward, most
picturesque among its leaders.

He was not the first rebel in the famous Geraldine family. Carton
gates open from the little town of Maynooth, where, outside the famous
ecclesiastical college, stands the ruin of that strong castle which was
the seat of the Geraldine power when all Ireland could not rule the
Earl of Kildare and therefore it was settled that the Earl of Kildare
should rule all Ireland.

And over against the castle is a yew of portentous size and age,
which bears the name of Silken Thomas's tree. In 1534 the Earl of
Kildare, Lord Deputy of Ireland, had been summoned to Henry VIII and
detained in the Tower; his son Thomas remained in Ireland with power
as Vice-Deputy. After a few months the rumour came that Kildare had
been put to death--a rumour no way incredible. His son, in natural
indignation, determined to owe Henry no more allegiance, and on St.
Barnabas' Day rode into Dublin with one hundred and forty followers
wearing silken fringes to their helmets. The council was fixed to
be held in St. Mary's Abbey, and the Geraldine troop rode splashing
through the ford of the Liffey to the north bank. In the council
chamber sat the Chancellor, Archbishop Cromer, and Silken Thomas, with
his armed followers tramping in at his heels, renounced his allegiance,
and called on all who hated cruelty and tyranny to join him in war upon
the English. His speech ending, he proffered his sword of state to the
Archbishop, who refused to take it and reasoned pathetically with the
young noble. But a hereditary bard of the Geraldines, O'Neylan, burst
in with an Irish poem which recalled the glories of the Geraldines,
and upbraided Silken Thomas with too long delay. The chant ended in a
clamour of applause from the armed men, and Thomas Fitzgerald, flinging
down the sword, marched at their head out of the presence, none daring
to check him.

Yet his attempt came to nothing. As always, the other great
Anglo-Norman family, the Butlers, sided against the Geraldine, and
from their stronghold in Kilkenny harassed him while he endeavoured
fruitlessly to reduce Dublin Castle. Months went by, and Silken Thomas
was little more than the head of a roving guerrilla force; but he
roved at large. At last, in March, 1535, Skeffington, the Lord Deputy,
moved out to the capture of Maynooth. His batteries made a practicable
breach within five days, and then the commander, Christopher Paris,
foster-brother to Silken Thomas, thought it was time to make terms
for himself. The plan was ingenious. By concert with Skeffington the
garrison of a hundred men were allowed to make a successful sortie and
capture a small cannon. Paris filled them with praise, and with drink.
At dawn of the next morning the walls were stormed by a surprise, and
so the castle fell.

Out of forty prisoners taken, twenty-four were hanged. Paris received
his stated price from Skeffington, but with the money in his hand was
marched straight to the gallows, and from that day the "pardon of
Maynooth" became a byword.

Silken Thomas surrendered in July, lay destitute in the Tower for
sixteen months, and was then hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn
with his five uncles, of whom two had always been strong supporters
of the English power. One male scion of the Geraldines was left,
Silken Thomas's half-brother Gerald, and the hunt was hot after him.
His southern kinsmen, the Geraldines of Desmond, refused him shelter,
but he got it from the O'Briens of Thomond, still independent rulers,
and after long months escaped to Italy, where he lived till Edward
VI restored him. And from that day to this, the line has lasted in
Kildare, and the Duke of Leinster holds foremost place among Irish
nobles. Yet Leinster House, the great building which the National
Gallery adjoins, is now only the home of the Royal Dublin Society; and
though the Geraldines still own Carton, they are landlords no longer,
having sold all they owned, under the Act of 1903, passed by one
himself in part a Geraldine--Mr. George Wyndham, son of Lord Edward's

Not far from Maynooth, in the wide grounds of Clongowes Wood College,
you can see a section of the actual "pale"--a broad ditch and dyke
which fenced in the region under English shire law. A few miles more
would bring you to the famous Curragh of Kildare. But to visit these
things one must lose sight of the sea, and that is a pity, for nowhere
in Ireland does the sea come more beautifully into landscape than in
Leinster, and especially about Dublin itself. North of the city are
broad stretches of green fields, which lead the eye out to that still
wider level of blue--colour laid cleanly in mass against colour.
Sometimes between the pasture land and the ocean lies a stretch of sand
links, beloved of golfers, who have classic ground at Dollymount on
the North Bull; at Portmarnock, with the exquisite view of Howth and
Ireland's Eye drawn by Mr. Williams; and, most interesting of all, in
the island links at Malahide. This strange jumble of sandhills by the
mouth of the pleasant little estuary has a special interest as a bird
sanctuary; the terns breed there in hundreds during June and July.

But for the beauty of all beauties neighbouring Dublin, give me Howth,
the mountainous peninsula, almost an island, all but a mountain, which
makes the northern limit of Dublin Bay. In all that long low eastern
shore it is the only piece of cliff scenery (for Bray Head can scarcely
deserve the title) and it commands an amazing prospect. On the north
of it lies the little old town, the quaint and beautiful harbour with
its seawalls, and across a narrow sound off the harbour is the little,
uninhabited, cliffy, fern-covered island of Ireland's Eye. "Eye" is
Danish for island; Howth is "hoved" (head), and the people of Fingal
keep near the Danish word, pronouncing almost Ho-at. The Irish name
was Benn Edair, (Edair's Cliff), and many a time it comes into Irish
story, mostly as the point from which heroes sailed or at which they
landed. Howth was the general landing place for Dublin until Kingstown
Harbour was constructed about a century ago and called after George IV.
But of all the heroes and kings and commonalty who crossed the Channel,
none deserves mention more than Mr. Robert Loraine, the actor. He flew
from Anglesey, and had all but accomplished his exploit when something
broke, and he directed his aeroplane to Howth, which was the point
nearest. A level shore he might have reached, but the cliff rose too
high for his sinking wings to surmount, so he plunged into the water a
stone's throw from land, and swam ashore somewhere near the Old Bailey
Lighthouse, which stands on a historic site, Dungriffen, that is the
Fortress of Criffan. Now Criffan (or Crimhthann) was King of Ireland in
the fourth century, at the beginning of the period when Irishmen made
many forays on the seas--in one of which Saint Patrick was captured
and brought a slave to Ireland. A good many people think all this
history legendary, a pack of fables. And very probably, if you had
told Crimhthann, when he ruled in his dun (or even the builders of the
Bailey Lighthouse when they were at work on his old rampart), that a
gentleman would come flying across from England and drop like a winged
bird off this promontory, they also would have been a trifle slow of
belief. Anyhow, Howth Head, with its memories of ancient robber kings,
Irish and Danish, and of all the folk who landed there from Chester,
or from Anglesey, down to this last and most surprising debarkation of
all, is surely a place of associated landmarks in history, as well as
probably the most beautiful spot in Ireland.

Often on a clear day of sun and driving cloud I have been tempted to
prefer the northward view, from the haven or above it; for even from
the sea's level you can see far away past all that long, plain and low
coast to the Carlingford Hills, purple and solid in their serrated
ridge; and beyond, higher, fainter, and more delicate, Slieve Donard,
and all the goodly company of Mourne Mountains show themselves against
the sky. Nor is the foreground less lovely: the quaint old port, and,
opposite it, the purple and brown ruggedness of Ireland's Eye, which
is divided by another narrow stretch of blue water (lightly crested,
perhaps, with foam) from the long smooth whiteness of what we call
at Portmarnock the Velvet Strand. Surely earth has not many things
to show more fair. Yet when you climb the hill (a tram will take the
infirmer) and first see eastward over the wide blue, then, gradually
ascending, get sight of Dublin Bay's southern shore with the Wicklow
Mountains behind it, and finally of Dublin itself, lying between beauty
and beauty--beauty of sea, beauty of plain, beauty of mountain, beauty
of azure, of purple, of green--then, I think, the southward view will
seem to you richer in variety and incident. For the mountains make a
great mass of round huddling shoulders, their lower slopes tree-clad;
but nothing in the world is more dainty than the line of peaked summits
which, stringing out from the main mass, carries the eye delighted with
their chiselled shapes from peak to peak downward to the sea. And away
west, past this mountain mass, Ireland stretches broad and fertile,
well timbered, well watered, a country of park and champaign, fertile
to luxuriance.


Beauty is all about you too; for the hill from midsummer on is purple
with heath, and the purple is set off by gold of the autumn-flowering
furze which grows in little round trim bushes. Lord Howth's demesne
is one of the oldest and most charming places in Ireland, and it
encloses within its precincts a cromlech under which, so they tell,
lies Aideen, wife of Oscar, Ossian's son, chief hero of those legendary
warriors, the Fianna.

A beauty of more modern date is to be seen by those wise and fortunate
folk who visit Ireland in May or June: the rocky glen overgrown with
choice rhododendrons and azaleas, which the Howth family have gathered
and cherished. Imagine a steep cliff, a hundred feet almost sheer,
but piled with tumbled boulders, and through them, up to the very
top, bush after bush of these gorgeous blossoms--crimson, scarlet,
mauve, buff, yellow, and exquisite diaphanous white. I never saw
rhododendrons anywhere to touch these. And while we talk of flowers,
another sight you can see from Dublin in May, the like of which takes
visitors to Holland--the great daffodil and tulip fields at Rush, some
fifteen miles north along the coast. There, growing in among the pale
sandhills and grey bent, you shall see these huge patches of trumpeting
colour--acres of tulips, close ranged like soldiers on parade, all of
one type, uniform in their perfection. And with that you can inspect an
industry employing many workmen and workwomen throughout the year in a
country where work is none too plenty.

One more word about Howth. When you look from the hill towards Dublin,
you look across one of the most famous of modern golf links, that long
narrow spit of sand which is called the North Bull. But you also look
across the scene of one of the notable battles of history. Between the
North Bull and the Liffey mouth is Clontarf, where the fight raged
on Good Friday in the year 1014, when Brian Boru inflicted on the
Danes of Dublin and their allies from the Orkneys and from far-off
Scandinavia--yes, and Irish allies too--a defeat which was felt all
through the regions that the vikings haunted. It is true to say that
that victory stemmed the advancing tide of barbarism. Brian won for
Christianity rather than for Ireland, and he lost his life in the fight.

Just near Clontarf parish church, in the grounds of a private house is
a yew tree under which, they say, men laid down the slain king, nine
hundred years ago. Whether that be historically true or no we cannot
say; but, I am told, experts agree that no other yew tree in these
islands has an appearance of antiquity at all comparable to this giant,
which, still lusty, covers fully a rood of ground. Try and see it on
your way from Howth: much can be got (in Ireland) by civil asking.


I come now to deal with what lies south of Dublin--the Wicklow Hills
with all their apanages. And here one is conscious of two divisions.
First of all, the obvious cleavage between the sunny seaward-facing
slopes, thickly inhabited, and the mountains themselves or those
glens that lie behind the first ridges. Secondly, the division, not
less notable, between what is Wicklow pure and simple and what really
belongs to Dublin, just as Brighton and Richmond belong to London.

This is not a mere question of distance. Dublin hardly makes itself
felt beyond the immediate suburbs on the north and west: it stops with
the tram lines. And towards the mountains, if you leave your tram at
Rathfarnham, an hour's good walking will take you into a strangely wild
ravine. Follow the military road--driven through these hills after 1798
had shown how strong they were, to be the first effectual instrument
of subjugation--up towards Glencree, through Rockbrook, and so by a
long steep ascent you will reach a wood where the road divides, on the
shoulder of Tibradden, or the Kings' Burying Ground. To your right will
be Killikee, with Lord Massey's beautiful demesne, and woods covering
it almost to the top, but the bare summit crowned by a shattered
ruin--the "Hell Fire Club", built by young bloods in the wild duelling
and card-playing days of Dublin's gaiety. Turn your back on this and
follow to the left into Glen Cullen (the Holly Glen), which, dividing
Tibradden from Featherbed, sweeps round behind Two Rock and Three Rock,
and so, if you keep steadily by the left, brings you back into the
suburbs and villadom after a round of some sixteen miles. But you will
have traversed a glen as bare and lonely, as devoid of any suggestion
of a great city's nearness, as even Connemara could show.

Very beautiful it is, too, up there, on a fine day; and bilberries
grow to perfection among the deep heather on the slopes of Featherbed.
When I was last in it, instead of keeping to the left, we cut across
southward to the right by the first road out of the valley, and from
that height saw what is not often seen--the coast of Wales clearly
visible. Then, dropping swiftly, we reached a road which, leading
from the city through Dundrum, traverses the Scalp--a fine gorge of
tumbled stone with fine woods effectively planted; and so down a famous
coaching road to the pretty village of Enniskerry on the Dargle River,
and down along that river to Bray--and the train.

So quick and so emphatic is the transition from one region to the
other--from the region of lonely car drives to the snug neighbourhood
of gas and steam. But let me define or describe the limits. If
instead of going out by road you take either the train from Harcourt
Street, which skirts the base of the hills, or the Westland Row line,
which follows the sea all the way through Kingstown and Killiney till
both lines meet in Bray, you will, of course, have suburbs about
you, merging into villadom: and the suburbs continue on the sealine
almost unbroken to Killiney. Then comes a gap, and at Bray you have a
considerable town, from which villadom--a very pleasant and cultivated
villadom--extends towards the hills. Beyond Bray, the line rounds the
face of Bray Head in a series of little tunnels, with intervening
glimpses of sea dashing below, in the best Riviera manner; and then
you come to Greystones, another even more suburban settlement. I set
Greystones--some fifteen miles south of Dublin--as the suburban limit:
beyond that you have honest country--Wicklow proper. Only, let it be
clearly understood that this is no disparagement. The most beautiful
things in Wicklow are outside what I call Wicklow proper, and inside
Dublin's "sphere of influence". These I now proceed to describe.

First of all, there runs up from Bray the famous Dargle, a steep
wooded glen with the river dividing two demesnes--Lord Monk's and Lord
Powerscourt's. For miles you can drive or walk through a scene of
constantly varying beauty, with glimpses of mountain behind the wooded
slopes, until at last you come to the Powerscourt Waterfall with its
plunge of a hundred feet out of an upper ravine. Climb round, get above
the waterfall, and at last, on the slopes of Douse Mountain, you reach
wild nature--and you forget Dublin. Till then the spirit of Dublin is
with you--the spirit of a prosperous Dublin, inhabited by rich men who
liked to adorn the countryside with some of the graces of the town, to
set elaborate plantations of foreign shrubs against a backing of rock
and heather. Very pretty it is, and nowhere done more prettily.


Or again, if you go from Bray to Greystones by road, you may take
the short road through Windgates and traverse the dip in the ridge
between the Head and the Lesser Sugarloaf--a charming drive--with the
Head and the sea on your left, the peaked shape of Sugarloaf on your
right, bracken and heather clad, and over part of its height enclosed
in a deerpark full of sturdy Japanese deer. You may do better still:
you may take the long road and go inland, leaving Little Sugarloaf
on your left, towering up purple and splendid above you, pineclad
on this side to half its height; then, curving round, come into the
defile by Kilmacanoge, which divides it from the Greater Sugarloaf.
Here now is the parting of the regions. From Kilmacanoge a road
runs up the Rocky Valley, sweeping round Great Sugarloaf, and it
instantly brings you into wildness: in half an hour's going you will
be round the mountain and out on the bleak levels of Calary Bog, with
the soft gradual side of Douse tempting you to run up to the top--an
easy victory. Yield to that temptation, and, unless your way is picked
knowingly, you will be floundering in heather shoulder high, ashamed to
turn back and almost too tired to go on. Still, to go on is worth it.
Once on the top of Douse you are in the heart of real Wicklow--and you
see, far below you, the road winding which leads out through Sallygap,
west of Kippure Mountain to Kildare and the plains.

But supposing that at Kilmacanoge you do what forty thousand other
people will have done that year before you, and hold straight on
between the Sugar-loaves, the road, curving gradually eastward and
seaward, brings you into the Glen of the Downs, another noble defile,
wooded to the very crest with scrubby timber, so close as to be almost
impassable--lovely as the loveliest in its way. Yet somehow the little
gazebo of an octagonal summerhouse set high up on the north side in
Bellevue grounds stamps the scene. It is nature, but nature decked and
laid out and caressed and petted by man. A little farther and the road
brings you into Delgany, at the foot of the sloping Bellevue grounds,
a village prettier even than Enniskerry. And in truth Bellevue was a
splendid type of what I have in mind: place and grounds created in
the eighteenth century by a cultivated Dublin merchant of Huguenot
stock; a house where Grattan was a frequent guest; which till the other
day showed in gathered perfection all the domestic art of that great
period, with its Sheraton and Chippendale sideboards, its marvellous
plaster cornices and ceilings, its inlaid marble mantelpieces, and,
for a final glory, its bedstead painted by Angelica Kaufmann. The
grounds were planned to match--in the same delicate graceful taste, a
little mannered, but always admirable. It had a lovely nature to work
upon, and that same taste has made the seaward fringe of these nearest
Wicklow Hills into the very garden of Ireland. That is the beauty
nearest to the capital. And if the feeling of trimness wearies you, all
you have to do is leave the road and strike out where you will across
the heather. To their great honour, the liberality of all landowners in
this playground of Dublin leaves the casual passer-by free to wander
almost as unrestrained as he might be in Achill or on Slieve League.

For the country which lies beyond Dublin's immediate playground there
is this to be said. Even the railway going to it is delightful. I know
of no prettier line than the Dublin, Wicklow, and Wexford, and if its
trains are something sluggish, why, you have the more time to admire
the view. Beyond Greystones you pass through a long marsh, full of wild
fowl, and then come to Wicklow, a pleasant little town sheltered by its
low head. There is an old Norman keep here, Black Castle, but much more
remarkable is the work of modern builders. Wicklow Head is adorned with
three lighthouses--one carrying a light. The first tower was built by a
wise and thoughtful Government, and the lamp duly fixed with ceremony.
But when it came to be lit, seamen reported that while from certain
quarters it was admirably visible, the Head itself blocked it from
half the horizon. Nothing daunted, Government ordered another tower to
be built on a spot indicated in their offices, and built it was. This
illumined the previously excluded section of sea, but was shut out from
the area lighted by the first tower. Finally, as a counsel of despair,
they sent down someone to look at the ground, and the third tower,
which now carries the light, was duly erected. The other two remain
as monuments of the persistence with which the English Government has
sought to do things right in Ireland.

From Wicklow you strike into a new type of country. Rathnew brings you
close to the Devil's Glen, another Dargle, but one with less urbanity
and more rusticity. At Rathdrum you strike the valley of the Avonmore,
which is the centre of all this beauty that makes southern Wicklow
famous. The line runs through a wooded ravine with the river below
it, plunging and swirling, and beyond the river you catch a glimpse
of Avondale House, now a school of forestry, but once known to every
Irishman as the home of Charles Stuart Parnell. The water comes down
here discoloured with mineral washings that remind one of the chemical
investigations which made up the pleasure of Parnell's strange life.
He dreamed of gold mines in Wicklow--it was only in politics that the
stern practical bent of his mind made itself apparent and effectual.

A little farther on the Avonbeg meets the Avonmore; farther yet, beyond
Woodenbridge and its hotel, this main stream is joined by the Aughrim
River, and controversy still rages as to which of the two confluences
was honoured in Moore's melody:

  "There is not, in the wide world, a valley so sweet
  As that vale in whose bosom the wild waters meet!"


Moore himself very diplomatically said he was not sure; but at any
rate the valley through which the train runs till it reaches Arklow
at the river's outfall is Moore's "Sweet Vale of Avoca"; there is no
mistake about that, and no question of its gentle loveliness. Arklow
itself is an ancient town, whose name keeps, like Wicklow, a memory
of Danish beacon fires--"low" or "lue" is the word for flame (still
preserved in lowland Scotch). Its population keep the hardy seagoing
tradition--Ireland has no better fishermen; but they are incommoded by
an odd circumstance. At this point of the coast there is practically no
rise and fall of tide, and many a useful harbour is useful only because
it can be reached with the flood, which never comes to Arklow.

Here first one meets a landmark of the great "ninety-eight" rising. The
Wexford insurgents received at Arklow the decisive check which curbed
their very wonderful successes. The rebellion spread no farther north,
though, after the rout of Vinegar Hill, stray parties of fugitives
maintained themselves for long enough in the mountains where the
meeting waters have their rise.

To reach this wider and more open region--far less beautiful, yet
having for some eyes an even greater charm--you should follow up the
valley of the Aughrim River. A train will take you to Aughrim town,
then comes a road, passing at first between slopes of cultivated and
well-planted land. But as you go on, the valley widens and spreads, the
woods recede, and before you are the great brown flanks of Lugnaquilla,
highest of all the Wicklow Mountains--higher indeed than many a hill
in Donegal or Kerry whose bolder shape gives a far more imposing

Here at last, far up on the moors, you strike the military road near
its southernmost point; and planted on it, facing down the glen, is
a queer, gaunt, half-ruined building, evidently a barrack. A barrack
it was; but in more recent times it fell to Parnell, who rented these
moors, and he used it as a shooting-lodge--furnished in the roughest
way, with a few bedsteads and chairs. There is a kind of legend about
the haughty, unbending chief, who treated all his followers with the
scantest courtesy. Very different is the impression I have got from
those who were privileged to walk the hills after birds with him and to
camp in that bare but friendly shelter. To-day, indeed, its grimness is
somewhat mitigated; but, as you may readily discover, the old barrack
has not lost its associations with the nationalism of to-day.

From Aughavanagh the military road will carry you north across the
hill, till beyond it you reach the valley of the Avonbeg and Drumgoff
Bridge. Here is the foot of Glen Malure--boldest and wildest of all
these glens--which divides Lugnaquilla from Lugduff. This valley,
commanding the pass westward into the plains at Dunlavin, was always
the central stronghold of the O'Byrnes, the great Irish clan who held
out stubbornly among the hills. Lord Grey de Wilton, Elizabeth's
deputy, tried to drive them out in 1580, but his force was cut to
pieces by the mountaineers, and a few years later they had a sure
asylum to offer to Red Hugh O'Donnell, when he escaped from Dublin
Castle and the captivity into which he had been foully kidnapped.

But the spot in all this region which offers most attraction to
travellers is Glendalough, site of the Seven Churches, a place of most
venerable memories. Kevin, to whom it owes its fame, was born A.D. 498,
sixty-six years after Patrick first preached in Ireland. His name,
_Caomh-ghen_, means the _Gentle-born_, and he was son of the King
of Leinster. The whole of this princely family became passionately
religious, for two brothers and two sisters of Kevin were canonized,
and their names are in the Calendar.

Kevin was sent for nurture to a Cornish holy man, St. Petroc, who had
come to spread the light in Wicklow, but the young Prince finished his
studies under the guidance of his own uncle, Eoghan or Eugenius, who
had a monastic school somewhere in the beautiful parish of Glenealy on
the sunny south-eastern slope of these hills.

He was a handsome lad, and his looks so distracted a beautiful girl
that she tried to seduce him from his vocation. Modern tradition tells
that she followed him into his cave in the cliff above the upper lake,
and that he flung her out into the water. The Life of him relates
a different version, according to which he threw her into a bed of
nettles and whipped her with them over her face and arms till, as the
pious author says, the fire without subdued the fire within, and his
discipline determined her to follow his example and enter the monastic

However that be, Kevin fled from the society of men--and women--to take
up his abode in the lovely but peaceful spot for ever associated with
his name: "a valley closed in by lofty and precipitous mountains beside
a lake". "On the northern shore", says the Life, "his dwelling was in
a hollow tree: but on the southern shore of the lake, he dwelt in a
very narrow cave, to which there was no access except by a boat, for a
perpendicular rock of immense height overhangs it from above."

This is an overstatement: any active man can get into the Bed from
above; but even from below (where Mr. Williams shows the boat lying in
his picture) it needs some climbing. Within is only room for a man to
sit or lie--not to stand. But Kevin's dwelling on the north shore was
leafy and bird-haunted, and the wild creatures, it is said, used to
come and light on his shoulder, and sing their sweetest songs to God's


At last his fame went aboard, and folk flocked to his sanctuary and
begged him to found a monastery. He submitted unwillingly, and let them
build him (still on the slope of the same mountain, Lugduff) a beehive
cell of stones, or "skellig": and near it they built an oratory,
_Tempul-na-Skellig_, on a rock projecting into the lake--now wrecked,
for, as Archbishop Healy writes in his _Ancient Schools and Scholars_,
"fifty years of tourists in the mountain valley have caused more ruin
to these venerable monuments than centuries of civil war".

But there was no room on this cliffy shore, and Kevin was admonished
in a vision to build in the open space by the outfall of the lower
lake. "If it were God's will," said Kevin, "I would rather remain until
my death here where I have laboured." "But," said the angel, "if you
dwell where I bid you, many blessed souls will have their resurrection
there and go with you to the heavenly kingdom." So Kevin consented to
move; and he built the monastery on which all those churches and towers
sprang up that can be seen or traced to-day. Yet in this city he did
not depart from his austerities, but slept on the bare ground and lived
on herbs and water.

The foundation of the monastery may date from about 540. Kevin lived
on, they say, till 620, and died surrounded by his disciples, a man of
God and a peacemaker, among the best beloved of Ireland's saints.

All that great congeries of ruins dating from pre-Norman times speaks
of a very large community. They are typical. There is the round
tower, _cloigtheach_, a belfry, place of retreat into which the
pious monks used to retire, drawing up the ladder after them; there
is the big church with high-pitched roof of stone, and its galaxy
of lesser chapels, just as in Ciaran's city at Clonmacnoise. About
these doubtless were numberless huts of wattle and clay, dwellings
of the clergy and the students. For here was the real metropolitan
see of Irish Leinster. Dublin was a Danish foundation, and for
centuries the primacy was disputed between them, till the dispute was
ended by calling the provincial see the Archbishopric of Dublin and
Glendalough--joint dioceses with separate organization to this day.

For archæological and historic interest no place in Wicklow can
approach this "glen of the two lakes", _Gleann Dá Loch_. But for
romance, I at least should put Glen Malure far before it; and, for
beauty, would infinitely prefer the lovely cup of Lough Tay or
Luggilaw, where it nestles under the western slopes of Douse. This,
and Lough Dan as well, you can see by a slight detour on your way
to Dublin; and if you have come by Bray, it is best to take the
military road back to Dublin, which brings you through Sallygap by the
headwaters of the Liffey, and past the other beautiful little lake
of Lough Bray at the sources of the Glencree River. So, keeping high
among the hills till you have passed Killakee and begin the descent
into Rathfarnham, you will complete almost the whole of your journey
amid the haunts of shepherd folk such as those among whom Synge lived,
and from whom first he got his vivid vision of Irish peasant life--a
vision coloured no doubt by long residence in far-off Aran, and told
in words that keep an echo of the Gaelic tongue, yet always, as most
of our visions must be, in its essence the vision of that particular
countryside where he was born and bred.


The very antithesis of Wicklow, with its mountains, its small plunging
rivers, and its breed of little light-footed sheep, is the plain
country of Meath, watered by the deep stream of the Boyne, and grazed
over by the finest and biggest cattle. No other place in Ireland is so
rich in monuments of all the ages; nor is there anything in Ireland
better worth seeing than the valley of the Boyne itself, from Navan to
the sea.

If I had time and a motor car, I should begin by driving to Trim, and
stopping just short of it at Laracor, to see where Swift lived in
the early days of his growing fame. At Trim you will find an amazing
cluster of beautiful ruins, but notably "King John's Castle", as fine a
specimen of the Norman keep as can be seen. It was founded in 1173 by
Hugh de Lacy, so no Norman building can be much older in Ireland. Its
history is full of romance--Richard II held Henry of Lancaster prisoner
there for a while--and many deeds of note were done in the old place.
But there is not space to deal with Trim, nor with the beautiful ruins
of Bective Abbey, which you can arrange to see on the way to what no
traveller should leave unseen--the Hill of Tara.

Tara of to-day is only a field or two of rich grass, covered with the
trace of ancient earthworks--most curious of them the Banqueting Hall
of King Cormac, a long narrow parallelogram--250 yards in length by 15
wide--with the fourteen openings of its doors still traceable, as they
are shown in two plans preserved in very ancient Irish manuscripts.
But for the detail of these monuments you must consult the plan in Mr.
Cooke's admirable "Murray"; for some general account of the history of
Tara I may refer to my own _Fair Hills of Ireland_. Here I single out
only one thread in that vast fabric of associations.


Looking north-east from Tara you will see easily (any child can point
it out) another somewhat higher rise of ground, seven or eight miles
distant--the Hill of Slane. That is where, on Easter Eve in the year
433, Patrick lighted the Paschal fire which gave menace and warning
to the High King and his druids, keeping their state on Tara. It was
a bold challenge, for a great druidic festival was in preparation,
and no man in Meath was permitted to light a flame till Tara itself
should give the beacon signal; and the night of that challenge is a
marking-point in the history of Ireland--even in the history of the

For in that period of the fifth century, all Europe, as we know it
to-day, was included within Rome's Empire, save for two exceptions--the
outlying retreats of Scandinavia and of Ireland. Christianity was the
religion of the Empire, the religion of civilization, and there is
little doubt but that before Patrick's coming Christianity had got some
footing in the south-eastern parts of Ireland, which were in closest
commerce with Great Britain.

Patrick, by birth a Briton (almost certainly of Wales), was a Roman
born in the same sense as St. Paul; his father was an official of the
Empire; and from his father's house he was carried into captivity
by these outer barbarians of Ireland. In his captivity he found his
mission, escaped, with the fixed design to prepare himself for it,
and spent thirty years on that preparation before, in 432, he came
back to make captivity captive. He touched at a port in south-eastern
Ireland--probably Wicklow--but stood on with his vessel, coasting past
Dublin Bay till he landed again for water and provisions at the little
island of Skerries, which since then is called Inishpatrick. Still
north he sailed, up to Strangford Lough, where, landing, he made his
first convert, the chief Dichu, and founded his first church--Down
Patrick--where many years later he returned to die. Here for a time he
sojourned. Before he turned south there was an errand he had to do, to
bring his message to the valley of the Braid, in Antrim, where he had
been a captive, herding swine on the slopes of Slemish. But at last, in
the spring of 433, he set his face to the very core and centre of his
purpose--the evangelization of Ireland at the fountain head of pagan
civilization and pagan power. For the success of Patrick's mission lay
in this. He addressed himself to the chiefs, he bearded the pagan in
his strong places: he won those who carried others with them. That was
the method he had learnt in more than a generation of labour, spent
seeking knowledge throughout Europe "in the college of the Lateran
at Rome, at Cecina on the Tuscan Sea, at Auxerre in Gaul", jealously
profiting by his right as a citizen of the Empire, before the Empire
should crumble, and knowledge and religion perish with it, under the
redoubled assaults of barbarism. No man will despise the Hill of Slane
who realizes what lay behind the kindling of Patrick's watchfire. I
quote a passage from a great Irish writer, who had the gift of seeing
things in their relations--the late Sir William Butler. It is from his
last volume _The Light of the West_:

    "The Easter Eve, 433, is falling dark and cold upon the realm
    of Ireland--dark and cold because to-morrow is sacred to the
    idols--and it has long been ruled in Druids' law that on the
    night preceding the great fast of Tamhair no fire is to burn on
    hearth or hill--no light is to gleam from palace or hovel until
    the flame of the sacred pile, kindled by the king on the green
    'rath' at Tara, shall be seen burning over the plains of Meath.
    So the twilight comes down, the light lessens in the west, and
    the wide landscape is wrapt in deep and solemn gloom, as though
    it had been a land in which man's presence was unknown. While yet
    the sun was high in heaven, the missionary had quitted his boat
    in the estuary of the River Boyne, and had passed on foot along
    the river valley towards the interior of Meath. Evening found the
    little band encamped upon a grassy ridge on the north side of the
    Boyne, and overlooking the winding channel of that river. To the
    south, some miles away, the hill of Tara was in sight. The March
    evening fell chilly upon the pilgrims; but the hillside yielded
    store of furze-faggot and oak-branch, and soon a camp fire blazed
    upon the ridge, casting around a wide circle of light into the
    momentarily deepening sea of darkness. What memories of far-off
    nights on the Antrim hills come to the pilgrim over the mists of
    thirty years, as here he stands in the firelight, on Irish soil
    again! How much has passed since last the furze-faggot warmed his
    lonely shepherd's bivouac! How much has yet to be in all yon grim
    surrounding gloom ere his task shall be accomplished! Never in
    all the ages of the world has the might of savage man been more
    manifest on earth. Already the Vandal king is in Carthage; the
    Visigoths are seated at Toulouse; Attila has reached the Rhine,
    having ridden his charger over the ashes of the Eastern Empire.

    "And here, in the light of the solitary fire, stands an unarmed,
    defenceless man, who, even now, keeps this Easter Eve as a vigil
    of battle against the powers of Pagan darkness, throned over
    yonder in all the might of armed multitudes.

    "The darkness deepens over the scene; the March winds smite the
    faggot flame, and around the lonely bivouac the breezes come
    filled with the vast sadness of the night. Feeble to outward sense
    must seem the chances of the coming struggle. But the inner sense
    of the Great Missionary may this night be looking upon a different
    vision. Beyond the bleak ridge and circle of firelight--out beyond
    void of darkness, perchance those deep-sunk eyes are beholding
    glimpses of future glory to the Light he has come to spread; and
    it may be that his ear, catching in the echoes of the night wind
    the accents of ages yet to be, is hearing wondrous melodies of
    sound rolling through the starlight.

    "... Yes, there was light far away in the West--out in the great
    ocean--far down below the sunset's farthest verge--from westmost
    hilltop, the New World lay waiting for the light. It came--borne
    by the hands of Ireland's starving children. The old man tottered
    with the precious burthen from the fever-stricken ship; the young
    child carried the light in feeble hands to the shore; the strong
    man bore it to the Western prairies, and into the cañons of snowy
    sierras; the maiden brought it into the homestead to be a future
    dower to her husband and a legacy to her children; and lo! ere
    famine's night had passed from Ireland, the Church of Patrick
    arose o'er all that vast new world of America, from where the
    great St. Lawrence pours its crystal tide into the daybreak of the
    Atlantic, to where California flings wide her 'golden gate' to the
    sunsets of the Pacific. Nearly 1400 years have gone since, on the
    17th of March, 493, Patrick passed from earth to Heaven. Empires
    have flourished and gone down, whole peoples have passed away,
    new faiths have arisen, new languages have sprung up, new worlds
    have been born to man; but those fourteen centuries have only fed
    the fire of that faith which he taught the men of Erin, and have
    spread into a wider horizon the light he kindled. And if there be
    in the great life beyond the grave a morning trumpet-note to
    sound the réveillé of the army of the dead, glorious indeed must
    be the muster answering from the tombs of fourteen centuries to
    the summons of the Apostle of the Gaels.

    "Nor scarce less glorious can be his triumph when the edge of
    sunrise, rolling around this living earth, reveals on all the
    ocean isles and distant continents, the myriad scattered children
    of the Apostle, whose voices answering that sunrise rollcall
    re-echo in endless accents along the vaults of heaven."


That is no untrue vision. Rome went down in blood and dust, and in
the centuries that followed, if the lamp of learning was not wholly
quenched, it was because Patrick had kindled, in this remote island
beyond the bounds of Empire, "the Light of the West"; if Christianity
did not perish in the weltering chaos, it was very largely due to the
fruit of the seed which Patrick sowed.

Miracles are mingled with the story of that Easter evangelization.
Laoghaire, the king (pronounce him "Laery", which has been softened
into "Leary"), set out to meet him, but stopped short of the Boyne, and
the Christian came into the camp chanting a verse of Scripture: "Some
in chariots, some in horses, but we in the name of the Lord our God".
At his coming, Erc, the king's chief judge, rose up and did him homage;
but a druid blasphemed, and Patrick wrought a miracle of destruction.
And next day he was bidden to Tara, and ambushes were set for him on
the road; but he changed his people into deer, and so they escaped
and reached the king's dun, and other miracles were wrought in it. At
all events, by whatever means, Patrick made converts among the king's
own kindred, and Laoghaire, though he himself would not change, left
him free to preach, and probably welcomed his help in writing down the
laws and customs of Ireland. For wherever Patrick went he spread the
arts of peace, and Ireland was not slow to profit by them. Take one
instance only. On the hill of Slane a great monastery grew up, centre
of learning as well as of arts, so famous that in the middle of the
seventh century, Dagobert II, heir to the throne of France, came here
to be educated, away from the weltering turmoil of Continental Europe.

Of that monastery there is not even so much trace as can be seen
of Tara's greatness, yet within four miles of it are monuments of
surpassing interest that show the Ireland of a day before St. Patrick,
and others that show the Ireland which he made. On the north bank,
at New Grange and at Dowth, are the burying places of prehistoric
kings: gigantic structures of huge monoliths, stone slabs, each of
them man-high, so arranged that standing stones make a passage, roofed
with other huge blocks, and this passage leads to a vaulted chamber,
built in the same marvellous fashion. How on earth these stones were
handled no man can guess, yet there they are--Cyclopean architecture
with a vengeance. But these habitations of the dead are not exposed to
daylight, for over the whole structure was heaped a mound of lesser
stones, so huge that the whole thing covers an acre of ground, and now,
grass-grown and tree-covered, stands out like a natural hill--into
whose recesses you may burrow fearfully along this amazing corridor.
Strange spiral ornamentation on the stones at New Grange is the joy and
bewilderment of archæologists; and though we know the names of kings
who were buried there, we can only guess vaguely at the builders of
these structures, comparable to the tomb under which Agamemnon rests in

Nearer to Drogheda, not less interesting, and far more beautiful,
are two monuments of Christian Ireland. One is the ancient monastic
settlement of Monasterboice, where stand a round tower, two small
ancient churches, and for its supreme interest, two huge stone crosses
covered with the most elaborate sculpture, on Scriptural subjects,
presenting churches, monks, and warriors as they were in Ireland of
the ninth or tenth century. One of the two crosses is signed by its
deviser, Muiredach, probably the Muiredach whose death is recorded at
924 A.D., and purely Celtic art has no more important monument.

A few miles off is the other ruin, which shows what point monastic
civilization had reached in Ireland before yet the Normans had crossed
the sea. The Cistercian Abbey of Mellifont was the first of its order
in Ireland, and it was built by Irish craftsmen trained at Clairvaux,
in Normandy. Enough of the ruin is left to show how noble and how pure
was the work of these early builders, who brought into Ireland the
Norman civilization but not the Norman rule. Yet there is also the
monument of her who gets the blame of bringing in the hostile, not the
peaceful, invasion. Dervorgilla is buried there, O'Rourke's wife, whose
abduction by Dermot MacMurrough led to MacMurrough's banishment from
Ireland, and so to his calling in of foreign aid.

De Lacy's castle at Trim is not the only evidence that the Normans,
when they came, were quick to fasten upon this fertile valley. At
Randalstown, near Navan, Colonel Everard's tobacco plantations are an
object of interest to thousands to-day; but perhaps not many of them
realize that this enterprising country gentleman is living to-day where
his forefathers have lived since the first of them got a grant there
in the twelfth century, among the other knights and squires who rode
with De Lacy. Norman they were and Irish they soon became, yet here in
the pale they kept far more distinct than the Geraldines of Desmond or
the De Burgos of Connaught; and so they kept on the lucky side, the
side whose supremacy was finally established when William of Orange
fought his way across the fords at Oldbridge.


Oldbridge is only about a mile upstream from Drogheda, and an obelisk
marks the site of the famous Battle of the Boyne. The battle was
decided before it was fairly begun, because a large force had been
thrown across the bridge at Slane, and thus turned the Irish position,
which lay along the south bank from opposite the Mattock River to
where the hill rises steep below Oldbridge. Schomberg fell in the ford
above the island, probably some two hundred yards below the present
bridge--fell rallying his Huguenots like a hero.

No record of brutality sullies that feat of arms; but at Drogheda, one
of the most picturesquely situated towns in Ireland, and made more
picturesque by the high viaduct which here spans the river, there are
terrible memories connected with those old defences of which one part
remains perfect--St. Laurence's Gate with its two-storied tower. Here
it was that Cromwell perpetrated the first of those massacres which
disgrace his name. Such of the captured as were not slain were sent for
slaves to the West Indies, where to-day in certain islands a debased
Irish can be heard from negroes, and Irish names are general among the
negro population.

Yet in that lovely valley it is hard to think of cruelties. Historic
records crowd so thick in it that one has scarcely time to speak of
beauty. And yet from the ridge of the hill above Monasterboice is a
view which pleases me beyond almost anything I know in Ireland. Midway
on that northern plain one has the Mourne Mountains beyond fertile
levels to the north, the Dublin Hills beyond fertile levels to the
south, and the blue sea close at hand abreast of all. Still, you may
match that elsewhere in Ireland; you cannot match the river itself.
From Navan a little leisurely steamer will take you to Drogheda,
dodging from canal into river, from river back to canal, through
scenery as fertile and as cultivated as the banks of the Thames, yet
rendered far more beautiful by the charm of the river itself--a typical
salmon stream, with its pools, its plunging flood, its long swirling
reaches. I have written of it elsewhere and may perhaps be allowed to
quote my own writing:

    "... Above Navan the Boyne is sedgy and weed-choked; but if you
    follow the towpath down from Navan, between canal and river,
    you will find yourself heaping scorn on the Thames. Here are
    wide spaces of smooth water, with steep wooded banks beyond
    them--banks ambered, when I saw them last, with all the tones
    of autumn. But (since Boyne is a famous salmon stream, and way
    must be made for the running fish) here are no high lock-gates
    damming back the water in long sluggish flats. Everywhere the run
    is brisk, and constantly broken by low weirs, under which long
    races swirl and bubble in a way to tantalize every angler, and
    delight even those who do not know the true charm of a salmon
    pool. When I came in sight of Dunmor Castle, a ruined Norman keep
    of the sixteenth century, perched high on a bare grassy cliff
    above one of these lashers, it seemed that here was surely the
    finest point of all; but after I had passed Stackallen bridge,
    and was travelling now down the left bank, I learnt my error.
    Under the woods of Stackallen House, canal and river merge into
    one broad stream, closely pent by precipitous banks, variously
    wooded. Below the lock, where the canal joins the main water, a
    pool begins, stretching some two hundred yards straight down,
    until it is closed by a cliff of ochre-tinted rock, bold and bare
    among the foliage. So swift is the rush from the lasher, so far
    does it swirl down into this reach, that the water has no look of
    dullness; it is a pool, not a stretch. I walked on quickly, eager
    to see what lay around the sharp bend, and suddenly towards me
    there swung round the cliff a barge, brightly painted. The line
    of its sides, the fan-shaped curve of the wave spreading outwards
    and backwards, as the craft drew towards me, had a beauty in that
    setting that only sight could realize. If any spot of the world
    is enchanted, it must be that water; and as you round the cliff
    it is more beautiful still. For there, under Beaupark House, is
    a cliff answering that on the Stackallen bank, and a precipitous
    lawn beside it; and the river, bending south here at right angles,
    then breaking out again, stately and splendid, on its old line
    due east, has movement and stillness all in one; it is a sliding,
    swirling mirror for banks which well deserve such a glass to echo
    their perfection."

That valley is to my mind the most beautiful and the most typically
beautiful thing in Leinster. For Leinster is the province of cultivated
fertility; it is also the province of great and beautiful rivers. The
Shannon, except from Killaloe and Limerick, is somewhat lacking in
beauty; it has majesty, but not charm. In Leinster the rivers are more
manageable in size--the Nore, the Barrow, the Boyne, the Liffey, and
the Slaney. Each of them has its own character; and the lower tidal
reaches of the Slaney, reed-fringed and swan-haunted, are not less
lovely than the salmon pool in the upper waters near Carlow which Mr.
Williams has drawn so lovingly. And those who imagine Ireland as a
country of mere beggary might find something to learn as well as to
see either amid the fertility of Meath or again in South Leinster,
where a poorer soil has been tilled into high perfection. The valley
of the Nore in particular is affluent in loveliness from its banks
at Kilkenny, where Moore courted the pretty actress who made him the
best of wives, down to the head of the tideway at Inistiogue, where
under the shelter of Mr. Tighe's great woods you can stay at a neat
little hotel in a charming village, and fish to heart's content in
splendid pools and shallows, where trout and salmon are plenty, and
if you cannot catch them, it must be either your fault or theirs. And
if they are hard to capture--as I found them in weather which all but
fishermen adored--that is just because it is a free water, because here
as everywhere there is something of that easy live and let live spirit
which endears Ireland to those that know her, and which everywhere
makes the visitor welcome--perhaps with most natural kindliness in
those parts which are least accustomed to look upon the stranger as a
source of revenue. The most beautiful places in Leinster are far less
known to Englishmen than the barren cliffs of Achill. Yet if you go to
Inistiogue, or any similar place in Leinster, you will begin to realize
why it is that in Leinster only of the provinces does the population
increase in these days.

There, under the new conditions of tenure, the farmer begins to invest
freely, his money and his labour, upon soil that can repay exertion,
and under a climate that has none of Ulster's harshness. In Wexford,
where most of the Irish tobacco was grown till the growing of it was
prohibited by an amazing Act of Parliament some seventy years ago, the
plant took so kindly to the soil that it perpetuated itself without
cultivation: and when (after infinite solicitation and manoeuvring)
leave was given us to revive this industry, the distinctive variety was
recovered from these casual plants, and has been cultivated among other
species in Colonel Edwards's farm at Navan. Now a soil and a climate
in which tobacco will reproduce itself in the wild state is a rare
combination so far north, and Wexford men are trying to utilize its

In Carlow and Kilkenny one sees prosperity too on every side, while
Louth disputes the palm with Wexford. Only on the richest land of
all, through Meath into Kildare, is there the lamentable spectacle of
depopulation--a rich wilderness. Yet even there it is to be hoped that
the spread of co-operation and the gradual work of land settlement may
undo some of the mischief wrought by reckless clearances.

Those who in visiting Ireland have too often found images and memories
of beauty marred by the association of ragged poverty, overshadowed by
a very cloud of despair, may find in Leinster at least a beauty where
all the omens are hopeful and where, even beside the ruins only too
evident, a strong new fabric of industry is being built up.


_At the Villapress, Glasgow, Scotland_

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