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Title: Peeps at Many Lands: Ireland
Author: Tynan, Katharine, 1861-1931
Language: English
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      PEEPS AT MANY LANDS AND CITIES

EACH CONTAINING 12 FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS IN COLOUR

    AUSTRALIA    GREECE     NEW ZEALAND
    BELGIUM      HOLLAND    NORWAY
    BERLIN       HOLY LAND  PARIS
    BURMA        HUNGARY    PORTUGAL
    CANADA       ICELAND    ROME
    CEYLON       INDIA      RUSSIA
    CHINA        IRELAND    SCOTLAND
    CORSICA      ITALY      SIAM
    DENMARK      JAMAICA    SOUTH AFRICA
    EDINBURGH    JAPAN      SOUTH SEAS
    EGYPT        KASHMIR    SPAIN
    ENGLAND      KOREA      SWEDEN
    FINLAND      LONDON     SWITZERLAND
    FRANCE       MOROCCO    TURKEY
    GERMANY      NEW YORK   WALES

         PEEPS AT NATURE

 WILD FLOWERS AND THEIR WONDERFUL WAYS
      BRITISH LAND MAMMALS
    BIRD LIFE OF THE SEASONS
         THE HEAVENS

       PEEPS AT HISTORY

       CANADA     JAPAN
       INDIA      SCOTLAND

       PEEPS AT GREAT RAILWAYS

  THE LONDON AND NORTH-WESTERN RAILWAY
THE NORTH-EASTERN AND GREAT NORTHERN RAILWAYS

PUBLISHED BY ADAM AND CHARLES BLACK

SOHO SQUARE, LONDON, W.

              AGENTS

   AMERICA          THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
                      64 & 66 FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK

   AUSTRALASIA      OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
                      205 FLINDERS LANE, MELBOURNE

   CANADA           THE MACMILLAN COMPANY OF CANADA, LTD.
                      ST. MARTIN'S HOUSE, 70 BOND STREET, TORONTO

   INDIA            MACMILLAN & COMPANY, LTD.
                      MACMILLAN BUILDING, BOMBAY
                      309 BOW BAZAAR STREET, CALCUTTA

[Illustration: THE EAGLE'S NEST, KILLARNEY.]

[Illustration]



                          PEEPS AT MANY LANDS

                                IRELAND

                                   BY

                            KATHARINE TYNAN

            AUTHOR OF "THE DEAR IRISH GIRL," "AN ISLE IN THE
                              WATER," ETC.

                  WITH TWELVE FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS
                               IN COLOUR

                                   BY

                       FRANCIS S. WALKER, R.H.A.

                                 LONDON
                         ADAM AND CHARLES BLACK
                                  1911

                     _First printed November, 1909
             Reprinted October, 1910, and September, 1911_



CONTENTS


CHAPTER                         PAGE

   I. ARRIVAL                      1

  II. DUBLIN                       6

 III. THE IRISH COUNTRY           20

  IV. THE IRISH PEOPLE            27

   V. SOUTH OF DUBLIN             38

  VI. THE NORTH                   44

 VII. CORK AND THEREABOUTS        49

VIII. GALWAY                      58

  IX. DONEGAL OF THE STRANGER     65

   X. IRISH TRAITS AND WAYS       76



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


THE EAGLE'S NEST, KILLARNEY  _Frontispiece_

                               FACING PAGE

A VILLAGE IN ACHILL                   viii

SACKVILLE STREET, DUBLIN                 9

DUBLIN BAY FROM VICTORIA HILL           16

BLARNEY CASTLE                          25

OFF TO AMERICA                          32

A WICKLOW GLEN                          41

THE RIVER LEE                           48

RALEIGH'S HOUSE, MYRTLE GROVE           57

GLENCOLUMBKILLE HEAD                    64

A DONEGAL HARVEST                       73

A HOME IN DONEGAL                       80

DIGGING POTATOES             _on the cover_

  _Sketch-Map of Ireland on p. vii_

[Illustration: SKETCH-MAP OF IRELAND.]

[Illustration: A VILLAGE IN ACHILL.]



IRELAND



CHAPTER I

ARRIVAL


It may safely be said that any boy or girl who takes a peep at Ireland
will want another peep. Between London and Ireland, so far as atmosphere
and the feeling of things is concerned, there is a world of distance. Of
course, it is the difference between two races, for the Irish are mainly
Celtic, and the Celtic way of thinking and speaking and feeling is as
different as possible from the Saxon or the Teuton, and the Celt has
influenced the Anglo-Irish till they are as far away from the English
nearly as the Celts themselves. If you are at all alert, you will begin
to find the difference as soon as you step off the London and North
Western train at Holyhead and go on board the steamer for Kingstown. The
Irish steward and stewardess will have a very different way from the
formal English way. They will be expansive. They will use ten words to
one of the English official. Their speech will be picturesque; and if
you are gifted with a sense of humour--and if you are not, you had
better try to beg, borrow or steal it before you go to Ireland--there
will be much to delight you. I once heard an Irish steward on a long-sea
boat at London Docks remonstrate with the passengers in this manner:

"Gentlemen, gentlemen, will yez never get to bed? Yez know as well as I
do that every light on the boat is out at twelve o'clock. It's now a
quarter to wan, and out goes the lights in ten minutes."

There is what the Englishman calls an Irish bull in this speech; but the
Irish bull usually means that something is left to the imagination. I
will leave you to discover for yourself the hiatus which would have made
the steward's remark a sober English statement.

These things make an Irish heart bound up as exultantly as the lark
springs to the sky of a day of April--that is to say, of an Irish exile
home-returning--for the dweller in Ireland grows used to such pearls of
speech.

Said a stewardess to whom I made a request that she would bring to my
cabin a pet-dog who, under the charge of the cook, was making the night
ring with his lamentations: "Do you want to have me murdered?" This
only conveyed that it was against the regulations. But while she looked
at me her eye softened. "I'll do it for _you_," she said, with a subtle
suggestion that she wouldn't do it for anyone else; and then added
insinuatingly, "if the cook was to mind the basket?" "To be sure," said
I, being Irish. "Ask the cook if he will kindly mind the basket and let
me have the dog." And so it was done, and the cook had his perquisite,
while I had the dog.

At first, unless you have a very large sense of humour--and many English
people have, though the Irish who do not know anything about them deny
it to them _en bloc_--you will be somewhat bewildered. Apropos of the
same little dog, we asked a policeman at the North Wall, one wintry
morning of arrival, if the muzzling order was in force in Dublin.

"Well, it is and it isn't," he said. "Lasteways, there's a muzzlin'
order on the south side, but there isn't on the north, through Mr. L----
on the North Union Board, that won't let them pass it. If I was you I'd
do what I liked with the dog this side of the river, but when I crossed
the bridge I'd hide him. You'll be in a cab, won't you?"

After you've had a few peeps at Ireland, you won't want the jokes
explained to you, perhaps, or the picturesqueness of speech
demonstrated.

Before you glide up to the North Wall Station you will have discovered
some few things about Ireland besides the picturesqueness of the Irish
tongue. You will have seen the lovely coast-line, all the townships
glittering in a fairy-like atmosphere, with the mountains of Dublin and
Wicklow standing up behind them. You will have passed Howth, that
wonderful rock, which seems to take every shade of blue and purple, and
silver and gold, and pheasant-brown and rose. You will have felt the
Irish air in your face; and the Irish air is soft as a caress. You will
have come up the river, its squalid and picturesque quays. You will have
noticed that the poor people walking along the quay-side are far more
ragged and unkempt generally than the same class in England. The women
have a way of wearing shawls over their heads which does not belong
naturally to the Western world, and sets one to thinking of the curious
belief some people have entertained about the Irish being descended from
the lost tribes. A small girl in a Dublin street will hold her little
shawl across her mouth, revealing no more of the face than the eyes and
nose, with an effect which is distinctly Eastern. The quay-side streets
are squalid enough, and the people ragged beyond your experience, but
there will be no effect of depression and despondency such as assails
you in the East End of London. The people are much noisier. They greet
each other with a shrillness that reminds you of the French. The streets
are cheerful, no matter how poor they may be. I have always said that
there is ten times the noise in an Irish street, apart from mere
traffic, than in an English one. An Irish village is full of noise,
chatter of women, crying of children, barking of dogs, lowing of cattle,
bleating of sheep, crowing of cocks, cackling of hens, quacking of
ducks, grunting of pigs. The people talk at the top of their voices, so
that you might suppose them to be quarrelling. It is merely the dramatic
sense. I have heard an Irish peasant make a bald statement--or, at
least, it would have been bald in an English mouth--as though she
pleaded, argued, remonstrated, scolded, deprecated.

Accustomed to Irish ways, English villages have always appeared very
dead to me. Unless it be on market morning, one might be in the Village
of the Palace of the Sleeping Beauty. I once visited Dunmow of the
Flitch of a golden May-day. It was neither Flitch Day nor Market Day,
and I aver that I walked through the town and saw no living creature,
except a cat fast asleep, right in the midst of the sun-baked roadway.
Such a thing could not have happened in Ireland.



CHAPTER II

DUBLIN


Dublin is a city of magnificences and squalors. It has the widest street
in Europe, they say, in Sackville Street, which, after the manner of the
policeman and the muzzling order, half the population calls O'Connell
Street. The public buildings are very magnificent. These are due, for
the greater part, to the man who found Dublin brick and left it
marble--that great city-builder, John Claudius Beresford, of the latter
half of the eighteenth century, whose name is at once famous and
infamous to the Irish ear, because when he had made a new Dublin he
flogged rebels in Beresford's Riding-School in Marlborough Street with a
thoroughness which left nothing to be desired except a little mercy.
Beresford, who was one of the Waterford Beresfords, was First
Commissioner of Revenue, as well as an Alderman of the City of Dublin.
Before he went city-building, Dublin was a small place enough. For
centuries it consisted chiefly of Dublin Castle, the two
cathedrals--Patrick's and Christ's Church; Dublin is alone in Northern
Europe in possessing two cathedrals--and the narrow streets that
clustered about them. Somewhere about the middle of the eighteenth
century St. Stephen's Green was built--the finest square in Europe, we
say; I do not know if the claim be well founded. A little later
Sackville Street began to take shape, communicating with the other bank
of the river by ferry-boats. Essex Bridge was at that time the most
easterly of the bridges, and the banks of the river were merely
mud-flats, especially so where James Gandon's masterpiece, the
Custom-House, was presently to rear its stately façade. The latter part
of the eighteenth century was the great age of Dublin. Ireland still had
its Lords and Commons, who had declared their legislative independence
of England in 1782. Society was as brilliant as London, and far gayer.
It was certainly a time in which to go city-building, for these
splendours needed housing. Before Beresford began his plans, calling in
the genius of James Gandon, with many lesser lights, to assist him,
Sackville Street and Dublin generally were as insanitary as any town of
the Middle Ages. Open sewers ran down the middle of the streets. There
was no pretence at paving. The streets were ill-lit by smelly oil-lamps.
The Dublin watchmen found plenty to do, as did their brethren in London,
in protecting peaceful citizens from the pranks of the Dublin brethren
of the London Mohocks in the tortuous and ill-lit streets. Dublin, the
city of the English pale, remained and remains an English city--with a
difference. The Anglo-Irish did the things their London brethren were
doing--with a difference. If there were unholy revels at Medmenham Abbey
on the Thames, they were imitated or excelled by their Irish prototypes,
whose clubhouse you will still see standing up before you a ruin on top
of the Dublin mountains. In many ways the society of Dublin models
itself on London to this day.

The Lords and Commons of Ireland were already living about the Rotunda
in Sackville Street, Rutland Square, Gardiner's Row, Great Denmark
Street, Marlborough Street, and North Great George's Street, when John
Claudius Beresford began his work. He bridged the river with
Carlisle--now O'Connell--Bridge. He constructed Westmoreland Street
right down to the Houses of Parliament.

[Illustration: SACKVILLE STREET, DUBLIN.]

He built the Custom-House, now a rabbit-warren of Government offices, on
a scale proportioned to the needs of the greatest trading city in
Europe, oblivious of the fact that Irish trade was going or gone; or,
perhaps--who knows?--building for the future. All that part of the city
lying between the new bridge and the Custom-House was laid out in
streets. Meanwhile the nobility and gentry who had town-houses were
seized with the passion for beautifying them. The old Dublin houses were
of an extraordinary stateliness and beauty. Money was poured out like
water on their beautification. The floral decoration in stucco-work on
walls and ceilings still makes a dirty glory in some of the old houses.
Famous artists, like Cipriani and Angelica Kauffmann, painted the
wall-panels and ceilings with pseudo-classical goddesses and nymphs. A
certain Italian named Bossi executed that inlaying in coloured marbles
which made so many of the old mantelpieces things of beauty. The old
Dublin houses still retain their stately proportions, although some of
them have been dismantled and others come down to be tenement-houses.
But there is yet plenty to remind us that Dublin had once its Augustan
Age.

If you have the tastes of the antiquary, the old Dublin houses and
buildings will afford you matter of great interest.

In the first place, there is Dublin Castle, which was built by King
John. Of the four original towers, only one now remains. The castle has
been the town residence of the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland since Sidney
established himself there in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. For the rest,
it is a congerie of Government offices of one sort or another.

The castle was built over the Poddle River, which now creeps in
darkness, degraded to a common sewer, under the dark and dismal houses,
and empties itself in an unclean cascade through a grating in the Quay
walls, whence it flows away with the Liffey to the sea. You can visit
the Chapel Royal, if you will, and the viceregal apartments are
sometimes open to inspection if the Viceroy is not in residence. I lived
many years in Dublin without desiring to inspect what may be seen of
Dublin Castle, though I have often stood in the castle yard under the
Bermingham Tower, and, looking up at that great keep, have remembered
how Hugh O'Donnell and his companions escaped by way of the Poddle one
Christmas Eve in the spacious days of great Elizabeth, and how the young
chieftain of Tyrconnel narrowly escaped the frozen death which befell
his companions as they climbed those Dublin mountains over yonder to
find refuge with the O'Tooles and O'Byrnes of the Wicklow Hills.

Those were the Irish clans that used to make the English burghers of
Dublin shake in their shoes. While they sold their silks or woollens, or
sat at meals or exchange, or said their prayers in their churches, they
never could be sure that the wild Irish cry would not come ringing at
their gates. The O'Byrnes and O'Tooles would swoop down at intervals,
and raid the cattle from the fat pastures of the pale, sweeping back
again with their spoil to their impregnable fastnesses. Some years ago a
Father O'Toole published a book on the Clan of O'Toole, which contained
the genealogical tree of the O'Tooles, tracing their descent without a
break from Noah. This is a matter of interest to me, as I myself am an
O'Toole.

The history of nations is, after all, the history of men--of men and of
movements--and it is individual and outstanding men who make for us the
milestones of history. Ireland has produced, in proportion to her
population, a more than usual number of outstanding men; and, thinking
of Dublin houses and monuments of one kind or another, we find it is of
men we are thinking, after all.

Thinking of Christ Church, that beautiful Gothic cathedral, I think of
St. Patrick, because his staff was preserved there, and was an object of
great reverence till it was burnt by a too-zealous reforming Bishop in
the days of Elizabeth. St. Patrick was a very delightful saint. One
loves the legends that gather about him. I like especially how he
wrestled with the angel on Croagh-Patrick, and would not come down from
the mountain till he had been granted his several prayers. There were
three in particular. The first one was that Ireland should never depart
from the Christian faith. "Very well, then," said the angel, "God grants
you that." "Next," said Patrick, "I ask that on the Judgment Day I may
sit on God's right hand and judge the Irish people." "That you can't
have," said the angel. "Be quiet now, and go down from the mountain."
"What!" said Patrick, "is it for this that I have fasted so many days on
the mountain, wrested with evil ones, been exposed to the rain and
tempest, prayed hard, fought temptations--only for this?" "Very well,
you shall have this," replied the angel. "And now that you have your
wish satisfied, go down from the mountain." "Not till my third prayer be
granted." "What! a third prayer?" cried the angel. "You ask too much, O
Patrick, and you shall not have it. You are too covetous." "Was it for
this?" began Patrick again, with a recital of all he had done and
suffered. "Very well, then," said the angel, tired out; "have your third
prayer, but ask no more, for it will not be given to you." "I ask that
all who recite my prayer" (_i.e._, the prayer known as St. Patrick's
Breastplate) "shall not be lost at the Last Day." "Very well, then,"
said the angel, "you shall have that; but now go down." "I am content
now," said Patrick; "I will go down."

He was a fighting saint, despite his many gentlenesses. At Downpatrick,
where he built his cathedral, he took a little fawn which his men would
have killed, and carried it in his breast. I like the description of him
by his friend St. Evan of Monasterevan, which tells us how he was sweet
to his friends, but terrible to his enemies.

I think of St. Patrick at Christ Church rather than of St. Lawrence
O'Toole, Archbishop of Dublin, who, with Strongbow, that fierce Norman
who seized Ireland for Henry II. of England, built Christ Church. St.
Lawrence O'Toole's heart lies here in a reliquary. Here also Lambert
Simnel was crowned; but who thinks of that ignoble impostor now?

Christ Church presents an effect of lightness and brightness very
different from St. Patrick's, in which it seems to me it is always
afternoon, and winter afternoon. Patrick is in a particularly
picturesque slum of the city, in the Earl of Meath's liberty, hard by
the Coombe, which was once a pleasant dell, no doubt, but is now the
raggedest of slums. To the Earl of Meath's liberty came the French
silk-weavers expelled from France after the revocation of the Edict of
Nantes, and established the industry of poplin-weaving there.

The man with whom St. Patrick's Cathedral is associated is Jonathan
Swift, and for his sake it is perpetually dark. It is haunted by the
tragedy of his life and death. Here Esther Johnson is buried; and over
yonder, in the Deanery House, Swift, a sick man, lay in bed and watched
the torches in the great church when they were making ready her grave.
The strange bitterness of the terrible inscription which commemorates
that most unhappy great man seems to colour the atmosphere of St.
Patrick's. "Where fierce indignation can no more lacerate his heart," he
rests by the side of the woman who was faithful to him with a long
patience, whose death left him to loneliness and madness.

The whole place is haunted by him, as is the deanery close by and the
old library of Dr. Marsh, which is said to have a ghost that flings the
books about at night.

What ghosts meet one in the Dublin streets! There is Wesley. He was
visiting the Countess of Moira at Moira House, which now, docked of its
upper story, is the Mendicity, or, as the Irish put it, the "Mendacity"
Institution. It was a splendid mansion when Wesley was there. One room
with a bay-window was lined with mother-o'-pearl. "Alas," said Wesley
prophetically, "that all this must vanish like a dream!" The Moiras were
not only religious: they were cultivated, refined, patriotic in the
truest sense--altogether noble and generous. They received poor Pamela,
Lady Edward Fitzgerald, with kindly open arms when that romantic hero,
Lord Edward, lay dying of his wounds.

You shall see, if you will, the old House of Lords, preserved in its old
state by the Governors of the Bank of Ireland, who have made it their
board-room. The House of Commons has become the Bank's counting-house,
and there is no trace of its former state. What ghosts you might meet
there at night!--Grattan, Flood, Curran, Hussey Burgh, Plunket, to say
nothing of lesser worthies. Over against the Parliament Houses was
Daly's Club-House, where forgathered the wits, the bucks, the
duellists. There was Buck Whaley, who walked to Jerusalem for a wager,
and for the same reason once sprang out of the window of his house on
Stephen's Green into a carriage full of ladies. That house is now
University College, and has its associations with Newman; and you might
see there some of the most beautiful specimens of the eighteenth-century
decoration still remaining--the Bossi mantelpieces, the stucco-work, the
beautiful old doors of wine-red mahogany, and all the rest of it. Buck
Whaley had a friend, Buck Jones, who is commemorated in Jones's Road.
When I was a little girl--and how long ago that is I shall not tell
you--Buck Jones's ghost still walked the road which is named after him.
You see, Dublin still ranged itself alongside London; and we had our
Buck Whaley and our Buck Jones if London and Bath had their Beau Brummel
and their Beau Nash.

[Illustration: DUBLIN BAY FROM VICTORIA HILL.]

Cheek by jowl with the Houses of Parliament is the ancient college of
Queen Elizabeth--the College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity. That,
too, has memories and ghosts. The University has had illustrious sons.
Swift, Goldsmith, Bishop Berkeley, Edmund Burke, were among them. Swift
was "stopped of his degree for dulness," and had no love for his
_alma mater_. She had other sons, such as Robert Emmet and Theobald
Wolfe Tone and Thomas Davis, among her brightest jewels, though she
would not have it so. She spreads a quiet place of grey quadrangles and
green park and gardens midmost of the city, and she helps to give
dignity to Dublin, already by her Viceregal Court marked as no
provincial town.

If I were to talk to you of the ancient history of Dublin, this book
would become, not "A Peep at Ireland," but "A Peep at Dublin." You will
see for yourself the ancient houses of the nobility, the Lords and
Commons of Ireland. Some of them have come to strange uses. Aldborough
House is a barracks; Powerscourt House was in my day a wholesale
draper's; Marino, the splendid residence of the Earls of Charlemont at
Clontarf, is in the hands of the Christian Brothers. Many of these old
houses are turned into Government offices.

"Alas, that all this must vanish like a dream!" said John Wesley. And
how quickly he was justified! In the latter part of the eighteenth
century Dublin prided itself on being the gayest capital in Europe.
Perhaps Dublin had always too many pretensions. However, it was
sufficiently gay and extraordinarily picturesque. The Rutland
viceroyalty marked, perhaps, its highest water-mark of gaiety. It was
said that the Rutlands were sent over "to drink the Irish into
good-humour"--that is, to distract them from serious matters, such as
legislative independence and the like. However that may be, they did set
the capital to dancing. After all, it was always the Anglo-Irish who
counted in the rebellious movements. One has to go as far back as Owen
Roe O'Neill to find a Celtic leader. For the time, at all events, Dublin
gave itself up to the fascinations of the gallant and gay young Duke and
his wonderful Duchess. The Irish allowed that the Duchess was one of the
handsomest women in Ireland. Elsewhere she was reputed among the
loveliest in Europe. We hear of her dancing at a ball attired in light
pink silk, with diamond stomacher and sleeve-knots, and wearing a large
brown hat profusely adorned with jewels. Every night there were balls at
the castle or the Rotunda. The Duchess was dancing Dublin into
good-humour. There were all manner of other social festivities. Every
Sunday the Duchess drove on the North Circular Road, with six
cream-coloured ponies to her phaeton, all the rank and fashion of Dublin
following in coaches-and-six, coaches-and-four, and less pretentious
equipages. There was card-playing; there was hard drinking; there were
all manner of distractions, disedifying and edifying. For then, as now,
the representatives of the King and Queen took the charities under their
wing; and dancing at the Rotunda supported the Rotunda Hospital, to say
nothing of the tax on the waiting sedan-chairs, which put a few hundred
pounds more into the hospital's coffers.

"Alas, that all this must vanish like a dream!" To be sure, many of the
most illustrious of the Anglo-Irish, more Irish than the Irish, refused
to be either danced or drunk into good-humour. The brilliant viceroyalty
lasted not quite four years, and the gay and handsome Duke left Ireland
in the saddest way, carried high on men's shoulders.

Afterwards there were other things than dancing. There was the Rebellion
of 1798. There was the Legislative Union with Great Britain, which meant
for Ireland the absence of her Lords and gentry, and the spending in
London of revenues derived from Ireland.

In the early years of the nineteenth century grass grew in the streets
of Dublin. Famine and pestilence followed each other in monotonous
succession. Emmet's Rebellion broke out in 1804. If you were interested
in such things, you would penetrate the slummy parts of Dublin as far
as Thomas Street to see where, in front of St. Catharine's Church, Emmet
died, and the house where Lord Edward Fitzgerald was arrested.

Dublin is full of memories, of associations, of ghosts: no city in
Europe is richer in such. There is hardly a stone of her streets which
is not storied.



CHAPTER III

THE IRISH COUNTRY


Dublin possesses great natural advantages. The sea, the mountains, the
green country, are at her gates. You take one of her many trams, and at
the terminus you step into solitudes, into "dear secret greenness" of
country; on to expanses of sea-sand, with the waves breaking in little
crisped curls of foam at your feet. She is ringed about with mountains.
She has a most beautiful coast-line. Turn which way you will on leaving
her, you are safe to turn to beauty. Round about her are clustered
various beauties. Beyond the Dublin mountains, the Wicklow Mountains,
into which they gently pass, invite you. The mountains have the most
beautiful colouring. It is an effect of the mists and clouds. I have
seen a mountain red as a rose, and I have seen one black as a black
pansy and as velvety. Sometimes they are veiled in silver, with the soft
feet of the flying rain upon them; and sometimes, because the sun is
shining somewhere, that same rain will be a garment of silver or of the
rainbow.

She is the greenest country ever was seen. England may think she wears
the green; but as compared with Ireland her green is rust-coloured and
dust-coloured. I have gone over from London in May and have found a
green in Ireland that absolutely made me wink.

    "Sweet rose whose hue, angry and brave,
     Bids the rash gazer wipe the eye,"

says Herbert; but the green, which is the eye's comforter of all the
colours, is, in an Irish May, of so intense a greenness as to have
something of the same effect as Herbert's rose. I think of the fat
pasture-lands at the gates of Dublin, as well I know them. In May they
are drifts of greenness, with the cattle sunken to their knees, while
the meadows white with daisies, gold with buttercups, presently to be
brown and green with seeding-grasses, have an exceeding cleanness and
brightness of aspect. Grass-green, milk-white, pure gold--these are
fields of delight. There used to be luxuriant hedges, too, ten or
twelve feet high. What hedges they were in May! with the hawthorn in
full bloom--no one calls it may in Ireland--and, later, the
woodbine--honeysuckle in Ireland is the white and purple clover--and
with the woodbine the sheets of wild roses flung lavishly over every
hedge. Since my young days an improving county surveyor has cut down the
hedges, though not so ruthlessly as here in Hertfordshire, where they
are noted hedgers and ditchers, and so strip the poor things to the
earth almost, just as they are coming into leaf, leaving the roads
pitiless indeed for the summer days.

I think of the lavish Irish hedges and of the strip of grass white with
daisies which ran either side of the footpath. There was always a clear
stream singing along the ditch. It had come down from the mountains, and
was amber-brown in colour, and clear as glass; it ran over pebbles that
were pure gold and silver and precious stones, now and again getting
dammed around a boulder, making a leap to escape, and coming around the
boulder with a swirl and a few specks of foam floating upon it. Ireland
of the Streams is one of the old names for Ireland, and it is justified;
for not only are there lordly rivers like the Shannon and the
Blackwater, to mention but two of them, but there are innumerable
little streams everywhere, undefiled--at least, as I know them--by
factories. You can always kneel down of a summer's day by one, fill your
two hands full and drink your fill; and that mountain water is better
than any wine. You may track it, if you will, up to the mountains, where
you will find it welling out, perhaps, through the fronds of a
hartstongue fern, the first tiny gush of it; and you will find it
widening out and almost hidden by a million flowers and plants that like
to stand with their feet in water. Or you will see it, cool and deep,
with golden shadows sleeping in it, slipping round little boulders and
clattering over stones, in a tremendous hurry to escape from these sweet
places to the noisome city, where it will lose itself in the sewer water
before it finds its way to the sea.

There is no such order in an Irish as in an English landscape: none of
the rich, ordered garden air which in England so delights Americans and
colonials. The Irish landscape is always somewhat forlorn, wild and
soft, with an impalpable melancholy upon it--this even in the fat
pasture-lands of Dublin County. How much more so when the bogs spread
their beautiful brown desolation over miles of country, or in the wild
places where man asks for bread and Nature gives him a stone! At its
most prosperous the country is always a little wild, a little mournful,
a barefooted colleen with cloudy hair and shy eyes sometimes tearful,
and no conventional beauty--only something that takes the heart by storm
and holds it fast.

Irish skies weep a deal. That accounts, of course, for the great
vegetation, the intense greenness. If I did not know the Irish green I
should be unable to realize the mantle of grass-green silk which so
often the old ballad-makers gave their knights and ladies. Knowing the
Irish grass, I see an intenser green than if I did not know it. Where
there are not rocks and stones and mountains, where there is cultivation
in Ireland, there is leafage and grass of great luxuriousness. Of a wet
summer in Ireland you could scarcely walk through the grass; it might
meet above a child's head. Contrariwise, the flora of Ireland, as I know
it, is much less various and luxuriant than that of England. In a
childhood and youth spent in the Irish country--it was round about
Dublin--I recall only the simpler and commoner wild-flowers. On a chalk
cliff at Dover, when May spread a carpet of flowers, I have seen a
greater variety of wild-flowers than I knew in a lifetime in
Ireland--most of them unknown to me by name.

[Illustration: BLARNEY CASTLE.]

Nor do I think the birds are so many as in England, perhaps because so
much of Ireland is stripped of its woods; perhaps because Ireland has
been slower to protect the birds than England; perhaps, also, because of
the scantier population, which leaves the birds to suffer hunger in the
winter. There are no nightingales in Ireland, but I do not think we have
missed them, having the thrush and the blackbird, which seem to me to
sing with a richer sweetness in Ireland than in England; but that may be
because the Irish-born person is prone to exaggerate the sweetness he
has lost. But the most characteristic note of the Irish summer is the
corn-crake's. Somehow the Irish corn-crake has a bigger note and is much
more in evidence than his English brother. All the nights of the early
summer in Ireland he saws away with his rasping note, till the hay is
cut, when he disappears. I suppose one hears him as much in the
day-time, but one does not notice him. He is the harsh Irish
nightingale. Poor fellow! he is often immolated before the
mowing-machine; and you shall see him flying with his long-legged wife
and children--or rather scurrying--to the nearest hedgerow, where there
is always a plentiful supply of grass to cover him till he can make up
his mind to go elsewhere. It is a saying in Ireland that you never see
a corn-crake after the meadows are cut. A learned doctor has assured me
that they migrate to Egypt for the good of their voices.

For the rest, in the Irish country there are villages of an incredible
poverty. The Irish village mars a landscape, whereas so often an English
one enhances its beauty. There are farmhouses and isolated cottages. The
farmhouses are seldom even pretty. Irish house architecture is terribly
ugly, as a rule, except for the few eighteenth-century houses which
derive from the English. The Irish farmhouse is generally a two-story
building, slated and whitewashed. It is too narrow for its height,
although the height may be no great thing. A mean hall-door in the
middle, with a mean window to either side, three mean windows
above--that is the Irish farmer's idea of house-building. I remember an
Irishman of genius objecting to Morland that his cottages were
impossible; there was never the like out of Arcadia. As a matter of
fact, the cottages were such as are the commonplaces of English
villages. But no good Irishman will concede to England a beauty, natural
or otherwise, which Ireland does not possess. The country shows many
ruins--ruined houses, the houses of the Irish gentry; ruined mills;
ruined churches and castles; and behind grey stone walls, unthought of,
uncared for, old disused graveyards filled with prairie grass to the
height of the crumbling walls.

When the Irish go away they are always lonely for the mountains. No
other mountains are so soft-bosomed and so mild. They have wisps of
cloud lying along the side of them and the blue peak showing above. I
have seen a rainbow, one end of the arch planted in the sea, the other
somewhere behind the mountains, "over the hills and far away." Seeing
that incomparable sight, I understood why the Irish peasant imagines
fairy treasures hidden at the foot of the rainbow. I, too, have been in
Arcadia.



CHAPTER IV

THE IRISH PEOPLE


I must warn you, before proceeding to write about the Irish people, that
I have tried to explain them, according to my capacity, a thousand times
to my English friends and neighbours, and have been pulled up short as
many times by the reflection that all I have been saying was
contradicted by some other aspect of my country-people. For we are an
eternally contradictory people, and none of us can prognosticate
exactly what we shall feel, what do, under given circumstances; whereas
the Englishman is simple. He has no mysteries. Once you know him, you
can pretty well tell what he will say, what feel, and do under given
circumstances. You have a formula for him: you have no formula for the
Irish. The Englishman is simple, the Irish complex. The Anglo-Irish, who
stand to most English people for the Irish, have had grafted on to them
the complexity of the Irish without their pliability. It makes, perhaps,
the most puzzling of all mixtures, and it may be the chief difficulty in
a proper estimate of the Irish character.

They will tell you in Ireland that you have to go some forty or fifty
miles from Dublin before you get into Irish Ireland. There are a good
many Irish in Anglo-Ireland, usually in the humbler walks of life,
whence you shall find in Dublin servants, car-drivers, policemen,
newspaper-boys, and so on, the raciness, the vivacity, the charm, which
in Irish Ireland is a perpetual delight. Dublin drawing-rooms are not
vivacious, nor are the manners gracious, although the Four Courts still
produce a galaxy of wit, and Dublin citizens buttonhole each other with
good stories all along the streets, roaring with laughter in a way that
would be regarded as Bedlam in Fleet Street.

Get into Irish Ireland and the manners have a graciousness which is like
a blessing. I asked the way in Ballyshannon town once. The woman who
directed me came out into the street and a little way with me, and when
she left me called to me sweetly, "Come back soon to Donegal!" which
left a sense of blessing with me all that day. There was a certain
curly-haired "Wullie," who drove the long car from Donegal to Killybegs.
I can see "Wullie" yet helping the women on and off the car with their
myriad packages, can see the delightful grief with which he parted from
us, his shining face of welcome when he met us again a fortnight later.
To set against "Wullie" were the car-drivers, who certainly are
unpleasant if the "whip-money" does not come up to their expectations.
We say of such that they are "spoilt by the tourists," yet I remember
some who were not spoilt by the tourists, although they were perpetually
in touch with them--boatmen and pony-boys at Killarney; and a certain
delightful guide, whose winning gaiety was not at all merely
professional.

Thinking over my country-people, I say, "They are so-and-so," and then I
have a misgiving, and I say, "But, after all, they are not so-and-so."

They are the most generous people in the world. They enjoy to the
fullest the delight of giving; and what a good delight that is! I pity
the ungiving people. You will receive more gifts in Ireland in a
twelvemonth than in a lifetime out of it. The first instinct of Irish
liking or loving is to give you something. The giving instinct runs
through all classes. If you sit down in a cabin and see an old piece of
lustre-ware or something else of the sort, do not admire it unless you
mean to accept it; for it will be offered to you, not in the Spanish way
which does not expect acceptance, but in the Irish way which does. I
have many little bits of china given so, usually the one thing of any
consideration or value the donor possessed. I once sought to buy an old
china dish, much flawed and cracked by hot ovens, in a Dublin hotel, as
much to save it from following its fellows to destruction as for any
other reason. The owner would not sell the dish, but he offered it for
my acceptance in such a way that I could not refuse. When I go back to
my old home, the cottagers bring a few new-laid eggs or a griddle-cake
for my acceptance. I have a friend in an Irish village whose income from
an official source is £10 a year. She has a cottage, a few hens, and
enough grass for a cow when she can get one. Her gifts come at
Christmas, at Easter, on St. Patrick's Day, and on some special, private
feasts of my own--eggs, sweets, flowers, a bit of lace, or a fine
embroidered handkerchief, and, in times of illness, a pair of chickens.
That is royal giving out of so little; and I assure you that it blesses
the giver as well as the recipient.

On the other hand, the farmers grow thriftier and thriftier. Sir Horace
Plunkett and men like him, truly patriotic Irishmen, are showing them
the way. Successive Land Acts lift them more and more into a position of
security from one of precariousness. They have more money now to put in
the savings-banks. Their prosperity does not mean a higher standard of
living, although that is badly needed. It means more money in the
banks--that is all.

The Irish are very like the French. If the day should come when they
should learn, like the French, to be thrifty and usurious, I hope I
shall not be there to see it. Better--a thousand times better--that they
should remain royal wastrels to the end.

As yet we need not fear it. Still, if you ask a drink of water at a
mountain cabin in the poorest parts of Ireland, you are given milk; and
_do not offer to pay for it_, lest you sink to the lowest place in the
estimation of these splendid givers.

The hospitality is truly splendid. There is a saying in Ireland that
they always put an extra bit in the pot for "the man coming over the
hill." It is an unheard-of thing that you should call at an Irish house
and not be asked if "you've a mouth on you." If your visit be within
anything like measurable distance of meal-time you will be obliged to
stay for the meal.

In England, when people are poor, or comparatively so, or feel the need
of retrenchment, they "do not entertain." It is almost the first form of
retrenchment which suggests itself to the Englishman; whereas to curtail
his hospitalities would be the last form of retrenchment to an Irishman,
and you will be entertained generously and lavishly by people you know
to be poor. The Englishman's different way of looking at the matter is
no doubt partly due to the fact that he is a much more domestic person
than the Irishman, and depends mainly on his family life for his
happiness and pleasure. Now, the French do not give hospitality at all
outside the large family circle, so that in that regard at least the
Irish will have a long way to travel before they touch with the French.

[Illustration: OFF TO AMERICA.]

I have said that the Irish are not domestic. They are gregarious, but
not domestic. The Irishman depends a deal on the neighbours; he has no
such way of enclosing himself within a little fortified place of home
against all the ills of the world as has the Englishman. Irish mothers,
like Irish nurses, are often tenderly, exquisitely soft and warm; but
the young ones will fly out of the nest for all that. Perhaps the art of
making the home pleasant is not an Irish art. Perhaps it is the
gregariousness, general and not particular--at least, general in the
sense of embracing the parish and not the family. To the young Irish and
a good many of their elders the home is dull. They go off to America,
leaving the old people to loneliness, because there is no amusement.
They do not make their own interests, as the slower, less vivacious
nations do. The rainy Irish climate seems made for a people who would
find their pleasures indoors. But the Irish will be out and about,
telling good stories and hearing them. They are an artistic people, with
great traditions; yet books or music or conversation will not keep them
at home. If they cannot have the neighbours in, they will go out to the
neighbours.

They are very religious, and accept the invisible world with a
thoroughness and simplicity of belief which they would say themselves is
their most precious inheritance. The Celt is no materialist. He does not
love success or riches; most of those whom he holds in esteem have been
neither successful nor rich. Money is not the passport to his
affections. He ought never to go away, and, alas! he goes away in
thousands! Contact with the selfish, money-getting materialism has power
to destroy the spiritual qualities of the Celt, once he is outside
Ireland. When he comes back--a prosperous Irish-American--he is no
longer the Celt we loved. And he does come back: that is one of his
contradictions. The home he has left behind because of its dulness, the
arid patch of mountain-land, the graves of his people, call him back
again at the moment when one would have said every bond with them was
loosened.

He is full of sentiment, yet he makes mercenary marriages. The Irish
match-making customs are well known. In the South and West of Ireland
the prospective bride is bargained over with no more sentiment than if
she were a heifer. She may be "turned down" for an iron pot or a
feather-bed which her mother will not give up to supplement the dowry.
Satin cheeks and speedwell eyes and a head of silk like the raven's
plume will not count against a bullock extra with a yellow spinster of
greater fortune, or is not supposed to count; for sometimes Cupid steps
in, although the match-making customs are usually accepted as
unquestioningly as a similar institution is by the French. And even in
such unpromising soil flowers of love and tenderness will spring up.
Under my hand I have a letter from an Irish peasant which I think
affords a beautiful refutation of the idea that sentiment and
match-making cannot go together. Here is a passage from it:

"For the last few weeks I was anxiously engaged at match-making, as
matters were going from bad to worse; having no housekeeper, household
jobs and cares prevented me from attending to outside work. Well, at
last my match is made. The marriage is to take place next Thursday. The
'young girl' is twenty-two years, and I thank God that I am perfectly
satisfied with my life-companion-to-be. There were many other matches
introduced to me--far more satisfactory from the financial point of
view, some having £20, some £30, and one £40 more fortune than my
intended wife has, with whom I am getting but £90, while I must 'by
will' give £120 to my brother, leaving a deficit of £30; but, somehow, I
could not satisfy my mind with the other 'good girls' if they had over
£200--nay, at all. And the poet's words were true when he said something
like 'pity is akin to love'; pity I felt first for my intended wife,
with her simple, yet wise, unaffected ways, not used to world's ways and
wiles, 'an unspoiled child of Nature,' never flirted, never went to
dances, with the bloom of her maidenhood fresh and pure, and fair and
bright. When but a last £5 was between myself and her people _re_
fortune, her very words to me were: 'Wisha, God help me! if I'm worth
anything, I ought to be worth that £5.' That expression of hers stung me
to the quick, so openly, frankly, and innocently uttered, and 'I'm
getting other accounts, but would not marry anyone but you.' Well, the
end was in that one night, sitting beside her in her father's house, the
feeling of pity changed to a warmer feeling, thank God; for if it
didn't, I would rather live and die single than marry against my will.
''Tisn't riches makes happiness.' I've read somewhere that when want
comes in at the door, love flies out of the window; but I don't believe
it--I don't believe it. And my brother is kind; he will be giving me
time to pay the balance, £30, by degrees."

The Irish are notoriously brave, yet they have a fear of public opinion
unknown to an Englishman. Underneath their charmingly gay and open
manner there is a self-consciousness, a self-mistrust. For all their
keen sense of humour, they cannot bear laughter directed at themselves.
They dread to be made absurd more than anything else in this world.
They are responsive and sympathetic, yet too witty not to be somewhat
malicious; and they are warm and generous, yet not always so reliably
kind as a duller, slower people. They are irritable, so they are less
tolerant of children and animals, although they make excellent nurses,
as I have said. They have no tolerance at all for slowness and
stupidity, very little for ugliness or want of charm. They adore beauty,
though it doesn't count for much in their most intimate relations; and
it is not, therefore, the paradise of plain women.

I have not touched on a hundredth part of their contradictoriness, which
makes the Irish so eternally unexpected and interesting. They can be, as
they say themselves, "contrairy" when they choose--and they often
choose. Yet, when all is said and done, they are the pleasantest people
in the world. Nor is their pleasantness insincere. They are pleasant
because they feel pleasant; and an Irish man or woman will pay you an
amazing, fresh, audacious compliment which an Englishman might feel, but
would rather die than say.

Did I say that the Celt was gay and melancholy? He is exquisitely gay
and most profoundly melancholy. He is in touch with the other world, and
yet desperately afraid of it, or of the passage to it, being a creature
of fine nerves and apprehension; whence he will joke about death to
cover up his real repugnance, and yet hold the key to heaven as securely
as though it were the other side of the wall, with a lonesome passage to
be traversed. It is the lonesomeness of death which makes it terrible to
the gregarious Irishman, although he knows that the other side of the
wall the kinsmen and friends and neighbours await him, friendly and
loving as of old.



CHAPTER V

SOUTH OF DUBLIN


If you go down from Dublin by the wonderful coast-line or through the
beautiful country inland which runs by the base of the mountains, you
will come upon beautiful scenery, and find a population not at all
characteristically Irish. The beauty of Wicklow, its wonderful woods,
its deep glens, its placid waters, its glorious mountains, is only less
than the beauty of Killarney, which is an earthly paradise. But in
Wicklow, in Wexford, in Waterford, the people's blood is mixed.
Sometimes it is Celt upon Celt, the Welsh Celt upon the Irish. There are
charming people in Wicklow and Wexford and Waterford, but to those
counties belongs also what I call the cynical Irishman--the Irishman
without charm of manner, the "independent" Irishman, who will not take
off his hat to rank or age or sex; yet he is Irish enough in the core of
him. And Wicklow and Wexford, with Kildare and part of Meath, were the
scenes of the Rebellion in 1798. Perhaps the memory of those days helps
to make the Irishman of the south-east corner of Ireland what he is, and
that is often something very unlike the gracious Irishman of the South
and West. He has his resentments. I have heard an Irishman say: "A
Wexford man will never look at a Tipperary man, because Tipperary didn't
rise in the Rebellion." The Rebellion, which was hatched in the North by
Ulster Presbyterians, broke out, after all, in Wexford, and on a
religious, and a Catholic, cause of quarrel. There could have been
nothing farther from the thoughts of the leaders of the united Irishmen
than to make a religious war, but that was what the Rebellion of 1798
turned out to be--a religious war; a war between Catholic and
Protestant, precipitated not by English intriguers, say those who know
well, but by outrageous insults to the Catholic altars, led in many
cases by priests on the rebel side, foredoomed to failure in spite of
the desperate courage of the peasantry who for a time swept all before
them. One always thinks of Wexford and the Rebellion simultaneously. It
was a time of cynical contrasts. Think of the poor peasants, maddened by
outrages to their altars, led by their priests, carrying on the
Rebellion planned by Protestants of the North--by leaders deeply imbued
with the French revolutionary spirit, which was certainly not Christian!
Think of the Western peasants, when Humbert and his men landed at
Killala, hailing those good comrades of the Revolution as
fellow-Catholics, coming to meet them decked out in religious emblems!
One of the strangest and most cynical of these contrasts was the fact
that while the peasant army fought desperately at New Ross, where they
all but carried the day, on the other side of the Barrow River men were
ploughing peacefully in their fields, because it was Wexford that was up
and not their county. I suppose it is the clan system which
differentiates Irishmen by their counties and their towns. Dublin is
heterogeneous, perhaps. It has, at all events, few distinguishing
characteristics, whereas Cork and Waterford men are as widely apart
almost as though they were of different nationalities; and both are
agreed in despising Dublin, although Dublin has made history in the last
hundred years--national history--more than either.

[Illustration: A WICKLOW GLEN.]

The men who were the first begetters of the Rebellion, and the men who
saved Ireland for the English Crown, were alike men of Anglo-Irish
blood. The Rebellion was put down by the Irish yeomanry, as English
statesmen had to acknowledge, however little they liked the methods of
their allies. The yeomanry did not make war with rose-water, any more
than they precipitated the Rebellion by gentle methods. It is a bloody
and brutal chapter of Irish history, and the memories of it accounted
for the religious animosities which I remember in my youth, which are
fading out as the memories of the Rebellion are fading. The year 1798
has ceased to be a landmark in Irish life. When I was a child, there yet
lived people who could tell at first hand or second hand of the terrible
happenings of those days. People used to say, fixing an age: "He was
born the year of the Rebellion." Now all that has passed away. Even in
those times it was becoming more customary to date events by the year of
the Big Wind, 1839. Now, with the establishment of parish
registers--which did not come in in Ireland till the sixties--and the
spread of newspapers and cheap knowledge generally, such landmarks are
no longer required; and the Big Wind of 1903 has wiped out the memory of
its predecessor.

In the mountains of Wicklow the insurgents of those days found their
refuges and their fastnesses and their graves. I remember having seen
somewhere near Roundwood, in the Wicklow Mountains, in the midst of a
ploughed field a long strip of greenest grass covering the grave of many
rebels. The plough had gone round it ever since then, but not a sod of
it had been turned up; it had remained inviolate.

A great deal of Irish history gathers round the Rebellion--_the_
Rebellion, the Irish yet call it, as though there had never been any
other. The men who made it were literary men, in a more vital sense than
the men of '48, who were also literary. Two books of that day stand out
pre-eminently--Lord Edward Fitzgerald's "Life and Letters," edited by
Thomas Moore, and the Journal of Theobald Wolfe Tone. Lord Edward had an
exquisite style. His letters are the frank revelation of a beautiful and
gallant and innocent mind and heart. Without deliberation, without
knowledge, his family letters achieved the highest art. They are
immortal, imperishable things.

Then Tone's Journal is as remarkable a human document. Tone swaggers
through these pages better than any hero of romance. Life, after all,
is the greatest artist, and one does not say, "Here is a true Dumas
hero! Here is a true Stevenson hero!" For Life is better than her
children.

Nearly all the United Irish leaders left memoirs or journals behind
them. There was, perhaps, something of the self-consciousness of the
French Revolution in this keeping a journal in the face of battle.
Anyhow, we are grateful to Holt, to Teeling, to Cloney, for keeping
alive for us those days and those men.

In Lady Sarah Napier's letters you also get most vivid glimpses of the
Rebellion--as, indeed, you do in the letters of the whole Leinster
family. Mary Ledbetter, that gentle Quakeress, of Ballitore, has told
her experiences of the Rebellion in Kildare; there is Bishop Stock's
Narrative of the French landing at Killala and those days in which he
entertained willy-nilly the French leaders and found them the most
considerate of guests. In fact, there is a whole library of Rebellion
literature.

I ask pardon for treating Wicklow and Wexford as though they were the
theatre of '98, and nothing more; but, indeed, in the story of Wexford
the Rebellion stands up like White Mountain and Mount Leinster, and one
finds little else to say.



CHAPTER VI

THE NORTH


Between Dublin and Newry there is not much to see or to remember except
that Cromwell sacked Drogheda with a thoroughness, and that at Dundalk
Edward Bruce, the brother of Robert, was crowned King of Ireland. The
Mourne Mountains and Carlingford Lough bring us back to characteristic
Ireland. Beyond them one enters the manufacturing districts--that
north-east corner of Ireland which no Celt looks upon as Ireland at all.
In speech, in character, in looks, the people become Scotch and not
Irish. One has crossed the border and Celtic Ireland is left behind.

In the north-east corner of Ulster they are all busy money-making and
money-getting. The North of Ireland has admirable qualities--thrift,
energy, industry, ambition, capacity. In other parts of Ireland you find
these qualities here and there; they are mainly, but not altogether, the
qualities of the Anglo-Irish--that is, in so far as they are a business
asset. The Celt has no real capacity for money-making, though at the
wrong end of the virtue of thrift--that dreariest of the virtues--he may
accumulate it. He will put an enormous deal of energy into something
that does not pay him in hard cash. Honorary positions are greedily
sought after by the Irish everywhere. They will run any number of
societies for nothing, will do the business of Leagues, of the Poor Law,
of the County Councils. The energy shown by the Celt in doing the public
business would enrich him if applied to his own. He has a large capacity
for public business, and an extraordinary readiness to do it, which is,
I suppose, the reason why he does the public business of America, while
non-Irish Americans sit by and grumble at his way of doing it.

In Ireland and in America he does hard manual labour, but somehow the
genius of finance is not his. His hard work is on the land in one form
or another. Now and again he may build up quite a considerable fortune
in petty shop-keeping--the big traders are nearly all Anglo-Irish--but
when he does, his sons become professional men and the business ceases
to be. One can hardly imagine in Celtic Ireland what occurs every day in
English business life, where the son of a successful business man may be
a public-school man, a University man, and have had all the advantages
of wealth, and yet succeed his father in the business. And his son
succeeds him, and so on. This, in Celtic Ireland, would, I fear, be
taken as indicative of a pettifogging spirit. The Anglo-Irishman, on the
contrary, succeeds to the business his father has made, even though he
be a University man; and the Grafton Street shops are often run by men
who are graduates and honourmen of the University, and yet do not
disdain to be seen in their shops.

There is nothing Irish about North-East Ulster except the country
itself, which does not materially alter its character, because it is
studded with factories. From the streets of Belfast you see the Cave
Hill, as from easy-going Dublin you see the Dublin Mountains. Perhaps
there is something of exuberance caught from the Celt in the
paraphernalia and ceremonial of the Orange Society. Who can say how much
of poetry it may not mean, that crowded hour of glorious life which
comes about mid-July, when men who have worked side by side in amity all
the rest of the year suddenly become bitter enemies, when the wearing of
an Orange sash and the sight of an Orange lily stir a fever in the
blood?

Apart from such occasions, they are given in Belfast to minding their
own business, and minding it very well. The Belfast man is very shrewd,
but he has a great simplicity withal. He has none of the uppish notions
of the Celt, and though he makes money he does not make it to display
it. He is blunt and brusque in his speech and manner, and so not unlike
his Lancashire brother. He lives simply. In public matters he has the
priceless advantage, in Ireland, of knowing what he wants; and he
usually gets it, unless his demands be too outrageous. He is a hard man
of business, but in his human relationships he is kind and sincere. I
have known exiles of Dublin who went to Belfast in tears, and for the
first months or years of their residence were always sighing after
Dublin. When, however, they came to know the man of the North--he takes
a good deal of knowing--nothing would induce them to return to Dublin.

Like his Scottish progenitors, he stands by the Bible. There is as much
Bible-reading in the fine red-brick mansions of Belfast as there is in
Scotland. He does not produce literature. The more artistic parts of
Ireland look down on him as one to whom "boetry and bainting" are as
unacceptable as they were to the Second George. But he encourages solid
learning, and he endows seats of learning as generously as does the
American millionaire, who in this respect offers an example to his
English brother. The Belfast man has the Scottish love of education. He
has many of the homespun Scottish virtues, and much less than the
Scottish love of money.

At the very gates of Belfast you find the Irish country. The Glens of
Antrim are as Irish as Limerick or Clare. They are very beautiful, and
not much exploited. There is also the Giant's Causeway to see. The
legend of its construction is that Finn, the Irish giant, invited a
Scotch giant over to fight him, and generously provided the Causeway for
him to cross by; but he played a nasty trick on him, for he pretended to
the Scottish giant when he came that he was his own little boy. "If you
are the little son, what must your father be?" the Scottish giant is
reported to have said before taking to his heels.

I do not believe the story. I believe that the Scottish giant came and
stayed. You see his children all over North-East Ulster.

There are women-poets whom one associates with the North--Moira O'Neill
of the Glens, and Alice Milligan, a daughter of Belfast. They are both

    "Kindly Irish of the Irish
     Neither Saxon nor Italian,"

nor Scottish.

[Illustration: THE RIVER LEE.]



Cork and Thereabouts



CHAPTER VII

CORK AND THEREABOUTS


There is something of rich and racy association about the very name of
Cork--something that suggests joviality, wit, a warm southern
temperament. Corkmen only out of all Ireland hold together. The rest of
Ireland may be fissiparous, disunited. Corkmen cleave closer than
Scotsmen to one another, and to be a Corkman is to another Corkman a
cloak that covers a multitude of sins. A Corkman in Dublin will have
friends in all sorts of unlikely places. What matter though a man be in
a humble rank of life--a cabman, a policeman, a postman, even a
scavenger! So he be a Corkman, he has an appeal to the heart of his
brother Corkman. It is a Freemasonry. There is nothing else like it in
Ireland, nor anywhere else, so far as I know; for the Scotsman coming
into England may draw other Scotsmen to follow him, but in the Scotch
sticking together there is less real affection than there is in the case
of the Corkman. To be able to exchange memories of the Mardyke, of the
River Lee, of Shandon and Sunday's Well, is to make Corkmen brothers
all the world over. Cork looks on itself as the real capital of Ireland,
and has always its eye on a day when Dublin will be dispossessed.

It has a most excellent situation on the River Lee, and is surrounded by
all manner of natural beauties. There is plenty of business stirring,
and there is a good deal of opulence in Cork, where, Corkmen being men
of taste, they display it in their houses, their way of living and on
the persons of their beautiful women, with the irresistible Cork brogue
to crown all their other charms. Cork is nothing if not artistic. She
has produced artists of all descriptions--poets, painters, great
newspaper men (was not Delane of the _Times_ a Corkman?), musicians,
sculptors, orators, preachers. The words roll off the Cork tongue sweet
as honey. There is something extraordinarily rich, gay and alluring
about Cork and Cork people. They were always audacious. They set up
Perkin Warbeck as a Pretender to the English Crown, clad him in silks
and velvets, and demanded his acknowledgment at the hands of the Lord
Deputy. I do not know that as a city Cork took a great part in any of
the many Irish rebellions. It would make a city of diplomatists because
of its honeyed tongue. Queen Elizabeth, they say, was the first one to
talk of Blarney, which is a Cork commodity. There was a certain
McCarthy, Lord of Blarney, who would not come in and submit to the
Queen's forces, though week by week he promised to come and kept the
Queen's anger off by cozening words. "It is all Blarney," the Queen came
to say of fair words that meant nothing; but that is a derivation I
somewhat suspect. I do not know what Cork was doing in the Desmond
Rebellion, of the results of which Spenser has left us so harrowing a
description. She was perhaps enjoying herself after the fashion of that
day. Spenser married a Cork-woman, and has enshrined her in the
"Epithalamion," the most beautiful love-poem in the English language.
Cork has its links with the Golden Age of England, for Raleigh was at
Youghal, and Spenser at Kilcolman close by; and in Raleigh's house at
Youghal they show you the oriel in which Spenser sat and read the
"Faërie Queene" to his host, the Shepherd of the Ocean. Youghal and all
that part of the country round about Cork is steeped in traditions and
memories. St. Mary's Collegiate Church at Youghal might be in an English
town, and there are malls and promenades in those parts, with high,
crumbling houses, which suggest the English civilization of the Middle
Ages and not the Irish civilization before the Norman Conquest. The
Normans were great church-builders, but of their churches, as in the
case of the old Abbey of St. Francis at Youghal, there remain now only
ruins--a naked gable standing up amid a wilderness of graves, buried in
coarse grasses, which, when I was there, had a greater decency towards
the dead than had the living. For it is strange that the Irish, who love
the dead, have little piety towards their graves.

From Youghal Sir Walter Raleigh sailed away to Virginia on his last
disastrous voyage. Spenser had gone back to London earlier than that,
heart-broken by the loss of his little son, who was burnt to death in a
fire at Kilcolman Castle. Raleigh and Spenser had received grants of the
lands of the attainted Desmonds. Very little profit either had of them,
and Raleigh's lands passed to the Earl of Cork, commonly called "the
Great," whose flaring chapel destroys the quiet of St. Mary's dim aisles
and chancel. Never was there so worldly a monument as this of Robert
Boyle, his mother, his two wives, and his nine children, all in
hideously painted and decorated Italian marble. The fierce eyes of the
great Earl are something to remember with dismay.

I recall the evidence the great Earl adduced to prove that Sir Walter
did really hand him over his Irish estates on the eve of that journey
to Virginia--for a small consideration of money and plenishing for the
expedition. "If you do not take the lands, some Scot will have them,"
said, or is reported to have said, Sir Walter, which reminds us that
Jamie had succeeded Elizabeth, and was already transplanting his
Scots--Jamie, who was to keep so brilliant a bird as Sir Walter in so
squalid a cage as a prison till he made up his mind to send him to the
block. Youghal is haunted by Sir Walter and Spenser. My memories of the
place in a windy autumn are brightened by sudden gleams, as of splendid
attire and golden olive faces with the Elizabethan ruff and the
Elizabethan pointed beard.

The Blackwater, which runs through Youghal, dropping into the sea at
that point, had at Rhincrew Point its House of Knights Templars. From
Youghal they also sailed away in search of El Dorado, but a heavenly
one. May they have found it!

And also there is Templemichael, of the Earls of Desmond, the southern
branch of the Fitzgeralds, which Cromwell battered down for "dire
insolence." There is a story of a Desmond lord who was buried across the
water at Ardmore, the holy place of St. Declan, where there is a
pilgrimage and a patronage to this day. But holy as Ardmore was and is,
Earl Gerald could not sleep there. He wanted to be back at
Templemichael, where his young wife lay in her lonely grave. So that
night after night there came a terrible cry, "Garault Arointha! Garault
Arointha!"--that is to say: "Give Gerald a ferry!" So at last some of
his faithful followers rowed over by night, took up the body of Earl
Gerald, and carried it back to Templemichael and to the dead Countess's
side. And after that Earl Gerald slept in peace.

My memory of Youghal in that far-away windy autumn is compounded of
three or four things. There was purple wistaria hanging in great masses
over the walls of the college which was the foundation of one of the
Desmonds. There was provision there for so many singing men--twenty, was
it?--who were to sing in St. Mary's choir. The great Earl of Cork had a
great maw, one that never suffered from indigestion. The revenues of St.
Mary's College went the same way as Sir Walter's slice of the Desmond
lands. Then, again, in a little shop-window of the town, there was a
glorious show of fruit--great scarlet-skinned tomatoes, gorgeous plums
and pears and apples, which reminded one that Raleigh had planted
orchards at Affane, on the Blackwater. As a rule, fruit is sadly to seek
in a small Irish town, although Cork produces some of the finest fruit
I have ever seen. Then, again, there was a room in Raleigh's house,
Myrtle Grove, unlit save for the flicker of firelight, the darkness all
about us, and an old voice bidding us to notice the earthy smell, which
was supposed to enter the room from a subterranean passage that led to
St. Mary's.

Again, I have another widely different memory. It is of a fine, tall,
beautifully-complexioned girl standing behind the counter of a draper's
shop, her shining red-golden head showing against a background of little
plaid shawls and kerchiefs, while she lamented in her wailing southern
brogue the fact that no one could hope to get married in Youghal, unless
one had £300 to buy an old "widda-man"; and they were all the men that
were going.

I like to get back from Youghal and its ghosts, and Rosanna, who never
thought of rebelling against the marriage customs of her forbears, to
cheerful Cork of the living and not the dead, with her tramcars, her
jingles--the curious covered car which takes the place of the outside
car in other Irish towns--her citizens laughing and button-holing each
other with a greater gaiety than the Dubliners; her excellent shops, her
beautiful girls promenading Patrick Street, her club-houses, her
churches, her Queen's College, and all the rest of it, down to her
river with its busy steamers. Cork's citizens live outside her gates, at
Monkstown, at Blackrock, at Glenbrook; and the busy steamers carry them
to and fro by the loveliest of waterways. "Are the steamers punctual?" I
asked a Cork friend. "Is it punctual?" repeated he. "They're the most
punctual things in Ireland, for they always get in before their time."

Father Mathew is one of Cork's memories; Father Prout is another; Dr.
Maginn is another. But the list of Cork's worthies is a long one, and I
shall not enter upon it here.

[Illustration: RALEIGH'S HOUSE, MYRTLE GROVE.]

Cork has the most enervating climate for one who comes to it from more
northern latitudes. It is always soft and warm, and often wet. "Good
heavens!" said John Mitchel, when he came back from twenty years or so
of Australia, gliding in by Spike Island in that same silver mist of
rain in which he had gone out, "isn't that shower over yet?" The flowers
are wonderful in Cork, as well as the fruit. I have seen the suburban
gardens of Corkmen a luxuriance of vivid, closely packed, overflowing
blossom. Myrtles and fuchsias grow in the open air. There are hedges of
fuchsias at Killarney. There are hydrangeas also; but the same is true
of Dublin and its precincts. No one coming in from outside has energy to
do anything in Cork. But the Corkman lacks nothing of energy, nothing
of the joy of life. He is a keen business man, and there is plenty of
industrial enterprise. He is interested in the affairs of the world at
large and of Cork in particular. He has his enthusiasms. He is a
tremendous politician, and does not mind being on the losing side so
long as it is the right one. He is a sportsman and a bit of a gambler;
he makes love and is a good friend. The place is full of wit and gaiety
and humour. His standard of living when he has money, or ought to have
it, is an unusually high one for Ireland. Some of those successful
merchants live, I am told, like merchant princes. He is lavish and
generous, and fond of display--altogether a rich, abundant,
highly-coloured character. He lives in an atmosphere of incessant wit
and humour. Hardly a man in Cork but has his nickname. "There goes Billy
Boulevard," you hear, and you are told that the gentleman so designated
desired to embellish Patrick Street with trees. But it was in Dublin
that they called one who had made his money in pneumatic tyres, and was
exalted above his humbler neighbours, "Lord Tyre and Side-on."



CHAPTER VIII

GALWAY


Galway is so synonymous with racy Irish life that a peep at Ireland must
be incomplete unless it includes a peep at Galway. It is full of the
strangest monuments of the past. It was once a town of the Irishry, in
the O'Flaherty country. But with the Norman Conquest there came in that
group of Anglo-Norman families known as the Tribes, who in course of
time went the way of all their compeers, becoming more Irish than the
Irish. "Lord!" said Edmund Spenser, "how quickly doth that country alter
men's natures!" The Tribes were, and are--for happily there are still
the Tribes of Galway--thirteen, viz.: Athy, Blake, Bodkin, Browne,
D'Arcy, Font, French, Joyce, Kirwan, Lynch, Martin, Morris, and
Skerrett. These Tribes became responsible in time for so much of the
wild and picturesque life of the Irish gentry of the eighteenth
century--the duelling, the drinking, the racing, the gambling, the
general devil-may-care life--that Galway looms more largely, perhaps,
than any town in the social history of Ireland. Galway drew up a code
for duellists known as the Galway Code; and in the irresponsible life of
the eighteenth century, such as you find in Miss Edgeworth's "Castle
Rackrent" and in Lever's novels, the life which the Encumbered Estates
Act put a period to, the names of the Tribes figure oftener than more
Celtic names. For the picturesque wildness of Irish life was the
wildness of the settlers rather than the wildness of the native Irish.

However, in the great days of Galway's trade with Spain and other
continental ports, traces of which are scattered all over the old ruined
city, which is as much Spanish as it is Irish, the Tribes were just
merchant princes, not anticipating the time when, _more Hibernico_, they
should fling trade to the winds and become the maddest crew of
dare-devils known in the social life of any country. And here I find, in
the record of the duelling and drinking days, traces and indications of
the English descent of the roysterers. For certainly there was a lack of
humour in the actors, though none for the spectator; there was a
solemnity--not always a drunken solemnity--in the way their pranks were
performed that was not Celtic; for the Celt has a terrible sense of the
ridiculous. Doubtless it was from his Anglo-Irish betters that the Celt
derived the habit of "trailing his coat" through a fair when he was
spoiling for a fight, though, to do him justice, he practised it only
when he was drunk. The Anglo-Irish duellists inaugurated the custom.
When on no pretext could they find a friend or neighbour to kill or be
killed by, they went out and "trailed the coat," like the gentleman who
rode on a tailless horse, with his face to the crupper, and, seeing an
unwary stranger smile, immediately challenged him, and rode home in huge
delight to look to his pistols. They were extremely solemn over their
pranks. One wonders how often the Celtic servants had a smile behind
their hand at such strange goings-on of their masters, which would not
have been possible to the self-conscious Celt.

Over one of the gates of Galway was the pious legend, "From the
ferocious O'Flaherties, good Lord deliver us!" I have heard of other
inscriptions referring to other Irish septs over the remaining gates of
the town, but those I think are apocryphal. The fact remains that the
Tribes, having seized the town of the Irish after their rapacious Norman
manner, were obliged to wall it against the O'Flaherties, and doubtless
often slept ill at night because of the wild Irish battering at their
gates, as did their brothers of the English pale up in Dublin.

Galway would at that time have been well worth sacking. A traveller of
the early seventeenth century reports: "The merchants of Galway are rich
and great adventurers at sea: their commonalitie is composed of the
descendants of the ancient English families of the towne: and rairlie
admit of any new English among them, and never of any of the Irish; they
keep good hospitalitie and are kind to strangers, and in their manner of
entertainment and in fashioninge and apparellynge themselves and their
wives do most preserve the ancient manners and state of annie towne that
ever I saw."

They had their enactments against the Irish, including the MacWilliam
Burkes, who had gone over to the Irish, bag and baggage:

"That none of the towne buy cattle out of the country but only of true
men.

"That no man of the towne shall sell galley, bote or barque to an
Irishman.

"That no person shall give or sell to the Irish any munition as
hand-povins, calivres, poulter, leade, nor salt-peter, nor yet large
bowes, cross-bowes, cross-bowe strings, nor yearne to make the same, nor
any kind of weapon on payn to forfayt the same and an hundred
shyllinges.

"If anie man being an Irishman to brag and boste upon the towne, to
forfayt 12 pence.

"That no man of this towne shall ostle or receive into their house at
Christmasse or Easter nor no feast elles, anny of the Burkes
MacWilliams, the Kellies, nor no septs elles, without the licence of the
Maior and Council on payn to forfayt £5. That neither O' ne Mac shall
strutt or swagger through the streets of Galway."

You still find traces of the commerce of the Tribes with Spain, not only
in the old Spanish buildings of the town, but in the black Spanish eyes
and hair of the people. I remember to have been struck in Donegal by a
dignity, a loftiness of bearing, as well as by a height and stateliness
of the peasant people that made one murmur "Spanish" to one's own ear.

One of the sights of Galway is the ruins of the house from the window of
which James Lynch Fitz Stephen, a Chief Magistrate of Galway in 1493,
hanged his only son for murder with his own hand, lest the townspeople
should rescue him. The house is called The Cross Bones nowadays, and is
situated most appropriately in Dead-Man's Lane. There remains but an old
wall, with a couple of doorways having the pointed Spanish arches and
some ornate window-spaces above. There is a tablet on the wall, bearing
a skull and cross-bones, with the inscription:

            "Remember Deathe,
    Vaniti of vanitis, all is but vaniti."

Some people believe that this Lynch is the "onlie begetter" of Lynch
Law. This, however, I do not believe, and I think it more likely to have
been derived from a Lynch of the mining-camps in Southern California,
who was the first to promulgate and put in practice the wild justice of
execution without judge or jury. Anyhow, I cannot see that the example
of James Lynch FitzStephen was an admirable one, and I do not believe
the legend that he died heart-broken as a result of his own stern sense
of justice.

The palmy days of the Tribes were over with the Reformation, for they
did not cease to be Catholics, and so were in no great favour with the
predominant partner. Galway also stood for the King against the
Parliament, was besieged and taken by the Parliamentary soldiers under
Ludlow, who stabled his horses, according to report, in St. Nicholas's
Cathedral. After that Galway's great prosperity as a trading centre
passed away, and the Tribes scattered among the ferocious O'Flaherties
and others of their sort and became country gentlemen, with a noble
contempt for trade. The situation of Galway, on its magnificent Bay,
still cries out for commerce. The spectacle of Galway as a port of call
for American steamers has dangled before the eyes of the Galwegians for
a long time without being realized, although they made preparations for
it long ago, by building a hotel that would house a _Mauretania_-load of
travellers.

Only the other day I listened to a Galway Tribesman conversing with
someone who had lived in Galway, and who asked after the old places and
persons. "What's become of So-and-so?" "He's just the same as ever; not
a bit of change in him. He comes home every night strapped to the
outside car to keep him from falling off." "And what's become of
So-and-so?" "Oh, he's done very well for himself. His father says,
'Mac's all right; he's got the run of a kitchen in Yorkshire,' meaning
that he married an English heiress."

This conversation made me feel that to some extent Galway stands where
it did.

[Illustration: GLENCOLUMBKILLE HEAD. _PAGE 70._]

The Claddagh fishing village by Galway is something not to be missed. It
keeps itself to itself, with a reserve Celtic or Spanish or anything
else you like, but not English. It used to be ruled by its own King, who
was just a fisherman like his subjects, and was not exalted in his
manner of living by his royal state. He was chosen for his governing
powers and his mental and moral qualities, and his subjects were ruled
by him with a despotism that was never anything but fatherly. They
intermarried, too, among themselves--I do not know if this usage
survives--and their ring of betrothal, handed on from one generation to
another, has a design of two hands holding up a heart. At the Claddagh
they still have the Blessing of the Sea, but they will not make a show
of it, and even the Galway people are kept in ignorance of the time when
the ceremony takes place.



CHAPTER IX

DONEGAL OF THE STRANGERS


It once fell to my lot to make a hasty scamper through Donegal from end
to end; that is to say, as far as possible, I made the circuit of the
county, beginning with Ballyshannon, following the coast-line, with
divergences, from Donegal to Gweedore, going round by Bloody Foreland,
by Falcarragh and Dunfanaghy, and ending up by way of Letterkenny at
Ballyshannon again. I took ten or twelve days to do it--perhaps a
fortnight--staying each night at an inn. To Gweedore I devoted the best
portion of a week. Now, in that scamper I had a very characteristic peep
at Ireland. I missed, indeed, the wild gaiety of the South. Donegal
people are somewhat sorrowful. But I found plenty of types and racy life
nevertheless.

It is a good many years ago now; and travelling in Donegal has been
simplified since then by the light railways with which the names of Mr.
Arthur Balfour and Mr. Gerald Balfour are gratefully associated. When I
was there I drove through the country, only taking the train from
Letterkenny to Ballyshannon on my return journey; and it was an
excellent, though somewhat expensive, way of seeing the country.
However, the hospitality was so wonderful that one only slept and
breakfasted in one's hotel. For the rest, the kind priests were only too
eager to give hospitality to myself and my companion.

At Ballyshannon we stayed a night in one of those enormous old hotels
with a maze of winding passages, which suggest to one in the dead waste
and middle of the night that in case of a fire one never could get out.
The next day we came upon the first of the priests, who carried us off
to see everything that could be seen of Ballyshannon, including a visit
to Abbey Assaroe, which we knew already in William Allingham's poetry.
To the grief of these kind friends of ours, we insisted on going off the
same afternoon to Donegal town, to which we were driven by "Wullie"--the
first "Wullie"--a red-haired, taciturn youth, who suspected us of
laughing at him and was closer than an oyster. Your English man or woman
is the truly expansive person. When you want to get at anything from an
Irishman you've got to sit down and wait for the charmed moment when his
suspicion of you is put to sleep. Dr. Douglas Hyde got his Religious
Songs and Love Songs of Connacht by sitting over the turf fire in a
cabin, taking a "shaugh" of the pipe and offering a fill of it, passing
round a flask of poteen, perhaps. It might be hours, and it might be
days, and it might be weeks before you broke down the barrier of
reserve, well worth the breaking-down if you have "worlds enough and
time." You can't travel twenty miles in an English third-class carriage
before you have the intimate confidence of your fellow-passengers. You
are told which relative died of cancer, with harrowing details, which is
in a madhouse, and which in gaol; for the plain English people are the
most unreserved in the world, while the Irish are the most reticent.
And if you win a flow of talk from the Irish peasants, be sure they are
talking round what they have to tell by way of leading you away from it;
for an Irishman uses language to conceal his thoughts.

We hadn't "worlds enough and time" for "Wullie." His lips were
tight-locked from Ballyshannon to Donegal.

The next day we saw what was to be seen of the Castle, under the
guidance of the parish priest, whom we met walking in the Diamond. We
introduced ourselves to him. He was a delightful, humorous, stately,
kindly old man, and he looked at us when he met us with an eye that
asked: "Who are you and what is your business in Donegal?" It is a way
the priests have in the remote parts of Ireland, where they are
everything to their flocks. Being reassured, he gave his day to our
entertainment, taking us to see some of his parishioners when he had
shown us all the town contained of interest.

Killybegs I remember as a beautiful bay, big enough to take in the whole
English fleet. The next day we went on to Kilcar, where we found our
third priest, who lived in a delightfully clean little cabin with a clay
floor. His housekeeper was barefooted, but he had dainty table
appointments. I remember that he had very good china, and he explained
that his mother had given it to him. He was the son of rather wealthy
people. We had a meal of fish, with a little fruit to follow; and while
we ate it a messenger was out prospecting for the loan of an outside car
for the priest. Sure enough, by the time we had finished the meal the
car was at the door, and our host carried us off to see the Caves of
Muckross, some six miles away. Incidentally, we saw Bunglass, that
magnificent cliff-face where Slieve League drops into the sea. I
remember a visit we paid to a cottage where a father sat at the loom
weaving, the mother was carding wool, and a black-haired daughter was
sprigging muslin by the little narrow square window. A scarlet geranium
in the window seemed to be in her night-black hair, and her tears flowed
when our little priest spoke to her. He told us that her lover had
married a richer girl and gone to America. I can remember quite well
walking up a mountain road where the friendly little lambs came and
trotted a bit of the way with us, and the voice of the young priest as
he told us of the innocence of the people--"not a sin in it from year's
end to year's end," for they were too poor to drink--and how his
ambition was to get away to the East End of London, where there was
something to do for a born fighter.

A night at the excellent hotel at Carrick and the next day we were at
Glencolumkille, that wild and lonely glen between the mountains and the
sea, with the majestic Glen Head standing out into the Atlantic. In the
Glen are twelve crosses of stone, where pilgrims make the stations in
honour of St. Columba or Columkille, the Dove of the Churches. Above
Lough Gartan, on Eithne's Bed, he was born, and any who lie there shall
not have the pangs of home-sickness; wherefore many emigrants stretch
themselves upon that rocky couch before they cross "the Green Fields to
America." The Glen is full of the noise and thunder of the waves, and
Slieve League lies superbly up in the sky, reminding one of Browning--

    "The hills, like giants at a hunting, lay."

At Glencolumkille we met the fourth of our priests--a tall, thin,
Spanish-looking youth, who came to meet us with a collie at his heels.
Glencolumkille is very lonesome. There is only an Irish-speaking peasant
population of the very poorest, and the nearest one with whom our priest
could exchange a word on his own level was some seven Irish miles away.
He gave us an impression of immense loneliness, although his joy at
having someone to entertain irradiated his melancholy, handsome face
with cheerfulness. He was rejoiced that by the greatest of good luck he
had a bit of meat for dinner, for fish is the staple food of the Glen.
He was very much interested in news from the great world, and produced
with some pride a copy of the _Daily Telegraph_, several days old, to
prove that he kept in touch with the world. He told us that he was the
youngest of a large family, and his home was as far away as Dublin. Over
nearly a score of years I have the most vivid impression of the lonely
figure, the dog at his heels, as we left Glencolumkille behind us. He
had made us free of his house and hospitality, and parted from us with
the utmost unwillingness.

Ardara, Glenties, Dungloe--I think of them, little villages lying
amongst gorgeous mountains, and remember that in those gloomy and
frowning fastnesses the Irish were safe against Cromwell's planters,
since what man who could choose, not being Irish, would desire to live
in such a place? A Donegal farm is something to remember. The one crop
the ground grows freely is stones--stones in millions, boulders as great
sometimes as a small house. There are glens that are nothing but stones
from end to end, about as promising ground as the Giant's Causeway for a
farmer. In such places you may see a little field, the size of a
tablecloth, snatched from the aridity of Nature by the incredible
industry of man. Everywhere in Donegal man asks Nature for bread and she
gives him a stone, unless it be the harvest of the sea, which he
snatches from her at the price of his life, it may be.

I saw Donegal in April, softened as much as might be by the wild April
showers and the bursts of April sunshine. The clouds and the mountains,
the cliffs and the sea--Slieve League, Errigal, Muckish, Bunglass, Horn
Head, the Glen Head, Tory Island--were all beautiful beyond telling,
with a wild and stormy magnificence of beauty. I try to imagine their
desolation in winter and fail to realize it.

Ardara I remember by the beauty of Glengesh on an April day, with a
hundred streams running down its sides; and at Ardara we halted on
Sunday, and knelt in the gallery of the church, looking down at the
peasants kneeling in rows on the stone floor before the altar. The doors
were wide open, and birds wheeled in from the sunlight and out again
with flashing wings; and the air was exquisite, fresh and wild and
sweet.

At Gweedore, as I have said, we tarried nearly a week, held there by the
hospitality of the parish priest, who would have us see everything
thoroughly. We stayed at an idyllic little inn, and were fed on the
best and simplest fare: stirabout, made as only the Irish can make it;
home-made bread; delicious butter, new-laid eggs; little delicate
chickens, with green parsley sauce and boiled bacon, potatoes, and
cabbage, cooked as only the Irish can cook them; for in certain simple
dishes of their own the Irish cannot be beaten.

[Illustration: A DONEGAL HARVEST.]

There was a most picturesque waiting-maid, a shy little girl, as pretty
as a picture, who wore a pink cotton frock, and had pink bare feet
showing under it, who had the softest, most appealing of voices.

At the inn our priest found us, sallying in with his great blackthorn in
his hand to see who were the strange visitors to the Glen. He was a
redoubtable priest--the Law of Gweedore, they called him--and he
sheltered his people as the hen sheltereth her chickens. The Glen was
exquisitely clean from end to end, though starveling poor. But the
priest saw to it that they did not starve.

For four or five days, perhaps, we abode in this little inn, where the
Glen opens out to the sea. We visited the people in their cottages,
under the guidance of our redoubtable _padre_, and saw all there was to
be seen. His hospitality was unbounded, although at the time there was a
wide and bitter division in politics between us.

I shall not soon forget the manner of our going. We had come now almost
to the end of our journey, and it was desirable that we should return to
Dublin as quickly as possible. He wanted us to make the journey round by
Bloody Foreland, and we wanted to do it as shortly as possible, striking
inland to meet the mail-car for Letterkenny at, I think, Gortahork. But
we knew better than to say "No" to the Law of Gweedore; so we thought to
slip away early in the morning, and made our arrangements the last thing
at night, after leaving his hospitable roof.

But the Law of Gweedore knew all that happened in Gweedore. A full hour
before we had appointed for being called we were called. His Reverence
had arranged our conveyance, and _paid for it_--paid also, I think, for
a luncheon-basket. Willy-nilly, we went round by Bloody Foreland and
visited the evicted tenants, crouching under scraws and twigs, in
shelters which suggested the caves of the earth-dwellers rather than
anything fit for man.

Gortahork I remember as a place where we had a good meal of tea and hot
cakes and eggs, and other things thrown in, for a shilling. And I
remember also the long, long drive to Letterkenny--some forty miles it
was, I seem to remember, but shall not pledge myself to it lest I be
confuted--and how we dashed along the sides of precipices, we on one
side of the car, with our feet almost touching earth, the other side
high in air, being weighted only with empty parcel-post hampers, of
which Donegal needs no great supply; below us--far, far below--a valley
filled in with mighty stones and rocks. The pace was so fast that we
could hardly keep our seats, though well accustomed to that car which
the unlettered English tripper is apt to call "a jolting car"; and the
driver was quite unaware of our discomfort, assuring us with as much
jocularity as a Donegal man permits himself that the horses never were
known to stumble, and that, although an occasional English tourist did
fall off, he or she always "fell soft."

After all, when I look back to that scamper through Donegal sixteen
years ago, I remember the mountains and the priests. Monuments of a
beautiful hospitality, the priests for me mark the wild ways up and down
Donegal.



CHAPTER X

IRISH TRAITS AND WAYS


An English person in Ireland may find himself astray because he will
have no clue to the minds of the people. I once heard two English ladies
returning from an Irish trip say to each other across a
railway-carriage, otherwise full of Irish people, that the Irish all
told lies. This was a rash judgment and a harsh one; I do not know what
the occasion of it was. Sometimes the Irish, through their naturally
gracious manners, will say the thing that will please you best to hear
rather than the absolute truth by rule of thumb. There is the
well-known, well-founded complaint about Irish distances; a peasant will
tell you that you are three miles from a place when you are really
seven. Now, of course you may be misled by the difference between the
Irish and English mile; and thereby hangs a tale. The Irish or
Plantation measure was adopted by Cromwell's planted English, so that
they might get a bigger slice of land than was intended for them. But if
you are told you have three Irish miles to go and find that you have
seven, almost certainly the thought uppermost in your misinformant's
mind was: "The crathur! Sure, he'll think nothin' of it if he believes
it's only three miles; and the spring 'ud be taken out of him altogether
if he thought he'd seven weary miles before him yet. And, sure, by the
time he's travelled the three miles he won't be far off the seven."

The Irish mind, besides being very nimble, is subtle and complicated. It
may have gone off on an excursion before answering you which you in your
Anglo-Saxon plainness would never dream of; and your truth may not be
the Irish truth at all, and yet both of them be the genuine article.

A very small Irish boy of my acquaintance, being rudely accused of
having told a lie, responded meekly: "I don't think it were really a
lie; I think it were only an imagination."

"Are there any priests in the town?" you ask an Irishman; and he
replies, there being some half-dozen: "The streets are black with them."

"You can't always depend on eggs, not if they comes in fresh from the
nest," said an Irish servant to me, when some of the grocer's "new-laid"
eggs had "popped" in the saucepan. The remark was purely consolatory
and was not at all intended to convey that the hens laid stale eggs.

The Irish "bull," so-called, very often is the result of the
nimble-wittedness of the speaker. He has thought more than he has
expressed, and the bull implies a hiatus. "I'd better be a coward for
ten minutes than be dead all my life" is a famous example of an Irish
bull; but it only means "all the days of my natural life"; so much was
not expressed.

My harsh critics of the London and North-Western express would doubtless
have found the soft, flattering ways of the Irish false and
hypocritical. One remembers the famous compliment, "No matter what age
you are, ma'am, you don't look it," and the historical compliment of the
Irish coal-porter to one of the beautiful Gunnings: "Sure, I could light
my pipe by the fire of her eye."

Sometimes a compliment or a wheedling good wish will take a sudden turn.
"May the blessin' of God go afther you!" says an Irish beggar--"may the
blessin' of God go afther you!" The desired alms not being forthcoming,
the blessing flows naturally into--"and never overtake you."

The beggars are great wits, of a sardonic kind usually. A rather short
friend of mine walking with his tall sister, the two were importuned
fruitlessly by a beggar-woman. Before they passed out of hearing she
called gently to the lady: "Well, there you go! And goodness help the
poor little crathur that hadn't the spirit to say no to you." This
double insult to the supposed husband and wife was very neat.

A matter-of-fact young sister of mine, having been begged from by a
ragged woman with a string of ragged children at one end of the village,
was importuned at the other end by a man, similarly accompanied, whom
she took rightly to be the woman's mate. "We're poor orphans," whined
the second string of children; "our poor mother's dead and buried." "I
don't believe it," she said; "I met your mother at the other end of the
village." "Take no notice of her, childer," said the man sorrowfully.
"It wouldn't be right to touch a penny of her money. She's an
unbeliever--that's what she is."

An old beggar-man, to whom I explained apologetically that I was without
my purse, looked at me benevolently. "Never mind!" he said; "you'd give
it if you had it, wouldn't you? But there's one thing I want to tell
you: your dog's gone home without you." I don't quite know how it was
meant, but it conveyed to me a sense of well-meaning failure and
inefficiency generally.

The salutations in Ireland used to be delightful. I hope it may be long
before they are out of date. "God save you kindly," was the salutation
on the roadside. "God save all here!" you said, entering a house. And if
any work was in progress, you said: "God bless the work!" If they were
churning in the kitchen as you entered it, with the old up-and-down
dasher or "dash," as I knew it, you took a few turns with the dash lest
you should carry off the butter. Butter and milk are things often
charmed away. When I was a young girl, there was at Lucan, in the county
Dublin, a fairy doctor, who was called in if the cows weren't milking
well, or the butter didn't come to the churn, or if the beasts were
ailing. A more Christian thing was to bring the live-stock to the priest
to be blessed, or to bring the priests to the field to bless them, which
is done every year. Even the Orangeman of the North, if he has a cow
ailing, thinks it not amiss to ask for the priest's blessing. All the
same, the Irish Celts, in their superstitions, have a way of rounding on
their good friends, the priests. Priests' marriages--that is, marriages
arranged by the priests--are proverbially unlucky. And to buy the
priest's cow in a fair is notoriously unlucky for the general dealing
of the day, as well as that particular one.

[Illustration: A HOME IN DONEGAL.]

The freedom of the people with their superiors is often a
stumbling-block to the stranger; while to the Irish man or woman the
division between classes in England will seem strange and
unnatural--inhuman almost. "That's an elegant new trousers you have on,
Master John," I heard an apple-woman by the kerb say to a young
gentleman. The intimacy is not at all presumptuous; very far from it.
Indeed, Irish people coming to live in England often blunder into
treating their inferiors with the easy intimacy of the life at home,
only to find that it is neither desired nor expected.

Irish servants of the old class were retainers and very much devoted to
the families they lived with. The conditions were strange and difficult
to those not accustomed to them. You would find a family of the gentry
of the lowest Low Church on terms of tender affection with its
Papistical servants and with the neighbouring peasants. They would have
told you as abstract facts that Home Rule would mean the massacre of the
Protestants, and that already their lands and properties were
partitioned in the secret councils of whatever League happened to be
uppermost at the moment. It would be an article of their creed that the
priests were accountable for all the troubles of Ireland. They would
have consented generally to the axiom that no Irish Papist told the
truth. Yet they would always exempt their own servants, and perhaps
their own tenants, and would fly at you as being anti-Irish if you
suggested a flaw in the Irish character, or even an excellency in the
English, which is almost as bad, if not quite. There are families of
Irish gentlefolk come down in the world whose servants, having feasted
with them, starve with them. One such servant I knew who managed the
whole finances of the family, and laid out the few coins to the greatest
advantage, allotting the supplies with a carefulness which must have
been bitter to her Irish heart. If the family lived too well at the
beginning of the week, it must go hungry at the end.

In an Irish house the young ladies and gentlemen are very often found in
the kitchen, not in pursuit of the housewifely virtues, but for social
reasons. The kitchen-fire is the best "to have a heat by." The cook will
rake out the ashes and make the fire bright for Master Rody or Miss
Sheila to warm their feet by; and in the kitchen Irish children of the
gentle class get filled to the lips with the peculiarly awful
ghost-stories of the Celt, with old songs and charms and folklore of
one sort or another; sometimes, too, with old legends and stories which
make young rebels of the children of the garrison and perhaps old rebels
as well. There is no nurse so warm and comfortable as a good Irish
nurse, as the little children of the Irish nobility and gentry--invading
or planted families, very often--found, drawing life from an Irish
breast, and wrapped up in a comfortable Irish embrace from all ghosts
and hobgoblins.

I remember the young daughter of very Evangelical gentlepeople in
Ireland who used to spend her Sunday afternoons, with the full knowledge
of her parents, seated on the kitchen-table reading Papistical
newspapers to the servants, whom she adored, and who adored her with at
least an equal warmth. Her gold watch was the gift of one old servant;
and on the eve of her marriage to a London curate she found pinned to
her pincushion an envelope containing a five-pound note--"For my darling
Miss Biddy, from Mary Anne."

It has always seemed to me that the tie is closer and tenderer between
the Irish Catholic servant and the Protestant gentry than when the
employers are also of the old religion. It is certain that in the
burning of Scullabogue Barn, and at the Bridge of Wexford, during the
Rebellion, Catholic servants perished with their Protestant employers.

The tender concern that may be shown for you by an Irish person of whom
you ask the way will stir you to wonderment. "Is it permissible to walk
on the sea-wall?" a friend of mine asked of an Irish policeman. "Sure it
is; but I wouldn't do it if I was you. It 'ud be terrible cowld," was
the reply. "I wouldn't walk it if I was you," you may be answered when
you ask how far a place is; "you wouldn't be killin' yourself--now,
would you?"

When ladies first rode the bicycle in Ireland they excited different
emotions, according to the character of the looker-on. "What would the
blessed saints in heaven think of you?" the old women used to call out;
but one old man had only compassion for the female cyclist. "God help
yez," he said; "'tis killin' yourselves yez'll be with them little
wheely things, bad luck to them!"

You will find the soft, insinuating ways in a shop when you make a
purchase or mean to make one. "It looks lovely on you," a shop-assistant
will say, with an air of being dispassionate. "Can you send this home
to-night?" you ask, having concluded your purchase. "Sure, why not?" If
you are English-born and bred, you will be at a loss to say why not.

A policeman in Dublin will direct you: "You take that turn over there,
an' you go along till you meet a turn on your left, but you'll take no
notice of that; you'll keep straight on, and there'll be another turn,
but you'll take no notice of that. An' after that, you'll come to a
third turn, an' you'll take notice of that, for that's the street you're
after."

I recognized a countryman of my own in London when I asked a policeman
the way and demurred from his instructions, remarking that I had been
told to approach by a different way. "Sure you can, if you like," he
said, looking at me with his head on one side, "but I wouldn't if I was
you; it 'ud be a terrible long way round."

An Irishman will always agree with you if he can--or even if he can't.
It is the Irish politeness. If you were to say to him, "Three years ago
to-day I had as bad a cold as ever I had in my life," he will say, "To
be sure you had; I remember it well. 'Twas a terrible dose of a cowld,
all out." This makes the Irish a very agreeable people to live with if
you have not offended them.

There are one or two virtues, not of the shining sort, which are hardly
virtues at all, but rather vices to the Irish. Thrift is one of these.
Another is its cousin, punctuality. No Irishman holds punctuality in
honour. Irish time is twenty-five minutes later than English time and
takes a deal longer than that to come up with English time. Any time at
all will do for an Irishman. "Punctuality is the thief of time" is one
of his axioms. Above all things, he despises punctuality about
meal-times, and this, I know, will wring an Englishman's withers. An
Irish meal is served whenever it is ready; and if it is never ready at
all, the Irishman will take a snack when he feels he really wants it. No
Irishman is ill-tempered because his meals are late. He prides himself
on his indifference to food as one of the things that set him apart from
the unspiritual Saxon. You could hardly offend an Irishman more than by
accusing him of having a hearty appetite. His meals are all movable
feasts. Oddly enough, the Anglo-Irishman is quite as unpunctual as the
Celt, if not more so. He assimilates the ways of the Celt, while the
Celt remains untouched by his. The Anglo-Irishman is often as good a
trencherman as his English brother, but he would never think of
disturbing the machinery of Irish life so far as to expect his dinner at
a given time. I have been asked to dine in Dublin and have arrived
punctually, only to find the tradesmen's carts delivering the dinner;
and, having grown accustomed to English ways, I have made a frantic
effort to arrive at the appointed hour for a luncheon-party, only to
find the hostess lying down with toothache, and the drawing-room fire
still unlit.

To be sure, you may arrive at a house at any hour of the day in Ireland
and fall in for a meal. If you arrive at a time within at all measurable
distance of meal-time, you shall not go forth unfed, although you be
press-ganged to stay. I shall never forget the horror of my Irish
friends when they heard that one was allowed to leave an English house
with the dinner-bell in one's ears. "It must be an _awful_ country,"
they said; then, detecting something of guilt, perhaps, in my air, they
ventured: "But that wouldn't happen in an _Irish_ house--not in
_yours_." When I confessed that it had happened in mine they changed the
subject. If they had allowed themselves to speak, they would have said
too much.

I know an Irishman settled in England--a North of Ireland, that is to
say a Scotch-Irishman, and a man of business--who always has the motor
round for a spin as soon as the dinner-bell rings. He cannot keep his
English servants, and is grieved at their perversity, which would keep
him chained to a hot dining-room on an ideal evening for a motor-run.
His guests stay their hunger with sherry and biscuits while they await
his return.





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