The Letters of Norah on Her Tour Through Ireland


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English Choose a language for shopping. Explore the Home Gift Guide. Amazon Music Stream millions of songs. Amazon Advertising Find, attract, and engage customers. One very handsome girl, bareheaded and barefooted, and got up light and airy as to costume, begged unblushingly without any excuse. She gathered up her light drapery with one hand, and kept up with the horse, skelping along through mud and mire as if she liked it.

I noticed that she was set on by her parents who were the occupiers of a little farm. Suddenly our car stopped at a house where all sorts of lake curiosities were exposed for sale. From this point it was four miles, Irish miles, through the gap to the lake to the point where we took the boat. This was one circumstance of which we were not aware when we started; it was therefore a surprize.

I am sorry to say that this gap was a disappointment to me. It was a difficult path among bare mountains, but nothing startling or uncommon. What was uncommon was the relays of indefatigable women that lay in wait for us at every turn. Goats' milk and poteen, photographs, knitted socks, carved knick-nacks in bog oak; everything is offered for sale; denial will not be taken.

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You pass one detachment to come upon another lurking in ambush at a corner. There are men with small cannons who will wake the echoes for a consideration; there are men with key bugles who will wake the echoes more musically for a consideration; there is the blind fiddler of the gap who fiddles away in hopes of intercepting some stray pennies from the shower. One impudent woman followed us for quite a way to sell us her photograph, as the photograph of Eily O'Connor, murdered here by her lover many years ago—murdered not at the gap but in the lake.

There was a large party of us and these followers, horse, foot and artillery, I may say were a persistent nuisance all the way. The ponies, crowds of them, followed us to the entrance of the Gap, where they disappeared, but the women and girls never faltered for the five miles. The reiterated and re-reiterated offer of goat's milk and poteen became exasperating; the bodyguard of these pertinacious women that could not be shaken off was most annoying.

The tourists are to the inhabitants of Killarney what a wreck used to be to the coast people of Cornwall, a God-send. One does feel inclined to lose all patience as they run the gauntlet here, and then one looks around at the miserable cabins built of loose stones, at the thatch held on by ropes weighted with stones, the same as are to be seen in Achil Island, among the Donegal hills, or the long glens of Leitrim, notices the patches of pale, sickly, stunted oats, the little corners of pinched potatoes—a girl passed us with a tin dish of potatoes for the dinner, they were little bigger than marbles—the little rickles of turf that the constant rain is spoiling, and one sees that as there is really no industry in the place, of loom or factory, that want and encouragement have combined to make them come down like the wolf on the fold to the attack of tourists.

It spoiled the view, it destroyed any pleasure the scenery might have afforded, and yet under the circumstances it was natural enough on their part. From the hotel keeper to the beggar all depend on the tourist season. After all it was something to have passed through between the Macgillicuddy's Reeks and the purple mountain; something to see water like spun silver flinging itself from the mountain top in leaps to the valley below, to struggle up and up to the highest point of the gap and look back at the serpentine road winding in and out beside small still lakes through the valley far below.

Of course we look into the Black Lough where St. Patrick imprisoned the last snake. Of course we had pointed out to us the top of Mangerton, and were told of the devil's punch bowl up there. Down through the Black Valley we came to the point where the boats waited for us, leaving the black rocks, the bare mountains, the poor little patches of tillage, the miserable huts and the multitudinous vendors of goat's milk and poteen behind. To our surprise the way to the boats was barred by a gate, and at the gate stood a man of Mr.

Herbert's to receive a shilling for each passenger before they could pass to the boats. I do not know how many more fees are to be paid for a look about the lakes of Killarney, but this gate, Torc Cascade and Muckross Abbey cost each tourist two shillings and sixpence to look at them. The upper lake is beautiful, fenced around by mountains of every size and variety of appearance. Of course they are the same mountains you have been seeing all day, but seen from a different standpoint. The Eagle's Nest towers up like an attenuated pyramid, partly clothed with trees, and is grand enough and high enough for the eagles to build on its summit, which they do.

Here were men stationed to wake the echoes with the bugle. As our boat swept round, recognizing that we had not employed them, they ceased the strain until we passed, but the echoes followed us and insisted on being heard. There are many, many spots on the Upper Ottawa as fair and as romantic as the Lakes of Killarney, and they are very lovely. The trees on the islands have a variety that do not grow in our Canada, principally the glossy-leaved arbutus.

From the upper lake we slid down a baby rapid under an old bridge—built by the Danes of course, the arch formed as the arches of the castles in the west—into the middle lake. The day had been one of dim showers, but in the middle lake the sun streamed out and touched the peak of the purple mountain and all the mountain sides and woody islands with splendor, that streamed down in golden shafts along the rain that was falling on some, and chased for a moment the shadows that lay on others.

We slid down a fainter rapid under another bridge into the last and largest lake. On every lake there are buildings of glory and beauty to be seen nestling on the banks among the trees, or towering on the heights, owned by the wealthy and titled people that own the land round the lakes. A cottage built for Her Majesty was pointed out to us, and we heard of a royal deer hunt held here.

We heard rapturous accounts of stags hunted to the verge of death, and saved alive to repeat the ennobling sport. And we censure without measure the Spanish bull fight where the animals are killed once! How many deaths do these timid deer suffer? I am afraid we are not as noble and merciful a people as we think we are. There are sights to be seen and tales to be heard about these lakes of loveliness that would occupy weeks, but a glimpse and away must suffice for some, and our party all left Killarney on the next morning.

I must say that the wealth and the poverty, the unblushing begging, the want of any remunerative industry, the idle listless people about the corners, made Killarney a sad place to me. After returning from the lakes the rain came down in such torrents as made us feel very thankful to be indoors again. We heard it raining all through the night as if the days of Noah were returned once more. Every one became anxious about the harvest in consequence of this steady rain. The bishop has recommended prayer in all the Catholic churches for seasonable weather to save the harvest.

Murmurs of the appearance of rot in the potatoes reach me frequently. I have noticed disease in the potatoes appearing on the dinner table, a kind of dry rot, only to be noticed after cutting the potato. From Killarney to Cahirciveen is forty-five miles; beyond that is the island of Valentia. There are many wild views to be seen on this island, the property of the Knight of Kerry. The traveller here can notice how the Atlantic is wearing away the Kerry coast.

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Returning to my abiding place, I asked the hostess if the town contained many Catholics. The driver, a Catholic, talked a little, guardedly, of the high rents. The houses are rather respectable looking, comparatively speaking. It seems to depend almost entirely on tourists. Why then, I asked him, do you not bury this past and live like Christians for the future.

The first part of this drive of forty-five miles is through a poor, poverty-stricken country, with such cabins of mud and misery as are an amusement to the tourist and a pain and a shame to the Irish lover of his country. There is nothing about these habitations to hint that any idea of comfort had ever penetrated here. For the reason of pelting rain and driving winds I was forced to give up my intention of going across by car to Kenmare, and from thence to Skibbereen, and took the train for Cork.

The land seems to grow better the nearer we come to Cork. Arrived at Cork, the first object which attracted my attention was the monument to Father Mathew. The temperance cause to which he dedicated his life sadly needs another champion. Will another Father Mathew arise? As soon after my arrival in Cork as I was comfortably settled, I sallied out to discover the river Lee with an insane notion that I would hear "the bells of Shandon that sound so grand on" its pleasant waters.

I discovered the river with tree-shaded, secluded dwellings on one bank and a wide green pasture on another. There was a bridge at the place where I first came in sight of the river, and a great crowd, so eager as to be silent, gazing up the stream. Thinking it was a boat race that drew their attention, I crossed the bridge to gain the green pasture at the other side. The pasture was reached by a little arched door through a boundary wall, where a policeman kept guard.

There was a great crowd around this little door. There had been an accident, a boat had upset and all in it had been lost; they were searching for the bodies. I asked for admittance and the policeman unlocked the door and allowed me to pass. Followed the path along the water side, and came to the crowd round the four bodies laid upon the wet meadow grass. A father, so quiet, partially gray, trim and respectable looking, a young lad in blue boating costume, a young girl in black, farther on another in whom they thought there were signs of life, and about her two doctors were working, applying a galvanic battery.

The mother had been restored and was conveyed into one of the houses. I never saw any attempts to recover a drowned person before.

I wondered that they left the body lying on the damp earth in wet clothing. They told me that it might be fatal to move her before they succeeded in bringing her back to life. They tried a long time in vain, then they laid the four bodies all in a row for the coroner. The damp grass, the trampling and sympathetic crowd, the four bodies in their wet garments laid on the bank, will always rise in my memory along with my first sight of the river Lee.

Gemma's Trip to Ireland

Cork seems a rich city, full of business, bustle on all the wharves, buying and selling on all the streets. The buildings are very grand.

The Letters of "Norah" on Her Tour Through Ireland by Norah

Alongside the river is a long ridge rising up to a tree-crowned summit. On that hillside is tier upon tier of grand houses, grand churches, fine convents and public buildings of one kind and another. You come upon fine churches through the town in corners where you do not expect them. The church of churches in Cork is the Protestant Cathedral, of St.

Finn Barre—whoever he was. This church sits high up on a rocky foundation, its pointed spires of exquisite stone-work pierce the sky. It is not finished, scaffoldings are there, and skilled chisels and cunning hammers have been knapping and polishing there for many a day, and are likely to continue hammering and chiselling for many a day more.

Inside, it is marble of Cork, marble of Connemara, marble of Italy, polished to the brightest. The gates which admit from one ecclesiastical division to another are wrought in flowers that blaze in gold. Before the altar, parables of our Lord are wrought in mosaic on the floor. On the wall the different noble families who belong here, or have money invested here, have their shields containing their coats of arms on the wall.

Into this grand church have been wrought the religious ideas of the church people for years, at the cost of L,, and there is an immense golden angel on the point of a gable calling with two trumpets for L25, more to finish it. None but a rich city could afford the splendid buildings that are in Cork.

The evening on which I arrived in Cork was signalized not only by the boat accident, but by a grand wedding, the wedding of a Sir George Colthurst in the splendid cathedral church just mentioned, and there was any amount of fashion, and high birth and young beauty gathered there. The bride was beautiful, the bride was "tall," and not yet, they say, out of her teens. She was dressed in white satin and silver cloth, Irish lace and orange blossoms, and wore no jewels.

None but invited eyes were allowed to look at the grand ceremony which made the fair bride and the lord of Blarney castle one. Some tenants of the bridegroom got up a bonfire, had some barrels of beer given them to rejoice withal, and were dancing to the music produced by six fiddlers, when they were surrounded by a small army of disguised people, fired into, beaten and dispersed. The first accounts put the number of wounded at twenty, to-day they are reduced to five—perhaps that is the proportion of exaggeration in newspaper accounts of outrage generally.

The newly-made bride and bridegroom went to see the wounded, leaving cordials and money at every house. One thing is observable in Cork, the determination to make an effort to restore native industry from its present languishing condition. Passing along the streets I notice clerks in the windows affixing labels on goods with the words, "Irish Manufactures," "Cork made goods," "Blarney tweeds," "Irish blankets," "Cork made furniture. No city in the world could appear to be more quiet and law-abiding than Cork to all appearance.

As one instance of the exaggeration of reports concerning outrages, I see the disturbance in Cork that took place at the rejoicings about Sir George Colthurst's marriage advertised with the heading 20 men shot. The local report says five injured, one shot, but not fatally. Went down the river Lee to Queenstown. It did not rain except a few drops during the whole time.

The sun shone, the clouds, some of them were billowy and white, and massed themselves on a deep, blue sky. The little steamer was crowded fore and aft with holiday passengers, and a large quantity of small babies.

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The river Lee, from Cork to Queenstown, wears a green color, as if it were akin to the ocean. Flocks of sea gulls flying about, or perching on the ooze where the tide is out, make one think of the sea, but the green banks of the river are there to testify against it. We expected to find that the scenery from Cork to Queenstown was beautiful, and so it is. There is no use in trying to praise it, for all praise seems flat compared with the reality. There are glorious, steep slopes leading up to fair, round hills, waving with golden grain, or green with aftermath, checked off into fields by gay, green hedges or files of stately trees.

On the slope, half way up the slope, snuggling down at the foot of the slope, are residences of every degree of beauty. Houses, square and solid, with wide porticos; houses rising into many gabled peaks; houses that have swollen into all sorts of bay windows running up to the roof, or stopping with the first story.

Houses that fling themselves up into the sky in towers and turrets, and assert themselves to be, indeed, castles. Queenstown comes at last, a town hung up on a steep hillside, and on the very brow of the hill is an immense cathedral, unfinished like St. Finn Barre's, of Cork. In these cathedrals two forms of religious belief are slowly and expensively trying to express themselves in stone, chiselled and cut into a thousand forms of beauty, in marbles, polished and carved, in painted windows, in gildings and draperies of the costliest.

Looking at these costly fanes erected to be a local spot where Jehovah's presence shall dwell, one can scarcely believe that He will dwell in the heart of the poor who are willing to receive Him in the day of His power. Is the soul of the beggar more dear to God as a dwelling place than these lofty temples? Forever the world is saying "Lord, behold what manner of stones and what buildings are here? The cost of these churches would buy out Achil island and the appurtenances thereof, I think. It would maybe purchase the wildest tract of the Donegal mountains.

I wonder if a hardy mountain people, who could live on their own soil, and begin to feel the stirrings of enterprise and energy, would be as acceptable to Him who came anointed to preach the gospel to the poor as these poems in stone. We sat on a bench under the trees and looked at the harbor—its waters cut by many a flying keel, at Spike Island lying in the sun, all its fortifications as silent and lonely looking as if no convict nor any other living creature was there.

Steamboats for "a' the airts the winds can blaw," were passing out and away, leaving a train of smoke behind them, and big sail vessels, three-masted and with sails packed up, are waiting to go, and revenue cutters and small passenger boats are flying about each on their way. A lady sits by me and is drawn to talk to the stranger of the greenness of the grass here winter and summer, of the beauty spread out all around. She tells of one who died away in another land brought home to lie under the daisies here, just twenty years ago to-day.

Other people, she says, are proud of their country, are fond of their country, but none have the same love for their country as the Irish have for green Erin. Every inch of ground; every blade of grass in Ireland is holy, says this lady with tears in her eyes. She is thinking of the dust that Irish grass covers from her sight. It is on an anniversary we meet; she cannot help speaking on this day of sacred things. The steamboat is wading up to the wharf. We do not know one another's names, but we have drawn near to each other—we clasp hands and part with a mutual God bless you.

The little boat swallows up all that are willing to come on board, and like a black swan she sails up over the calm river, under the bright sky, past the handsome houses and the lovely grounds, among the clustering masts back to the rich city of Cork. All the people injured in the attack on the rejoicing at Sir George Colthurst's marriage are pronounced recovered to-day, except the one who was wounded by a shot; he is still in the infirmary. A dignitary of the Catholic Church who preached at Millstreet, where the disturbance took place, introduced into his sermon remarks on the state of society there, when his hearers became affected with coughing to such a degree that the rev.

After the sermon most of the congregation left the church before mass— few remaining. The sun has come out and the harvest will be greatly benefited by this tardy warmth, I am sure. There has been some marching of soldiers—dragoons—fine looking men on fine horses—through the streets to-day, to the blare of a military band, accompanied and escorted by all the loose population of Cork. I was much interested to see among the running crowd the good pace made by a man with a wooden leg, who really could hop along with the best of them.

This is all the apology for a crowd which I have seen in Cork. I have not heard the roar of one belated drunkard; such sounds have broken slumber in other towns. Whatever excitement may be in the county, the city of Cork seems as quiet, as orderly and as thriving as any city in the kingdom. I have discovered that, though the lower part of the river Lee is crowded with masts and alive with traffic, the upper part, flowing along under the shadow of green trees and bordered by wide meadows, is as quiet as if it were flowing through the country miles from any city.

I have discovered the magnificent promenade called the Mardyke, a wide, gravelled road overarched with trees, running along by the river. When the evening lamps are lit, the susceptibility of Cork wander here in pairs and "in couples agree. From Cork by the new railway to Skibbereen there is one rather noticeable feature by the way. All the way stations in small places are wooden houses built American fashion, either clapboarded or upright boards battened where they meet.

The road is through a hilly country and therefore lies mostly through deep cuttings that shut out the scenery. There is one long tunnel not far from Cork that educates you into a sense of what utter darkness means. It is pleasant to look over rich pastures back to the city crowding its lofty hills, and to notice what a grand steeple-crowned city it is.

The train crawls along through deep cuts, past these little wooden stations where everything is more primitive and backwoods looking than anything I have seen before in Ireland. The porters are civil and obliging, ready to answer the questions of the ignorant, even of those who travel third-class. The vast majority of the passengers are small traders, market-women and farmers' wives, who have been away making purchases. By the time we reach Dunmanway we had our allowance of light served out to us, a lamp being thrust through the ceiling of the car from the top, and by its light we steamed into Skibbereen.

I expected Skibbereen to be a small assemblage of mud huts, but was surprised to find it a large town of tall houses. As the bus rattled along through one gaslight street after another, I kept asking myself, is this really Skibbereen. The little hotel where we stopped was very comfortable, very clean, and possesses a good cook. The next day in exploring the by streets and suburbs of the town I saw poverty enough, want enough.

It was market day and the streets were crowded with country women in blue cloaks. These cloaks are all the same make, but some of them, owing to their material, were very stylish and shrouded as pretty black eyed, black-haired, rosy- cheeked women as I ever saw. Some of these cloaks are made of very fine material, the pleating about the shoulders very artistic, and the wide hoods lined with black satin when worn round the face make the wearers look like fancy pictures.

Some of the women gather them round them in folds like drapery. I noticed at once that the artist who made the statues of O'Connell and Father Mathew had studied the drapery from the cloaks of some Claddagh or Skibbereen woman. Market day is used as a day for confession, and the clergy are on hard duty on that day.

Skibbereen boasts of a bishop and numerous resident priests. The town is as quiet as if such a thing as a riot, an outrage or a mob was never known. In a little corner, squeezed in between houses, is a neat Methodist chapel and the parsonage beside it. Called on the minister, who received me graciously and was courteous and communicative. Having been by virtue of his office over a great part of Ireland he had seen a good deal of the oppression of the tenant, partly from the thoughtlessness of absentee landlords, partly from the want of any sympathy with the tenants. Had the Land League confined themselves to moderate efforts, and to the employment of constitutional means—means not tending to the dismemberment of the empire, he would have joined them with heart and soul, knowing the need there was of redress to the wrongs of the small farmer.

He advised me to take a car and go on to Skull through Ballydehob if I wished to see poverty and misery.

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The road from Skibbereen to Ballydehob and Skull runs along the coast mostly. All that grand rocks and great stretches of water dotted with many islands can do to make this scenery grand, wild and romantic has been done by Dame Nature. It is not satisfying to merely pass along. One would like to tarry here and get acquainted with nature in these out-of- the-way haunts of hers.

The cottages are most miserable, most ruinous. There is no limestone here. It resembles Achil Island in this respect. The houses are built of stones and daubed with clay. The clay soon filters away under the combined action of winter wind and winter frost, and the houses look like piles of stones tottering to fall. I heard of a pier being built somewhere here, with part of the Canadian money, which a priest assured me would be a great benefit to the poor people.

I was very sorry to leave this part without seeing more of the country and the people. I left Skibbereen on a car for a journey by the coast the other way to meet the train at Bandon to return to Cork. The only industry of any kind which I saw between Skibbereen and Bandon was a slate quarry which they told me shipped a great quantity of slates besides supplying local demands.

As we advanced eastward we left the heather-clad mountains behind us, the landscape softened down considerably, and became almost empty of inhabitants. That reminds me that about Skull was almost emptied of inhabitants also. About the time of the great famine the people fled away. The remains of houses are scattered all along on that road. Some cause has also emptied this part of the country of people. There is much unreclaimed land here, which is not to be wondered at, seeing that a fine for reclamation was exacted in the shape of increased rent.

Clonakilty is another little town thronged with small traders and places "licensed to sell. A little way, maybe two miles, out of Clonakilty is the property of Mr. Bence Jones, who has created some stir in the world. One hears story after story of his grasping and overbearing disposition. The chief accusation is adding to a man's rent if his father dies. Case after case of this was spoken of by the passengers on the car with me. Whether these accusations against Mr. Bence Jones were true or false, here is his place, and a very fine place it is.

The lodge is at one side of the road, the entrance to his residence at the other. The residence is very nice, very commodious, and is at some distance from the road. The property is extensive, but very poor land—mountain and bog. His walled- in plantation ran along the road for quite a great distance. When they spoke of him on the car the mere mention of his name caused the driver to lose himself in profanity. From Clonakilty to Bandon was a long, dreary drive, and the night had fallen for some time, sharp and chill, before we entered the second time into merry Bandon town.

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It is quite a large place, and, entered by another way than the railway, looks bright and pleasant. The houses are lofty on the principal streets, and the whole town has a scattered appearance. It was a welcome sight to us, weary of travelling by car, and visions of a warm fire and a good supper—for I had travelled from breakfast without waiting to eat—ran in my head; but it was Saturday night, a train was almost due for Cork, and, contenting myself with an after-night glimpse of merry Bandon town, I came to the ponderous station, and started in due time for Cork.

At one of the first way stations, where is the little clapboarded waiting-room, two policemen entered our compartment with a prisoner. Whether he was a suspect or was charged with a specific crime we did not learn, but surely such a poor scare-crow never was arrested before.

He was black with dirt, as if he had been taken out of the bog, or from a coal-pit. His clothes were thin and ragged, and he had such a fierce, desperate look. The policemen fraternized with their fellow-passengers and chatted merrily. The prisoner listened to their talk with a kind of dumb fierceness, shaking his head from side to side as I have seen an angry horse do. It was very chilly, and he was so miserably clad that he shivered, though he tried not to do so.

The way was long by train, and he might have marched for many a weary mile before he got on the train. He lay down on the seat and tried to sleep but could not, so he started up and resumed the wild glancing from side to side and the fierce head shakes. I began to think he might be very hungry, and if he was, he was not likely to get anything in gaol till morning. I had some biscuits and cheese in my satchel, and they began to struggle to get out, and at last I consented and handed the little parcel silently to the prisoner. He did not thank me, except by falling to and eating like a famished creature.

Arrived at Cork, the police took him away on a car, and the last glimpse I got of him he was eating as if he had not eaten before for a week. I was very thankful when Sabbath morning found me in Cork again and with power to rest. There is not much appearance of Sabbath in the streets of Cork; it looks like a vast crowd keeping holiday. A great many shops are open; the stall women are in their places and seem to drive a good trade.

I even heard a woman crying her wares as on any other day. I do not think that a little more Sabbath would hurt this fair town in the very least. I rested this day. In the evening I had the pleasure of hearing "the bells of Shandon" ringing the people in to worship in the old Shandon Church.

I heard them while walking by "the pleasant waters of the river Lee. When the chimes ceased I went up the high steps into the old church. It is very old. It is high, long and narrow. The tower, in which are the famous bells, seems of better workmanship than the church. It is built in stories. The bells were chiming out, "Oh, that will be joyful! It is a nice, homely, comfortable church; but so plain that the tide of fashion has rolled past it into another quarter of the town. The pulpit and reading-desk were supplied by a gray-haired clergyman, who had power to read the service, so that it had a newness as if it had never been heard before and to preach to the heart.

With the echo of his words and the echo of the bells of Shandon the Sabbath closed.