Изображения страниц


any other part of the island. 'Tis true, I met with big Jack Joyce, and by and by I shall describe him-but one well-fed bacon-eating man, or family, has no right to fix unreal magnitude on a whole people -you may see fifty as huge men, even as Jack Joyce himself, if you look into the tap-rooms of inns on the road between Liverpool and London-nay, you might see just as fine men both for shoulder, chest, and limb, in the mountain glens of Cork, Kerry, and Tipperary."

So much for their physique; now, a word on their statistique :

"I was given to understand by Mr. Nimmo and the innkeeper that the people in Joyce Country were in general much more comfortable than in other parts of Connaught that the population was not so excessive, the farms larger, and the

rents not at all high-and that there was a great deal of wealth, not only in stock, but in hoarded money amongst these mountaineers. I also was informed that there was much ignorance and contented destitution of all that a better informed people would call comforts, so that a man when he became wealthy did not by any means exhibit it in his living, his house, or furniture. With plenty of stock of all sorts, they never indulged in animal food even their own butter or pigs they

would not touch, but converted all into money, which, when procured, was simply hoarded, hid in some secure place

and the idea of making interest on it was quite out of the question. Such a pro. ceeding was not according to their general distrustfulness, or the determination to do only as their fathers before them did; in fact, the only way to come at the hoard was by the management of the daughters, who contrived it so, that some young fellow should run away with them, and keep them stowed away in some secret place, until the father, fearful of the good name of his family, came down with the hard cash, and that in no small mea

sure, to make his COLLEEN (Anglice, girl) an honest woman. From what I have thus heard, I should suppose that the people of this district are among the least educated of any in Ireland."

But, by this time, we have ascended nearly to the sources of the Bealnabrack, and will shortly be in sight of Leenane, where big Jack ("giant of the western star," with flannel jacket to the breeze unbuttoned) used to lord it with wonderful self-complacency over turf-cutter and tourist. But Jack has been ejected; not so much, we believe, for non-payment of rent, as for non

payment of becoming attention and civility to his guests; for the man's conceit had become intolerable, ever since the passage in Inglis's book first came to his ears. However, as he has come, we trust, to a more moderate opinion of his importance, since shifting his quarters, and as we are here at his door, we must step in.

"I was determined to go and renew my acquaintance with my big friend, whom, twelve years ago, I found in all his might and glory as "mine host" at the head of the Killery-so I drove up to Jack's door, and inquired for Mr. Joyce, and was answered by a very tall young woman, not uncomely, who informed me that Mr. Joyce was within, but that as he had been out all night after cattle on the hills, he was on the bed

asleep, but his daughter (for such she was) said, that if I desired it, she would

call him. I certainly did not like to go away without seeing BIG Jack. So he was called up, and as he came, loose, unclean, and frowzy, certainly my giant did not appear to advantage; for, somehow the rogue with my judgment, and magor other, I had let my imagination play nify my retrospect with regard to this


"The first time I saw him, (as I say,) about twelve years ago, he made his appearance just as I drove up to his door, bouncing over the wall that divided the potato garden from the front of his house, and I think a finer specimen of a strong could not conceive. Such do not look as man, tall and yet well-proportioned, I tall as they really are. The great bullethead, covered with crisp curls, the short bull neck, the broad square shoulders, the massive chest all open and hirsute, the pillar-like limbs, all bone and musclecomparatively small sinewy loins, and Milo of Crotona might have shaken hands with him as a brother, and the gifted sculptor of the Farnese Hercules might have selected Jack as his lay figure. Such was my beau ideal of Mr. Joyce,

former visit. But now, though I acfrom what I recollected of him since my knowledged the identity, yet, certainly, the man was greatly changed-but still, though I am sure my fancy had been playing tricks-he yet was tall, stout, and able, but I am sure I know fifty English and Irishmen just as large.

"I endeavoured to get from him an account of his family, but he really could not tell any thing about them; he seemed to think that size was not so much the characteristic of the tribe or name as of his own immediate family; and to show me that he had not been the means of

any degeneracy, he whistled to his son who was in a distant field, who came at the call, and certainly a taller and more comely stripling, of about twenty years of age, I have not seen. He was at least six feet four inches in height, and I am sure, if fed on animal food, as an English farmer's son would be, he would prove a grand specimen of the human race."

And now we have gained the summit level of the glen, and all the streams that rise before us run west ward to the Atlantic. Let us climb this hill to the right, and look around. Behind us lies the long valley of Bealnabrack, with a glimpse of the head of Lough Corrib at its farther end; and, separated from it by the range of which Ben Levah forms the eastern extreinity, and the hill whereon we stand the western, here is another glen of even greater dimensions, running, in like manner, up to the lower end of Lough Mask, and opening a vista across its waters, to the verge of the inland plain at Ballinrobe. The opposite boundary of this glen is grandly formed by the heights of Bengorriff and Furmnamore, a continuation of which, sweeping northwards along the western shore of Lough Mask, constitutes the noble range of Slieve Partry. In the centre of the glen lies Lough Nafeoy-the most solitary sheet of water in Ireland; for, from the point where we stand, all round by the southern declivities of Slieve Partry, there is no road; and there, reader, we present you with the only piece of unexplored touring-ground within our four seas. Turning westward, we find that we have risen into sight of that vast tract of mountain country, constituting the barony of Murrisk, in Mayo, from which, however, we are still separated by this dark, deep, long, and narrow arm of the sea which runs up between its magnificent mountain boundaries to meet the Owen Erive almost immediately under our feet. This is the great Killery harbour, and that is Muilrea, the highest land in Connaught, frowning over the outer gorge of the ravine, where the Atlantic enters. But as the reader has doubtless sailed up the waters of the one, under the shadows of the other, in company with earlier cruizers, we bid a hasty adieu to the Killery and Muilrea, and adieu, at the same time, to Joyce's Country; and so, turning our faces northward, we make for the valley of the Erive, which we know will bring us out once more on the plain, between

the head of, Lough Mask and the sea at Westport. As we pass on under the western slope of Slieve Partry, (it was the eastern face of the chain we saw from Kilroe) and cast our eyes across the subsiding outline of those offsets of Muilrea, which bound the valley on our left, we catch our first glimpse of the Reek, here distance about twelve miles-a perfect cone, blue, sharp, and symmetrical, cutting grandly against the northern sky. The woods of Carrowmore are soon passed; the hills withdraw on either hand, spreading and subsiding; the glen expands into a valley; the valley widens into a plain, and here, beside the old round tower of Aughagower, we tread once more along the margin of the great field that we quitted at Cong. But who can describe the matchless panorama that presently opens on the view, as we attain the higher-lying portion of the plain above Westport? Before us is spread Clew Bay-Clare Island, like a recumbent lion, stretched across the offing; innumerable green islets clustering round its upper extremity; its sides formed by continuous mountain ranges, serrated, lofty, and precipitous; the cone of Croagh Patrick rising midway over its southern shore; the precipitous heights of Achill, of Corraan, and of both the Nephins, impending in one continuous line over its northern margin; at its head, the smiling plain, with its towns and mansions-Westport and Newport, and the wooded seats of the Brownes, the O'Malleys, and the O'Donnells.-It is worth travelling across the whole interposed flat which lies in this direction, between Dublin and the Atlantic, to have but one glance at it on a summer morning!

Its natural face is, indeed, as fair and noble as the grandest features of mountain and ocean can make it; but in all Ireland there is scarce a spot where the philanthropist has to deplore a fouler or more ill-conditioned aspect of society. Poverty, ignorance, brutish superstition, and intolerable spiritual tyranny on the one hand, schism, folly, and intemperance, on the other, alternately sink poor human nature into the slough of paganism, and hoist it up into the misty regions of an enthusiasm, as vaporous and visionary as it is prejudicial to the discipline of the church, and obstructive of the progress of the gospel. The noblest object in the prospect, Croagh Patrick, is still a pagan "high place." Well-worship goes



[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

on all round its lower declivities. The stunted bushes about flutter with a votive foliage of rags and other idolatrous rubbish. The hearts of the people are warm and kindly; but their minds are saturated with superstitious folly-brimfull of the most lamentable, and, at the same time, the most whimsical absurdities. We have not space to go through our dhurrus on the top of the Reek, either personally or by proxyneither can we stop to dabble in the polluted well of Killgeever, nor linger over the abominable "Lach Fechin," which, when turned in anger, brings the certain vengeance of God-so the demented creatures really believewhomsoever the curse may be imprecated against: but we refer the reader to this part of the tour, for much that, we dare say, will surprise, and may possibly pain him. One touching in cident, related by the guide when climbing up to the scene of annual abasement on the Reek top, we cannot omit.

"There, sir,' says the guide, just there, a poor woman and her two childer perished not long ago—the crathur's husband had died of a decay, and left her desolate, and it was not her low state, without any one to do a hand's turn for herself and her children, that grieved her

-but it was that she had no means to

get masses said for his poor sowl; and she thought of him every night suffering away in purgatory, and crying out in the middle of the flame, Oh, Biddy, jewel, can't you help me out of this torment, So she thought of coming up here to the Reek; it was not the season at all for such a work; it was long after Hollantide, and not a pilgrim had passed up for many a long day; but poor Biddy was resolved to set out, for why, her dear Darby was a suffering; and as she was a lone woman, and had no one to leave her two children with, she took them with her, and faced the mountain. It was, as I said, a bad season; the day wet and windy, and some of the neighbours, who saw her going up, shook their heads, and wished that God would get her safe over her blessed work. Nobody can tell whether she went through all her stations or not; the crathur, any how, tried her best, and night came down on her and such a night! The storm set in from the north-west; the ocean came tumbling in from the head of Achill-the rain that poured thick, soft, and sweeping below, was all hard driving sleet on the mountain.

"To this spot, poor Biddy retreated for

shelter, and nothing had she to save herself and her little ones but her poor threadbare cloak. To make my story

short, the neighbours fearing for her, went up next morning in search of her, and here they found her, and the little things beside her, all stiff and huddled together. The cloak was wrapped round the childer-the poor fond mother (heavens be her rest, and sure it is she is there, dying when doing such a holy work) had stripped her own body of its covering, to save those she loved better

than her own life, and all to no pur


Such are the melancholy features of and on the east we have the scandal of society on the south side of Clew Bay; singularity and revolt from ecclesiastical discipline, among a portion of the scanty Protestant population, who still preserve, though some of them have sorely abused, their Christian fran

We must,

chises in the midst of this moral wilderness. There is, however, a reasonably cheering scene in Achill, though there, too, intemperateness and overweening reliance on individual exertions, have embarrassed and retarded the progress of a work the most admirable and meritorious. Had we space to accompany Mr. Otway in his pilgrimage-for such, to any Protestant clergyman, a journey into Achill really is-along the northern shore of this beautiful bay, we could direct our reader's attention to much that is sublime in nature, and much, also, that is interesting in statistics. however, pass over everything between Westport and the middle of Achill, where on the south-eastern slope of Slieve More, a mountain 2,000 feet high, that rises immediately over Blacksod Bay, Mr. Nangle, the Protestant missionary, cultivates, with his, little colony, a patch of 130 Irish acres, hard by the hostile village of Dugurth. Before proceeding to quote matter relating immediately to the colony, it may be well to know something of the civil and social condition of the islanders before their ill-requited friends came among them.

"The person who attended me on my walk to the settlement was a very intelligent man; I won't say that he was without his prejudices, but I believe him to be a person of truth, and that he was much interested in the prosperity and improvement of the poor natives of the district. Though not a native, he had been resident in the island for some years

previous to the coming of Mr. Nangle, and I was glad I could receive information from one not belonging to Mr. Nangle's settlement, and who, it might be supposed, was not imbued with the 'esprit de corps' inseparable from one belonging to that religious colony. This person gave me a very sad picture of the state of the island five years ago: there were about five thousand inhabitants dwelling in villages, and though the population was not at all in proportion to the size of the island and its great capabilities, yet it was in excess as compared with the means of subsistence, for, according to the long-established practice of the people, though there was check upon population, there was upon the means of support, in consequence of their village regulations. All the occupiers of the villages held in common from the landlord; there was a portion of the ground nearest to the village enclosed from the rest for the growth of potatoes and oats, and a wild range of boggy and mountain land outside was commouage, on which each family had the right of pasture for a certain number and quality of cattle; the enclosed land was also, in a measure, in common, for though each family had its own ridge, no family had a field to itself.


"A man, if he wanted more tillage ground,could not go beyond the old village enclosure and take a new spot for himself. No such thing: if he brought in any new piece to cultivation, every householder had a right to his ridge therein, as well as the man who made the improvement. This, of course, raised a bar against improvement, unless the whole population joined in what it was not easy to get them to do, a concerted enclosure. It may be thus supposed how much faster mouths would increase than the means of filling them. Then there was no such thing ever seen in the island as a plough or a harrow; there might have been a car or two that went on slides instead of wheels. The only instrument used in cultivation was one peculiar to the district, called a gowl gob, or two-bladed spade, constructed unlike any thing I had ever seen before, having two long narrow blades pointed with iron, fixed on one handle. This seemed light of use, and suitable to the working of the boggy and sandy oil. The dress of the people was as primitive as their husbandry; very few of the men wore hats their long glibs were their protection from the weather; the women, besides the russet-brown Woolsey gown, wore the madder-red short petticoat, with the yellow kerchief tied down close to their heads; then their houses were very like a Hottentot's

kraal. An Achill village consisted of a congeries of hovels thrown indiscriminately together, as if they fell in a shower from the sky, and their construction was as follows:-a dry stone wall was built of a form like an obtuse oval, for they had not arrived at the art of making a square quoin, or erecting a gable end. Outside this wall, and at about a foot distance, another loose wall was run up, and the space between the two filled with seasand, and then this was roofed, generally with timber washed on shore from wrecks, and covered with heath, which covering did not reach over the outside wall and form an eave, but rested on the middle between the walls, and the moisture from above passed, as it should, through the intervening sand. These people, though perhaps healthy and long-lived as any other, must sometimes be sick, and how were they to manage then?-no doctor or apothecary within thirty miles. Why, there was an old woman resident in one of the villages, looked on as half witch, half doctress, and she, indeed as simple, and, no doubt, successful in her treatment, exceeded even Dr. Sangrado himself in the simplicity of her practice. She administered one dose-handy it was, but heavy. What do you think, reader, it was? Paracelsus himself could not sal specific. Why, in the morning, fastmatch this 'opus magnum'-this univering, she made the Achillian open his mouth wide, and down she sent a musket bullet!!!"


Notwithstanding the scantiness of its means, and the previous opposition it has had to encounter," the colony," we respectfully submit to his Grace of Tuam, offers something in the nature. of an improvement.

"Turning a corner of the road, and ascending an eminence, the Protestant settlement' came into view, and truly it was a contrast to the congeries of wigwams called Dugurth; it consisted of a long range of slated buildings fronting the south-east, and with their rere to Slievemore, that rose in great loftiness to the north-west, ornamented by a sort of pedimented building in the centre, having a handsome broad esplanade in front, on the other side of which extended some well-cultivated, well-ordered gardens. All this formed a tout ensemble peculiarly striking and satisfactory, as connected with extraordinary contrasts that presented themselves upon every side.

"I rose early in the morning and visited the whole range of buildings of which the settlement is composed. The first of


the line to the north is Dr. Adams'
house; next the infant school; then the
boys' daily and Sunday school, which has
a communion table, and reading-desk and
pulpit, and answers for the present, as
the chapel; then come the two central
houses, forming the residence of the
chaplains; next the female school; then
the printing-office; then the house of the
steward; and next the houses of the
schoolmasters and Scripture-readers.
Pleased, as indeed I was, with all this,
I took advantage of the time which was
to run until morning prayers, to go down
to the sea-shore, which lies about a quar-
ter of a mile to the left there to see
the cliffs, and inspect the fine bed of
lime-stone that has been lately discovered,
and which promises to be of such advan-
tage to the vicinity.

"After breakfast I went forth to see
the gardens and the farm. There were
good and thriving vegetables in the gar-
dens, and some few trees of the poplar
sort that were venturing on a little
growth; about thirty acres are reclaimed,
and there were promising crops of artificial
grass-oats and potatoes. The houses of
the settlers were scattered up and down
through the improved land, and on con-
versing with the steward I found him an
intelligent and business-like person. The
shortness of my stay precluded me from
making any inquiry as to the economics
of the farm. In the present up-hill state
of the work, embarrassed as the con-
ductors are with all manner of difficulties
and opposition, I think it would not be
fair to object, even suppose the expenses
far exceeded the profits-my conviction
was, that all concerned in the oversight
of the whole settlement were honestly
and vigorously doing their duty."

The colonists, too, have recently
enlarged their take by about 300 acres
of arable and pasture in the adjoining
island of Innisbeagle, and are now,
at least, in no danger as they at one
time were of being starved out. The
reader who has not previously made
himself acquainted with the state of
things in this island will probably start
at the mention of so extreme a measure
for getting rid of unwelcome neigh-
bours; for, indeed, without being well
assured of it, one could hardly conceive
the outrageous desperation and frantic
violence of the opposition given to
these much-persecuted people.

"A fair, honest, open, and uncom-
promising hostility, Mr. Nanglo had a
right to expect, and was prepared for
an opposition similar to that we might
suppose would have been made to a con-

vent of the monks or friars, if they had chosen to settle in the exclusively Protestant Isle of Man or Anglesey. But here the priests have actually gone beside themselves with rage and vexation. Mr. Nangle set up his schools-he provided good masters, and a system of instruction commenced such as never was seen in Achill before; for the priest, and indeed the parson who drew tithe from the island, never troubled their heads about the teaching of the people: no matter how the flock fed, so that they could be fleeced. But now the raging priests came in and cursed the parents if they did not take away their children from the heretic schools. 'Give us something, then, in their place (said the people) and we will do your bidding.' The National Board here was ready to help the priests in their trouble, and funds were supplied, houses procured or built, masters (such as they were) provided, and Romish education began; and the people of Achill have to thank Mr. Nangle for this. Well, as yet the priests had done nothing very outrageous; they acted like conscientious men to do their best to keep the children away from the danger of imbibing false doctrine; a Protestant clergyman should and would use his influence in the same manner if he saw his young parishioners induced to go to a convent school. But the priests did not stop here, and their commands were,

have nothing to do with these heretics; curse them, hoot at them, spit in their faces; cut the sign of the cross in the air when you meet them, as you would do against devils; throw stones at them; pitch them, when you have an opportunity, into the bog-holes; nay, more than that, do injury to yourselves in order to injure them; don't work for them, though they pay in ready money every Saturday night; don't sell them any thing, though they provide you with a market-ready money and a good market at your own doors; nay, don't take any medicine from their heretic doctor-rather die first.'"

Not satisfied with this, Dr. M'Hale himself, clad in his archiepiscopal robes, with mitre and crozier, and all the other emblems of spiritual authority likely to dazzle an ignorant multitude, came to the island; set up an altar, and, surrounded by almost the whole Roman Catholic population, publicly cursed them. Mr. Otway remarks on the easiness with which we may teach both the young and the old idea how to hate; and he is himself an illustration of the truth of the remark; for, in walking through Achill, he was refused

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »