Poisoned Glen, County Donegal

Samuel Gamble Bayne
Dunfanaghy to Fallcarragh (4) | Start of Section

The "Poisoned Glen" lies to the southwest, and is a startling contrast to Glen Veigh. It has no vegetation of any kind, and is a weird, savage canon ending in a cul-de-sac. It looks uncanny and forbidding, and seems as though it might be possessed, giving the visitor a creepy feeling as he drives through its gloomy defiles. No animal or bird is ever seen within its confines, as its barren sides will not support life in any form.

Gartan Lough is seen a few miles to the south. It is celebrated for its fine views and its fishing, and as the birthplace of St. Columba, who was born just where a ruined chapel now stands and which was originally erected, it is said, to mark the spot. St. Patrick made a pilgrimage to this place in 450 A.D.

Twenty-three thousand acres, covering Lough and Glen Veigh and the Gartan lakes, were originally owned by the Marshall brothers, one of whom, John, was brother-in-law to the writer. Owing to the agricultural depression of the times, the Marshalls could not collect their rents, and rather than evict their tenants they sold the estate to Mr. J. G. Adair. Mr. Adair had visited the place and become so enthusiastic about it that he not only bought it but built a splendid castle near the lake and constructed an imposing avenue, eight miles long, of which he was very proud. Soon afterwards he stood for a seat in Parliament, as a tenant-right candidate. Notwithstanding his politics, he had troubles with the tenantry, his manager and one of the shepherds being killed in one of the numerous affrays that occurred on the property. Conditions went from bad to worse, till at length Mr. Adair decided to clear his estate of tenantry by evicting them. Upon this, such strenuous resistance and threats were made that the matter attracted public attention and became a source of anxiety to the British government; so troops were sent down with tents and military equipments, and after a time a general eviction took place. The tenants had no means of support, and national sympathy went out to them. Finally, the government of Victoria offered to take all of them out to Australia, free of charge, and as most of them accepted the offer, this closed the unfortunate incident.

Personally, Mr. Adair was a gracious and upright man, but he contended, as a matter of principle, that he owned the land and could do as he liked with it. This was precisely the same ground that Mr. Morgan took when being examined in New York recently on the witness-stand, with regard to his connection with American trusts.

Since Mr. Adair's death, his wife has resided at the castle a part of each year, and has recently entertained some eminent personages there, as the following item from the Londonderry Sentinel of September 13th will show:

"Lord Kitchener and the distinguished party forming the guests of Mrs. Adair at Glenveigh Castle have enjoyed an excellent week's sport. Several fine stags have been killed in the deer-forest. There was a very successful rabbit-shoot at Gartan on Wednesday. On Thursday, Lord Brassey's famous yacht Sunbeam, which has been at Londonderry since Monday, left for Lough Swilly, and yesterday the house-party embarked for a cruise round Horn Head. The house-party consisted of the following: Lord Kitchener, Lord and Lady Brassey, the Duchess of St. Albans and Lady Alice Beauclerk, Sir Donald Mackenzie Wallace, the official historian of the voyage of the Ophir; Lady de l'Isle, Captain Arthur Campbell, Captain Butler, and the Duke and Duchess of Connaught. The departing guests were conveyed to the Sunbeam and to the railway station in Mrs. Adair's powerful motor car."

Read "On an Irish Jaunting Car through Donegal and Connemara" at your leisure

On an Irish jaunting Car through Donegal and Connemara

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Samuel Gamble Bayne was born in Ramelton, County Donegal, and educated at Queen's University in Belfast. At the age of twenty-five he left for America with a view to making his fortune. He invested in an oil well in Pennsylvania and later founded a bank which subsequently came to be the JP Morgan Chase bank in New York. By the time this book was written he was wealthy enough to be referred to as a billionaire. His account of the tour through the north, west and south of Ireland is a pleasant snapshot of how that part of the country was in the early part of the 20th century. He describes what is to be seen, gives some background history and, through the illustrations especially, provides wonderful glimpses of the area's social history.

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