Glengariff means the rough glen, and is about three miles in length and a quarter in breadth. A small river flows through the centre which is crossed by several bridges, one called Cromwell’s Bridge. It has been handed down by tradition that the people of the place threw down the bridge to impede Cromwell’s progress to Berehaven, but Cromwell was never here, as it is a historical fact that he only came as far as Clonmel, and then returned to England. But Cromwell’s army operated in the locality under Ireton, and the natives probably broke down the bridge to impede the army’s march, and as Cromwell was the head of the army the bridge was called after him.

Glengariff is thus described by an eloquent pen:—

“Glengariff, although less imposing in its mountain barriers than Killarney, and less enriched by the fanciful variety of sparkling islands, in its sea views, yet its inland scenery exhibits a character equally majestical and partakes as much of the seclusion, the loneliness, and the flowery wilds of fairy land, as any portion of the country on the borders of the Lakes. The summer tourist who pays a hurried visit of a few hours to the glen is by no means competent to pronounce an opinion upon its peculiar attractions. His eye may wander with delight over the startling irregularity of its hills and dales, but he has no time sufficient to explore the depths and recesses of its woodland solitude, in which the witching charms of this romantic region operate most forcibly on the mind. It is by treading its tangled pathways, and wandering amid its secret dells, that the charms of Glengariff become revealed in all their power. There the most fanciful and picturesque views spread around on every side. A twilight grove terminating in a soft vale whose vivid green appears as if it never had been violated by mortal foot; a bower rich in the fragrant woodbine, intermingled with a variety of clasping evergreens, drooping over a miniature lake of transparent brightness; a lonely wild, suddenly bursting on the sight, girded on all sides by grim and naked mountains; a variety of natural avenues leading, through the embowering, to retreats, in whose breathless solitudes the very genius of meditation would appear to reside, or to golden glades, sonorous with the songs of a hundred foaming mills. But what appears chiefly to impress the mind, in this secluded region, is the deep conviction you feel, that there is no dramtic effect in all you behold; no pleasing illusion of art; that it is nature you contemplate, such as she is in all her wildness, and all her beauty.”

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Early Irish History and Antiquities, and the History of West Cork

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