Lakes and Mountains

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter XVII (12) | Start of Chapter

Our path lay over brambles amid rivulets and walls, up one of the tallest mountains in the glen, where many a traveller has ascended to take one of the most picturesque views in all Glengariff.

It was a long and difficult ascent, but courage kept me steady, and when compelled to sit down upon a crag or hillock, the smoke of a cabin by the side of some rock or hill, the shouting of children, the towering mountains stretched beyond the glen, and sleeping lakes that lay at our feet, made such a picture that I forgot my weariness, and the long Irish miles I had yet to walk. I was told that there are in this glen and upon the mountains, three hundred and sixty-five lakes. This I am not prepared to prove or dispute, yet, judging from what I met, I think it may not be improbable. The hill was ascended, we reached the newly walled road made upon the top of a narrow ridge of mountain, with a glen on each hand at our feet, a precipitous steep of many yards leading to these ravines, which in most places made a dizzy and fearful sight to the traveller. At length the tunnel, hewn through a rock like the arch of a bridge, met our eyes. Here was the wonder of wonders. For the distance of eighty perches a hole is cut sufficiently wide and high for coaches to pass, and the only light admitted is from the entrance at each end, and one little aperture in the top. The water was percolating through the rock, and darkness made it a prison not the most inviting for a long tarry. Giving full scope to my voice in singing, the echo was tremendous. The grandeur that burst upon the view when we emerged, was, if possible, greater than when we entered it, nor did it cease till we had walked two miles.

Ireland’s Welome to the Stranger is one of the best accounts of Irish social conditions, customs, quirks and habits that you could wish for. The author, Mrs Asenath Nicholson, was an American widow who travelled extensively in Ireland on the eve of the Great Famine and meticulously observed the Irish peasantry at work and play, as well as noting their living conditions and diet. The book is also available from Kindle.