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VOLUMES UNIFORM WITH THIS
|PEEPS AT MANY LANDS AND CITIES|
|EACH CONTAINING 12 FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS IN COLOUR|
|PEEPS AT NATURE|
|WILD FLOWERS AND THEIR|
BRITISH LAND MAMMALS
|BIRD LIFE OF THE|
|PEEPS AT HISTORY|
|PEEPS AT GREAT RAILWAYS|
|THE LONDON AND NORTH-WESTERN RAILWAY|
THE NORTH-EASTERN AND GREAT NORTHERN RAILWAYS
|PUBLISHED BY ADAM AND CHARLES BLACK|
SOHO SQUARE, LONDON, W.
|AMERICA||THE MACMILLAN COMPANY|
|64 & 66 Fifth Avenue, NEW YORK|
|AUSTRALASIA||OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS|
|205 Flinders Lane, MELBOURNE|
|CANADA||THE MACMILLAN COMPANY OF CANADA, LTD.|
|St. Martin’s House, 70 Bond Street, TORONTO|
|INDIA||MACMILLAN & COMPANY, LTD.|
|Macmillan Building, BOMBAY|
|309 Bow Bazaar Street, CALCUTTA|
First printed November, 1909
Reprinted October, 1910, and September, 1911
|III.||THE IRISH COUNTRY||20|
|IV.||THE IRISH PEOPLE||27|
|V.||SOUTH OF DUBLIN||38|
|VII.||CORK AND THEREABOUTS||49|
|IX.||DONEGAL OF THE STRANGER||65|
|X.||IRISH TRAITS AND WAYS||76|
|THE EAGLE’S NEST, KILLARNEY||Frontispiece|
|A VILLAGE IN ACHILL||viii|
|SACKVILLE STREET, DUBLIN||9|
|DUBLIN BAY FROM VICTORIA HILL||16|
|OFF TO AMERICA||32|
|A WICKLOW GLEN||41|
|THE RIVER LEE||48|
|RALEIGH’S HOUSE, MYRTLE GROVE||57|
|A DONEGAL HARVEST||73|
|A HOME IN DONEGAL||80|
|DIGGING POTATOES||on the cover|
|Sketch-Map of Ireland on p. vii|
IT may safely be said that any boy or girl who takes a peep at Ireland will want another peep. Between London and Ireland, so far as atmosphere and the feeling of things is concerned, there is a world of distance. Of course, it is the difference between two races, for the Irish are mainly Celtic, and the Celtic way of thinking and speaking and feeling is as different as possible from the Saxon or the Teuton, and the Celt has influenced the Anglo-Irish till they are as far away from the English nearly as the Celts themselves. If you are at all alert, you will begin to find the difference as soon as you step off the London and North Western train at Holyhead and go on board the steamer for Kingstown. The Irish steward and stewardess will have a very different way from the formal English way. They will be expansive. They will use ten words to one of the English official. Their speech will be picturesque; and if you are gifted with a sense of humour—and if you are not, you had better try to beg, borrow or steal it before you go to Ireland—there will be much to delight you. I once heard an Irish steward on a long-sea boat at London Docks remonstrate with the passengers in this manner:
“Gentlemen, gentlemen, will yez never get to bed? Yez know as well as I do that every light on the boat is out at twelve o’clock. It’s now a quarter to wan, and out goes the lights in ten minutes.”
There is what the Englishman calls an Irish bull in this speech; but the Irish bull usually means that something is left to the imagination. I will leave you to discover for yourself the hiatus which would have made the steward’s remark a sober English statement.
These things make an Irish heart bound up as exultantly as the lark springs to the sky of a day of April—that is to say, of an Irish exile home-returning—for the dweller in Ireland grows used to such pearls of speech.
Said a stewardess to whom I made a request that she would bring to my cabin a pet-dog who, under the charge of the cook, was making the night ring with his lamentations: “Do you want to have me murdered?” This only conveyed that it was against the regulations. But while she looked at me her eye softened. “I’ll do it for you,” she said, with a subtle suggestion that she wouldn’t do it for anyone else; and then added insinuatingly, “if the cook was to mind the basket?” “To be sure,” said I, being Irish. “Ask the cook if he will kindly mind the basket and let me have the dog.” And so it was done, and the cook had his perquisite, while I had the dog.
At first, unless you have a very large sense of humour—and many English people have, though the Irish who do not know anything about them deny it to them en bloc—you will be somewhat bewildered. Apropos of the same little dog, we asked a policeman at the North Wall, one wintry morning of arrival, if the muzzling order was in force in Dublin.
“Well, it is and it isn’t,” he said. “Lasteways, there’s a muzzlin’ order on the south side, but there isn’t on the north, through Mr. L—— on the North Union Board, that won’t let them pass it. If I was you I’d do what I liked with the dog this side of the river, but when I crossed the bridge I’d hide him. You’ll be in a cab, won’t you?”
After you’ve had a few peeps at Ireland, you won’t want the jokes explained to you, perhaps, or the picturesqueness of speech demonstrated.
Before you glide up to the North Wall Station you will have discovered some few things about Ireland besides the picturesqueness of the Irish tongue. You will have seen the lovely coast-line, all the townships glittering in a fairy-like atmosphere, with the mountains of Dublin and Wicklow standing up behind them. You will have passed Howth, that wonderful rock, which seems to take every shade of blue and purple, and silver and gold, and pheasant-brown and rose. You will have felt the Irish air in your face; and the Irish air is soft as a caress. You will have come up the river, its squalid and picturesque quays. You will have noticed that the poor people walking along the quay-side are far more ragged and unkempt generally than the same class in England. The women have a way of wearing shawls over their heads which does not belong naturally to the Western world, and sets one to thinking of the curious belief some people have entertained about the Irish being descended from the lost tribes. A small girl in a Dublin street will hold her little shawl across her mouth, revealing no more of the face than the eyes and nose, with an effect which is distinctly Eastern. The quay-side streets are squalid enough, and the people ragged beyond your experience, but there will be no effect of depression and despondency such as assails you in the East End of London. The people are much noisier. They greet each other with a shrillness that reminds you of the French. The streets are cheerful, no matter how poor they may be. I have always said that there is ten times the noise in an Irish street, apart from mere traffic, than in an English one. An Irish village is full of noise, chatter of women, crying of children, barking of dogs, lowing of cattle, bleating of sheep, crowing of cocks, cackling of hens, quacking of ducks, grunting of pigs. The people talk at the top of their voices, so that you might suppose them to be quarrelling. It is merely the dramatic sense. I have heard an Irish peasant make a bald statement—or, at least, it would have been bald in an English mouth—as though she pleaded, argued, remonstrated, scolded, deprecated.
Accustomed to Irish ways, English villages have always appeared very dead to me. Unless it be on market morning, one might be in the Village of the Palace of the Sleeping Beauty. I once visited Dunmow of the Flitch of a golden May-day. It was neither Flitch Day nor Market Day, and I aver that I walked through the town and saw no living creature, except a cat fast asleep, right in the midst of the sun-baked roadway. Such a thing could not have happened in Ireland.
DUBLIN is a city of magnificences and squalors. It has the widest street in Europe, they say, in Sackville Street, which, after the manner of the policeman and the muzzling order, half the population calls O’Connell Street. The public buildings are very magnificent. These are due, for the greater part, to the man who found Dublin brick and left it marble—that great city-builder, John Claudius Beresford, of the latter half of the eighteenth century, whose name is at once famous and infamous to the Irish ear, because when he had made a new Dublin he flogged rebels in Beresford’s Riding-School in Marlborough Street with a thoroughness which left nothing to be desired except a little mercy. Beresford, who was one of the Waterford Beresfords, was First Commissioner of Revenue, as well as an Alderman of the City of Dublin. Before he went city-building, Dublin was a small place enough. For centuries it consisted chiefly of Dublin Castle, the two cathedrals—Patrick’s and Christ’s Church; Dublin is alone in Northern Europe in possessing two cathedrals—and the narrow streets that clustered about them. Somewhere about the middle of the eighteenth century St. Stephen’s Green was built—the finest square in Europe, we say; I do not know if the claim be well founded. A little later Sackville Street began to take shape, communicating with the other bank of the river by ferry-boats. Essex Bridge was at that time the most easterly of the bridges, and the banks of the river were merely mud-flats, especially so where James Gandon’s masterpiece, the Custom-House, was presently to rear its stately façade. The latter part of the eighteenth century was the great age of Dublin. Ireland still had its Lords and Commons, who had declared their legislative independence of England in 1782. Society was as brilliant as London, and far gayer. It was certainly a time in which to go city-building, for these splendours needed housing. Before Beresford began his plans, calling in the genius of James Gandon, with many lesser lights, to assist him, Sackville Street and Dublin generally were as insanitary as any town of the Middle Ages. Open sewers ran down the middle of the streets. There was no pretence at paving. The streets were ill-lit by smelly oil-lamps. The Dublin watchmen found plenty to do, as did their brethren in London, in protecting peaceful citizens from the pranks of the Dublin brethren of the London Mohocks in the tortuous and ill-lit streets. Dublin, the city of the English pale, remained and remains an English city—with a difference. The Anglo-Irish did the things their London brethren were doing—with a difference. If there were unholy revels at Medmenham Abbey on the Thames, they were imitated or excelled by their Irish prototypes, whose clubhouse you will still see standing up before you a ruin on top of the Dublin mountains. In many ways the society of Dublin models itself on London to this day.
The Lords and Commons of Ireland were already living about the Rotunda in Sackville Street, Rutland Square, Gardiner’s Row, Great Denmark Street, Marlborough Street, and North Great George’s Street, when John Claudius Beresford began his work. He bridged the river with Carlisle—now O’Connell—Bridge. He constructed Westmoreland Street right down to the Houses of Parliament.
He built the Custom-House, now a rabbit-warren of Government offices, on a scale proportioned to the needs of the greatest trading city in Europe, oblivious of the fact that Irish trade was going or gone; or, perhaps—who knows?—building for the future. All that part of the city lying between the new bridge and the Custom-House was laid out in streets. Meanwhile the nobility and gentry who had town-houses were seized with the passion for beautifying them. The old Dublin houses were of an extraordinary stateliness and beauty. Money was poured out like water on their beautification. The floral decoration in stucco-work on walls and ceilings still makes a dirty glory in some of the old houses. Famous artists, like Cipriani and Angelica Kauffmann, painted the wall-panels and ceilings with pseudo-classical goddesses and nymphs. A certain Italian named Bossi executed that inlaying in coloured marbles which made so many of the old mantelpieces things of beauty. The old Dublin houses still retain their stately proportions, although some of them have been dismantled and others come down to be tenement-houses. But there is yet plenty to remind us that Dublin had once its Augustan Age.
In the first place, there is Dublin Castle, which was built by King John. Of the four original towers, only one now remains. The castle has been the town residence of the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland since Sidney established himself there in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. For the rest, it is a congerie of Government offices of one sort or another.
The castle was built over the Poddle River, which now creeps in darkness, degraded to a common sewer, under the dark and dismal houses, and empties itself in an unclean cascade through a grating in the Quay walls, whence it flows away with the Liffey to the sea. You can visit the Chapel Royal, if you will, and the viceregal apartments are sometimes open to inspection if the Viceroy is not in residence. I lived many years in Dublin without desiring to inspect what may be seen of Dublin Castle, though I have often stood in the castle yard under the Bermingham Tower, and, looking up at that great keep, have remembered how Hugh O’Donnell and his companions escaped by way of the Poddle one Christmas Eve in the spacious days of great Elizabeth, and how the young chieftain of Tyrconnel narrowly escaped the frozen death which befell his companions as they climbed those Dublin mountains over yonder to find refuge with the O’Tooles and O’Byrnes of the Wicklow Hills.