The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Irish Penny Journal, Vol. 1 No. 16, October 17, 1840

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Title: The Irish Penny Journal, Vol. 1 No. 16, October 17, 1840

Author: Various

Release date: February 28, 2017 [eBook #54258]

Language: English

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[Pg 121]


Number 16. SATURDAY, OCTOBER 17, 1840. Volume I.
Inchiquin castle and lake


Connemara itself, now so celebrated for its lakes and mountains, was not less unknown a few years since than the greater portion of the county of Clare. Without roads, or houses of entertainment for travellers, its magnificent coast and other scenery were necessarily unvisited by the pleasure tourists, and but little appreciated even by their inhabitants themselves. But Clare can no longer be said to be an unvisited district: the recent formation of roads has opened to observation many features of interest previously inaccessible to the traveller, and its singular coast scenery—the most sublimely magnificent in the British islands, if not in Europe—has at least been made known to the public by topographical and scientific explorers—it has become an attractive locality to artists and pleasure tourists, and will doubtless be visited by increasing numbers of such persons in each successive year.

There is however as yet in this county too great a deficiency in the number of respectable houses of entertainment suited to the habits of pleasure tourists; for though the wealthier and more educated classes in the British empire are becoming daily a more travelling and picturesque-hunting genus, they will not be content to live on fine scenery, but must have food for the body as well as for the mind; and truly they must be enthusiastic lovers of the picturesque, who, to gratify their taste, will subject themselves to the vicissitudes of such an uncertain climate as ours, without the certainty of such consoling comforts as are afforded in a clean and comfortable inn.

Yet we do not despair of seeing this want soon supplied. Wherever there is a demand for a commodity it will not be long wanting; and the people of Clare are too sagacious not to perceive, however slowly, the practical wisdom of holding out every inducement of this kind to those who might be disposed to visit them and spend their money among them. The first step necessary, however, to produce such results in any little frequented district, is to make its objects of interest known to the public by the pencil and the pen—the rest will follow in due course; and our best efforts, such as they are, shall not be unexerted towards effecting such an important good as well for Clare as for many other as yet little known localities of our country.

Clare is indeed on many accounts deserving of greater attention[Pg 122] than it has hitherto received. It is a county rich in attractions for the geologist and naturalist, and interesting in the highest degree to the lovers of the picturesque. With a surface singularly broken and diversified, full of mountains, hills, lakes, and rivers, dotted all over with every class of ancient remains, its scenery is peculiarly Irish, and though of a somewhat melancholy aspect, it is never wanting in a poetic and historic interest. Such a district is not indeed exactly suited to the tastes of the common scenery-hunter, for it possesses but little of that woody and artificially adorned scenery which he requires, and can alone enjoy; and hence it has usually been described by tourists and topographers with a coldness which shows how little its peculiarities had impressed their feelings, and how incompetent they were to communicate to others a just estimate of its character. Let us take as an example the notice given by the writers of Lewis’s Topographical Dictionary, of one of the Clare beauties of which the natives are most proud—the caverns called the To-meens or To-mines, near Kiltanan:—

“At Kiltanan is a succession of limestone caverns, through which a rivulet takes its course: these are much visited in summer; many petrified shells are found in the limestone, some of which are nearly perfect, and—very curious!”

This it must be confessed is cold enough; but the description of the same locality given by our friend the author of the Guide through Ireland, is, as our readers will see, not a whit warmer. It is as follows:—

“A mile from Tulla is Kiltanan, the handsome residence of James Moloney, Esq.; and in addition to the pleasure of a well-kept residence, in a naked and sadly neglected country, some interest is excited by the subterraneous course of the rivulet called the To-meens, which waters this demesne!”

Now, would any person be induced by such descriptions as those to visit the said To-meens? We suspect not. But hear with what delight a native writer of this county actually revels in a description of these remarkable caves:—

“About a mile N. W. of Tulla lies the river of Kiltanan, and Milltown, famous for its ever-amazing and elegant subterraneous curiosities, called the To-mines: they form a part of the river, midway between Kiltanan House and the Castle of Milltown, extending under ground for a space, which (from its invisible winding banks and crystal meanders) may reasonably be computed a quarter of an English mile: they are vaulted, and sheltered with a solid rock, transmitting a sufficiency of light and air by intermediate chinks and apertures gradually offering at certain intervals.

At each side of this Elysian-like river are roomy passages or rather apartments, freely communicating one with the other, and scarcely obvious to any inclemency whatsoever: they are likewise decorated with a sandy beach level along to walk on, whilst the curious spectators are crowned with garlands of ivy, hanging in triplets from the impending rocky shades: numbers of the sporting game, the wily fox, the wary hare, and the multiplying rabbit, &c. merrily parading in view of their own singular and various absconding haunts and retreats. Ingenious nature thus entertains her welcome visitants from the entrance to the extremity of the To-mines. Lo! when parting liberally rewarded, and amply satisfied with such egregious and wonderful exhibitions, a bridge or arch over the same river, curiously composed of solid stone, appears to them as a lively representation of an artificial one.

What can the much boasted of Giants’ Causeway, in the north of this kingdom, produce but scenes of horror and obscurity? whilst the To-mines of the barony of Tulla, like unto the artificial beauties of the Latomi of Syracuse, freely exhibit the most natural and pleasing appearances.

Let the literati and curious, after taking the continental tour of Europe, praise and even write of the imaginary beauties and natural curiosities of Italy and Switzerland—pray, let them also, on a cool reflection, repair to the county of Clare, view and touch upon the truly subterraneous and really unartificial curiosities of the To-mines: they will impartially admit that these naturally enchanting rarities may be freely visited, and generously treated of, by the ingenious and learned of this and after ages.”—A Short Tour, or an Impartial and Accurate Description of the County of Clare, by John Lloyd, Ennis; 1780.

Excellent. Mr Lloyd! Your style is indeed a little peculiar, and what some would think extravagant and grotesque; but you describe with feeling, and we shall certainly visit your To-meens next summer. But in the mean time we must notice another Clare lion, of which you have given us no account—the lake and castle, which we have drawn as an embellishment to our present number. This is a locality respecting the beauty of which there can be no difference of opinion: it has all the circumstances which give interest to a landscape—wood, water, lake, mountain, and ancient ruin—and the effect of their combination is singularly enhanced by the surprise created by the appearance of a scene so delightful in a district wild, rocky, and unimproved.

The lake of Inchiquin is situated in the parish of Kilnaboy, barony of Inchiquin, and is about two miles and a half in circumference. It is bounded on its western side by a range of hills rugged but richly wooded, and rising abruptly from its margin; and on its southern side, the domain surrounding the residence of the Burton family, and the ornamental grounds of Adelphi, the residence of W. and F. Fitzgerald, Esqrs. contribute to adorn a scene of remarkable natural beauty. One solitary island alone appears on its surface, unless that be ranked as one on which the ancient castle is situated, and which may originally have been insulated, though no longer so. The castle, which is situated at the northern side of the lake, though greatly dilapidated, is still a picturesque and interesting ruin, consisting of the remains of a barbican tower, keep, and old mansion-house attached to it; and its situation on a rocky island or peninsula standing out in the smooth water, with its grey walls relieved by the dark masses of the wooded hills behind, is eminently striking and imposing.

It is from this island or peninsula that the barony takes its name; and from this also the chief of the O’Briens, the Marquis of Thomond, derives his more ancient title of Earl of Inchiquin. For a long period it was the principal residence of the chiefs of this great family, to one of whom it unquestionably owes its origin; but we have not been able to ascertain with certainty the name of its founder, or date of its erection. There is, however, every reason to ascribe its foundation to Tiege O’Brien, king or lord of Thomond, who died, according to the Annals of the Four Masters, in 1466, as he is the first of his name on record who made it his residence, and as its architectural features are most strictly characteristic of the style of the age in which he flourished.

But though the erection of this castle is properly to be ascribed to the O’Briens, it is a great error in the writers of Lewis’s Topographical Dictionary to state that it has been from time immemorial the property of the O’Brien family. The locality, as its name indicates, and as history and tradition assure us, was the ancient residence of the O’Quins, a family of equal antiquity with the O’Briens, and of the same stock—namely, the Dal Cas or descendants of Cormac Cas, the son of Ollioll Oluim, who was monarch of Ireland in the beginning of the third century. The O’Quins were chiefs of the clan called Hy-Ifearnan, and their possessions were bounded by those of the O’Deas on the east, the O’Loughlins and O’Conors (Corcomroe) on the west and north-west, the O’Hynes on the north, and the O’Hehirs on the south. At what period or from what circumstance the O’Quins lost their ancient patrimony, we have not been able to discover; but it would appear to have been about the middle or perhaps close of the fourteenth century, to which time their genealogy as chiefs is recorded in that invaluable repository of Irish family history, the Book of Mac Firbis; and it would seem most probable that they were transplanted by the O’Briens about this period to the county of Limerick, in which they are subsequently found. Their removal is indeed differently accounted for in a popular legend still current in the barony, and which, according to our recollections of it, is to the following effect:

In the youth of the last O’Quin of Inchiquin, he saw from his residence a number of swans of singular beauty frequenting the west side of the lake, and wandering along its shore. Wishing, if possible, to possess himself of one of them, he was in the habit of concealing himself among the rocks and woods in its vicinity, hoping that he might take them by surprise, and he was at length successful: one of them became his captive, and was secretly carried to his residence, when, to his amazement and delight, throwing off her downy covering, she assumed the form of a beautiful woman, and shortly after became his wife. Previous to the marriage, however, she imposed certain conditions on her lover as the price of her consent, to which he willingly agreed. These were—first, that their union should be kept secret; secondly, that he should not receive any visitors at his mansion, particularly those of the O’Briens; and, lastly, that he should wholly abstain from gambling. For some years these conditions were strictly adhered to; they lived in happiness together, and[Pg 123] two children blessed their union. But it happened unfortunately at length that at the neighbouring races at Cood he fell in with the O’Briens, by whom he was hospitably treated; and being induced to indulge in too much wine, he forgot his engagements to his wife, and invited them to his residence on a certain day to repay their kindness to him. His wife heard of this invitation with sadness, but proceeded without remonstrance to prepare the feast for his guests. But she did not grace it with her presence; and when the company had assembled, and were engaged in merriment, she withdrew to her own apartment, to which she called her children, and after embracing them in a paroxysm of grief, which they could not account for, she took her original feathery covering from a press in which it had been kept, arrayed herself in it, and assuming her pristine shape, plunged into the lake, and was never seen afterwards. On the same night, O’Quin, again forgetful of the promises he had made her, engaged in play with Tiege-an-Cood O’Brien, the most distinguished of his guests, and lost the whole of his property.

The reader is at liberty to believe as much or as little of this story as he pleases: but at all events the legend is valuable in a historical point of view, as indicating the period when the lands of Inchiquin passed into the hands of the O’Brien family; nor is it wholly improbable that under the guise of a wild legend may be concealed some indistinct tradition of such a real occurrence as that O’Quin made a union long kept hidden, with a person of inferior station, and that its discovery drew down upon his head the vengeance of his proud compeers, and led to their removal to another district of the chiefs of the clan Hy-Ifearnan.

Be this, however, as it may, the ancient family of O’Quin—more fortunate than most other Irish families of noble origin—has never sunk into obscurity, or been without a representative of aristocratic rank; and it can at present boast of a representative among the nobility of the empire in the person of its justly presumed chief, the noble Earl of Dunraven.

We have thus slightly touched on the history of the O’Quins, not only as it was connected with that of the locality which we had to illustrate, but also as necessary to correct a great error into which Burke and other modern genealogists have fallen in their accounts of the origin of the name and descent of this family. Thus it is stated by those writers that “the surname is derived from Con Ceadcaha, or Con of the hundred battles, monarch of Ireland in the second century, whose grandson was called Cuinn (rather O’Cuinn), that is, the descendant of Con, when he wielded the sceptre in 254.” But those writers should not have been ignorant that Con, which literally signifies the powerful, was a common name in Ireland both in Christian and Pagan times; and still more, they should not have been ignorant of the important fact for a genealogist, that the use of surnames was unknown in Ireland till the close of the tenth century. The story is altogether a silly fiction; and as the real origin of the family appears to be now unknown even to themselves, and as their pedigree has never as yet been printed, we are tempted to give it in an English form, translated from the original, preserved in the books of Lecan and Duald Mac Firbis:—

The pedigree is carried up from this Con through eighteen generations to Cormac Cas, the son of Ollioll Oluim, and the common progenitor of all the tribes of the Dal-Cassians.

In this notice we may add, as an evidence of the ancient rank of the family, that the Irish annalists at the year 1188 record the death of Edaoin, the daughter of O’Quin, Queen of Munster, on her pilgrimage at Derry in that year. She appears to have been the wife of Mortogh O’Brien, who died without issue in 1168, and was succeeded by his brother Donald More, the last king of all Munster.

The Castle of Inchiquin is referred to in the Irish Annals as the residence of the chiefs of the O’Brien family, at the years 1542, 1559, and 1573; but the notices contain no interest to the general reader.



In a preceding paper under this heading we lately gave a sample from the lighter class of native Irish poetry of the seventeenth century, namely, “The Woman of Three Cows.” We have now to present our readers with a specimen of a more serious character, belonging to the same age—an Elegy on the death of the Tironian and Tirconnellian princes, who having fled with others from Ireland in the year 1607, and afterwards dying at Rome, were there interred on St Peter’s Hill, in one grave.

The poem is the production of O’Donnell’s bard, Owen Roe Mac an Bhaird, or Ward, who accompanied the family in their flight, and is addressed to Nuala, O’Donnell’s sister, who was also one of the fugitives. As the circumstances connected with the flight of the Northern Earls, and which led to the subsequent confiscation of the six Ulster Counties by James I., may not be immediately in the recollection of many of our readers, it may be proper briefly to state, that their departure from this country was caused by the discovery of a letter directed to Sir William Ussher, Clerk of the Council, which was dropped in the Council-chamber on the 7th of May, and which accused the Northern chieftains generally of a conspiracy to overthrow the government. Whether this charge was founded in truth or not, it is not necessary for us to express any opinion; but as in some degree necessary to the illustration of the poem, and as an interesting piece of hitherto unpublished literature in itself, we shall here, as a preface to the poem, extract the following account of the flight of the Northern Earls, as recorded in the Annals of the Four Masters, and translated by Mr O’Donovan:—

“Maguire (Cuconnaught) and Donogh, son of Mahon, who was son of the Bishop O’Brien, sailed in a ship to Ireland, and put in at the harbour of Swilly. They then took with them from Ireland the Earl O’Neill (Hugh, son of Ferdoragh) and the Earl O’Donnell (Rory, son of Hugh, who was son of Magnus) and many others of the nobles of the province of Ulster. These are the persons who went with O’Neill, namely, his Countess, Catherina, daughter of Magennis, and her three sons; Hugh, the Baron, John and Brian; Art Oge, son of Cormac, who was son of the Baron; Ferdoragh, son of Con, who was son of O’Neill; Hugh Oge, son of Brian, who was son of Art O’Neill; and many others of his most intimate friends. These were they who went with the Earl O’Donnell, namely, Caffer, his brother, with his sister Nuala; Hugh, the Earl’s child, wanting three weeks of being one year old; Rose, daughter of O’Doherty and wife of Caffer, with her son Hugh, aged two years and three months; his (Rory’s) brother son Donnell Oge, son of Donnell, Naghtan son of Calvach, who was son of Donogh Cairbreach O’Donnell, and many others of his intimate friends. They embarked on the Festival of the Holy Cross in Autumn.

This was a distinguished company; and it is certain that the sea has not borne and the wind has not wafted in modern times a number of persons in one ship more eminent, illustrious or noble, in point of genealogy, heroic deeds, valour, feats of arms, and brave achievements, than they. Would that God had but permitted them to remain in their patrimonial inheritances until the children should arrive at the age of manhood! Woe to the heart that meditated, woe to the mind that conceived, woe to the council that recommended the project of this expedition, without knowing whether they should, to the end of their lives, be able to return to their native principalities or patrimonies.”


“A bhean fuair faill air an ffeart!”

O, Woman of the Piercing Wail,
Who mournest o’er yon mound of clay
With sigh and groan,
Would God thou wert among the Gael!
Thou wouldst not then from day to day
Weep thus alone.
[Pg 124]
’Twere long before, around a grave
In green Tirconnell, one could find
This loneliness;
Near where Beann-Boirche’s banners wave
Such grief as thine could ne’er have pined
Beside the wave, in Donegall,
In Antrim’s glens, or fair Dromore,
Or Killilee,
Or where the sunny waters fall,
At Assaroe, near Erna’s shore,
This could not be.
On Derry’s plains—in rich Drumclieff—
Throughout Armagh the Great, renowned
In olden years,
No day could pass but Woman’s grief
Would rain upon the burial-ground
Fresh floods of tears!
O, no!—from Shannon, Boyne, and Suir,
From high Dunluce’s castle-walls,
From Lissadill,
Would flock alike both rich and poor,
One wail would rise from Cruachan’s halls
To Tara’s hill;
And some would come from Barrow-side,
And many a maid would leave her home
On Leitrim’s plains,
And by melodious Banna’s tide,
And by the Mourne and Erne, to come
And swell thy strains!
O, horses’ hoofs would trample down
The Mount whereon the martyr-saint[1]
Was crucified.
From glen and hill, from plain and town,
One loud lament, one thrilling plaint,
Would echo wide.
There would not soon be found, I ween,
One foot of ground among those bands
For museful thought,
So many shriekers of the keen[2]
Would cry aloud, and clap their hands,
All woe-distraught!
Two princes of the line of Conn
Sleep in their cells of clay beside
O’Donnell Roe:
Three royal youths, alas! are gone,
Who lived for Erin’s weal, but died
For Erin’s woe!
Ah! could the men of Ireland read
The names these noteless burial-stones
Display to view
Their wounded hearts afresh would bleed.
Their tears gush forth again, their groans
Resound anew!
The youths whose relics moulder here
Were sprung from Hugh, high Prince and Lord
Of Aileach’s lands;
Thy noble brothers, justly dear,
Thy nephew, long to be deplored
By Ulster’s bands.
Theirs were not souls wherein dull Time
Could domicile Decay or house
They passed from Earth ere Manhood’s prime,
Ere years had power to dim their brows
Or chill their blood.
And who can marvel o’er thy grief,
Or who can blame thy flowing tears,
That knows their source?
O’Donnell, Dunnasava’s chief,
Cut off amid his vernal years,
Lies here a corse
Beside his brother Cathbar, whom
Tirconnell of the Helmets mourns
In deep despair—
For valour, truth, and comely bloom,
For all that greatens and adorns,
A peerless pair.
O, had these twain, and he, the third,
The Lord of Mourne, O’Niall’s son,
Their mate in death—
A prince in look, in deed, and word—
Had these three heroes yielded on
The field their breath,
O, had they fallen on Criffan’s plain,
There would not be a town or clan
From shore to sea,
But would with shrieks bewail the Slain,
Or chant aloud the exulting rann[3]
Of jubilee!
When high the shout of battle rose,
On fields where Freedom’s torch still burned
Through Erin’s gloom,
If one, if barely one of those
Were slain, all Ulster would have mourned
The hero’s doom!
If at Athboy, where hosts of brave
Ulidian horsemen sank beneath
The shock of spears,
Young Hugh O’Neill had found a grave,
Long must the North have wept his death
With heart-wrung tears!
If on the day of Ballach-myre
The Lord of Mourne had met, thus young,
A warrior’s fate,
In vain would such as thou desire
To mourn, alone, the champion sprung
From Niall the Great!
No marvel this—for all the Dead,
Heaped on the field, pile over pile,
At Mullach-brack,
Were scarce an eric[4] for his head,
If Death had stayed his footsteps while
On victory’s track!
If on the Day of Hostages
The fruit had from the parent bough
Been rudely torn
In sight of Munster’s bands—Mac-Nee’s
Such blow the blood of Conn, I trow,
Could ill have borne.
If on the day of Ballach-boy
Some arm had laid, by foul surprise,
The chieftain low,
Even our victorious shout of joy
Would soon give place to rueful cries
And groans of woe!
If on the day the Saxon host
Were forced to fly—a day so great
For Ashanee[5]
The Chief had been untimely lost,
Our conquering troops should moderate
Their mirthful glee.
There would not lack on Lifford’s day,
From Galway, from the glens of Boyle,
From Limerick’s towers,
A marshalled file, a long array.
Of mourners to bedew the soil
With tears in showers!
If on the day a sterner fate
Compelled his flight from Athenree,
His blood had flowed,
What numbers all disconsolate
Would come unasked, and share with thee
Affliction’s load!
If Derry’s crimson field had seen
His life-blood offered up, though ’twere
On Victory’s shrine,
A thousand cries would swell the keen,
A thousand voices of despair
Would echo thine!
[Pg 125]
O, had the fierce Dalcassian swarm
That bloody night on Fergus’ banks,
But slain our Chief,
When rose his camp in wild alarm—
How would the triumph of his ranks
Be dashed with grief!
How would the troops of Murbach mourn
If on the Curlew Mountains’ day,
Which England rued,
Some Saxon hand had left them lorn,
By shedding there, amid the fray,
Their prince’s blood!
Red would have been our warriors’ eyes
Had Roderick found on Sligo’s field
A gory grave,
No Northern Chief would soon arise
So sage to guide, so strong to shield,
So swift to save.
Long would Leith-Cuinn have wept, if Hugh
Had met the death he oft had dealt
Among the foe;
But, had our Roderick fallen too,
All Erin must, alas! have felt
The deadly blow!
What do I say? Ah, woe is me!
Already we bewail in vain
Their fatal fall:
And Erin, once the Great and Free,
Now vainly mourns her breakless chain,
And iron thrall!
Then, daughter of O’Donnell! dry
Thine overflowing eyes, and turn
Thy heart aside!
For Adam’s race is born to die,
And sternly the sepulchral urn
Mocks human pride!
Look not, nor sigh, for earthly throne,
Nor place thy trust in arm of clay—
But on thy knees
Uplift thy soul to God alone,
For all things go their destined way
As He decrees.
Embrace the faithful Crucifix,
And seek the path of pain and prayer
Thy Saviour trod;
Nor let thy spirit intermix
With earthly hope and worldly care
Its groans to God!
And Thou, O mighty Lord! whose ways
Are far above our feeble minds
To understand,
Sustain us in these doleful days,
And render light the chain that binds
Our fallen land!
Look down upon our dreary state,
And through the ages that may still
Roll sadly on,
Watch Thou o’er hapless Erin’s fate,
And shield at least from darker ill
The blood of Conn!

[1] St Peter. This passage is not exactly a blunder, though at first it may seem one: the poet supposes the grave itself transferred to Ireland, and he naturally includes in the transference the whole of the immediate locality around the grave.—Tr.

[2] Caoine.

[3] Song.

[4] A compensation or fine.

[5] Ballyshannon.



That the Irish are a ready-witted people, is a fact to the truth of which testimony has been amply borne both by their friends and enemies. Many causes might be brought forward to account for this questionable gift, if it were our intention to be philosophical; but as the matter has been so generally conceded, it would be but a waste of logic to prove to the world that which the world cares not about, beyond the mere fact that it is so. On this or any other topic one illustration is worth twenty arguments, and, accordingly, instead of broaching a theory we shall relate a story.

Behind the hill or rather mountain of Altnaveenan lies one of those deep and almost precipitous vallies, on which the practised eye of an illicit distiller would dwell with delight, as a topography not likely to be invaded by the unhallowed feet of the gauger and his red-coats. In point of fact, the spot we speak of was from its peculiarly isolated situation nearly invisible, unless to such as came very close to it. Being so completely hemmed in and concealed by the round and angular projections of the mountain hills, you could never dream of its existence at all, until you came upon the very verge of the little precipitous gorge which led into it. This advantage of position was not, however, its only one. It is true indeed that the moment you had entered it, all possibility of its being applied to the purposes of distillation at once vanished, and you consequently could not help exclaiming, “what a pity that so safe and beautiful a nook should have not a single spot on which to erect a still-house, or rather on which to raise a sufficient stream of water to the elevation necessary for the process of distilling.” If a gauger actually came to the little chasm, and cast his scrutinizing eye over it, he would immediately perceive that the erection of a private still in such a place was a piece of folly not generally to be found in the plans of those who have recourse to such practices.

This absence, however, of the requisite conveniences was only apparent, not real. To the right, about one hundred yards above the entrance to it, ran a ledge of rocks, some fifty feet high, or so. Along their lower brows, near the ground, grew thick matted masses of long heath, which covered the entrance to a cave about as large and as high as an ordinary farm-house. Through a series of small fissures in the rocks which formed its roof, descended a stream of clear soft water, precisely in body and volume such as was actually required by the distiller; but, unless by lifting up this mass of heath, no human being could for a moment imagine that there existed any such grotto, or so unexpected and easy an entrance to it. Here there was a private still-house made by the hand of nature herself, such as no art or ingenuity of man could equal.

Now it so happened that about the period we write of, there lived in our parish two individuals so antithetical to each other in their pursuits of life, that we question whether throughout all the instinctive antipathies of nature we could find any two animals more destructive of each other than the two we mean—to wit, Bob Pentland the gauger, and little George Steen the illicit distiller. Pentland was an old, stanch, well-trained fellow, of about fifty years or more, steady and sure, and with all the characteristic points of the high-bred gauger about him. He was a tallish man, thin but lathy, with a hooked nose that could scent the tread of a distiller with the keenness of a slew-hound; his dark eye was deep-set, circumspect, and roguish in its expression, and his shaggy brow seemed always to be engaged in calculating whereabouts his inveterate foe, little George Steen, that eternally blinked him, when almost in his very fangs, might then be distilling. To be brief, Pentland was proverbial for his sagacity and adroitness in detecting distillers, and little George was equally proverbial for having always baffled him, and that, too, sometimes under circumstances where escape seemed hopeless.

The incidents which we are about to detail occurred at that period of time when the collective wisdom of our legislators thought it advisable to impose a fine upon the whole townland in which the still head and worm might be found; thus opening a door for knavery and fraud, and, as it proved in most cases, rendering the innocent as liable to suffer for an offence they never contemplated as the guilty who planned and perpetrated it. The consequence of such a law was, that still-houses were always certain to be erected either at the very verge of the neighbouring districts, or as near them as the circumstances of convenience and situation would permit. The moment of course that the hue-and-cry of the gauger and his myrmidons was heard upon the wind, the whole apparatus was immediately heaved over the mering to the next townland, from which the fine imposed by parliament was necessarily raised, whilst the crafty and offending district actually escaped. The state of society generated by such a blundering and barbarous statute as this, was dreadful. In the course of a short time, reprisals, law-suits, battles, murders, and massacres, multiplied to such an extent throughout the whole country, that the sapient senators who occasioned such commotion were compelled to repeal their own act as soon as they found how it worked. Necessity, together with being the mother of invention, is also the cause of many an accidental discovery. Pentland had been so frequently defeated by little George, that he vowed never to rest until he had secured him; and George on the other hand frequently told him—for they were otherwise on the best terms—that he defied him, or as he himself more quaintly expressed it, “that he defied the[Pg 126] devil, the world, and Bob Pentland.” The latter, however, was a very sore thorn in his side, and drove him from place to place, and from one haunt to another, until he began to despair of being able any longer to outwit him, or to find within the parish any spot at all suitable for distillation with which Pentland was not acquainted. In this state stood matters between them, when George fortunately discovered at the hip of Altnaveenan hill the natural grotto we have just sketched so briefly. Now, George was a man, as we have already hinted, of great fertility of resources; but there existed in the same parish another distiller who outstripped him in that farsighted cunning which is so necessary in misleading or circumventing such a sharp-scented old hound as Pentland. This was little Mickey M’Quade, a short-necked squat little fellow with bow legs, who might be said rather to creep in his motion than to walk. George and Mickey were intimate friends, independently of their joint antipathy against the gauger, and, truth to tell, much of the mortification and many of the defeats which Pentland experienced at George’s hands, were, sub rosa, to be attributed to Mickey. George was a distiller from none of the motives which generally actuate others of that class. He was in truth an analytic philosopher—a natural chemist never out of some new experiment—and we have reason to think might have been the Kane or Faraday or Dalton of his day, had he only received a scientific education. Not so honest Mickey, who never troubled his head about an experiment, but only thought of making a good running, and defeating the gauger. The first thing of course that George did, was to consult Mickey, and both accordingly took a walk up to the scene of their future operations. On examining it, and fully perceiving its advantages, it might well be said that the look of exultation and triumph which passed between them was not unworthy of their respective characters.

“This will do,” said George. “Eh—don’t you think we’ll put our finger in Pentland’s eye yet?” Mickey spat sagaciously over his beard, and after a second glance gave one grave grin which spoke volumes. “It’ll do,” said he; “but there’s one point to be got over that maybe you didn’t think of; an’ you know that half a blink, half a point, is enough for Pentland.”

“What is it?”

“What do you intend to do with the smoke when the fire’s lit? There’ll be no keepin’ that down. Let but Pentland see as much smoke risin’ as would come out of an ould woman’s dudeen, an’ he’d have us.”

George started, and it was clear by the vexation and disappointment which were visible on his brow that unless this untoward circumstance could be managed, their whole plan was deranged, and the cave of no value.

“What’s to be done?” he inquired of his cooler companion. “If we can’t get over this, we may bid good bye to it.”

“Never mind,” said Mickey; “I’ll manage it, and do Pentland still.” “Ay, but how?”

“It’s no matter. Let us not lose a minute in settin’ to work. Lave the other thing to me; an’ if I don’t account for the smoke without discoverin’ the entrance to the still, I’ll give you lave to crop the ears off my head.”

George knew the cool but steady self-confidence for which Mickey was remarkable, and accordingly, without any further interrogatory, they both proceeded to follow up their plan of operations.

In those times when distillation might be truly considered as almost universal, it was customary for farmers to build their out-houses with secret chambers and other requisite partitions necessary for carrying it on. Several of them had private stores built between false walls, the entrance to which was only known to a few, and many of them had what were called Malt-steeps sunk in hidden recesses and hollow gables, for the purpose of steeping the barley, and afterwards of turning and airing it, until it was sufficiently hard to be kiln-dried and ground. From the mill it was usually conveyed to the still-house upon what were termed Slipes, a kind of car that was made without wheels, in order the more easily to pass through morasses and bogs which no wheeled vehicle could encounter.

In the course of a month or so, George and Mickey, aided by their friends, had all the apparatus of keeve, hogshead, &c., together with still head and worm, set up and in full work.

“And now, Mickey,” inquired his companion, “how will you manage about the smoke? for you know that the two worst informers against a private distiller, barrin’ a stag, is a smoke by day an’ a fire by night.”

“I know that,” replied Mickey; “an’ a rousin’ smoke we’ll have, for fraid a little puff wouldn’t do us. Come, now, an’ I’ll show you.”

They both ascended to the top, where Mickey had closed all the open fissures of the roof with the exception of that which was directly over the fire of the still. This was at best not more than six inches in breadth and about twelve long. Over it he placed a piece of strong plate iron perforated with holes, and on this he had a fire of turf, beside which sat a little boy who acted as a vidette. The thing was simple but effective. Clamps of turf were at every side of them, and the boy was instructed, if the gauger, whom he well knew, ever appeared, to heap on fresh fuel, so as to increase the smoke in such a manner as to induce him to suppose that all he saw of it proceeded merely from the fire before him. In fact, the smoke from the cave below was so completely identified with and lost in that which was emitted from the fire above, that no human being could penetrate the mystery, if not made previously acquainted with it. The writer of this saw it during the hottest process of distillation, and failed to make the discovery, although told that the still-house was within a circle of three hundred yards, the point he stood on being considered the centre. On more than one occasion has he absconded from home, and spent a whole night in the place, seized with that indescribable fascination which such a scene holds forth to youngsters, as well as from his irrepressible anxiety to hear the old stories and legends with the recital of which they generally pass the night.

In this way, well provided against the gauger—indeed much better than our readers are yet aware of, as they shall understand by and bye—did George, Mickey, and their friends, proceed for the greater part of a winter without a single visit from Pentland. Several successful runnings had come off, which had of course turned out highly profitable, and they were just now preparing to commence their last, not only for the season, but the last they should ever work together, as George was making preparations to go early in the spring to America. Even this running was going on to their satisfaction, and the singlings had been thrown again into the still, from the worm of which projected the strong medicinal first-shot as the doubling commenced—this last term meaning the spirit in its pure and finished state. On this occasion the two worthies were more than ordinarily anxious, and certainly doubled their usual precautions against a surprise, for they knew that Pentland’s visits resembled the pounces of a hawk or the springs of a tiger more than any thing else to which they could compare them. In this they were not disappointed. When the doubling was about half finished, he made his appearance, attended by a strong party of reluctant soldiers—for indeed it is due to the military to state that they never took delight in harassing the country people at the command of a keg-hunter, as they generally nicknamed the gauger. It had been arranged that the vidette at the iron plate should whistle a particular tune the moment that the gauger or a red-coat, or in fact any person whom he did not know, should appear. Accordingly, about eight o’clock in the morning they heard the little fellow in his highest key whistling up that well-known and very significant old Irish air called “Go to the devil an’ shake yourself”—which in this case was applied to the gauger in any thing but an allegorical sense.

“Be the pins,” which was George’s usual oath, “be the pins, Mickey, it’s over with us—Pentland’s here, for there’s the sign.”

Mickey paused for a moment and listened very gravely; then squirting out a tobacco spittle, “Take it aisy,” said he; “I have half a dozen fires about the hills, any one as like this as your right hand is to your left. I didn’t spare trouble, for I knew that if we’d get over this day, we’d be out of his power.”

“Well, my good lad,” said Pentland, addressing the vidette, “what’s this fire for?”

“What is it for, is it?”

“Yes; if you don’t let me know instantly, I’ll blow your brains out, and get you hanged and transported afterwards.” This he said with a thundering voice, cocking a large horse pistol at the same time.

“Why, sir,” said the boy, “it’s watchin’ a still I am; but be the hole o’ my coat if you tell upon me, it’s broilin’ upon these coals I’ll be soon.”

“Where is the still then? An’ the still-house, where is it?”

“Oh, begorra, as to where the still or still-house is, they wouldn’t tell me that.”

[Pg 127]

“Why, sirra, didn’t you say this moment you were watching a still?”

“I meant, sir,” replied the lad with a face that spoke of pure idiocy, “that it was the gauger I was watchin’, an’ I was to whistle upon my fingers to let the boy at that fire on the hill there above know that he was comin’.”

“Who told you to do so?”

“Little George, sir, an’ Mickey M’Quade.”

“Ay, ay, right enough there, my lad—two of the most notorious schemers unhanged they are both. But now, like a good boy, tell me the truth, an’ I’ll give you the price of a pair of shoes. Do you know where the still or still-house is? Because if you do, an’ won’t tell me, here are the soldiers at hand to make a prisoner of you; an’ if they do, all the world can’t prevent you from being hanged, drawn, and quartered.”

“Oh, bad cess may seize the morsel o’ me knows that; but if you’ll give me the money, sir, I’ll tell you who can bring you to it, for he tould me yestherday mornin’ that he knew, an’ offered to bring me there last night, if I’d steal him a bottle that my mother keeps the holy water in at home, tal he’d put whisky in it.”

“Well, my lad, who is this boy?”

“Do you know Harry Neil, or Mankind, sir?”

“I do, my good boy.”

“Well, it’s a son of his, sir; an’ look, sir; do you see the smoke farthest up to the right, sir?”

“To the right? Yes.”

“Well, ’tis there, sir, that Darby Neil is watchin’; and he says he knows.”

“How long have you been watching here?”

“This is only the third day, sir, for me; but the rest, them boys above, has been here a good while.”

“Have you seen nobody stirring about the hills since you came?”

“Only once, sir, yesterday, I seen two men having an empty sack or two, runnin’ across the hill there above.”

At this moment the military came up, for he had himself run forward in advance of them, and he repeated the substance of his conversation with our friend the vidette. Upon examining the stolidity of his countenance, in which there certainly was a woful deficiency of meaning, they agreed among themselves that his appearance justified the truth of the story which he told the gauger, and upon being still further interrogated, they were confirmed that none but a stupid lout like himself would entrust to his keeping any secret worth knowing. They now separated themselves into as many detached parties as there were fires burning on the hills about them, the gauger himself resolving to make for that which Darby Neil had in his keeping, for he could not help thinking that the vidette’s story was too natural to be false. They were just in the act of separating themselves to pursue their different routes, when the lad said,

“Look, sir! look, sir! bad scran be from me but there’s a still any way. Sure I often seen a still; that’s jist like the one that Philip Hogan the tinker mended in George Steen’s barn.”

“Hollo, boys,” exclaimed Pentland, “stoop! stoop! they are coming this way, and don’t see us: no, hang them, no! they have discovered us now, and are off towards Mossfield. By Jove this will be a bitter trick if they succeed; confound them, they are bent for Ballagh, which is my own property; and may I be hanged if we do not intercept them; but it is I myself who will have to pay the fine.”

The pursuit instantly commenced with a speed and vigour equal to the ingenuity of this singular act of retaliation on the gauger. Pentland himself being long-winded from much practice in this way, and being further stimulated by the prospective loss which he dreaded, made as beautiful a run of it as any man of his years could do. It was all in vain, however. He merely got far enough to see the still head and worm heaved across the march ditch into his own property, and to reflect after seeing it that he was certain to have the double consolation of being made a standing joke of for life, and of paying heavily for the jest out of his own pocket. In the mean time, he was bound of course to seize the still, and report the caption; and as he himself farmed the townland in question, the fine was levied to the last shilling, upon the very natural principle that if he had been sufficiently active and vigilant, no man would have attempted to set up a still so convenient to his own residence and property.

This manœuvre of keeping in reserve an old or second set of apparatus, for the purpose of acting the lapwing and misleading the gauger, was afterwards often practised with success; but the first discoverer of it was undoubtedly Mickey M’Quade, although the honour of the discovery is attributed to his friend George Steen. The matter, however, did not actually end here, for in a few days afterwards some malicious wag—in other words, George himself—had correct information sent to Pentland touching the locality of the cavern and the secret of its entrance. On this occasion the latter brought a larger military party than usual along with him, but it was only to make him feel that he stood in a position if possible more ridiculous than the first. He found indeed the marks of recent distillation in the place, but nothing else. Every vessel and implement connected with the process had been removed, with the exception of one bottle of whisky, to which was attached by a bit of twine the following friendly note:—

Mr Pentland, Sir—Take this bottle home and drink your own health. You can’t do less. It was distilled under your nose the first day you came to look for us, and bottled for you while you were speaking to the little boy that made a hare of you. Being distilled then under your nose, let it be drunk in the same place, and don’t forget while doing so to drink the health of

G. S.”

The incident went abroad like wildfire, and was known everywhere. Indeed for a long time it was the standing topic of the parish; and so sharply was it felt by Pentland that he could never keep his temper if asked, “Mr Pentland, when did you see little George Steen?”—a question to which he was never known to give a civil reply.


We were surprised very much some time ago at considering how much of the surface of the globe is covered by the waters of the lakes and oceans, and took the opportunity then of adverting to the importance of water in the general economy of nature. When, however, we pass to the consideration of the magnitude of the earth itself, the relative proportion of water appears to be much less considerable.

Although there are many places in the great Atlantic and Pacific Oceans where the depth of water is very great, yet it has been deduced from principles that are not liable to much error, that the general or average depth does not exceed three miles. It may appear very strange that we can assert any thing positive about the depth of water in those seas, that are to the lines used for sounding quite unfathomable; but it is effected very simply. Every person has seen a wave advancing along the level surface of a canal, and by observing with a watch, it could easily be found to move more quickly at some times than at others. The deeper any part of the canal is, the more rapidly does the wave move along; and partly by experiment, and partly by reasoning, the connection between the depth of the water and velocity of the wave has been discovered. Now, the tide which comes to Dublin every twelve hours is produced by the influence of the sun and moon on the vast body of water in the Southern Pacific Ocean; and the great wave there formed turns round Cape Horn, and passes up the Atlantic Ocean, to arrive at the coasts of Europe and North America. The time occupied by this great wave in passing from one end to the other of the Atlantic can thus be known, and, precisely as in a canal, the depth of water thus calculated.

The circumference of the earth at its widest part is about 25,000, and its diameter 8000 miles. Hence the sheet of water which constitutes the ocean forms but 3-4000ths of its thickness, or nearly the same proportion as if we took an eighteen inch globe, and having spilled water on its surface, allowed all the excess of water to drain off. The remaining wetness would represent pretty nearly the condition of the waters of the ocean on the surface of the earth. By this means we can form, though obscurely, to our minds, an idea of the great magnitude of the earth itself. This magnitude renders also very inconsiderable those inequalities on the surface of the earth which constitute our highest ridges of mountains. A true model of Mont Blanc, the highest of European mountains, if constructed on the eighteen inch globe before referred to, would be unfelt by a finger drawn along its surface, and it would be only some of the highest peaks of the Andes and Himalayah that could be distinctly felt. Where man also employs his most gigantic energies and greatest efforts of skill to penetrate below the surface, forming mines by which the supplies of coal, of iron, of copper, and other minerals, have been obtained from the earliest times, the cavities that he makes can only be compared with the trace given by the point of a pin[Pg 128] that had lightly touched the globe, and which would require a favourable incidence of light to see.

The earth is therefore almost perfectly a smooth and solid ball. It is, however, almost certain that it was not always solid. It is, on the contrary, almost certain that at a period far exceeding in remoteness any time of which mere human indications can be found, the globe of the earth was one mass of liquid matter, heated to a degree exceeding our most intense fires, and wherein were melted all together the various elements which have since arranged themselves into their present forms. From having been thus liquid, the earth, which, revolving on its axis, produces by the side it turns to the sun the alternating day and night, has bulged out where the rotation of the surface is most rapid, at the equator, and has become flattened at the extremities of its axis, at the poles, just as a thin hoop which we spin round becomes compressed. The amount of this flattening is however very small. The equatorial diameter of the earth being accurately 7925, and the polar diameter being 7898, the compression is 27 miles.

To account for the existence of this compression, the earth must have been originally liquid, for otherwise the rotation on its axis could not have generated this regular form. If it had been solid when it began to revolve, it should either have retained its original form, or it should have broken in pieces; but certainly unless it had been liquid, it could not have arrived at the exact degree of flattening which its velocity of rotation should have produced in a liquid mass.

The intensely heated and liquid earth, revolving in the cold and empty spaces of the planetary system, gradually must have lost its excess of heat. Cooling most rapidly at the surface, it there solidified, and generated the first rocks. The loss of heat still going on, the solidification proceeded to a greater and greater depth, and should ultimately have reduced the earth to the same temperature as the empty space among the stars. The temperature of space has been calculated to be almost the same as that in the winter at Melville Island, in northernmost America, that is, 56 deg. below zero, or as far below the freezing point of water as the temperature of the hottest water that the hand can bear is above it. The earth is, however, not allowed to cool to that degree. It receives from the sun by radiation a quantity of heat which counteracts its tendency to cool, and hence the mean temperature of the surface of the earth has remained the same from the earliest historical epochs. In fact, at the surface we can find no trace of that original and internal great heat, the temperature of the surface of the earth being regulated altogether by the effect of the sun’s rays; but if we dig down to a moderate depth, about 45 feet, the influence of the sun becomes insensible. Within that space also we can detect a very curious and important arrangement of the heat. It is not that the whole surface becomes warmed in summer and cold in winter, but the heat which is received from the sun in one summer travels by conduction beneath the surface, and is succeeded by the heat of the next summer, an intervening and cooler layer corresponding to the winter time, so that at a depth of 20 feet we may detect the heat which had fallen upon the surface four or five years before, this space of 45 feet being formed of numerous layers like the coatings of an onion, one for each year, until becoming less and less distinct, according as the depth increases, they join together in forming the layer of invariable temperature in which all the effect of the sun’s heat is lost.

If we dig down still farther, the earth, though having lost the heating power of the sun, becomes sensibly warmer. The greater the depth to which we descend, the higher is the temperature found to be. Thus, where deep sinkings have been made for mines or wells, the air or water at the bottom is found to be much higher in temperature than at the invariable layer which gives the mean temperature of the place. This observation was first made in the case of the deep mines in Cornwall, and, although for some time ascribed to the presence of the workmen and the burning lamps, has since been verified by observations in all parts of Europe, and such agreement found, that the law connecting the temperature with the depth has been at least approximately determined.

It is found, counting from the invariable layer, that the temperature increases about one degree of Fahrenheit’s scale for every fifty feet in depth. Thus, a well having been sunk at Rudersdorff to a depth of 630 feet, the water at the bottom was found to be 67 degrees, while the mean temperature was 50 degrees. In a coal mine at Newcastle, which reaches to a depth of 1584 feet, the mean temperature of the surface being 48 degrees, the thermometer was found to stand at 73 degrees in the lowest part of the mine, and hence the elevation of temperature was 25 degrees. Observations elsewhere vary between these limits; but the general result is, that the rise is one degree for about every fifty feet, as above stated.

When we consider the great magnitude of the earth, and observe the rapidity with which the increase of temperature occurs, it will strike every person that we in reality inhabit a mere pellicle or skin, which has formed by cooling upon the surface, whilst all the internal mass of our globe may still be in the same state of igneous fusion and tumultuous action of elements, from which its present mineral constitution on the surface has resulted. For although it has cooled so far that at the surface all traces of its central fires have disappeared, yet at a mile and a half below the surface the temperature is such as should boil water: at a depth of five miles, lead would melt. Thirty miles below the surface, cast iron, and all those rocks which are generally the product of volcanoes in action, as trap and basalt, would fuse; and hence we may consider those terrific phenomena which have so frequently desolated some of the most beautiful districts of the earth, as being minute apertures or cracks in the thin coating of our planet, and giving vent from time to time to some small portions of the internal fires which work beneath.

Additional evidence of the existence of this central heat may be derived from the peculiarity of springs. Those springs which carry off and are supplied with water from the surface, change their temperature with the season, being in winter cold, but in summer warm. Others, deriving their waters from a deeper layer of soil, as from the stratum of constant heat, are always the same, and, possessing the mean temperature of the place, feel warm in winter and cold in summer. Such springs exist in every country, and are very useful in ascertaining the mean temperature, for in place of watching a thermometer for a year, and taking averages, it is only necessary to select with proper caution such a deeply supplied spring, and by observing the temperature of its waters, the mean temperature of the place is found.

A certain quantity of the water which is absorbed by the ground after rain must penetrate to a great depth, must descend, in fact, until at 1½ miles it is boiled and driven up again to find some outlet as a spring. In rising up, however, it is for the most part cooled; but having charged itself with various saline and metallic bodies, under the most favourable circumstances of high temperature and pressure, it issues as a hot mineral spring or spa. On getting into the air, it generally abandons a great part of what it had dissolved, and forms in many cases enormous depositions of solid rock.

A company in Paris have formed the idea of using the water thus heated by the powers below, for the purposes of public baths. The neighbourhood of Paris is peculiarly fitted for what are termed Artesian wells, in which the water often rises considerably above the surface of the ground. Under the auspices of this company, a well has been sunk already to the depth of 1600 feet, and water obtained at 77 degrees; but to obtain natural hot water at a temperature of 100 degrees, which would be required for bathing purposes, an additional depth of probably as much more will be required. It is said the projectors are not now sanguine of its pecuniary success.

The Secret of Success in Life.—In no department of life do men rise to eminence who have not undergone a long and diligent preparation; for whatever be the difference in the mental power of individuals, it is the cultivation of the mind alone that leads to distinction. John Hunter was as remarkable for his industry as for his talents, of which his museum alone forms a most extraordinary proof; and if we look around and contemplate the history of those men whose talents and acquirements we must esteem, we find that their superiority of knowledge has been the result of great labour and diligence. It is an ill-founded notion to say that merit in the long-run is neglected. It is sometimes joined to circumstances that may have a little influence in counteracting it, as an unfortunate manner and temper; but generally it meets with its due reward. The world are not fools—every person of merit has the best chance of success; and who would be ambitious of public approbation, if it had not the power of discriminating?—Physic and Physicians.

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