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had at their disposal, or within their reach, an immense mass of historic details, still the circumstances under which they wrote were so unfavourable, that they appear to have exercised a sound discretion, and one consistent with the economy of time and of their resources, when they left the details of our very early history in the safe-keeping of such ancient original records as from remote ages preserved them, and collected as much as they could make room for of the events of more modern times, in which they lived themselves ..... The last part of the annals was evidently intended to be a his
A short distance from the abbey stood, right on the brink of the beautiful Esk, the castle of Donegal, but here it is not given to the visitor to look upon the debris of the castle of the O'Donnells. The pile before him is what remains of “a beautiful Elizabethan building, combining defensive with domestic
purposes," + built by Sir Basil Brook out of the old castle which had been made over to him by royal grant in 1601. It is, however, a remarkable ruin. The visitor must view it from a short distance to catch the lines of its gabled tower, surmounted by a bartizan turret rising to a dizzy height. Within, the chief points of interest are a * Lecture vii., O’Curry's Lectures.
fine chamber containing a grand chimney-piece sculptured in good style with the arms of Brook and Leicester, and lighted by a splendid window. There are some fine stone mullions and arches, and a low room rudely vaulted with stones placed edge
I. EXCURSION TO Lough ESK AND BARNESMORE.
It is an easy excursion from Donegal to Lough Esk, and the Gap of Barnesmore, a pass which every tourist in the Donegal Highlands ought to see. The road is up the valley of the Esk. Directly you leave the town the dark forms of the Croaghgorm (Bluestack) mountains begin to mass away to the left, and soon to approach your path. At the end of the third mile you are gladdened by the blue waters of Lough Esk, a basin some three and a half miles across, under an outlier of that fine range. The mountain border in great part rises with
may be right here to correct an error into which the writer of Murray's Handbook has been led, probably by Lewis's Top. Dict. He writes :—“In 1587 O'Donnell held his castle in defiance against the English Government, who, not having sufficient forces to send against him, captured it by stratagem. A vessel was sent to the coast laden with wine, the effects of which were too powerful for the chief, who had rashly accepted the hospitalities of the captain. He was bound, when drunk, and carried to Dublin Castle, from which, however, he eventually escaped,” (p. 78.) The fact is, that it was not the chief, but his son, Hugh Roe, then a youth of fifteen, who was carried off from Rathmullen. The reader will find this interesting incident noticed at length under“ Rathmullen.”
abruptness sufficient to give the effect of precipice, yet holds enough of earth to nourish a coat of freshcoloured mountain grasses, and though in one or two places it is rudely broken by the mountain torrents, there is at the lower extremity the pleasant greenness of
easy slopes, amidst which reposes Esk House, (J. Brook, Esq.;) and at the upper extremity there is room for the demesne of Ardnamona, (G. C. Wray, Esq.,) with its picturesque clumps and fringes of trees. But in all this there is not that which makes a scene of soft beauty; for despite these pleasant accessories, the mountains are still the main characteristics and the striking feature of the landscape. On a small island near the southern extremity of the lake are the remains of a castle or keep built there by the O'Donnells, and said to have been used chiefly as a prison. In spite of the etymology of the word, for Esk means fish, neither the lake nor the river is at the present day remarkable for an abundance of fish; but the waters possess, they say, the richer property of pearl-producingsome pearls of great beauty having been found in them. He who is given to botanical pursuits will find in this neighbourhood a profitable field to explore. “ Polypodium phegopteris and Asplenium viride grow near the waterfall at the lake.”
Crossing the Lowreymore river the road brings you soon into quite a different scene, the Gap of Barnesmore. It is truly a noble pass of some three or four miles, cutting right across a mountain range, and shut in on either side by a threatening wall of mountain,—that on the right, Croaghconnellagh, rising to the height of 1724 feet, and that on the left, Barnesmore, to the height of 1491 feet. The steep escarpments at some points run out into beetling cliffs, at other points are furrowed by rents, dark and ghastly, cut by the water-courses, which, with a peculiarity not unusual to mountain torrents, show a partiality for the steepest places, as if for a headlong leap. The defile, though wild in the extreme, does not, however, wear a look of utter desolation, for there is a sufficiency of vegetation, consisting of grass, and heath, chiefly of a brown colour, but under the various conditions of weather producing a rich variety of those beautiful hues which can be caught only in mountain scenery. “Oh, how I wished,” writes the Rev. C. Otway, * “even at the expense of a thorough wetting, to go through this pass after a fall of rain,—to see hundreds of cataracts tumbling headlong on either side -to hear the rush of the river, the roar of the waterfalls, and moanings of the mountain blastrealising the poet's description, when
Red came the river down,
At the further end of the defile, the watershed (538 feet above the level of the sea) is reached, near which is a spot, where, it is said, a man was hanged not many years since for a murder committed at this place. A little farther on you will observe, on an eminence on the left, a dark ruin of a castellated mansion built during James's wars, where, if we are to believe the story told by Mr Otway, the Huguenot historian Rapin compiled his voluminous history. On the right, close to the road, is Lough Mourne, the source of the Mourne Beg river, which, flowing eastward into Tyrone, passes on to unite its waters with the Finn, at Lifford. The surroundings of Lough Mourne are of the most sombre and dreary cast, but somewhat relieved of its desolateness by some road-side cottages and patches of green
fields. The road from this point to Stranorlar is traced in an excursion from that place to Donegal.
II. EXCURSION TO GLENTIES.
From Donegal to Glenties the direct road lies along the main route for some five miles, when it strikes off to the right, passing Frasses Catholic chapel, and dropping into the valley of the Eanymore and Eanybeg. At the source of the Eany beg