« AnteriorContinuar »
country changed into a great expanse of flat ground covered with sedgy grass intermingled with heather; it was the wildest looking spot I had seen for a long time. Behind it was the grassy land we had just passed, beforo it a beautiful lake called Shindilla, studded with islands covered with wood. On the left were the Foyne Mountains, the summits of which were so bald, barren, and bleak that it was evident at a glance that the whole range would not afford sustenance for a mouse.
5. A few miles of dreary riding, and our eyes were refreshed by the sight of a dozen women in red petticoats. We then passed a substantial stone-built school, and buildings with some slight machinery adjacent to lead mines worked by forty or fifty people.
6. We suddenly came upon an open country of poor land, bounded by that great inland sea Lough Corrib, which, by the river of the same name, is connected with the maritime town and harbour of Galway. On the north Lough Corrib has been made to communicate with Lough Mask.
7. In a country so humid as Ireland drainage is a necessity to agricultural improvement. Ireland is a great limestone district, extending over the whole centre, and having at the edges granite rocks which prevent the slope of the land towards the sea. Thus the centre lies stagnant for want of a discharge for its waters; bogs and turloughs (land-lakes) are formed. The government has done much to drain and improve the land.
8. Passing other lakes, fir plantations, fields of oats, root-crops, and wheat, we came to Galway, the capital of the west.
The bay, one of the finest in the world, is a grand funnel, intended by nature for the reception of vessels from all quarters of the world. By two short canals an inland water communication of great extent is effected. The Midland and Great Western Railway
passes across the middle of the country, giving communication with Dublin, the Irish Channel, and England; and here we have nature's thoroughfare between the United Kingdom and America.
9. The connection that formerly existed between Galway and Spain is not only recorded in history—is not only traced in the architecture of the castle, the arched gateways, the windows and outside stairs of some of the mansions in the town-but the traveller can read it in the dark eyes, noble features, and bearing of the people in Galway in particular, and in Connemara in general.
10. I entered the potato market, where I could not help noticing that several of the women's red petticoats had been patched with old flannel of so many colours that the garment resembled a printed map of Europe. In the fish
market there was a plentiful supply of hake, conger-eels, herrings, mackerel, and other fish fresh from the vasty deep, of such guttural names (as pronounced to me in Erse) that I felt I had not consonants enough to repeat them.--Sir Francis Head.
LESSON 33.-LAKES AND RIVERS.
1. The lakes are very numerous, and several of them are large, but they are mostly shallow and of little use for navigation. Most of them lie in hollows of the plain, and not among the hills, differing in this respect from the Scotch and English lakes.
2. Lough Neagh (Nā, as in fāte: locally Nā'-äch) lies in a plain in the north-east part of the country; it receives several streams, and has for its outlet the Lower Bann. The shores are low, and after rains the waters 1 The hope that Galway would become the Atlantic port of a new highway
to America has not been realized.
flood the neighbouring lands, so that if the channel of the Bann were enlarged much land would be gained. The lake, which is navigable for small steamers, is 20 miles long and 10 miles broad, and is the largest in the British Isles. The waters of Lough Neagh are remarkable for their petrifying qualities; they contain a great deal of limestone washed down from the land around, and this limestone becomes deposited as a petrifying (or stony) crust upon twigs and other objects laid in the water.
3. On the opposite side of the island are the lakes of the Erne, consisting of shallow waters connected by the river Erne, which flows into Donegal Bay. When the water is high these lakes form a continuous sheet 30 miles in length, studded with islands.
4. Southward are the lakes of the Shannon, which form an important part of the course of that river; Loughs Allen, Ree, and Derg are the largest.
5. Farther west, in the wild district of Connemara, are lakes Corrib and Mask; they have flat uninteresting banks and are connected by an underground channel, their waters being discharged into Galway Bay.
6. The Lakes of Killarney are three small but beautiful sheets of water situated among the highest and best wooded mountains of Ireland, in the most fertile part of the county of Kerry, near the south-west extremity of the island.
7. A great part of the Irish plain is drained by the river Shannon, its lakes and tributaries, carrying its waters to the western sea. Its length is 225 miles. Rising in Cavan, this river enters Lough Allen after a course of 11 miles.
8. Here, 200 miles from the sea, the level of the water is only 160 feet above the sea-level, and during the whole of the slow descent through Loch Ree with its many islets, and the dreary-looking Lough Derg, barge traffic has been made practicable by dredging and cutting short channels to avoid obstructions from windings, shallows, and rocks.
9. From Limerick, where there is depth for large merchant vessels, the current is very slow, except in narrow parts of the estuary through which the tide ascends with a “bore.”
10. The Shannon may be compared with the Severn in England in respect to the position and direction of its current, its length, estuary, shallows, and tidal bore.
11. The remaining rivers are all a good deal shorter, and are not navigable except near the sea. In the south the Suir, the Blackwater, and the Lee flow between ranges of hills eastward, their estuaries forming good harbours.
12. The Suir is over 100 miles in length; the Barrow, from the north, joins the Suir at its mouth, and their common estuary forms Waterford Harbour. The Blackwater is the prettiest river in Ireland; the Lee, though a short river, has the magnificent Cork Harbour at its mouth.
13. The Liffey, the only river of note flowing into the Irish Sea, rises in the Wicklow Hills 12 miles from Dublin, and flows in a winding course for 50 miles before it reaches the sea between Howth Head and Kingston. Dublin stands near its mouth, and the river is not navigable above this city.
1. In the earliest times Ireland was entirely occupied by a people of Celtic race, and a large proportion of the inhabitants must still be regarded as of Celtic blood like the Welsh and the Scottish Highlanders. The native Irish language, however, which is closely akin to that of the Highlanders, is now spoken only to a small extent, and chiefly in the far west of the country.
2. On coming under the influence of England the Irish gradually adopted the English language, and many English settlers crossed over to Ireland. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries colonies of Scotch and English were settled in Ulster and the eastern districts; and their descendants still inhabit those parts.
3. The country is specially suited for agriculture. The climate is mild and humid. Receiving directly the moist western winds the rain-clouds from the Atlantic are more equally distributed than in Britain; and the constant verdure of the pastures has gained for Ireland the name of the Emerald Isle.
4. Notwithstanding the lakes and dismal moorlands of the west and north-west, and the bogs of the centre, few countries raise more food in proportion to their size. The arable and pasture lands cover a vast area; and the soil is a deep, rich loam, neither sandy nor clayey, easily worked, and productive.
5. The mild winters and luxuriant pastures are favourable to the rearing and fattening of cattle and sheep. The principal corn crop is oats. Flax is grown for the home manufactures chiefly in the north; potatoes are raised everywhere. Cattle are more numerous than sheep; butter is made at the dairy farms, but not cheese. Large quantities of eggs are sent to England and Scotland.
6. Yet agriculture cannot be said to be in a flourishing condition. Most of the farms are small, and they are not cultivated with much skill or care. The cottages and