Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

small farm-houses are often wretched cabins built of dry stone or turf. The people rely too much on the potato crop as a food supply. A million acres of potatoes are planted yearly; and when these fail, great distress follows. The farmers and peasants of Ulster are better housed and more prosperous than those of the other provinces Poverty is greatest in the west.

7. The bogs, though composed chiefly of marsh plants, contain tree trunks and the remains of deer, elk, beaver, and other forest animals, showing that the country was once well wooded. Now, few timber trees are to be seen except in parks; but efforts are being made, by extensive planting of seedling firs upon the hill-slopes of the west, to restore the land to somewhat of its former woodland character. Peat is the common fuel.

8. Fish are abundant in the rivers and seas. The salmon fisheries are very valuable, and give employment to over eleven thousand persons; more than twice that number are employed in the deep-sea and coast fisheries. Much of the produce, more especially salmon, mackerel, cod, and herring, is sent to England.

9. Among the useful minerals granite, slate, marble, and limestone are abundant. But coal is found only in small quantities and of poor quality; about fifty coalmines are in operation. The metals chiefly produced are small quantities of lead and copper. Iron ore is raised in considerable quantities in the north-east (county of Antrim), and is exported to Britain.

10. The linen trade is almost the only manufacturing industry in the country, and this is mainly located in the north, at and around the town of Belfast (Bel-fast'), within easy distance of the Scotch coal-fields. The making of lace, embroidered muslin, and hosiery gives employment to large numbers of women in their own homes.

11. Ireland imports coal, metal and textile goods, timber, and tropical produce; it exports (to England chiefly) linen goods, and many kinds of food—cattle, pigs, dead meat, butter, salmon, potatoes, eggs, poultry, grain, porter, spirits.

12. Ireland has ample facility of transport for her commerce. The roads are good; there are 2200 miles of railway; canals connect Dublin and Belfast with the Shannon and the west coast; and sea-ports are numerous. Dublin, Belfast, and Cork have the largest general import and export trade; the smaller ports trade chiefly with Liverpool and Glasgow.

13. The great productiveness of the soil of Ireland is well seen by comparing the number of its inhabitants with that of Scotland. Scotland has almost an equal area, a thrifty and industrious people, well-educated and skilful farmers, large supplies of coal and iron, with prosperous manufactures and extensive fisheries. Yet, owing to the large area of barren waste, it supports a population of less than four millions; while Ireland, which depends upon an indifferent system of tillage, supports five and a half millions.

LESSON 35.–LIFE IN DONEGAL.

1. Donegal is a vast county, some forty miles long, at the north-west angle of Ireland. Donegal is large, and Donegal is beautiful in a certain wild desolate style.

2. There is a grand rock-bound coast to the north, and a bay like the Bristol Channel, swarming with fish, to the south, and plenty of mountains and salmon rivers, and a few woods here and there; altogether a county which in

man.

England people would walk over and talk over at all times.

3. Beyond the corner of the little county town nearest to the rest of the world, there is hardly a resident gentle

Half of it is a vast district thinly peopled by the poorest of poor Irish-speaking cottars.

4. Here is a true sketch of life in Donegal. A small house, bright enough and somewhat old, contrasting oddly with the pretty London furniture imported by its occupants. The grounds pleasant and wooded, with a salmon river and a little tributary torrent through them.

5. Behind, a noble range of seven mountains. In front, a mile or two away, the sea. Of course all very beautiful and charming. Delightful it was to ramble through the pine-wood with the ground so blue with blue-bells, as to look like bits of sky fallen through the trees.

6. Very soothing was it to lie beside the river among the heather and fern and listen to the roar of the waterfall, and watch the golden salmon leap up the rocks.

7. Very sweet was it, late in the midsummer twilight, to wander through the valley, when every herb and flower, broom and gorse, pine-tree and honeysuckle, sent forth their perfume as flowers only breathe in the soft, rich, Irish atmosphere

8. Then there were sports for such as loved them—to trap the salmon among the dark pools, to stretch lifeless the playful brown hare leaping among the grass; to fill the boat with gasping creatures dragged by the net from the depths of the sea.

9. The bay was literally swarming with fish. First there came the little silvery sprats, in such shoals that the fishermen could scarcely haul in their nets to the boats, and soon stood up to their knees in the living

On the shore stood women and children. bearing

mass,

every kind of dish, plate, kettle, and basket, bag, hat, shawl, pillow-case, to bear away a share of the spoil

. 10. After long starvation on scanty oatmeal and potatoes, very welcome was ocean's gift of plenteous meals. Then came the mackerel, and with them the porpoises, and sometimes a school of small whales. But the most curious sight was the long-line fishing.

11. A cord, about 800 yards long, and having a baited hook hung from every yard, was suspended in the sea from two corks, and left for an hour alone. Then the hauling-in began: here a cod, next a great eel, here a red-gold fish called a brazy, then a huge hake four feet long, then star-fish and sea-mice, which the fishermen turned angrily away, a fine turbot worth a pound in London, but to be sold there for a shilling; then more eels, a sun-fish, and so on.

12. But we had other wants than fish, bad potatoes and salt beef. An accident happened, and the nearest doctor was forty miles off. We had a cold; not a lozenge or a pot of jelly is to be had. Ink, books and paper, are not to be procured short of a pilgrimage. The post must be sent for some dozen miles.

13. It rains, it snows, it blows. Shall the poor boy and pony be sent so far this wild weather (which lasts for a week at a time) on the chance that one of the few friends who still remember we exist, has shown pity on us and written us a letter? No wonder that in time we tire of this remote corner of Ireland.-F. P. Cobbe.

LESSON 36.—THE GARDEN OF IRELAND.1

1. Of the counties of Ireland, though Wicklow ranks among the smaller ones, yet, for its extent there are to be 1 Adapted from Our Own Country, by permission of Messrs. Cassell & Co.

(231)

G

found within its borders as many and as varied beauties as can be found in any part of that island where there is so much of grand and lovely scenery.

2. True, Wicklow cannot boast of scenes as bold and rugged as we find in the north-western districts, whose rocky shores are beaten and torn by the ceaseless lashings of the Atlantic. Nor does it present tracts as wild and lonely and untilled as one finds in Galway and Mayo; nor can it cope with the lofty mountain ranges of Cork and Kerry, though it may well vie with them in woodland charms.

3. But Wicklow has in a lesser degree all the grandeur and boldness that can be found elsewhere in the country

-mountain and valley, glen and forest, rivers that wander and wind, now as hill-torrents leaping from high sheer cliffs in a long line of silver sheen, or fretting and foaming from ledge to ledge till they flow peacefully through scenes of quiet loveliness among woods and rich meadows, again to go brawling through rocky passes, where the miner has found gold and silver, and where copper and sulphur stain their waters.

4. So it is that Wicklow has won for itself the name of the Garden of Ireland, and tourists delight to linger in its pleasant haunts, and the rod of the fisherman, the pencil of the artist and the pen of the poet find ample and delightful employment.

5. The county of Wicklow forms one of the mountain groups of Ireland. From the valley of the Liffey to the Bay of Dublin, the land rises inland by ridges, increasing in height till they become ranges of great height. These are divided by deep glens and fair valleys as far as the middle of the county, when the land again sinks down eastward to the sea and westward to the borders of Carlow and Wexford.

« AnteriorContinuar »