CHAPTER III.

From Irish Pictures Drawn with Pen and Pencil Richard Lovett

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Drogheda from the Railway Bridge
Drogheda from the Railway Bridge

THE VALLEY OF THE BOYNE

'THE Garden of Ireland,' as it is popularly called, lies to the south of Dublin. But this descriptive phrase applies with almost equal force to the region lying immediately to the north of the metropolis. Few districts in the kingdom can show so much lovely scenery, and into no part of it are compressed so many ancient sites, ruined castles, fine old churches and abbeys, and famous battle-fields. The stretch of country drained by the Boyne and the Blackwater has been renowned in Irish story from the dawn of history until the present day. Here is the great cemetery of the ancient pagan kings who flourished before the earliest Irish scribe began to pen the annals of his country; here stands the Hill of Tara, yet evidencing, by its clearly traceable signs, the barbaric splendour of King Laoghaire's Court; here is the Hill of Slane, upon which St. Patrick kindled that Easter light, the outward symbol of the spiritual light which more or less brightly has never ceased to shine in the Sacred Isle; here stood the ancient kingdom of Meath; and with every square mile of the country is connected some deed of daring or of cruelty, some fairy legend or ancient superstition; hither flocked the Danes in the ninth and tenth centuries, with their keen scent for battle and plunder, as to the richest district of Ireland; here lived and sinned that princess Dearvorgil, famed in story, upon whom has been placed the responsibility of having occasioned the English invasion in 1169; here raged relentless warfare between the dwellers within the Pale and the fierce Irish chieftains; and here, in modern times, was fought and won the great pitched battle between Protestantism and the last of the Stewart kings on the soil of the United Kingdom.

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