Clifden, County Galway

From Roundstone our seaward course lies round the far projecting promontory of Sline Head, upon whose rocky shores the wreck of many a stately argosy has been strown. On the northern side of this peninsula lies the sequestered little Bay of Ardbear, on a navigable inlet of which stands the neat and thriving town of CLIFDEN. Two miles from the town, on the shores of the bay, CLIFDEN CASTLE attracts the traveller's attention, delightfully situated in the midst of a thickly and beautifully planted demesne. The natural charms of this paradise in the wilderness have been heightened by the tasteful improvements of the excellent proprietor. A grotto formed of the various beautiful marbles of Connemara, and a fanciful pavilion, constructed principally of stalactites, shells, and bits of ore, gathered from the caves, the shores, and hills of this rich, but unregarded district, deserve the attention of every visitor to this truly picturesque scene.

Clifden, Connemara

Clifden, Connemara

From Clifden and its lovely bay I sailed round Dog's Head, another of those bold peninsulas which, jutting into the ocean, receive the first shock of the Atlantic billows. A little to the northward of Dog's Head, and about six miles distant from the main-land, the island of Ennisbofine may be seen, rearing its dark form above the waves. Though now little thought of in a political point of view, it was esteemed of sufficient importance during the stormy period of the civil war to be made a place of arms. A castle built there by Cromwell was besieged by King William's army, and surrendered upon honourable terms. Near the extremity of the narrow headland which lies between the harbours of Ballinakill, stands the solitary mansion of Renvyle, which, with the surrounding improvements, forms an interesting feature in the coast scenery, and engaged my attention while our little cutter was gliding towards Killery Harbour. As we slowly sailed up this narrow inlet, I was forcibly struck by the novel character of the scenery, which, Mr. Inglis says, resembles a Norwegian fiord more than anything he had elsewhere seen nearer home. The harbour, which is deep enough to receive vessels of great burthen, is, in many places, not more than a quarter of a mile across; and the shores rising precipitously from the water's edge, impart an air of stern grandeur and majestic beauty to the picture, to which my pen cannot do the justice it deserves in description.

Clifden Castle

Clifden Castle (Connemara)

But the shores, though picturesque in form, are unadorned with wood, without which no landscape can be perfect. This deficiency was noticed by the intelligent tourist just quoted, who observes that, "if the mountain sides on the Killery were wooded, it would be almost unnecessary to travel into Norway in search of scenery." The little mountain river Owen Erive, which has its source in the county of Mayo, falls into the sea at the HEAD OF KILLERY HARBOUR, where, confined by the picturesque shores within its narrowest limits, it presents to the eye one of the most romantic and sequestered scenes that this region of the sublime and beautiful can produce. At a short distance from this place stands the poor, straggling village of LEENANE, remarkable for nothing but the natural beauty of its situation in the midst of the most magnificent scenery, and for being the capital where the renowned potentate of this district, named Jack Joyce, resided.

Head of the Killeries, Connemara

Head of the Killeries, Connemara