To Cong

From Balinrobe, the famous Cong was visited, known as containing so many natural curiosities and ancient historical events. The abbey here is one of great interest, large, and designed with exquisite carvings, and beautiful arches of doors and windows. The niches are entirely filled with bones. Here is interred the famous Roderic O'Connor, among the neglected rubbish; and priests and people in one confused mass, mingling their dust among peasants and beggars. But the beauty of Cong is, that ordained by nature; the river, and green meadow, and hillock, where stands a most enchanting lodge, backed with wood, which is seen with great advantage from the top of a hill upon the opposite side, which every tourist should be mindful to ascend.

The lake, the town, the church standing in the walls of the old abbey, the river, lodge, and wood in front, a promonotory of the brightest green; and, as a finish, the pier, containing some of the choicest stones of the abbey carved with hieroglyphics, give to the whole picture a view beautiful and novel in the extreme. The "Horse Discovery," is a chasm into which a horse plunged when plowing. The chasm is now descended by artificial stone steps, and standing upon the bottom, the water is seen sparkling far back and murmuring at your feet in darkness. Spars are hanging from the roof, and the aperture above is fringed with vines and ivy, giving a somber look to the whole.

The "Lady's Buttery," comes next; this is a shelving rock, covered with grass and shrubbery, under which flows the river Al, somewhat rapidly, and is lost in the lake some quarter of a mile below.

The "Pigeon Hole" is the lion of Cong; it is so called because pigeons are wont to make nests in the dome. This hole is descended by forty-two stone steps, quite steep, and at the bottom is the river that runs through the "Buttery," flowing most cheerfully here, and forming a little eddy in which fish are sporting.

These caused great excitement among the troop that had followed us, a legend being told, that the fish in this pool had lived there ever since its discovery, without multiplying or decreasing; these patriarchs consequently are of very ancient date; and a young lad told us that one of these fathers had been caught, and put upon a gridiron to broil, but made his escape into the water, and has now the marks upon his ribs, so that from age to age he has been traced; but he can never be caught, nor can any of his comrades be induced to nibble a bait. The fish had not been seen for a long time, and the company and curate were highly rejoiced that these black gentlemen should come out to salute us. The river after passing this eddy flows rapidly through a fearful cavern, arched over with black stones, many of which seem to have tumbled down, and lay piled along through the dark chamber; an old woman, for many a year, had been the keeper of this cavern, and with a bundle of dried rushes lighted, she led the visitors on, showing a lofty ceiling of stone, cut in the most fantastical shapes. The fearful slippery passage, over slimy and uneven rocks tumbled and piled together, the music of the water hastening away to hide itself under the earth again, the grand dome of black stone, and the graceful curtains of the ivy hanging and swinging at ease, all lighted up by the glaring torch, made an underground picture sublime, terrific, and beautiful in the extreme. This profitable estate is now in possession of the granddaughter of the lately deceased inheritor; and the elasticity of the young damsel testified to her full confidence in her own powers, as well as hopes of a fortune in the end. The environs of Cong contain a quantity of black stone which is much used in building, covering the ground in layers, through the fields about the town.

Read "Annals of the Famine in Ireland" at your leisure

Annals of the Famine in Ireland

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This book still has the power to shock and sadden even though the events described are ever-receding further into the past. When you read, for example, of the poor widowed mother who was caught trying to salvage a few potatoes from her landlord's field, and what the magistrate discovered in the pot in her cabin, you cannot help but be apalled and distressed.

The text of this new edition has professionally been reset and an index added to the paperback.


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