Leenane to Recess

Samuel Gamble Bayne
Leenane to Recess

NEXT morning, with new car, horse, and driver, we put off for Leenane, twenty-seven miles away. We drove along the banks of Lough Mask, with its groups of small, wooded islands, and left it to take the road along Lough Nafooey, a very picturesque drive. After some hours of driving, we put up at McKeown's Hotel in Leenane. "Mac" is a Pooh-Bah, a tall, strapping young Irishman, a "six-foot-twoer," with an intermittent laugh that takes most of the sting out of his hotel bills, and he holds the complimentary title of "The Major." He runs an up-to-date hotel, is postmaster, owns a store, has all the mail-posting contracts, rents salmon and trout rivers and lakes, ships salmon to London, and owns ten thousand acres of shooting-land stocked with grouse, hares, snipe, duck, and cock, which he lets to visitors, as well as seal shooting on the bay. He also owns a sheep mountain, from which he serves mutton to his guests in all the ways that mankind has ever known since sheep were first slaughtered for food.

We had on succeeding days, as part of the menu, roast mutton (hot and cold), stewed lamb, boiled leg, roast saddle, minced lamb, mutton cutlets, broiled kidneys, lamb chops, Irish stew, suet-pudding, sweetbreads, French chops, sheep's-head, and mutton broth. We fancied we could detect wool growing on the palms of our hands when we left the hotel, and could have forgiven "Mac" if we could only have found it starting on the tops of our heads instead. At another hotel in a fishing centre we had an aquarium style of living, which in time became monotonous: they served up in the course of time for our delectation, salmon boiled and salmon broiled, cold salmon, salmon steak, salmon croquettes, salmon cutlets, and stewed salmon, intersticed with white trout, black trout, yellow trout, brown trout, sea trout, speckled trout, and gillaroo. But at Recess they combined such things with chops, duck, green pease, lobster, and Irish sole right out of the nearby sea. All hail, Recess! And long life to Polly, the peach-cheeked waitress who served us so nimbly!

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On an Irish jaunting Car through Donegal and Connemara

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Samuel Gamble Bayne was born in Ramelton, County Donegal, and educated at Queen's University in Belfast. At the age of twenty-five he left for America with a view to making his fortune. He invested in an oil well in Pennsylvania and later founded a bank which subsequently came to be the JP Morgan Chase bank in New York. By the time this book was written he was wealthy enough to be referred to as a billionaire. His account of the tour through the north, west and south of Ireland is a pleasant snapshot of how that part of the country was in the early part of the 20th century. He describes what is to be seen, gives some background history and, through the illustrations especially, provides wonderful glimpses of the area's social history.

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