Lord Sligo's Lodge at Delphi, Connemara

J. Stirling Coyne & N. P. Willis
c. 1841
Volume II, Chapter IX-7 | Start of chapter

After a row of more than an hour, we landed at the little pier at the entrance of the river Bondarragh; and, passing a small fishing-village, we went along the river for about a mile and a half, until we reached this much-talked-of lodge of Delphi. Was it called so from any fancied resemblance to the oracular mountain in Greece? As far as a picture can give an idea of scenery, we have some notion of the far-famed throne of the solar god, but we could trace no similarity. We confess, altogether, that we were greatly disappointed in this place. The sides of the hills, as they rise from the little lake, are singularly picturesque and beautiful; for, as the ranges of rock ascend, they assume a tortuous and wavy form, and between each wave of the uprising stratification, the fresh green grass of the young summer seemed to grow luxuriantly; there were then before you, as in manifold variegations, the green and the grey, tinting the whole sides of the mountains.

Delphi Lodge, Connemara

Delphi Lodge, Connemara

There are two lakes in the valley, one close by the lodge; and the vale, a little above the small pleasure-ground, taking a turn at nearly right-angles, contains the other. By ascending a green eminence you can see both lakes; the upper and larger one, drawing its waters from the magnificent Muilrea, must present sublime views of the gorges of that noble mountain. We greatly regret that we had no time or opportunity to proceed along its banks. Having seen earls' and dukes' improvements in the Highlands of Scotland, England, and Wales, and what wonders in the way of planting have been done by Lords Fife, and Athol, and Breadalbane, we expected that this Irish nobleman, having this great mountain-district to himself, would have filled the glens and clothed the sides of the hills with his plantations, and that we should have seen masses of timber, becoming the purse and great mind of a most noble marquis; but it was no such thing. If a Dublin pawnbroker had got possession of this valley, he would have stuck down about as many firs, and larches, and alders, and erected about as tasty a cottage, and decorated it with about as ornamental a verandah—which, by-the-bye, is going fast to ruin; and that is not extraordinary, as the most "puissant" owner every year lets it to certain sporting lodgers, and, perhaps, in imitation of some Italian marchese, makes the fishing and shooting of this place a means of increasing his revenue. Respecting this show-place, as a whole, we may say nature's work is grand, and man's work pitiful; and we think it is worthy of the improvement, that it should be let furnished, with the grass of a cow! year after year. It is said that in certain hot summers residence here is made almost intolerable, by insects larger than midges, but not quite the size of musquitoes, that bite bitterly, and make you wish by night for gauze curtains.

Having got as good a dinner as hungry tourists need desire at the inn of Leenane, we proceeded in the evening to Westport, going along the valley through which the Owen Erive river runs, and falling over many pretty cascades, feeds the head of the bay. This road is well laid out, is in excellent repair, and offers a succession of as fine mountain-views as are in Ireland: here dark and deep gorges—there a bold, bare bulwark of a hill, presenting its huge shoulder—and now a long, deep, quiet glen, with its green sides covered with flocks; and the bleating of the lambs, as they seek their dams along the ravines and precipices, breaks sweetly on the lonely silence of all around, and gives a pastoral character to the district. The evening was peculiarly serene, the Partrec hills (and, indeed, it is a noble chain, of great and singular variety) were covered with light flocculent clouds, that under the tintings of the declining sun seemed as intended for a clothing of wrought gold—a raiment of heaven's own panoply, and so transparent was it, that every grey precipice and every beetling quartzose rock smiled in its turn under the sunshine as they were now revealed, and again veiled, by the golden-fringed clouds that moved so gently, so gracefully up the hill-sides, and then passed away in splendid masses eastward.

We just got out of this fine mountain-country as the sun was setting, and descended into Westport.