Innisfallen, Killarney

J. Stirling Coyne & N. P. Willis
c. 1841
Volume I, Chapter II-6 | Start of chapter

The approach to Ross Island by water is remarkably picturesque. The grey towers and ivied walls of the castle appeared as if emerging from the waters of the lake—and glittering as they were at the moment I beheld them with the rich rays of the evening sun, nothing could be imagined more strikingly beautiful. It was long after I returned to my inn at the village before I could think of anything but the delightful scenery I had been viewing; and even after slumber had "steeped my senses in forgetfulness," I was in fancy wandering through the fairy scenes of this enchanting region. On the following morning I determined to take another view of Innisfallen and Mucruss Abbey, whose beauties I had not sufficient time to examine on my former visit. Accordingly, I took boat at an early hour in the day, in order to have full leisure to admire those interesting places. The character of the scenery of the Lower Lake is totally distinct from that of the Middle or Upper Lakes; it is distinguished for its elegance and beauty, being studded with rocks and wooded islands, covered with a variety of evergreens. The Upper one, on the contrary, is remarkable for its wild sublimity and grandeur, while the Middle Lake combines in a great degree the characteristics of the other two. There are lakes in Switzerland which, for single views, perhaps excel either of the Lakes of Killarney;—but, taking the peculiar atmosphere, the variety and grouping of the mountains, the interest of the ruins on the shores, and (above all, to my thinking) the exquisite mingling of art with nature, and Killarney has no rival. Of the numerous islets with which the bosom of the Upper Lake is studded, and which have all received names, there are only four or five worthy of any consideration, except as accessories to the splendid picture which nature here spreads before us. Ross Island in extent claims superiority, but for beauty it cannot compare with

"——Innisfallen, of the islands queen."

It is in truth an isle of beauty and repose, where a man, weary of the storms of the world, might spend in calm tranquillity the evening of his life.

Viewed from the water, Innisfallen appeared to be covered with an impervious wood, but after penetrating the leafy screen which fringes the shore, I found the interior of the island spread out into beautiful glades and lawns, embellished by thickets of flowering shrubs and clumps of magnificent trees, amongst which the boasted arbutus, with its dark, shining leaves, stood conspicuously distinct. From these delightful openings the lofty peaks of the distant Tomies and Glena, with the misty summits of the purple mountains which form the southern boundary of the lake, are distinctly seen; while between the dark stems of the trees glimpses are caught of the sparkling waters below, and the more distant sunny shores.