The Town of Passage

J. Stirling Coyne & N. P. Willis
c. 1841
Volume I, Chapter IV-11 | Start of chapter

The town of Passage now meets our view; it is situated at the base of a steep hill, and is principally supported by the strangers who assemble here during the summer, and by the occasional resort of merchant-ships of large burthen, the river being too shallow to admit vessels drawing a great depth of water to proceed up to the quays of Cork. The town, which extends about half a mile along the banks of the river, has a pretty effect viewed from the water; but it is irregularly built, and the streets are narrow and dirty, with the exception of the terraces at the northern and southern extremities of the town, which are occupied by bathers and strangers, and are healthful and picturesque locations. The distance between Passage and Cork being much shorter by land than by water, a constant intercourse is kept up between these places by means of vehicles—enclosed with oilskin curtains, and drawn by one horse—called jingles. But for those who prefer a trip by water, boats of the best description, manned by hardy and expert fellows, may be had at a moment's notice. Indeed, this facility of procuring boats, and the beautiful scenery on the river, is a main cause of the general taste for aquatic amusements which distinguish the inhabitants of Cork.

Although a passion for music is one of the striking characteristics of the Irish people, in no part of the country is the taste for this delightful accomplishment more generally cultivated than in this city. Music almost invariably forms a portion of their entertainments at home; and in their excursions on the river, it is rare, indeed, to find a party without vocal and instrumental performers amongst them. Nothing can be more delightful than to stand on the Glanmire shore, on a calm summer's evening, when the last breath of the dying breeze, and the last motion of the flood-tide are rippling the little waves on the strand, and listen to the voices of the singers from the pleasure-boats gliding along the placid river, at greater or less distances. Sometimes, like the Venetian gondoliers, the musicians in one boat join in concert with those in another; and, as their voices are generally harmonious and their taste correct, the effect of the melody is perfect, almost realising Moore's fanciful simile, of those sweet sounds that come to the auditor—

——— "Like the stealing

Of summer wind through some wreathed shell."

An extensive view of the river and the surrounding country may be obtained from the telegraph-station, which is situated on the summit of the steep hill that overhangs Passage:—the ascent to it is rather difficult, but the toil of the walk is amply compensated by the delightful prospect which it presents. Hill and dale, wood and water, noble mansions and lowly cottages, green fields and rugged rocks; the deep blue sea, stretching far away to the southward in immeasurable expanse; the silvery Lee beneath our feet, winding placidly between its picturesque banks;—beautiful islands, bays, and headlands, momentarily arrest our attention, and appear to compete for the tribute of our admiration.

Such are generally the impressions that a spectator receives when the varied and imposing picture from this spot first meets his eye.