Great Island

J. Stirling Coyne & N. P. Willis
c. 1841
Volume I, Chapter IV-12 | Start of chapter

On the northern point of the Great Island, facing Passage, Merino, the residence of T. French, Esq., is beautifully situated close to the shore, and is surrounded by lofty trees, which grow down to the water-side. Doubling the point, you enter the little bay of Foaty. The water being shallow here, the ebbtide leaves a great extent of muddy shore exposed, which materially disfigures the beauty of the scene; but, visited at high-water, the view of the bay and adjacent scenery is really delightful. On the right, the woody point of Merino bends gracefully inward, as if wooing the truant waters to its fond embrace. On the left-hand, the fruitful fields of the Little Island, and the handsome mansion of Captain Roche, rise to view: further inward, on a low, sandy point, which at high tides becomes perfectly isolated, stands one of the Martello Towers which the government engineers erected, during the war against Napoleon I., at an enormous expense to the nation, along the coasts of the British Islands, apparently as a means of defence, but in reality of no manner of use, except to serve as monuments of the folly of the men who projected them; and, like the Round Towers of Ireland, at some future day to puzzle posterity with vain conjectures as to their original use. At the upper end of the bay, in the demesne of Foaty, a handsome, castellated structure, built by J. S. Barry, Esq., forms a very striking feature in the landscape. It is designed as a pleasure-house, for the accommodation of that gentleman and his friends in their aquatic excursions. Several long guns are planted in battery round the castle near the water, and others of smaller size frown threateningly from the battlements of the castle; but in justice to these peaceful days, when a man's house need not be turned into a domestic fortress, I may remark that the greater number of these formidable pieces of ordnance are perfectly inoffensive, being what sailors call "Quakers."

Keeping along the northern shore of the bay from this point, we enter the east channel of the Great Island, which is not navigable at low-water, except for the smallest boats. About half a mile up, the channel is crossed by Belvelly Bridge, the only way by which land-travellers can enter the island or reach Queenstown. Near to the bridge on the island are the ruins of the old castle of Belvelly, erected by the Hodnett family in the fourteenth century. It consists of a single square tower, still in tolerable preservation; but it appears never to have been a place of much strength or consequence.