Blackrock, County Cork

J. Stirling Coyne & N. P. Willis
c. 1841
Volume I, Chapter IV-13 | Start of chapter

Let us now retrace our course down the channel across the smooth bay of Foaty, until we regain the centre of the river, and pause a few moments to admire the picturesque appearance of the town of Passage, stretching in detached clusters of houses along the shore, or dotting the sides of the hills:—then resuming our progress onward, we pass the mansion of ——— Boland, Esq., pleasantly situated in an extensive lawn, studded with noble trees, which shelter and beautify the place. We next reach a conspicuous promontory, called Horse Head, crowned with handsome villas, having a noble and elegant appearance. A pretty little cottage ornée occupies a charming nook near this spot; it is tastefully embellished, and sheltered by the picturesque rocks which overhang it, forming a most pleasing object in the landscape.

We now enter upon a part of the river lying between the Great Island and Black Rock, called Lough Mahon, from the ancient family of the Mahonys having formerly held large possessions in its vicinity, as well as from the resemblance it bears to a broad lake when sailing across it. "The whole," says Mr. Windele, "seems landlocked, enclosed on several sides by high hills, and on others, by wooded slopes stretching far inland to the foot of other chains of hills. Turn which side you will, the scenery is of the most charming description. Looking up towards the city, Black Rock Castle stands finely out, backed by woods and distant hills. The wood-crowned eminences of Lota and Dunkettle appear beside it with the finest effect."

Old Court, the seat of Sir George Goold, is magnificently situated on a finely-wooded eminence on the southern shore of the lough, and near it lies a little islet covered with trees, which has received the whimsical name of Hop Island, from its being the property of a Mr. Delamaine, the son or descendant of a man who formerly kept a dancing academy in Cork.

The Castle of Black Rock, a conspicuous and beautiful object as we approach the city, is picturesquely situated on the extremity of a peninsula. It was originally intended as a fortress for the defence of this part of the river, but the taste of the good citizens of Cork being more pacific now than formerly, the corporation have converted it, at considerable expense, into a handsome structure, where they hold a Court of Admiralty annually, and assemble at certain periods in summer for the discussion of the more important business of eating and drinking. Adjoining to the castle is a lofty tower, in which a light is exhibited at night for the guidance of vessels coming up the river. The shores on the right-hand increase in beauty as we proceed upward. Opposite to the village and castle of Black Rock, the romantic river of Glanmire mingles its waters with the Lee. From this point the hills are thickly clothed with woods, groves, gardens, parks, plantations, and tasteful pleasure-grounds. Handsome villas are seen peeping through the tufted trees in every direction; many of them splendid, and all picturesquely situated; but the most conspicuous are Lota, Lotamore, and Tivoli. The Lee, near Cork, is confined by a navigation-wall on the left-hand, for the purpose of narrowing the current of the river, which would otherwise waste itself over the extensive shallows that extend at the back of the wall, towards the village of Douglas. We are now arrived at the quays of Cork, and after having glanced at the principal beauties of this interesting river, we return to the point from whence we started, and find ourselves again at the mouth of the harbour.

Cork harbour being the most important, not only with regard to its commerce, and as being the embouchure of a beautiful river, but as being excelled by no other in its advantages as a spacious and secure port, I shall, from this point, as from an eminence, take a rapid glance at those noble havens which indent the southern and western coasts of Ireland. In doing so, some of the places that I shall have occasion to mention may be found noticed in another part of this work; however, as a great portion of the beauties of the country lie on the coast, and in the numerous and picturesque islands with which it is studded, I trust that none of my readers will feel indisposed to accompany me in my progress.