J. Stirling Coyne & N. P. Willis
c. 1841
Volume I, Chapter IV-18 | Start of chapter

We must now request our readers to return with us to the entrance of Cork harbour (from whence we have been coasting eastward), and to accompany us in our progress along the wild shores and noble bays that lie westward of that point. Oyster Haven and Robert's Cove are the first inlets that we meet; the latter is known as a picturesque creek, visited during the summer by water-parties from Cork.

Kinsale comes next in order, and though its harbour is not so capacious as that of Cork, it is of sufficient depth for the reception of vessels of the largest size. It is protected by a strong fortification on the eastern side of the harbour, called Charles Fort, in honour of Charles II., during whose reign it was built. The south side of the harbour is defended by a bold promontory, which runs a considerable way into the sea, and is well known to mariners as the Old Head of Kinsale. A fine light-house is erected on the extremity of the headland. On this promontory also stood the ancient residence of the Lords of Kinsale. Smith, the historian of Cork, says, that the castle was formerly called Duncearma, and that in old records it is described as having been "a royal seat of the kings of Ireland." From the situation of this fastness it is fully exposed to the assaults of the elements, and its rude and weather-beaten appearance agrees well with the bleakness and desolation by which it is surrounded. The coast here begins to assume the stern features which characterize the western shores; among the cliffs are found eyries of hawks, and of that large species of the osprey, commonly called the sea-eagle.

Courtmacsherry is a mere fishing-hamlet, adjoining to the marine villa of the Earl of Shannon. Sailing round an irregularly-shaped peninsula, we enter Clonakilty Bay, a place of little consideration in a commercial point of view, but possessed of rare attractions for the antiquarian and painter. The country along the shores of the bay is singularly varied, and broken into picturesquely shaped hills; the vales are watered by many nameless brooks and rivulets, and the coast presents a succession of bold cliffs, whose romantic beauty charm and astonish the spectator. Galley Head, a noble promontory jutting boldly into the sea, as if to impede our further progress, is doubled at length, and we enter a splendid bay, which contains within it the lesser harbours of Ross and Glandon. A line of coast more bold, various, and rich in marine scenery, can scarcely be imagined than that which now opens on the sight; winding, wooded inlets of the sea, which, Mr. Inglis says, reminds him of the Norwegian fiords, penetrate into the land, and form creeks and coves of unequalled beauty. To a mind prepared by a cultivated taste for the sublime, the coast-scenery here will yield a feast of almost inexhaustible delight.