The County of Wicklow

J. Stirling Coyne & N. P. Willis
c. 1841
Volume I, Chapter VII

THE county of Wicklow has justly been termed "The Garden of Ireland," for nowhere else is to be found assembled such a variety of natural beauties, heightened and improved by the hand of art. There we may behold lakes of more than Alpine beauty; streams that wind through quiet dells, or roll their sparkling waters down rugged precipices; deep glens and sombre ravines, where the dark mountain shadows make twilight of the summer noon; mountains whose bare and craggy peaks seem to pierce the clouds; romantic woods and picturesque glades—with fertile fields and warm and pleasant valleys, whose quiet pastoral features remind us of the pictures of the golden age. The beauties of this terrestrial paradise have been lauded by poets of every grade on Parnassus; they have more than once afforded a subject for the graceful pen of Ireland's sweetest lyrist.

"The Meeting of the Waters," one of the first and most charming of the Irish Melodies, celebrates a delicious spot in the Vale of Avoca;—the tree is still pointed out under which, it is said, he composed the song. Another of the "Melodies," commencing "By that lake whose gloomy shore," commemorates a romantic legend of Glendalough. The charms of these scenes are considerably enhanced by their proximity to the Irish metropolis, the nearest point of the county of Wicklow being not more than ten miles from the city. There are several routes by which the tourist may reach it, but that which passes through the villages of Dundrum and Enniskerry is most generally chosen, from the attractions its romantic scenery offers. Dundrum is an unpretending hamlet, seated at the base of the lofty mountains around which the road winds; it is noted for the salubrity of its air, and is much frequented by invalids, who repair thither to recruit their broken health by inhaling the fresh breezes from the hills, and drinking the goat's milk, for which this place has long been celebrated, and whose peculiar sanative qualities have been attributed to the animals that yield the milk being in the habit of browsing upon the medicinal herbs and plants growing upon these mountains.

Ere reaching Enniskerry, the traveller beholds before him the immense natural cleft in the heart of the mountain called "The Scalp," through which the road runs, and which, viewed at a little distance, presents the appearance of the letter V. The sides of this singular defile are covered with huge masses of disjointed granite, conveying to the mind of the passenger the not very agreeable idea that they are momentarily in danger of toppling down on his head. Occasionally, in the winter season, or after heavy rains, some of these loosened crags are precipitated to the bottom of the ravine, and completely choke up the road, from whence they are removed with consider able difficulty and vast labour.