Irish Scenery

Justin McCarthy
Chapter III | Start of Chapter

Some of the invaders, when they had made homes in the island, grew into a genuine love for the country, and were proud in the hope that their names might become associated with its history. There was much in the scenery and atmosphere of Ireland as well qualified to exercise an influence over these new-comers as over the native race. Ireland is marvellously picturesque in its landscape, and its climate lends it a peculiar charm in keeping with the outlines of its hills, the melancholy beauty of its lakes, and even the monotonous level of its low-lying inland regions. Almost everywhere around the coasts the island is hilly, while most of the interior is flat. Some parts are even swamp-like, and these gain from the soft gray atmosphere around them a poetic beauty unlike any that could be given to an expanse of flat land under a blazing sun. There are magnificent harbours here and there around the coast, with in most places a background of hill or mountain, making each great indentation of the shore a picture in itself. There are many rivers, some broad and rapid, some narrow, all alike charming. Edmund Spenser, who lived for a long time by one of these rivers, has celebrated in some of his noblest lines the loveliness of the Avondhu, which he tells us "of the Englishmen is called Blackwater." The most famous lakes in the country are the Lakes of Killarney in the south and Lough Neagh in the north, and they might well challenge comparison with Windermere or Loch Katrine, Lucerne or Maggiore. The Irish lakes have not the bright skies and glowing sun of Switzerland or Italy, but their soft clouds and gray poetic atmosphere lend them a beauty entirely their own.