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Leaves from the Journal
Visit to the Lakes of Killarney 27 Aug. 1861


Tuesday, August 27, 1861.

At eleven o’clock we all started in our own sociable, and another of our carriages, and on ponies, for Ross Castle, the old ruin which was a celebrated stronghold, and from which the Kenmare family take their name. Here there was an immense crowd and a great many boats. We got into a very handsome barge of eight oars—beautifully rowed. Lord Castlerosse steering. The four children, and Lady Churchill, Lady Castlerosse, and Lord Granville were with us.

We rowed first round Innisfallen Island and some way up the Lower Lake. The view was magnificent. We had a slight shower, which alarmed us all, from the mist which overhung the mountains; but it suddenly cleared away and became very fine and very hot. At a quarter to one we landed at the foot of the beautiful hill of Glena, where on a small sloping lawn there is a very pretty little cottage. We walked about, though it was overpoweringly hot, to see some of the splendid views. The trees are beautiful,—oak, birch, arbutus, holly, yew, —all growing down to the water’s edge, intermixed with heather. The hills, rising abruptly from the lake, are completely wooded, which gives them a different character from those in Scotland, though they often reminded me of the dear Highlands. We returned to the little cottage, where the quantity of midges and the smell of peat made us think of Alt-na-Giuthasach. Upstairs, from Lady Castlerosse’s little room, the view was towards a part of the Lower Lake, the outline of which is rather low. We lunched, and afterwards re-embarked, and then took that most beautiful row up the rapid, under the Old Weir Bridge, through the channel which connects the two lakes, and which is very intricate and narrow. Close to our right as we were going, we stopped under the splendid hill of the Eagle's Nest to hear the echo of a bugle; the sound of which, though blown near by, was not heard. We had to get out near the Weir Bridge to let the empty boats be pulled up by the men. The sun had come out and lit up the really magnificent scenery splendidly; but it was most oppressively hot. We wound along till we entered the Upper Lake, which opened upon us with all its high hills—the highest, The Reeks, 3,400 feet high— and its islands and points covered with splendid trees;— such arbutus (quite large trees) with yews, making a beautiful foreground. We turned into a small bay or creek, where we got out and walked a short way in the shade, and up to where a tent was placed, just opposite a waterfall called Derricaimihy, a lovely spot, but terribly infested by midges. In this tent w-as tea, fruit, ice, cakes, and everything most tastefully arranged. We just took some tea, which was very refreshing in the great heat of this relaxing climate. The vegetation is quite that of a jungle—ferns of all kinds and shrubs and trees,—all springing up luxuriantly. We entered our boats and went back the same way we came, admiring greatly the beauty of the scenery; and this time went down the rapids in the boat. No boats, except our own, had followed us beyond the rapids. But below them there were a great many, and the scene was very animated and the people very noisy and enthusiastic. The Irish always give that peculiar shrill shriek—unlike anything one ever hears anywhere else.

Wednesday, August 28.

At a quarter-past eleven we started on a most beautiful drive, of which I annex the route. We drove with Mrs. Herbert and Bertie in our sociable, driven from the box by Wagland; [My coachman since 1857 ; and a good, zealous servant. He entered the Royal service in 1831, and rode as postilion for seventeen years. His father has been thirty-two years porter in the Royal Mews at Windsor, and is now seventy-five years old; and has been sixty years in the service. His grandfather was also in the Royal service, having entered it in 1788; and his daughter is nursery-maid to the Prince of Wales’s children. Four generations, therefore, have served the Royal Family.] and, though the highest mountains were unfortunately occasionally enveloped in mist, and we had slight showers, we were enchanted with the extreme beauty of the scenery. The peeps of the lake ; the splendid woods full of the most magnificent arbutus, which in one place form, for a few yards, an avenue under which you drive, with the rocks,—which are very peculiar—all made it one of the finest drives we had ever taken. Turning up by the village and going round, the Tore mountain reminded us of Scotland—of the woods above Abergeldie, of Craig Daign and Craig Chinie. It was so fine. We got out at the top of the Tore Waterfall and walked down to the foot of it. We came home at half-past one. At four we started for the boats, quite close by. The Muckross Lake is extremely beautiful; at the beginning of our expedition it looked dark and severe in the mist and showers which kept coming on, just as it does in the Highlands. Mr. Herbert steered. Our girls, Mrs. Herbert, Lady Churchill, and Lord Granville were in the boat with us. The two boys went in a boat rowed by gentlemen, and the rest in two other boats. At Mr. and Mrs. Herbert’s request I christened one of the points which runs into the lake with a bottle of wine, Albert holding my arm when we came close by, so that it was most successfully smashed.

When we emerged from under Brickeen Bridge we had a fine view of the Lower Lake and of the scenery of yesterday, which rather puzzled me, seeing it from another point de rue. At Benson's Point we stopped for some time, merely rowing about backwards and forwards, or remaining stationary, w7atching for the deer (all this is a deer forest as well as at Glena), which we expected the dogs would find and bring down into the water. But in vain: we waited till past six and no deer came. The evening had completely cleared and became quite beautiful; and the effect of the numbers of boats full of people, many with little flags, rowing about in every direction and cheering and shouting, lit up by the evening light, was (harming. At Darby's Garden the shore was densely crowded, and many of the women in their blue cloaks waded into the water, holding their clothes up to their knees.

We were home by seven o’clock, having again a slight sprinkling of rain.


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