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The morning of our leaving Cork was dark and rainy; but it gradually cleared up, and by the time we reached Bantry, the first place of much note on our route, all was bright and smiling, overhead and along our way.

Bantry Bay is very beautiful, and is historically remarkable as the place where the French have twice attempted a landing, for the purpose of invading and revolutionizing Ireland.

Late in the afternoon, we arrived at Glengariff one of the wildest and yet loveliest spots in all that picturesque country. How I wish I could give you such an idea of it as I have in my own mind a great, magnificent picture, painted on my memory in some parts sunny and green, and flowery; in others, dark and rugged, and grand. I shall always particularly remember a long row we had on the bay, in the twilight, and how the scenery of the mountainous shore and the rocky islands, and the swelling, booming waves, grew stern, solemn, and even awful, in the fast-falling shadows of evening, and the rising winds and gloomy clouds of a coming storm.

But the next morning, every thing was more sweet and quiet and radiant than I can tell. So, wild Glengariff smiled upon us in our parting, but we found it hard to smile back. We really felt sad to go so soon and forever from such a bit of paradise.

We travelled now upon a large outside car, which allowed us to see every thing on our way, and would have been a very pleasant conveyance if it had not left us too much exposed to the attacks of the beggars. The seats were so low that when the car was going slowly up the hills, we could step off and walk so, of course, the beggars could come close beside us. Nothing kept them off neither laughing, nor commanding; alms-giving, nor refusals. Drive as fast as we might, they kept up with us crowds of little boys and girls, and sometimes full-grown men and women. Some of the children were exceedingly handsome, with black hair and eyes, and dark olive skins descendants, it is said, of the Spaniards, who, in the time of Queen Elizabeth, invaded Ireland.

The Lakes of Killarney would scarcely be called lakes in our country, where we boast such grand inland seas under that name. They are small, but certainly very beautiful, and surrounded by delightful scenery. They are three in number the Upper, the Lower, and Torc Lake.

The town of Killarney has a miserable, dilapidated appearance, and is overflowing with beggars. We did not stop here, however, but at a hotel a mile or two away, on the northern shore of the Lower Lake a most charming situation. A little way out of the town, we had stopped to visit Torc waterfall a beautiful cascade, in a wild and shady glen one of the very finest sights of that region.

In the morning, we set out early on an excursion through the Gap of Dunloe, to the Upper Lake. This time I was mounted on a fleet-footed pony, which gave me an advantage over the beggars. One friend rode beside me; the others were, as usual, on a jaunting car.

The “Gap” is a long, dark, rocky pass, with a noisy stream, called the Loe, rushing through it. On the right, are the mountains called the Reeks; on the left, the Toomies, and the “Purple Mountain.” On reaching the Upper Lake, we left our ponies and car, and embarked in a boat, which was awaiting us, for a row down a still, silvery, and fairy-like sheet of water. Passing many green and flowery islands always in sight of grand mountains and lovely shores we entered upon “the long range” a sort of river, connecting the lakes. On this stands old “Eagle’s Nest,” a mountain about eleven hundred feet in height, on whose summit the eagles have built their nests for centuries.

It is principally remarkable for the fine echoes which it gives forth. Our guide played the bugle before it, and every note came back, clear and sweet.

Mrs. Hall, in her beautiful book on Ireland, relates an amusing story which a peasant told her, of a daring attempt a mountaineer once made to rob the eagles nest. He watched till he saw the old eagles fly away, and then let himself down by a rope from the rock above, and was just about to seize upon the young eaglets, when suddenly out darts the mother eagle from a thunder-cloud, and stood facing him! But she spoke very civilly, and said

“Good morning, sir; and what brings you to visit my fine family so early, before they’ve had their breakfast?”

“Oh, nothing at all,” said the man, “only to ax after their health, ma’am, and to see if any of them is troubled with the tooth-ache; for I’ve got a cure for it, here in my pocket, something I brought wid me from furrin parts.”

“Aha! and you brought some blarney in the other pocket,” said the mother eagle; “for don’t I know you came to steal my children the darlings?”

“Honor bright,” said he, “do you raly think now I’d be sarving ye such a mane trick as that?”

“I’ll leave it to a neighbor of mine,” said she; and with that she raised her voice and screeched out “Did he come to rob the eagle’s nest?”

Of course, the echo answered “To rob the eagle’s nest.”

“Hear that! you thieving blackguard,” said the eagle, “and take that home with you!” and with one blow of her great beak, she pitched him over, and he tumbled down the mountainside into the lake; getting severely bruised and well ducked for interfering with the domestic happiness of his neighbors.

About a mile below this mountain, we passed under Old Weir Bridge. This is called “shooting the bridge,” and unless you have very skilful boatmen, is considered very dangerous, as the rapids are swift and strong.

We next passed the bay and mountain of Glena, by far the most beautiful scenes of Killarney.

We took dinner on shore, seated on the soft, cool grass, under the shade of arbutus-trees, and after a little stroll, returned over the water to our hotel, but a very little wearied by our day of pleasure.

Our first excursion the next morning was to the ruins of Muckross Abbey, on a peninsula which divides the Lower Lake from Torc Lake.

This is a beautiful, solemn old spot, and is very much venerated by the Irish peasantry, not only as having been built and occupied by holy priests and saints, but as the burial-place of many of the ancient Princes of Desmond, the MacCartys-Mor, and the O’Donoghues.

After leaving the Abbey, we commenced the ascent of Mangerton, a mountain some 2,550 feet high. We were now all mounted on ponies, who were very sagacious and sure-footed, and climbed the rocky, narrow path like goats. We were followed every step of the way by a host of lads and girls, carrying jugs and cups of milk and whisky, which they offered to us at almost every moment. The greatest curiosity upon this mountain is a little lake, near the summit, called, “The Devil’s Punch-Bowl.” It is surrounded by almost perpendicular rocks; the water is very dark, and is said to be unfathomable. Though so completely shut in, it is never calm, and though icy cold in summer, it never freezes in winter.

From the summit, we had a vast, magnificent view, which, however, I must confess, I enjoyed less than the wild, frolicking ride which I took soon after, down the mountain, following closely upon the steps of one of my friends, who, for mischief, went far out of the path, and took his way over rocks and gullies, through bogs and briars. It was great sport to us, but I am afraid my poor pony had some private objections to it.

We enjoyed another pic-nic dinner in Lord Kenmare’s grounds, and afterwards rowed to the lovely little island of Innisfallen, upon which are some ruins of a famous old abbey, which is said to have been built as early as the seventh century.

From Innisfallen we went to Ross Castle a very well-preserved ruin.

In old times it was the stronghold of the war-like O’Donoghues. It was besieged in 1652, by the forces of Cromwell, commanded by General Ludlow, and though very strong and well provisioned, surrendered, with scarcely an attempt at defence. The reason of this was that the garrison was frightened at seeing the war ships which Ludlow brought against them as, long before, some old priest or wizard had made a prophecy that when such vessels should appear on the lake, all would be up with the castle. So superstition makes cowards of the bravest men.

There is a very curious and absurd legend which the peasants relate about the last O’Donoghue; and they really seem to believe what they are telling. Some say that when Ludlow marched his men into his castle, the O’Donoghue, driven to despair, leaped from one of the windows into the lake, that he was not drowned, but turned into a sort of merman under the waves, and has lived there ever since, with the friendly water-spirits, and his family and many of his friends who have followed him. They say he has a splendid sub-marine palace, and dogs and horses, and harpers and fiddlers, good whisky punch, and potatoes that are never touched with the rot fairs and dances, and weddings and wakes, and now and then a fight in short, every thing that can make a real old-fashioned Irishman feel at home and comfortable. The wakes and fights are only make-believes, “for divarshin,” they say; for the people down there cannot die cannot even be wounded, or hurt in any way.

Others say that the O’Donoghue under the lake is a more ancient prince an enchanter, who for some act of impiety, got enchanted in his turn and was condemned to dwell under the water, and is only allowed to come to the surface once a year on the first morning in May, when he rides over the lake in grand style, clad in silver armor, with snowy plumes in his casque, mounted on a white steed, splendidly caparisoned. Before him go beautiful water-spirits, scattering flowers all running and dancing on the water, without the slightest difficulty. It is said the enchantment of the O’Donoghue will last until the silver shoes of his horse are worn off by the friction of the waves.

There are many yet living at Killarney, who solemnly declare that they have seen the chieftain on his May-morning ride. But these, if honest persons, have doubtless been deceived by singular appearances in the atmosphere, called optical illusions, or mirages.

Many other legends are told by the peasants and guides. All are strange and improbable, but some are very amusing, and some, I think, quite poetic and beautiful.

One is about a holy man of Muckross, who fell into some great sin, and repenting of it, waded into the lake, and stuck a holly-stick into the bottom, and said he would not leave the spot till it should throw out leaves and branches. So he did penance for seven years, and then the stick suddenly leaved out and blossomed, and became a great tree, by which the good man knew that he was pardoned. We may take a lesson from this. If we do wrong, and try to atone for it, in the best way we know how, it may seem a hopeless work; but if we wait patiently and pray, we shall surely see, at last, God’s love and blessing blossoming before us like the holly-stick, and overshadowing us like the great tree.

There is another legend about an ancient Abbot of Innisfallen, which is sweet and touching, though I do not see that it has any moral. This good man was at his prayers one morning, very early, when he heard a little bird singing so melodiously out among the trees, that he got up from his knees and followed it. The bird flew from tree to tree, and still he walked after, for its music was so delicious he could not tire of it. He thought in his heart that he could listen to it forever, and he came very near doing that same, for the bird was an enchanted singer, and so bewitched the priest that he had no idea how the time went by. At last, he thought that it was about the hour for vespers so he gave his blessing to the little bird, and went back into the abbey. But, when he entered, he was astonished to see only strange faces and to hear a strange tongue, which was the English, in place of the Irish. There were monks about, who asked him who he was, and where he came from. He told them his name, and that he was their Abbot. He had gone out, he said, in the morning to hear a little bird sing, and somehow it had kept him following it about the island ever since. Then they told him that no less than two hundred years had passed since he went out to hear that singing, and that he had never been seen since for being enchanted, he had been invisible. Then the old monk cried out “Give me absolution, some of you, for my time is come!” They gave him absolution, and he died in peace; but just as he was passing away, there came to the holly-tree, before the window, a little white bird, and sat and sung the sweetest song ever heard; and when the soul left the body of the old Abbot, another white bird appeared, and the two sang together very joyfully for awhile, in the holly tree, and then flew out into the sunshine, and up into the blue heaven, away!


Not many years ago there lived at Glena, the loveliest spot in all Killarney, a small farmer, by the name of Mickey, or Michael More, his wife, and one daughter. Though Mickey was a poor, hard-working man, he boasted that he was descended from a regular Irish chieftain, the great MacCarty-Mor, and held his head up accordingly. But his wife, Bridget O’Dogherty, that was used sometimes to put him down a little, by boasting that her great ancestor of all, was “a mighty king, or monarch, that ruled over the biggest part of Ireland, shortly after the flood, long before the MacCartys-Mor were ever heard of. Why man, it took all the lakes of Killarney to water his cattle and the bog of Allen was only his potato-patch.”

In truth, Mrs. More was but a silly, ignorant woman, and her husband was not much better, though he thought himself infinitely more clever and sensible. In one thing, however, this couple were perfectly agreed: it was in thinking their daughter, Kathleen, the most beautiful and bewitching creature that the sun ever shone upon. They were so foolishly proud of her that they resolved and declared that no one short of a lord, or a rich baronet should ever marry her that she should become “my lady” somebody, or remain Kathleen More, to the day of her death. They were strengthened in this resolution by a famous fortune-teller, who foretold that Kathleen would become a grand lady live in a castle, ride in a coach, and have jewels and fine dresses, ponies, pages, parrots, and poodle-dogs to her heart’s content.

So they kept as keen a watch over her as though she had been a royal princess, whose marriage was a great affair of state. They would hardly allow her to speak to the young people of her own rank, but were always telling her to hold her head high, and remember that she was “a mate for their betters.”

Of course, this ambition and pretension excited some ill feeling at Killarney, and laughter and ridicule without end. But Kathleen was truly a very beautiful young girl so beautiful that her fame spread far and wide, and toasts were made and songs were written in her praise. Visitors to the Lakes used to inquire after her, and sometimes hire their boatmen to land them near her father’s cottage, so that they might, by chance, catch a glimpse of “the Beauty of Glena.” But Kathleen was a good and sensible girl, and, strange to say, was not spoiled by the constant flattery of her parents, and the evident admiration of all who beheld her. She knew that she was very beautiful, every glance into the clear waters of the lake showed her what sweet blue eyes, what lustrous black locks, what rosy, dimpled cheeks were hers, showed her that no lily could be fairer than her brow, her neck, and her lovely taper arms. Yet she knew also that this beauty was hers by no merit, or power of her own; that it was the gift of the good God, bestowed in kindness, though it brought her little happiness, poor girl. Watched and guarded like a nun, she had few friends and little pleasure, and often envied the humblest village maids and farm-servants, as she saw them, strolling along the lake shore, with their brothers and friends, on summer evenings, when their work was done or sometimes rowing over the lake, their plain brown faces lighted up with innocent enjoyment, and their gay songs and happy laughter ringing out over the water.

There was one young man, braver or more persevering than most of Kathleen’s untitled admirers, who would not be frowned off by her ambitious parents; perhaps because he was encouraged by the kind smiles of the beautiful girl herself. This was a young tradesman, named Barry O’Donoghue a fine, manly fellow, industrious, intelligent, and though not rich, in better circumstances than most young men of the parish. But when “bold Barry O’Donoghue,” as he was called, proposed to Michael More for the hand of his daughter, he received as stern and scornful a “No, young man,” as any who had been before him. Barry had a proud as well as a loving heart, and felt the slight and disappointment so keenly that he left his home at once, and sailed for Australia, to seek his fortune in that rich, but then almost unknown land. People laughed, and said that Mickey and Biddy More were keeping their daughter for “the O’Donoghue” expecting him to come for her, some May-day morning, in grand style, riding over the waves on his silver-shining steed, to carry her off to his palace under the lake. But when it was seen how poor Kathleen took Barry’s going to heart, few were so unfeeling as to laugh. She never had been as merry as most young girls, and now she grew sad and silent and very weary-looking. She did not complain, but her eyes seemed heavy with the tears she would not shed, and the roses went fading and fading out of her cheeks, till her father became alarmed, and would bid her eat more, and spin less to get up early in the morning and drink new milk, “with a drop of mountain-dew in it.” ("Mountain-dew,” I must tell you, is an Irish name for whisky.) “Ah darling,” her mother would say, “if you don’t howld on to your beauty, what’ll his lordship say, when he comes after you? Sure, he’ll consider himself imposed upon.”

“But mother, dear,” Kathleen would reply, “I don’t want any lord I’ll just stay with father and you, always as I am.”

“Hush now, you simple child! It’s just flying in the face of Providince, you are your fortune has all been foretowld this many a year, and you’ve only to submit to it though you don’t desarve it.”

Well, one May-day morning, when Barry ODonoghue had been gone somewhat over a year, Kathleen More went out as usual, to take her early walk; but did not come back again. All day long they searched, far and near, but without obtaining any trace or tidings of her; but just at night, a note was found at the door of Michaels cottage, which ran thus:

“I have taken away your daughter, and married her, before a priest. Be easy about her. She is happy, and sends her dutiful respects.

The O’Donoghue.”

“Ochone!” cried Bridget More, “the Phantom Prince has come and gone off wid our darling Kathleen. I always towld you that trouble would come of them early walks; and how do you feel, Mickey More, to have gone and made yourself father-in-law to a merman a wicked water-wizard? Answer me that!”

“Hush now, Biddy,” said Michael, “it’s not the O’Donoghue at all. It’s the great lord we’ve been waiting for so long, trying to make believe he is the Phantom Prince. Maybe, for reasons of state, he don’t like to reveal himself; and maybe,” he added, with a sly laugh, “he don’t care to make the acquaintance of his talkative mother-in-law.”

Mrs. More was very indignant at this supposition, and persisted in believing that the O’Donoghue, and no one else, had carried off and married her daughter, and as time went by and brought, always in some mysterious way, good news, and now and then a handsome present, from Kathleen, she became reconciled to her marriage, and even proud of it. In her talks with her cronies, she would often speak of “her ladyship, my daughter Kathleen,” or “my daughter, the Princess O’Donoghue.” This greatly amused some of her neighbors, and they used to question and quiz her without mercy.

“And why don’t you go and visit your daughter, Mistress More?” asked one “Sure they invite you.”

“Why, you see, Mistress Hallaghan,” replied the cunning Bridget, “it’s all on account of my rhumatiz I’m thinking that the climate down there wouldn’t agree with me.”

But Mrs. More grew yet prouder and more important than ever, when there came another letter from the O’Donoghue, bringing the good news that she was grandmother to a fine little boy. Such grand calculations as she laid on this event. “Who knows,” she said, “but that the heir will break up the long enchantment and grow up a good Christian, and come back and take possession of Ross Castle, and we’ll be ruled by a rale Irish Prince once more.”

At all these foolish anticipations Michael only laughed contemptuously; but as his efforts to find out any thing about his daughter and her husband had all failed, it was thought that he finally more than half believed in the O’Donoghue story himself, though he never owned that he did.

May-day morning had come round again. It was three years since Kathleen More was carried off, and as usual, on that day, her father and mother awoke very early, for it was a sad anniversary for them.

“Troth!” exclaimed Michael, “and it was a queer drame I had last night.”

“Ah then, avick, tell me it!” cried his wife, who was particularly curious and superstitious about dreams.

“Well, then, I dramed that I paid a visit to the O’Donoghue; in his grand palace under the lake. I received my invitation by being upset in my boat, and pulled downwards by a big merman, who never let go of my coat-tails till he landed me at the palace gate.

“The O’Donoghue himself met me in the hall. ’Welcome, Mr. MacCarty-Mor,’ (mind that, MacCarty-Mor!) said he ’welcome kindly! Sure it’s delighted I am to see you and you are just in time for dinner.’ With that a sarvent began sounding a big conch-shell, a great door was flung open, and the next thing, I found myself in an ilegant room, sitting down to dinner with a mighty genteel looking company.”

“Arrah! and was our Kathleen amongst them?” asked Mrs. More.

“Of course she was sitting at the O’Donoghue’s right hand, all silks and gold, and heaps of pearls in her hair. She kissed her hand to me, very politely, which was the most she could do, being a Princess, so grandly dressed, and meself in my old grey coat and patched corduroys.”

“And did she look natural? the darling!”

“A trifle paler and prouder but pretty much the same as ever, Biddy.”

“And who else did you see, Mickey?”

“Oh hosts of the quality. First there was Fin MacCual, and Brian Boro, and old King Cormac and the O’Tooles with their crowns on, and the O’Neills, and the O’Connors, and the O’Meaghers, and the O’Malleys, and the O’Doghertys, and the O’Briens, and no end of O’Donoghues, and the Dermods, and Desmonds, and my ancestor, the great MacCarty-Mor himself.”

“And what was your dinner, Mickey?”

“Why, principally oysters, and lobsters, and turtles, sarved up in their shells and plenty of good potheen to drink. The trouble of it was, every thing was cowld, for you see they had no fire down there; and candles wouldn’t burn, by raison of the dampness, so we went to bed by moonlight, and slept on pillows of soft sand, between two sheets of water.”

“Ah, Mickey!” cried out Mrs. Bridget, in alarm, “why didn’t you excuse yourself, and come home before bed-time, for you know you always take cowld from sleeping in damp sheets.”

Michael burst into a laugh at this “Why Biddy, woman,” said he, “sure you forget it’s all a drame.”

“Arrah, and so it is,” replied his wife, sadly, “and we know no more about our poor Kathleen than we did the day she was spirited away. Ah, Mickey dear, I often think that if I had her back, in my ould arms again, I’d have no more such high notions for her, and I’d niver cross her in any way.”

Michael said nothing, but sighed heavily, and turned his face toward the wall.

A short time after this conversation, while Michael More was stirring up the peat fire in the little kitchen, to boil the potatoes for breakfast, and his wife was milking the cow, just outside the door, he was startled by her calling put to him, in a tone of joyful excitement “Mickey, oh, Mickey! they’re coming!”

“Who are coming?” cried he, rushing to the door.

“The O’Donoghue and our Kathleen. Don’t you see them? Sure it’s the morning for them only they are in a boat, instead of on horseback. Hark, don’t you hear the fairy music? and that’s our Kathleen’s voice calling!”

“Faith, you are right, for once,” replied Michael, running with her down to the shore. Yes, a boat came dancing over the bright waters of the bay; containing a tall young man, quite proud, and happy looking enough for a Prince, though not dressed in silver armor, and a very beautiful lady, holding a child in her arms. The “fairy music” was made by the bugle of old Stephen Spillane, the Killarney guide.

In a few moments, there leaped to land, not the enchanted Irish chieftain, but a better man, Barry O’Donoghue, who had as good a right to call himself “the O’Donoghue” as any other member of that numerous family. Then he handed out his wife, Kathleen, who three years before he had been obliged to steal away from her unkind and foolish parents, and little Master Harry O’Donoghue, a handsome, curly-headed little rogue, who jumped at once with a merry laugh, into the arms and into the hearts of his grandparents.

After a great deal of embracing and kissing, Barry said, in reply to a host of wondering exclamations and questions: “We have come back from Australia, where we were getting rich, because Kathleen could not be longer away from home and you. We have brought a little fortune with us, and mean to settle down here in dear old Killarney, if you will be reconciled to us, and take us for neighbors.”

“And if you will forgive me, for not coming back to you a great lady,” said Kathleen, smiling.

“Don’t say any more about that,” said Michael More, embracing her for the twentieth time, “We are glad enough to have you back just your old self, and it’s quite content we are with your husband and the boy and bad luck to all fortune-tellers! say I.”

With that, old Stephen blew an applauding farewell note on his bugle, and the Mores and O’Donoghues all went into the cottage, where we will leave them.