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  • Kilchreest
    Kilchreest
    Photography © aughty.org 2006
    Knockbeha Mountain
    Knockbeha Mountain
     

    There is also a lake in that country which the natives call Loycha. In that lake there is what appears to be a little floating island; for it floats about in the lake, here and there approaching the shore sometimes so near that one may step out upon it; and this occurs most frequently on Sundays. And such is the property of this islet that if one who is ill steps out upon it and partakes of the herbs that grow there, he is healed at once, no matter what his ailment may be. Another singular fact is this, that never more than one can come upon it at one time, though many may wish to do so; for as soon as one has landed, the island immediately floats away. It also has this peculiarity that it floats constantly about in the lake for seven winters; but as soon as the seventh winter is past, it floats to the shore somewhere and unites with the other land, as if it had always been joined to it. But when that moment has come, a crash like a peal of thunder is heard, and, when the din is past, another island can be seen in the lake of the same size and character as the earlier one. Thus it happens regularly every seventh year that, as soon as the one island has joined the mainland, another appears, though no one knows whence it comes.[1] p. 107-8

    [1] See Ériu, IV, 6. Kuno Meyer knows of no such story in Irish folklore, but refers to similar tales told of floating islands in Wales and Scotland.

    "The King's Mirror (Speculum Regale Kunungs Skuggsjá)" (1917)
    Translated from the Old Norwegian by Laurence Marcellus Larson

    Source: Internet Archive

     

    To any one consulting a gazetteer, the two questions to be answered about any place are, first, "Where is it?" and second, "What about it?" -preface.

    Killaloe. town and par. with ry. sta., G. S. & W. R., E. co. Clare, on river Shannon, 17 miles NE. of Limerick par., 9978 ac. , pop. 1781; town, pop. 885; P.O., T.O. Market day, Tuesday. The station is at Ballina, on the opposite side of the river, which is here crossed by a bridge of 13 arches. The town has little or no trade; but it derives some advantage from the marble and slate quarries in the vicinity. There is a small pier for the Shannon steamers. The angling on the Shannon and Lough Derg (1 mile distant) attracts a number of visitors. The see of K. was founded in the 6th century by St. Dalua; the cathedral of St. Flannan (1160) is a venerable structure. "Kincora", the palace, of King Brian Boru, written of by Moore, stood at Killaloe. p. 442

    "The Survey Gazetteer of the British Isles, Topographical, Statistical and Commercial." (1904)
    J. G. Bartholomew

    Source: Internet Archive

     

    "Queen of the Irish Lakes" is the proud title borne by Lough Derg... It lies along the course of the Shannon for twenty-five miles, its extended banks forming a vast reservoir in which is gathered an immense volume of water.

    The steamer started at 8 a.m. to carry its few passengers across the lake and on up the river as far as Banagher. I was soon conscious of the impress of wondrously impressive conditions. The Emerald hills of Clare, Tipperary, and Galway stood around like Maids of Honor to the Queen. Bordered with rich and varied foliage, the far reaching Lough seemed all the more majestic beneath heavy skies. Storm clouds, like black steeds in rampage, chased across the heavens and down over the Galway horizon, followed by lighter formations through which the sun sifted his fire, streaking clouds, hills and lake with lines of glowing color. And so it continued through the morning, a soul moving vision in black, white, green and gold, - a scenic rhapsody of rare magnificence. How futile are the ordinary figures of speech as interpretations of nature's grander moods! I ventured as much in a casual remark to a stranger standing near by, and he readily agreed. It proved to be the opening of a conversation that lasted until he left the steamer at Portumna. p. 69-70

    "Around The Emerald Isle: A Record of Impressions" (1910)
    William Charles O'Donnell, Jr. Ph.D.

    Source: Internet Archive

     

    Beyond Bird Hill we soon run alongside the Shannon, and see, on an island in it, the ancient Church of St. Molua, who was the first bishop of Killaloe. Killaloe Station is on the E. side of the river, in the hamlet of Ballina, which is connected by a long bridge with Killaloe. (Shannnon View; Lake View; Royal). The situation of this episcopal village (pop. 1,000) is eminently beautiful, being at the foot of Lough Derg, which on its western side is dominated by the Slieve Bernagh range. The fishing both for trout and salmon is excellent, and though the latter is preserved the owners are exceedingly liberal. The Cathedral (re-opened after restoration, May 1887) is an interesting 12th cent, cruciform church. Notice externally the fine E. window of 3 lights. Inside, at the S.W. of the nave, is a fine Romanesque doorway. The old Font is also preserved. The ancient church of St. Flannan, 2nd bishop, A.D. 639, is in the graveyard to the N. of the cathedral, and has a remarkable steep stone roof. This building, and that of St. Molua's, above, are apparently contemporary with the bishops whose names they bear.

    Lough Derg is about 24 m. long from the inflow of the Shannon at Portumua to its outflow at Killaloe. The scenery at the S. end, and of the W. arm (Scarriff Bay) is very beautiful, and a boat can be had at Killaloe for 10s. a day, including men. p. 155

    "Ireland (Part II) East, West and South including Dublin and Howth" (1906)
    C. S. Ward, M.A.

    Source: Internet Archive

     

    Like all Irish lakes, with the exception of the great Lough Neagh, Lough Derg is of a very irregular form, with a multitude of bays and creeks, and side branches. Its southern part narrows to a point, and at last ends abruptly in a little cul-de-sac. The mountains nearest the lake, Slievh Bernagh, Knockermaun, &c., are very beautiful, and covered with grass, trees, and houses. Somewhat farther off, towards the right, Mount Inchiquin, and to the left the Keeper, which is about 25,000 feet high, tower above them; while among these mountains the traveller perceives the famous Devil's Bite, a very strange and deep cut in the ridge of a mountain, the origin of which the Irish can explain in no other way than by a somewhat humorous attack made by the devil, who probably mistook the ridges for the back of a fat Irish pig. He, however, spat out the bite again, for there is to be found, somewhere in Ireland, a piece of a rock that exactly fits the aforesaid cut. At the very end of the cul-de-sac lies the little town of Killaloe. p. 69

    "Travels in Ireland" (1844)
    Johann Georg Kohl

    Source: Internet Archive

     

    Killaloe has a poetic name, a romantic and beautiful location, and many legendary reminiscences of Irish valor and magnificence. It was the central residence of Brian Boroihme, the great hero and monarch of Irish patriotism.

    It has little else to boast of. The quays along the river, and the new pier at which the steamboats land, show some signs of life and business; but every thing else bears the stamp of time, neglect, and poverty. p. 305-6

    The scenery in this region is very fine. The beautiful valley through which the Shannon hurries its winding way, with broad plains on either side, with here and there a wooded hill, and the far off ranges in the distance, bounded by Slieve Pheling, Devil's Bit, Gottymore, and others of equal grandeur on the north, by the lofty mountains which approach to the very shores of the lake, just at its outlet; then the calm, clear waters spreading off to the north, with sinuosities penetrating far into the sides of the rugged mountains which border its shores - every thing is pleasing, varied, and romantic. p. 307

    "Ireland as I Saw It: The Condition, Character and Prospects of the People" (1850)
    Wm. S. Balch

    Source: Internet Archive

     

    Killaloe, Bourke's house across the river among rather ragged woods. "City" (I think with some high old church towers) standing high at the other end of the bridge, in dry trim country, at the foot of the long lough, was pleasant enough from the outside; one small skirt of it was all we travelled over. Lough now, with complex wooden and other apparatus for dispersing water; part of the questionable "Navigation of the Shannon". Questionable; indeed everywhere in Ireland one finds that the "Government", far from stinginess in public money towards Ireland, has erred rather on the other side; making, in all seasons, extensive hives for which the bees are not yet found. West side of Lough Derg: pleasant smooth-dry winding road. Clare hills stretching up, black-fretted, and with spots of culture, all treeless to perhaps 1500 or 2000 feet, gradually enough, on the left. Greener high hills on the other side of lake with extensive slate quarries, chief trade hereabouts. p. 23

    "Reminiscences of my Irish Journey in 1849" (1882)
    Thomas Carlyle

    Source: Internet Archive

     

    It would seem as if nature intended Ireland for a continent, and not for an island, by giving it lakes so entirely disproportioned to its size.

    Loch Derg, anciently called Deirgdheirc, and at present pronounced Dharrig by the peasantry, would be the most beautiful of all the great lakes of Ireland if its islands were as numerous as those of Loch Erne, or even of Loch Ree.

    The charms of Loch Derg are its semi-mountainous shores. It would be incorrect to call the bold hills on either side of the lake mountains, for very few of them reach an altitude of more than a thousand feet; but they are most graceful in their outlines, and are, for the most part, covered with luxuriant grass up to their very summits. The lake is by no means straight; its shores are tortuous and full of indentations, so that there is a good deal of change of scene when sailing on it. p. 231-2.

    "Beauties and Antiquities of Ireland: A Tourist's Guide to its most beautiful scenery & an Archaeologist's manual for its most interesting ruins." (1897)
    T. O. Russell

    Source: Internet Archive

     

    In the province of Mounster are three remarkable islands -

    On (1) no woman, and no animal of the female sex, can remain alive - a fact tested daily by strangers arriving at this place, with dogs, cats, &c., and found to be true.

    On (2) no human being can die, whence it is called Insula Vitae, or Angelorum, the island of the Living. For, although people become ill there, they do not die so long as they stay on the island.

    No. (3) has the special peculiarity that all birds flying there lose their power of flight in such a manner that they fall from the air on to the ground; so that every year a large number of birds are taken thus on this island.

    Here also is a spring from which it is quite impossible to draw, nor can its water be disturbed in the slightest degree: when that happens, there follows a tremendous rain, which floods the whole country. p. 396

    "A German View of Ireland, 1720"
    Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland (Vol. XVI, Fifth Series, 1906)

    Source: Internet Archive

     

    A ship's company were on that expedition to Dún na mbarc [1]: Ceasair, and her ships lading, came to land there; namely, fifty women and three men, i.e. Bioth and Fionntain, and Ladhra, as we have said. It was that Ladhra, as we have said, who was the first dead person of Ireland, according to the folk who say that no people at all occupied Ireland before the deluge, but Ceasair and those who came with her. And from him is named Ard Ladhrann [2]. From Bioth Sliabh Beatha [3] is named; and from Fionntain is named Feart Fionntain over Tultuinne [4] in Duthaigh Aradh [5], near to Loch Deirgdheirc [6]. p. 145

    Know, O reader, that it is not as genuine history I set down this occupation, nor any occupation of which we have treated up to this; but because I have found them written in old books. And, moreover, I do not understand how the antiquaries obtained tidings of the people whom they assert to have come into Ireland before the deluge, except it be the aerial demons gave them to them, who were their fairy lovers during the time of their being pagans; or unless it be on flags of stones they found them graven after the subsiding of the deluge, if the story be true: for it is not to be said that it is that Fionntain who was before the deluge who would live after it... p. 147.

    [1] Probably Dúnnamark near Bantry (Joyce).

    [2] Probably Ardamine, Co. Wexford.

    [3] Near Monaghan.

    [4] Tultuinne, a hill near Killaloe.

    [5] The barony of Ara, Co. Tipperary.

    [6] Lough Derg.

    "The History of Ireland. The Introduction and The First Book of The History." (Volume I, 1902)
    Geoffrey Keating, D.D. (Edited with Translation and Notes by David Comyn M.R.I.A.)

    Source: Internet Archive