11 APRIL 1931, Page 34


The Happy Motorist in Ireland

IF I won a prize in the Irish Hospital Sweep or caught a leprechaun with his pot of gold, _ I should immediately make

plans to wander about Ireland for, perhaps, eleven months out of twelve. But life being an affair of limitations, the question is usually what to see in a few days or weeks. In a small country like Ireland you see a great variety of loveliness in two or three days. Indeed, Dublin is so near to beauty that within half an hour a motorist can be among mountains or on the sea coast. And within two hours he can be in Glendalough ; and Glendalough is as beautiful and as truly memorable a spot as you may wish to see. Do not heed the people who talk of Gloomy Glendalough." Go to it even in rain, and stay- if you can for moonlight.

At dusk Glendalough forgets its trippers and its char-a-banes, and becomes the shrine of saints and scholars, of faeries and, I think, of ghosts. The deserted lead mines by moonlight might have scared Childe Roland himself. Really, the half has not been told of these Wicklow glens, Glenmalure, Glenda- lough, Glenchree, Glen Imaal, Glemnacnass, Glendassan, Hollywood Glen, Glen of the Downs and Glen of the Devil. It is Synge's country, the lonely land which inspired much of his writing.

But for the happy motorist who can go further, let him travel round Ireland, for the coast is exquisite and the centre rather dull. The south-eastern road from Dublin has the beauties of Wicklow, and Wexford is a pleasant, honest county with that charming spot, set in sea buckthorn, Courtown Harbour : a place of sands dear to children. A drive from Gorey to Graiguenamanagh, a haunt of fishermen, on the River Barrow, is unmentioned in guide-books, but very beautiful. Waterford, too, is a lovely county.

I suppose that most English visitors will take that admirable guide, Mr. H. V. Morton, along with them. But if they take Mr. Morton's In Search of Ireland, let them also bring Mr. Stephen Gwynn's Ireland. Mr. Gwynn is a fisherman, historian, Irishman, and enchanting companion. He knows his Ireland as perhaps no one else knows her. I see that Mr. Morton went south by the Curragh and by Carlow and Kilkenny, and spent a night at the charming little town of Cahir. Now Cahir is prettily set on the River Suir and under the dominion of mountains, and it boasts, not too common a boast, a quite delightful hotel, modem, clean, comfortable and friendly. Cahir House Hotel makes a halting-place for motorists who tire of too long driving, and also it is a centre for some of the most interesting and historic places in the country, not to mention beauty and the lure of good fishing. Within short range is the greatest sight in Ireland, the Rock of Cashel, which to see is to have seen the dreams of a country made visible. Not far is Holy Cross, the lovely Cistercian ruin ; and quite close to Cahir lie the wonderful caves of Mitchellstown ; there is the Glen of Aherlow, too, and a drive which both Mr. Morton and Mr. Gwynn extol, across the Knockmealdown Mountains to Lismore, or to Cappoquin, on the beautiful Blackwater.

Of the south-west of Ireland so much has been said that one feels it must be exaggerated, that Killarney, like a hackneyed song, will surely cloy in some way. And yet Killarney is always rather more beautiful than seems possible. I would choose, of course, to see Kerry before or after the tourist season, when crowds are not, and the midges and professional beggars are not clamorous at one's ears. Kil- larney in early May seems to leave Paradise without surprises. Muckross Hotel is at the very gate of a demesne which includes all beauties of lake and mountain as well as its great Cistercian ruin. Glengarriff, too, with every road that leads to it, takes the breath for wonder. And that I say, writing in snow and rain on a March day in Glengarriff. For the careful of funds there is an admirable, beautifully-situated hotel called the Golf Links, which deserves attention. It is very comfortable and kindly in its management.

There are a fortunate few who can outrun the guide-books and explore all the headlands and inlets and find their own Ireland. These blessed ones can go to the islands, the Arans and Skelligs and Settees, and to Tory. But an easily accessible island is Achill, and you may reach it by the lovely bogs of Mayo or round by the mountains of Connemara. In Achill you see the traditional red petticoats, and man and wife riding pillion to Mass, and donkeys with panniers of turf, and all the sights which make it seem really " Ireland." The road across Ireland to Achill is, till you reach Athlone, a dull one. It is more attractive to go round Ireland to reach any given place on the far side. Still, if a traveller with a love for history and the old wonder days of saints and scholars reaches Athlone, let him not fear a roughish road but diverge his way to include Clonmacnoise, that shrine of Irish greatness on the Shannon. Clonmacnoise is a half-forgotten wonder ; and having seen it, he can get. back to. a main road at Shannonbridgc, and so on to the West, which has a loveliness more austere and bleak than that of Kerry. To each his loveliest drive. I recall mine as that of a June day from Dugort in Achill to Louisburg in Mayo, and down through Doolough Pass and by Killary to Leenane, and on in afternoon light to Clifden, and from Clifden in sunset by the Twelve Pins and Maam mountains on the one side, the lakes on the other, to Maam Cross, which we reached in starlight.

The allotted space has left no word for the Donegal coast or for that Mecca of mechanics and electricians, the great power house at Ardnacrusha, on the Shannon. The loveliness of Killaloe seemed to me an antidote to the terror and dreary splendour of the great works which are to spell Ireland's prosperity. If only one word remains to me—let it be—Come !

W. M. L.