Fragrance in Travel Literature-Ireland



For with us Spring is like the making of a new
world in the dawn of time. Under the warm wind's
caressing breath the grass comes forth upon the
meadows and the hills, chasing dun Winter away.
Every field is newly vestured in young corn or the
olive greenness of wheat ; the smell of the earth is
full of sweetness. White daisies and yellow dande-
lions star all our pastures ; and on the green rugged-
ness of every hillside, or along the shadowed banks
of every river and every silver stream, amid velvet
mosses and fringes of new-born ferns, in a million
nooks and crannies throughout all the land, are strewn
dark violets ; and wreaths of yellow primroses with
crimped green leaves pour forth a remote and divine
fragrance ; above them, the larches are dainty with
new greenery and rosy tassels, and the young leaves
of beech and oak quiver with fresh life.



It was a day of the enthusiasms of the air a day
upon which bird and bee seemed to swing through
the air with a swift delight and ease. After we
had left the cove, the coast-path was less marked
and earthy ; it now followed the edge of the
low rocks, a green track, leading nowhere. One
passed round a curve and saw the wide sea at the
mouth of the bay ; one went farther, and the
bay seemed to be landlocked once more. Down
among the rocks, the waters splashed into a
thousand gullies, a million little waves advancing
with a million little voices and breaking into
fragrance and laughter.

Charm of Ireland

Burton E. Stevenson

We got off, that morning, at a little station with
"Clondalkin" on it, but when we looked about, there
was no town anywhere in sight. We asked the man
who took the tickets if this was all there was of the
town, and he said no, that the town was over yonder,
and he pointed vaguely to the south. There was no
conveyance, so we started to walk; and instead of
condemning Irish railroads, we were soon praising
their high wisdom, for if there is anything more de-
lightful than to walk along an Irish lane, between
hedgerows fragrant with hawthorn and climbing roses,
past fields embroidered with buttercups and primroses
and daisies, in an air so fresh and sweet that the lungs
can't get enough of it, I don't know what it is. And
presently as we went on, breathing great breaths of all
this beauty, we caught sight of the conical top of the
round tower, above the trees to the left.

We got down to the shore of the bay, at last, and I
quite agree with Thackeray that it is a world's wonder,
with its rock-strewn shore and emerald islands and
pellucid water, framed in, all about, by rugged moun-
tains. We wandered along its edge, gay with sea-
pinks, for an hour or more, and then spent another
hour loitering in the woods, and finally walked on, be-
tween the flaming hedges and fern-draped trees, to the
little village, which we could smell, long before we
came to it, by the tang of peat-smoke in the air. ..



To-night as I lean out the window, the moon
is at the full, flooding the terrace below, and its
stone stairs, guarded by vases and stone pine cones
yonder, gleam whitely as they mount under the
shadows of an old yew tree. The fragrance of
sweet grasses fills the air and the night is full of
silence save for the brooding calls of some doves
in the forest, and I wait and watch for the grey
lady but she does not come.

The day is especially brilliant and the air like
wine, laden with the fragrance of the hawthorn
and wild grasses; while the hedgerows bordering
the lanes are a mass of blossoms, and the world
is beautiful, all the more beautiful by contrast
with that glimpse of sadness we have just left.


The entire ride from Bray to Bannow is over
fine roads and affords constant panoramas of
sunlight, seas, and stretches of woodlands and
grass-lands, with here and there a stately mansion
keeping ward over a beautiful park and with
many gushing, bubbling rivers and brooks. The
air is laden with the perfume of the sweet grasses,
and the way is bordered by blossoming hawthorns
and wild roses. Quaint villages and ancient cities
nestle by the sea, whose waters murmur peace-
fully, forgetful that storms have ever been.

One can spend days in Trinity, it stirs the imagination ;
but after all, the pride and glory of Dublin is her splendid
park. When the hawthorn is in bloom, and almost two
thousand acres of trees white, pink, rose, and red are ablaze
with myriads of sweet flowers, then Phoenix Park is as
beautiful as cherry blossom time in Japan. Each tree
becomes a giant bouquet vying with its next-door neighbour
in extravagant loveliness. The air is sweet with perfume,
and the emerald-green grass is brilliant in patches of colour
from the fallen leaves. Its historical interest the Fifteen
Acres an Irishism, as they are really two hundred acres
where famous duels were fought, the Viceregal Lodge, the
Wellington Memorial, the Magazine Fort, even the " Furry
Glen," a golden gorse-clad hollow earlier in the year, with
its deep pool, sink into insignificance in this lovely kingdom
of Flora. For the finest of man's deeds are as nothing
when nature makes a supreme effort, as she does when
hawthorn blooms in June.

There are beautiful views of the lake from the Castle, but
lovely as the day and the drive were, we looked forward
eagerly to the Gap of Dunloe. How many pictures we had
seen of it. Irish artists love its threatening gloom and
shadows, its shifting clouds and changing atmosphere. My
enthusiasm somewhat subsided when I saw " the ponies,"
which turned out to be tall, raw-boned horses ; but Kitty
told me to " be a sport " and the guide to "lep up," so I
mounted my roan, who was ambitious and insisted on keep-
ing a little in advance of Kitty's large bay mare. And I
found it distinctly trying when my animal decided, as he
often did, on violent trotting. We soon left gentle and
domestic scenery behind us, and although the sunshine
continued uninterruptedly brilliant, the sombre and wild
hillsides cast dark and heavy shadows. We looked into the
purple tarns and indigo-blue lakelets, and up at frowning
precipitous mountains, and down fragrant precipices bloom-
ing in wild flowers. It was magnificent scenery, towering
mountains and steep hills, forests and woods, streams and
lakes ; but it was all lonely. The silence environed us and
shut us away from the world.

Doneraile Court dates back to 1636, when Sir William
St. Leger bought various lands. The house, which faces the
River Awbeg (Spenser's Mulla), is surrounded by many
beautiful acres ; the extensive gardens include a wilderness,
a labyrinth, and a canal ; at the end of the demesne the
river is broad and deep. In the fine deer park the trees-
tall elms, ash, birch, Spanish chestnuts, gnarled oaks and
beautiful fir trees grow to a magnificent height. The
elaborate and exquisite gardens, so beloved by Lady
Castletown, with their thickets of herbaceous borders and
great beds of flowers which include almost every plant that
blossomswith all their loveliness, are of less interest to me
than the many legends connected with the place. I do not
know whether Lord Castletown has ever seen any of the
Good People, but he believes in them ; and I imagine in that
fragrant, friendly old garden they often dance until the
break of day.

"Gracefully, steadily, easily
Three men are mowing,
Bending and rising, they capture the
Rhythm of rowing.
Swish goes the cut of the scythes as they
Glide all together
Through the cool stems of the river hay,
In the hot weather.

Then at the end of the swath comes the
Sound of honing,
Grating but ringing melodiously
Like a bee droning.

Morning and noon-tide and evening
Comes a young maiden,
Porter and buttermilk carrying
Willingly laden.

And while they drink under shadowy
Willows eternal,
The meadow distils for them heavenly
Scent of sweet vernal."

In one corner, the little pulpit from which Dean Swift
preached his sermons is now used by the Senior Scholar to
say Grace before dinner. The Theatre so fine in proportion,
and such a pure and beautiful example of Adam decoration,
and the splendid Library. The long, lovely Queen Anne
Room with its pungent, leathery odour from books upstairs
and books downstairs. Books on shelves standing away
from the walls. Books on shelves that are on the walls.
Books on screens. Books in cases which can be seen
through glass. Books so precious that not only glass but
curtains protect them. Books little and books big, books
old and books new, three hundred and fifty thousand in
number, and yet people mea culpa continue to write

Stories by English Authors: Ireland


In the room the more familiar odour of turf-smoke was overborne
by a crisp smell of baking, and Mrs. Doherty picked up a steaming
plate which had been keeping warm on the hearth. "Isn't that somethin'
like, now?" she said, setting it on the table triumphantly. "Rale
grand they turned out this time, niver a scorch on the whole of
them. I was afeard me hand might maybe ha' got out o' mixin' them,'t
is so long since I had e'er a one for you; but sure I bought a
half-stone of seconds wid the price of the little hin, and that'll
make a good few, so it will, jewel avic, and then we must see after
some more. Take one of the thick bits, honey."

He set off betimes on his long ramble. It was a cloudless July
morning--the noon of summer by air and light as well as by the
calendar. Even the barest tracts of the bog-land, which vary their
aspect as little as may be from shifting season to season, were
flecked with golden furze-blossom, and whitened with streaming
tufts of fairy-cotton, and sun-warmed herbs were fragrant underfoot.

1844 & 1845,

Tullamore is the assize town of the King's county ;
it is situated nearly in the centre of the bog of Allen,
and the proprietor, the Earl of Charleville, has done
much to improve it. Good schools are established,
and the poor in the town are more comfortable than
in many others in the vicinity. The road lay from
Tullamore through a part of King's county and Kil-
dare, to Dublin, a distance of fifty miles ; and forty-
five of this it was lined on each side with hawthorn
and cinnamon-brier hedges. The brier was in full
bloom ; the air had been purified by the preceding
day's rain ; and the fragrance of the sweet brier, united
with that of the new-mown grass, which lay here and
there as we passed, made a day's ride of the pleasantest
I ever enjoyed, so far as sweetness of air and beauty
of scenery were concerned.

It was Ireland's summer twilight, lingering long, as
though loath to draw the curtain closely about a bright
isle in a dark world like this. It was early in July,
the rich foliage had attained its maturity, and not a
seared leaf was sprinkled on bush or tree, to warn that
autumn was near. For the first mile the road was
smooth and broad, lined with trees ; now and then a
white gate with white stone pillars, opening to some
neat cottage or domain ; the glowing streaks of the
setting sun had not left the western sky, and glimmered
through the trees ; while the air, made fragrant by the
gentle shower, diffused through body and mind that
calmness which seemed to whisper, "Be silent; it is
the Vale of Avoca you are entering." We descended
a declivity, and the vale opened upon us at " the Meet-
ing of the Waters." The tree under which Moore sat
when he wrote the sweet poem had been pointed to me
in the morning. We now stood near the union of the
two streams, where the poet says,
" There is not in the wide world a valley so sweet,
As that vale in whose bosom the bright waters meet."

The morning was beautiful, the light and shade upon
the picturesque mountain which I must cross were of a
new and varied kind. To give an idea of them I can
only say, cross the Kerry mountains in a clear morning
before sunrise, and if there is a soul within you capable
of being roused, that soul will be stirred. I soon found
myself in something like a vast amphitheatre, with
mountains piled on mountains, " Alps on Alps ;" cov-
ered with heath, without a tree, the sun-rays streaming
athwart from behind me to the top of the mountains be-
fore, leaving me in a dusky pleasant solitude which was
entirely new. I walked two miles, and passed one
cabin by the road-side, and a few scattered ones at a
distance upon the sloping hill. The enchantment in-
creased, and the breezes of heaven that morning wafted
a new and exhilarating fragrance. 1 sat down to enjoy
it upon a moss-hillock, and commenced singing, for the
Kerry mountains are the best conductors of sound of
any I have ever met ; they in some places not only give
echoes, but thrills as the ever-busy wind penetrates the
circles and caves. I had sung but a passage, when, from
over a wide stretched valley, a mountain boy, with a
herd of cattle, struck up a lively piper's song, so clear
and shrill that I gladly exchanged my psalmody for
morning notes like these.

"Mearing stones : leaves from my note-book on tramp in Donegal"


The sunlight glitters in the soft
morning air. The fragrance of peat, marjoram, and wild-
mint hangs like a benediction over the countryside. A
lark is singing ; the swallows are out in hundreds. The
road turns and twists — past a cabin, over a bridge —
between fringes of wet grass. It dips suddenly, then
rises sheer against a wisp of cloud into the dark bulk of
Slieve League behind. I see the mountainy people
wending in from all parts to Mass. I am standing on
high ground, and can see the hiving roads — the men
with their black coats and wide-awakes, and the women
with their bright-coloured kerchiefs and shawls. Some
of them have trudged in for miles on bare feet. They
carry their brogues, neatly greased and cleaned, over
their shoulders.

Over the roofs
the stars shone and the constellations swung in their
courses — the Dog's Tail, the Dragon, the Plough, the
Rule, and the Tailor's Three Leaps ; and although there
was no moon one could see the smoke from the chimneys
wavering up into the sky in thin green lines. The
fragrance of peat hung heavily on the senses. There
wasn't a sound — only a confused murmur of voices,
like the wind among aspen-trees, and the faint singing
of a fiddle from a house away at the far end of the street.

A patch of sea-bog before, exhaling its
own peculiar fragrance — part fibre, part earth, part salt.
Ricks of black turf stacked over it here and there, ready
to be creeled inland against the winter firing. The dark
green bulk of Slieve a-Tooey rising like a wall behind, a wisp
of cloud lying lightly upon its earn. The village of Maghery,
a mere clachan of unmortared stone and rain-beaten
straw, huddling at its foot. A shepherd's whistle, a cry
in torrential Gaelic, or the bleat of a sheep coming from
it now and again, only to accentuate the elemental quiet
and wonder of the place. The defile of Maum opening
beyond, scarped and precipitous, barely wide enough to
hold the road and bog-stream that tumble through it to
the sea. The rainbow air of our western seaboard enfold-
ing all, heavy with rain and the fragrance of salt and peat

Then the king-fern, the splendid osmimda legalis; the
delicate maidenhair and hart's-tongue, rooted in the
crannies of walls; bog-mint and bog-myrtle, deliciously
fragrant after rain, and the white tossing ceanabhdn ;
brier-roses and woodbine; the drooping convolvulus; blue-
bough; Fairies' cabbage, or London Pride; pignuts and
anemones; amber water-lilies, curiously scented; orchises,
purple and white; wild daffodils and marigolds, gilding
the wet meadows between hills; crotal, a moss rather
than a herb, but beautiful to look at and most service-
able to the dyer; eyebright and purple mountain saxifrage ;
crested ling ; tufts of sea-holly, with their green, fleshy,
spiked leaves; and lake-sedge and sand-grass, blown
through by soft winds and murmurous with the hum
of bees. Donegal, wild though it be in other respects, is
surely a paradise of herbs and flowers.

Chanting a fragment of the" Leaves" one night in the
Pass, when everything was quiet and the smells were
beginning to rise out of the wet meadows below, I felt how
supremely true it was, and how much it belonged to the
time and place — the darkness, the silence, the vibrant
stars, the earth smells, the bat that came out of the
shadow of a fuchsia-bush and fluttered across a white
streak in the sky beyond.

We follow the road up by the telegraph posts,
and after a stiffish climb of half a mile or more, reach
the plateau head. We are now about five hundred
feet over sea level. Turning round to have a last look at
the place, we see the chapel — a plain white cruciform
building, with a queer detached belfry — the little grey,
straggling village street (some of the houses with slate
roofs, some with thatch), the crosses standing up like
gallan-stones on every side of it, the deep valley-bottom
green as an emerald, Ballard mountain silhouetted against
the sunset, and the vast Atlantic tumbling through mist
on the yellow strand beyond. The air smells deliciously
of peat. In Donegal one notices the smell of peat every-
where ; in fact, if I were asked to give an impression of
the county in half a dozen words I should say : " Black
hills, brown rivers, and peat."

There was a delightful smell of wet larch and
bracken in the air. The road was dark — indeed, no more
than a shadow in the darkness; but a streak of silver
light glimmered through from the west side over the
mountains and lay on the edge of the wood, and thousands
of stars trembled in the branches, touching them with
strangeness and beauty.