Illustrated with thirty-four lithographic plates (some coloured) and one folding map. Dublin: Hodges & Smith, 1862. pp. xii, 372, 20 (adverts). Pebbled green cloth, title in gilt on spine, Hibernia and Britannia in gilt on upper cover and in blind on lower. Previous owner’s signature on half title. Recased. A very good copy. Scarce.
This work contains the letters of the special correspondent of ‘Saunders’ News-Letter’ from the West of Ireland, in relation to the condition and prospects of the people, consequent upon the partial failure of agricultural produce. Travelling extensively throughout the western seaboard counties from Clare to Galway, Mayo through Sligo and up to Donegal he gives a graphic description of the social condition of the peasantry, state of the country, workhouses, distress of the small-holders, liberality of the local gentry and landlords, Castlebar and ‘Gombeen’ Men, emigration, fisheries, etc. On his way from Westport to Castlebar he passed through the village of Cloonkeen: “There are many instances, however, of lands being held in rundale on joint lease where the tenants have been comfortable and prosperous … Cloonkeen, a village on Lord Lucan’s estate, is an example of this kind. It goes by the soubriquet of ‘Cabbage Town’, from the immense quantity of that excellent vegetable cultivated there; but the inhabitants are not pleased at the name, and any stranger who ventured to utter aloud the obnoxious epithet in the hearing of the villagers would probably find himself assailed with a shower of cabbage-stalks.” The tenant farmers here kept a large number of milch cows, and carry on a most profitable trade by supplying the towns with milk, butter, and cabbage. “There is another rundale village, called Derrycoosh, about three miles from Castlebar, on the Newport road, which exhibits in an exaggerated form all the characteristics of the village I have just described. The cottages are built most irregularly, here, there, and everywhere – some parallel with the road, others at right angles with it. The walls are black, green, and brown – in short, every colour but white; there is scarcely a clean thatch to be seen; every cabin has its pond of liquid and its heap of solid manure directly opposite and within a few feet of the door; the road through the village is ankle deep in mud; and pigs, poultry, and children are to be seen running about in every direction. Words fail to convey an adequate idea of the filthy and disorderly appearance which this village presents. So bad it is, that a road is actually in course of construction for the purpose of avoiding the abominations of Derrycoosh.”