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Autumnal Rambles about New Quay, County Clare

Ridges of high, contiguous rocks arise
Divide the clouds and penetrate the skies.

The new road from the New Quay to Ennis leads southward through the village of Turlogh, situated about four miles from the first mentioned place. Before arriving at the village just mentioned, you obtain a view of Corcomroe Abbey, distant half a mile from the high road, on the left hand side, and also of an enormous excavation in the mountain on your right, which is called Scalp-a-thessha. Of both these we shall give some account hereafter. Turlogh seems to take its name form the Irish word Turloch, signifying “ a place where water rests in winter, and which is dry in summer.” Accordingly, we find that in the rainy season a considerable lake is collected close by this village, the principal supply of which flows from the Glen of Deelin, passing under the bridge where the road makes a sharp angle towards the right at Gurtaclare. Turlogh is a wretched village. When the writer of these lines first saw it, about 18 years ago, a Castle stood there - but it is now no longer visible. It is said to have been demolished by the Terry Alts, during their foolish and mischievous agrarian disturbances, in order to prevent the Constabulary availing themselves of it as a place of shelter.

A clump of trees, (an unusual sight in this part of Clare) presents itself in a sequestered vale at Gurtaclare, a short distance beyond Turlogh. Arrived at the townland of Deelin, a new scene opens upon the traveller. Here the road runs about a mile in length in winding undulations between two mountains composed of limestone. For a considerable distance a deep ravine has been cut by art through the junction of the mountains for the purpose of rendering the ascent more equal where nature had failed to produce that effect. This pass forms a deep serpentine defile, leading through projecting and steep masses of rock, which appear at every step one advances to press on each other in indescribable confusion, and threaten to crush the tourist in his romantic excursion. When the traveller approaches the gorge of this wild and narrow avenue the first idea that forces itself upon the mind, is a reflection on the melancholy fate of his brave countrymen, who fell in the Kyber pass in Affghanistan.

We here behold in miniature, a softened picture of what they had to contend with, endeavouring to force their way in opposition to the works of nature, made available to the deadly purposes of savage, but warlike man.

The writer of these rambles, felt on approaching the Scalp during the autumn just past, a proud satisfaction, when memory told him of a dear and beloved brother who fell in the 44th regiment at Waterloo (the author's brother Peter was killed in the Battle of Quatre Bras just before Waterloo in 1815).

His was a noble death; - he perished by the shot of a gallant foe, commanded by Napoleon in person, but the survivors of his ill-fated corps, were butchered amidst snows and precipices by a bloody and sculking banditti. He was buried by his companions in the hour of victory, and occupies a soldier’s grave; but those slain at Cabul were left exposed and naked to blanch in the keen winds of Affghanistan, or become food for ravenous vultures.

The Scalp is situated about five miles and a-half, due south of the New Quay. At each perch one advances through its tortuous mazes, a new and more sublime view than that last seen presents itself. This pass differs from the Scalp near Eniskerry, in the county of Wicklow, in its being more the work of art; the road through the Dublin Scalp running along the level surface of a chasm, formed by the wild hand of nature. The Burren defile certainly has the advantage derivable from more serpentine incurvations of road, and consequently a more varying scenery. The improvements of modern road makers have - as Mr. Wright very properly observes in his tour through the county Wicklow - but injured the effect of the county Dublin Scalp. On the contrary, the Clare road makers, have in the place forming the subject of this number, produced rather an improvement of the natural mountain grandeur they found awaiting them. The road through Deelin leads to the Cave of Kilcorney (The ruins of the old church of Kilcorney (which gives name to the parish) are near the Cave. Both are situate in a large and remarkable amphitheatre bounded by shelving and rocky hills. The appellation Kilcorney seems to be compounded of ceal, a church or cell and Gurná, a cave, den, or hole. G being commutable with c, the compound would sound Kilcurn), Termon Church, and the Druid’s altar.

The name of Scalp was some years ago, first given to the defile just described by the writer of this Topographyenne. It is now generally known by that appellation, which is derived from the Irish word Scalp, a fissure, a separation of the earth.

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