Journal Volume 7 2013
The Wicklow excursion
Shamrock Leaves or The Wicklow Excursion, 1823
Shamrock Leaves or The Wicklow Excursion is a book that consists of a series of letters from Georgina to her sister Mary about a sightseeing trip over a number of days to various places of interest in County Wicklow that she, family members and friends undertook. The letters are in verse, some would say doggerel, form and provide an enchanting perspective on travel in Wicklow in the early part of the 19th century. No doubt to provide gravitas to the observations in the letters, a male editor of the book offers a commentary on the quality and imagery of the verse, admitting along the way that the lady (Georgina) indeed has had some exposure to a classical education!
Letter 1 from Miss (Georgina) Dawson to Mrs. (Mary) De Courcy, at Dunmore, near Waterford.
Dearest Mary, though fate may keep sisters apart,
I would have mine partake every joy of my heart;
I would have good De Courcy too share my diversion,
So shall treat you forthwith to a Wicklow Excursion.
In vain did Mamma say her health was dubious;
We told her the air of the hills was salubrious:
In vain did she plead her fat horses’ antiquity;
We said they grew old in a lazy iniquity:
In vain did she urge the expenses of travelling;
We coax’d and we teazed till we ended her cavilling.
On Friday, of August the twenty-fifth morning,
All Friday’s ill omens courageously scorning,
Resolved from dull Dublin at last to elope,
Mamma, sister Lizzy, myself; Mister H*pe,
Stept into the carriage, in rural array,
And off the fat horses set trotting for Bray.
On their green Dos-a-Dos, gay with shawl and with scarf,
We were closely pursued by our friends from Clontarf:
The Major was there with his dear little wife,
And there Cousin Harriet, all spirits and life,
And there too, to show him the ridges and rocks,
Mister Netterville brought Master Mercury Foxe.
Sister, I think I should never be weary
Of viewing the Bay from the Crags of Dunleary:
But the prospect from Bulloch is pleasanter still,
And yet more from Killiney’s majestical hill.
O how can men congregate closely in towns,
With a valley so near as the Glen of the Downs:
Where refreshment we took, ‘t was Mamma’s inclination,
And we sipp’d of a Naiad’s pellucid oblation?
Sightseers in the Glen of the Downs
Who would not prefer the rose, woodbine and myrtle,
With a cold roasted fowl, to the Castle and turtle?
And who, that could perch on a rock like an eagle,
Would wish to be squeezed up at parties vice-regal?
But my Muse, I perceive, has been soaring too freely:
I ought to have told you that near Cabinteely
A relic worth note, of a barbarous age,
In the small vale of Brennan, the search should engage.
‘Tis a huge granite mass, laid on pillars uncouth
When the fortunes of Erin were yet in their youth;
This Cromlech has rested in rudeness sublime,
Untouch’d by the chances and changes of time;
Unimpair’d as when Druids encircling it stood,
And wild rites were perform’d by those Priests of the Wood.
Art’s fabrics, constructed with skill and with cost,
Tombs, temples and palaces sink to the dust;
But the plain rugged pile of the Savage remains,
Resisting the ruin that Nature ordains.
By this ancient memorial Glen-Druid is charm’d;
And the black-bird that carols there oft is alarm’d
By the foot of the stranger who thoughtfully strays
In quest of the work of druidical days.