30 Dec Lower Lake, Killarney
To see the landscape of Tuscany for the first time is like looking at the Old Masters; only they have been cleaned and are life-size. To see the lakes of Killarney for the first time is to realise that this haunting luxuriance of mountain, waterfall, castle, lough and island has always been part of one’s interior landscape, imprinted by nineteenth-century song and canvas; but here it is, now, large and bright as life, strangely familiar.
Sweet Inisfallen, long shall dwell
In memory’s dream that sunny smile
Which o’er thee on that evening fell,
When first I saw thy fairy isle.
The view is that of the Lower Lake (Lough Leane) looking forwards Tomies Mountain (Mountain of the tumuli or burial cairns). There are some thirst-five islands in this lake, the lost notable being Ross and Inisfallen: all are well-wooded. “The arbutus”, said Macaulay, “thrives better than even on the sunny shores of Calabria; the turf is of livelier hue than elsewhere; the hills grow with a richer purple, the varnish of the holly and ivy is more glossy, he berries of a brighter red peep through foliage of a brighter green. I never in my life saw anything more beautiful.” The Flesk River, a good fishing river, flows into the Lower Lough which is heavily stocked with trout and salmon, the best salmon lures being “Phantom”, “Spoon” and “Devon Minnow”, with the fly for casting.
The Lower Lake is a real hidden gem and is worth a visit on your tours of Ireland.