[from Jefferys A Descriptive Account of the Isle of Man, 1808]
From Kirk Michael to
is about ten miles. The road is through a rich and beautiful country. Ramsay is a small neat town, most pleasantly situated under hills, in a state of cultivation, and bordering upon its fine and extensive bay.
The vicinity of Ramsay is by far the most beautiful part of the Island; and the town, with its surrounding scenery, strongly reminds the traveller from the south of the villages used as bathing places on the coast of Devonshire; and Ramsay, in common with the other towns, has a good inn and good shops. It is distant from Douglas sixteen miles by the Laxey road, twenty-six by way of Kirk Michael, and sixteen frown Peel.
The chapel in Ramsay was consecrated, in 1753, by Bishop Wilson, then in his ninety-third year, and the sermon was preached by his son Dr Wilson.
To the north of Ramsay about eight miles, crossing the river, the road leads to
The Curragh drain intersects this parish, and passes through Ballaugh. the peat, or turf, is fine. The immense trunks of oak and fir dug up with it (some lying deep) afford matter of surprise and astonishment, as that part of the Island is now so bare of trees, and those very small in size. Hazle nuts have also been found.
These turf bogs, from their depth, goodness, and facility of working, are very valuable, and in a course of years regenerate themselves again, the continual wetness inducing a continual vegetation of moss.
From the church is a peculiarly fine view of the three kingdoms, and of the north side of the Island.
Crossing the Island to the north east, at about five miles from Ramsay, stands
the most northern parish in the Island.
The point of Ayre is a little way beyond it. It is an extensive bell of sand, at the end of which the circuits meeting, form a large vortex.
Near the road is a high mount, surrounded with stones, called
Cronc-ye-bollen, probably a sepulchral tumulus, where
" In his narrow house "
Some warrior sleeps below his gallant rieens "
Haply at many a solemn festival "
The Bard has harp'd; but perish'd is the song "
Of praise, as o'er these bleak and barren downs "
The wind that passes, and is heard no more."
The church overlooks the point of Ayre, and commands a full view of the noble and extensive bay of Ramsay, and of the bold shore from that town and harbour, to the promontory of Maughold.-Porpoises are often seen playing in this bay. This monster, from which we now turn with loathing, was, it is said, formerly eaten with avidity by the old English epicure, and that ancient cookery exhausted all its art in mixing sauces for this delectable morceau.
But this is nothing to the luxury described by an Irish tourist, who says, " They have a dish in the interior of Ireland which is wholly unknown to the scientific kitchen of other nations. If you are desirous of animal food, and wish for a tidbit, they kill a calf just born, skin it, boil it, and you eat it with a spoon, and this they call shivery bob ! "
Should these admirable hints to the catering genius of the present luxurious times, ever come in the way of Mr Beckt, (the celebrated maitre d'hotel to the Prince of Wales) equaly famous for good dishes and good humour, their novelty will no doubt excite, from this master of his art, a few "majoi!s," and "estil possille?s''' with the accompaniment of an extra pinch of snuff.
Returning from the point of Ayre through Ramsay, the road is by a tolerably easy ascent to a very considerable eminence, from the summit of which the scene down upon the town and bay of Ramsay, with the surrounding country, presents a landscape of uncommon richness and variety.-The next village to Ramsay is
which derives its name from Maughold, who lived near the close of the fifth century, and after being a captain of Irish banditti, arrived in this Island (as tradition says) in a little leathern boat, his hands manacled, and bolts on his feet. He was in this condition cast upon the shore; and that the Bishop received him with admiration and pity, especially when he informed him that he had been a captain of robbers in Ireland, and that he voluntarily underwent this penance for his course of life. He retired to this village, and soon became illustrious for his piety and austerity.
In consequence of the fame he had acquired, he was unanimously chosen Bishop of Man; and so great was his pious celebrity, that St Bridget, one of the tutelar saints of Ireland, and foundress of Douglas Nunnery, visited him in his mountainous retreat, and received from his hands the veil of celibacy.
In confirmation of this legend, there is still visible a beautiful quadrangular pillar, rear the church gate of Kirk Maughold on which part of the history of the saint is evidently traced, particularly his interview with St Bridget.
And here, from my attachment to that frank and open-hearted nation, the Irish, I cannot resist the inclination which I feel to digress a little, and offer them my sincere congratulations, on this unequivocal record of their ancient fame in matters of gallantry, which proves that they were in former times, as they are at E?rescnt, the " favorites of the fair."
This partiality, however, of Miss Bridget in favor of an Irish Captain, for the holy office of protecting her chastity, together with her visit to him in his mountainous retreat, can not be expected to pass unnoticed by the censorious, and may possibly excite a senile at the expence of that pitous class of men, the military sons of Erin of the present day.
Should, however, any objections be urged' against the prudence of the lady, in confiding so precious a deposit as the virtue of a beautiful saint to the care of a man So! irregular in. his habits of life as this Irish Captain (by his own confession) had been, I know of no better defence to our for this fair Spinster, than a reference to the experience of country gentlemen of nodern times, upon: a point of such tender interest; to their feelings as the preservation! of their, hares and partridges, that " the most notorious poachers have Often made the best gatekeepers "
That the Irish will feel most grateful.to the Sensory of St Bridget for this early proof of female preference for. their nation, is not to be doubted; and at their next meeting to celebrate the memory, of their tutelar Saint, it is highly probable that these merry sons of St Patrick, in their bumper toasts, will not forget " the immortal memory of St Bridget and Captain Maughold ! "
Maughold head is a bold promontory,with tiers of moss-crowned rocks on its summit. Under these rocks is a fine spring, called St Maughold's Well, which formerly was, and is to this day, resorted to on account of its supposed medicinal virtues. An old legend relates, that it had once a character of high reputation in cases of barrenness; but how long it has lost that virtue, is not ascertained.- I should think it not unlikely to have been about the time of the Irish Priests leaving the Island, in whose custody the well used to be.
The church is built on a lofty promontory, in the middle of a most extensive cemetery, enclosed by a strong mound of earth, faced on the outside with stone. Here are many Runic inscriptions on monuments, cut upon long flat stones, which are read from the bottom upwards, the inscriptions are generally upon one edge of the stones, and upon both sides are crosses and little embellishments of men on horseback, or in arms, stags, dogs, birds, and other devices.
In this spacious cemetery is scattered so great a variety of ancient and modern grave-stones, (the natives of every degree having for ages made this their place of interment) that it is impossible to contemplate this vast mass of mortality of every age, rank, and condition, kings, warriors, priests, and peasants, that have been so long collecting, without calling to mind the sublime reflections of Mr Addison, upon his view of the tombs in Westminster Abbey; and often as they have been quoted, yet the moral they convey is so fine, and the language in which they are expressed so beautiful, as to render an apology for repeating them unnecessary.
" When I look (says he) upon the tombs of the greats every emotion of end dies in me; when I read the epitaphs of the beautiful, every inordinate desire goes out; when I meet with the grief of parents on a tombstone, my heart melts with compassion; when I see the tombs of the parents themselves, I consider the vanity of grieving for those we must quickly follow.
" When I see kings lying by those who deposed them; when I see rival wits placed side by side, or the holy men who divided the world with their contests and disputes, I respect with sorrow and astonishment on the little competitions, factions, and debates of mankind.
" When I read the several dates of the tombs of some that died yesterday, and some six hundred years ago, I consider that great day, when we shall all of us be contemporaries, and make our appearance together."
The views, from this elevated spot, of the ocean, the mountains, and vallies, in a high state of cultivation, are extensive and rich.
The country through which the road leads to Douglas, though in many places presenting very fine views, gradually declines in beauty.