Touring The Scalp, Enniskerry, and Powerscourt – by Poem
Of the dozens (hundreds?) of travel narratives about touring in Wicklow and Ireland from the 19th century, here is a more unusual one from Major Cosby, who in 1835, published his tour of Wicklow in the form of a poem. A extract for our locality is below:
THE SCALP, ENNISKERRY, AND POWERSCOURT.
The Scalp we pass, where massive stones
Suspended are to break your bones :
On either side rise heap on heap,
So you are glad to make escape.
This surely is a curious gap,
Formed the traveller to entrap.
Now on we go to Enniskerry,
Elysian fields without a ferry.
Then close we are to Powerscourt,
Where all of taste must needs resort.
In arm-chair there sat the King-
In Ireland sure a rarish thing.
From the saloon there is a view,
That does all other views outdo :
Undulating grounds, valleys, woods,
And rumbling tumbling noise of floods;
In distance seen that beauteous cone,
By name of Sugar-loaf well known ;
Which does all other views out-top,
Like loaf uncapt in grocer’s shop :
Its base enwrapt in dusky blue,
How sweet its top in mountain-dew.
The Deer-park and the Waterfall,—
May my genius compass all.
Cosby adds the following note regarding the Scalp:
This is a very extraordinary separation of an immense mass of coarse asunder in a convulsion of nature; and the overtopping masses rolling down into the yawning gulf, are thrown into promiscuous confusion of greater and lesser masses of distinct stones of many tons weight resting on each other, leaving several half projecting from the sides, that seem merely to retain their balance. The fine effect of this interesting object has been greatly injured, not by the levelling hand of time, but by road-makers, who, to remove a mole-hill in comparison to the ascent at Enniskerry and fall to Tinnehinch, but two miles farther on, have cut a straight line along the side.
Oh vile draymen* of road-makers,
Would you had been undertakers,
And so have earned an honest bread
By chis’ling tomb-stones for the dead;
Not thus, by breaking massive stones,
But from the grave raise dead men’s bones,
And leave to death to level all,
And to the Scalp its sloping fall.