Visitors to our Village

The History of Irish Travel and Tourism project is looking for support from the Arthur Guinness Projects funds, and you can vote every day until close of polls this Friday. Below are some interesting nuggets from travel documentation that I have found, and the aim of the people behind this website is to make a lot more available. Do give them a vote!

An Extensive View of Enniskerry, ca 1795. (Courtest of Fota House, Cork)

An Extensive View of Enniskerry, ca 1795. (Courtesy of Fota House, Cork)

One of the interesting things about people writing about travelling through our area in the 1700s is that they rarely mentioned Enniskerry. More often than not, as you trace their journey, waiting for them to turn the corner out of the Scalp and give us a wave, they talk about the inn at Tinnehinch. Enniskerry didn’t feature. Even artistic work of the time overlooked us. Jonathon Fisher’s wonderful painting “An Extensive View of Enniskerry”, is in fact “An Extensive View of Tinnehinch“, which I realised after a visit to Cork, where it is hanging in Fota House.

There was a coaching inn at Tinnehinch, and although probably didn’t have what we would consider good customer relations today, it lasted until the land was earmarked for Grattan who built or rebuilt Tinnehinch House on or near the site of the inn.

Soon after, confusion between Tinnehinch and Enniskerry disappeared. Suddenly Enniskerry and the Dargle Glen emerge to be commonly mentioned, so much so that they joined Powerscourt Waterfall as the “go-to” destinations, tourist attractions in their own right (more on visitors to the waterfall here). Clean air and terrifying glens were among the Lonely Planet equivalent’s “Top Ten” things to do.

Enniskerry, by George Hodson Bt., hidden a folder of mostly Alpine scenes (NLI)

Enniskerry, by George Hodson Bt., hidden a folder of mostly Alpine scenes (NLI)

All this gives some insight as to what Enniskerry was like prior to its development (“miserable” in one account) and when things started to change. I often wonder if Grattan hadn’t been given the land at Tinnehinch, would we be going to Spar at Charleville gates. Powerscourt’s improvements to the village changed it into a gentrified place. The Scottish traveller Ritchie wrote in 1837 that the village was:

a neat and finely situated little place. The annexed view is not only poetical, but so correct in the details, that I amused myself by letting some of the inhabitants point out their own individual. The one in the centre of the piece, at the right hand corner of the bridge, is the hotel, and a very good village hotel it is.

Ritchie was disturbed by a traveller later that night:

A young Irishman, half clothed, and very little acquainted with the English language, demanded alms at the door, as the servant supposed, and could not be prevailed upon to go without seeing ” the masther.” When I made my appearance, he explained that he was not a beggar, but a “thraveller” on his way to London, and that he wanted nothing at all at all, only just a night’s lodging.

The inn here is of course now the Powerscourt Arms, another old coaching inn, but not nearly as well known in the previous century as that at Tinnehinch. It just about got a mention in 1797 from the French visitor, De La Tocnaye.

Enniskerry 1783 by Francis Wheatley 1747-1801

Enniskerry 1783 by Francis Wheatley 1747-1801

Images and drawings also provide clues to our development. Brocas’ drawing of the bridge in 1822, Lewis Wingfield’s photo in the late 1850s and the later photos of the village show the progression from three arches to iron bridge to the gorgeous single span bridge we have today. One image that I don’t think I will ever identify the location of is this one called “Enniskerry”, by Francis Wheatley. Answers on a postcard…

All this is a brief summary of why traveller records in word and sketch are important to gaining an intimate sense of how a locality develops. There must be a lot more out there. I happened across a view of Enniskerry in a folder of Alpine scenes by George Hodson. How many more are hidden? The experts want to help… do consider supporting the HITT project today!

More references to Enniskerry in early travel literature are here.