Unimpressed by Lough Derg

Dublin Core


Unimpressed by Lough Derg


Lough Derg--Protestant critique--Negative description--William Carleton


A dismal scene of the view to the lake on the walk from Pettigo, originally included in Caesar Otway's 'Sketches in Ireland'


William Carleton, 1794-1869


Carleton, William, 'The Lough Derg Pilgrim', in Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry, pp. 238-39


W. Curry, jr. and Co., Dublin; W. S. Orr and Co., London




Digitised by archive.org, sponsored by University of California Libraries


Public domain






Description of Ireland




54.600640, -7.846374



Text Item Type Metadata


"The road from the village of Petigo leading towards Lough Derg, runs along a river tumbling over rocks ; and then after proceeding for a time over a boggy valley, you ascend into a dreary and mountainous tract, extremely ugly in itself, but from which you have a fine view indeed of the greatest part of the lower lake of Lough Erne, with its many elevated islands, and all its hilly shores, green, wooded, and cultivated, with the interspersed houses of its gentry, and the comfortable cottages of its yeomanry — the finest yeomanry in Ireland : men living in comparative comfort, and having in their figures and bearing that elevation of character which a sense of loyalty and independence confers. I had at length, after travelling about three miles, arrived where the road was discontinued, and by the direction of my guide, ascended a mountain-path that brought me through a wretched village, and led to the top of a hill. Here my boy left me, and went to look for the man who was to ferry us to Purgatory, and on the ridge where I stood I had leisure to look around. To the south-west lay Lough Erne, with all its isles and cultivated shores ; to the north-west, Lough Derg, and truly never did I mark such a contrast. Lough Derg under my feet — the lake, the shores, the mountains, the accompaniments of all sorts presented the very landscape of desolation; its waters expanding in their highland solitude, amidst a wide waste of moors, without one green spot to refresh the eye, without a house or tree — all mournful in the brown hue of its far-stretching bogs, and the grey uniformity of its rocks ; the surrounding mountains even partook of the sombre character of the place ; their forms without grandeur, their ranges continuous and without elevation. The lake itself was certainly as fine as rocky shores and numerous islands could make it : but it was encompassed with such dreariness ; it was deformed so much by its purgatorial island ; the associations connected with it were of such a degrading character, that really the whole prospect before me struck my mind with a sense of painfulness, and I said to myself, 'I am already in purgatory.' A person who had never seen the picture that was now under my eye, who had read of a place consecrated by the devotion of ages, towards which the tide of human superstition had flowed for twelve centuries, might imagine that St. Patrick's Purgatory, secluded in its sacred island, would have all the venerable and gothic accompaniments of olden time : and its ivied towers and belfried steeples, its carved windows, and cloistered arches, its long dark aisles and fretted vaults, would have risen out of the water, rivalling Iona or Lindisfarn ; but nothing of the sort was to be seen. The island, about half a mile from the shore, presented nothing but a collection of hideous slated houses and cabins, which give you an idea that they were rather erected for the purposes of toll-houses or police stations than any thing else."

Original Format




William Carleton, 1794-1869, “Unimpressed by Lough Derg,” Digital Derg: A Deep Map, accessed June 22, 2024, https://digitalderg.eu/items/show/26.