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Seaside places of Clare – 1871

The Irish Times 1st August, 1871 p 3.
Lisdoonvarna Spas and Sea Side Places of Clare, by E. D. Mapother, M.D. Price 1s, Dublin: Fannin and Co., 1871


Is there any of our readers who desires a short sojourn amid beautiful scenery, with the briny breezes of the Atlantic for his lungs, and the choice of a great variety of mineral waters for his digestive system? He can effect this purpose conveniently and economically by a visit to the places, the names of which stand at the head of this notice. Leaving the Broadstone station at 8.50 a.m., he can reach Athenry at 1.40, and Gort an hour later. From Gort station, a well-appointed two-horse car will take him to Lisdoonvarna at about 8 p.m., for a 4s fare. The traveller who has no objection to linger on the way will find enough to interest him for a few hours’ in both the former places. At Gort he will be charmed with the beautiful Lough Cooter, the bold outlines of the Burren and Derrybrian mountains, and the fantastic course of the river alternately subterranean, and revealed to view which flows from Lough Cooter into the Bay of Kinvarra, forming the Ladle, the Punchbowl, the Beggarman’s Hole and the Churn on the way. Athenry is celebrated for its extensive and interesting ruins, attesting the ancient importance of the town as the seat of the presidency of Connaught in the days of Elizabeth and her successors, down to Cromwell. From Gort the car takes him along the southern coast of Galway by Kinvarra, New Quay (a pretty bathing place) and Ballyvaghan, the most picturesque view being had from the Corkscrew road which winds upwards from a point three miles beyond Ballyvaghan. The barony of Burren, in which Lisdoonvarna is situated, was described by Cromwell’s General, Ludlow, in terms suggestive of the business which brought him there. He says; “This is a country in which there is not water enough to drown a man, wood enough to hand a man, nor earth enough to bury a man.” There is earth enough, however, to feed some of the best mutton in Ireland, as those who dine at either of the two hostelries of Lisdoonvarna will allow.
The mineral springs are five in number; one of them, called by Dr. Mapother the Double-Arch Iron Spa, is now disused. Of the others, two are sulphur springs, and one of those is the Gowlaun, sufficiently copious to supply baths. A third spring, the Rathbaun, is a chalybeate, and contains as much iron in ten pints as Newbridge Spa contains in seven. The remaining spa is magnesian, but Dr. Mapother says that “it scarcely deserves the name.”
The first medical writer who gave an account of the mineral springs of Lisdoonvarna was the famous Dr. Lucas, M.P. for Dublin, whose statue adorns the City Hall. His analysis was made in 1840 and is quoted seventeen years later by Dr. Rutty, in a work now hard to get, entitled the “Mineral Waters of Ireland.” The barony of Burren, in which Lisdoonvarna is situated is, says Dr. Rutty, “remarkably rocky and dry, the air, wholesome, and the herbage between the rocks which lie very close together very sweet and nourishing, so that the farmers send their cattle in winter thither and it fattens them better than hay would do.”
There can be no doubt about the rocks nor the wholesomeness of the air, nor the sweetness of the pasture; but if Lisdoonvarna was remarkably dry in Rutty’s time the climate must have undergone a considerable change in the hundred and odd years that have elapsed since he wrote. Dr. Mapother’s little book, gives a far more correct and complete account of the mineral springs of the County Clare than any previously published. Dr. Apjohn’s pamphlet is out of print. Dr. Mapother quotes from it, however, the analyses made by that eminent chemist Dr. Apjohn, who wrote in 1853, adds:
“This consideration indicated by science is amply confirmed by experience, for the numerous invalids who visit annually these waters bear the strongest testimony to their curative powers; and the Chalybeate springs of Lisdoonvarna are now recommended with confidence to their patients by the most eminent members of the faculty in the metropolis and other parts of Ireland.” Dr. Mapother seems to rank the principal sulphur spring quite as highly as the chalybeate for its special purpose. His testimony ought to be conclusive on the subject for he is known to have made a careful study of the spas of England and of the United States as well as of his own country. The visitor will be at no lack for splendid coast scenery. The far-famed cliffs of Moher, Galway Bay, on the one hand, and the Shannon on the other, with the islands which fringe the coast, are all within easy reach by car or boat. The cars are well horsed and always to be had, the tariff being 6d per Irish mile, the cheapest travelling, perhaps in the world. Dr. Mapother makes an admirable suggestion which we give in his own words (p page 46)
“The greatest benefit to the poor labourers and artisans would arise from the establishment of an Infirmary at Lisdoonvarna, where the victims of rheumatic gout, a disease more prevalent in Ireland than in any other country, could be lodged, and inexpensively fed. The cost of a plain building, to contain twenty beds, need not exceed £300; and allowing each patient from two to three weeks’ residence, about 200 would be relieved in the season, from May 1st to October 31st. The maintenance and attendance of the patients would cost from £200 to £260 for these six months, and much of it would be readily subscribed by the proprietors, who would profit by the proven value of the spas, by the wealthier visitors, and by public bodies who sent patients there. Such institutions, similarly supported, exist on a large scale at Buxton and many other famous health resorts, which I feel are in no degree superior to that which I have now inadequately described.”

Author:

B.A., M.A.(Archaeology); Regional Tour Guide; Dip. Radio Media Tech; H.Dip. Computer Science.

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