[From Leech's Guide, 1861]



"Hast thou seen that lordly castle,
That castle by the sea?
Golden and red above it
The clouds float gorgeously.
And fain it would stoop downward
To the mirrored wave below;
And fain it would soar upward
In the evening’s crimson glow."

No visitor can be long resident in the Island without hearing of Tynwald Hill and Peel Castle. The "Tynwald day" occurs annually on the fifth of July, and visitors here at that period should secure the opportunity of witnessing the unique ceremony then observed, as well as viewing the varied scenery on the route.

Leaving Ramsey after an early breakfast, the tourist proceeds on the Lezayre road already described to Kirk Michael, and taking the road to the left after passing that village, Glen Willin and Glen More, in the latter of which is a very fine but little known waterfall, the chapel of ease to Kirk German parish, Cronk-y-Voddy, is reached at the summit of the ascent. The road then descends Craig Willy’s Hill, through wild and picturesque scenery, at the bottom of which is a neat cottage, and near it a suspension bridge. Further on is a small roadside inn, from which parties desirous of visiting Rhenass usually proceed. It is situated about half a mile up a narrow and romantic glen, and amply repays the visitor for the walk. The water forms a beautiful cascade, descending in foam into a deep pool beneath, and flows on through the prettily wooded dell. After passing the inn the road follows the downward course of the river which debouches at Peel, and reaches the high road between Douglas and Peel at Ballacraine. Turning off to the right, and about half a mile further on, is St. John’s Church, a new and elegant building, with a handsome spire. Close to this church is Tynwald Hill, a small conical grassy mound, with a succession of steps or terraces. Visitors may be rather disappointed with its diminutive appearance, its importance arising mainly from the historical and legislative associations connected with it. The only use to which it is now appropriated is the annual proclamation of newly enacted laws, without which they cannot be enforced; and appears to be a remnant of the very ancient Thingwald Courts, known also formerly in England. The proceedings commence with service in the church, where the Lieutenant Governor attends in uniform, and his council, consisting of tine Bishop, Deemsters, Archdeacon, Vicar-General, the other high officials, and the twenty-four members of the Honorable House of Keys, occupy the seats appropriated to them. They then form in procession and walk between lines of soldiers to the Tynwald hill, the highest part of which is occupied by the magnates, surrounded by the High Bailiffs, Clergymen, and Coroners, when the new laws are proclaimed in the Manx and English languages to the assembled multitude. The whole then disperse,some to attend the fair which is held on the same day on the adjoining green, some it may be to obtain refreshment in the tents, but the tourist should proceed to Peel, which is only about three miles distant. On reaching the town—if unprovided with materials for a picnic-on the Castle grounds, for which they are admirably adapted and much used—our tourists should at once order dinner at the Peel Castle or Marine hotel, otherwise, from the unusual press of visitors on that day, they will run great risk of faring indifferently.

One of the most interesting objects in the Island, from its extensive ruins, picturesque appearance, and historical importance, is Peel Castle, the palace of the Stanleys. It can be reached by a causeway, after crossing the river Neb, by a wooden bridge, but the better way is to take a boat from the quay, which is always in attendance, and in a few minutes conveys passengers across the mouth of the harbour to a dilapidated flight of steps, leading to a small iron-studded door, through which alone entrance can be obtained to the grounds of the castle. Here the intelligent artilleryman usually meets visitors, and conducts them through the castle, pointing out the prominent objects of interest, and relating the various historical anecdotes and traditions connected with the fortress, such as the imprisonment of the Duchess of Gloucester by Henry VI. in the year 1447, and the Earl of Warwick previously by Richard IL; the escape of Sir Walter Scott’s Fenella; or the superstitious legend of the Moddey-dhoo. The rocky islet on which the castle stands comprises about three or four acres, the greater part of which is inclosed within the walls. These walls are flanked by towers, and are said to have been erected by Thomas Earl of Derby, about the year 1500. The castle was formally granted by Henry IV. to the Stanley family. Within the walls are the ruins of the cathedral church of St. Germain, erected about the year 1245, with the episcopal residence adjoining. and underneath is the prison. Part of the ground within the cathedral has been appropriated to the burial of shipwrecked seamen, several gravestones recording the dates when they found a watery grave on the shores of the seagirt Isle. There also are the ruins of St. Patrick’s Church, of unknown antiquity and primitive construction, and said to be the oldest christian edifice on the Island. Near the centre of the grounds a tower ris~s to a considerable height, similar in appearance to the round towers of Ireland, but of smaller dimensions. The side of this tower, which is exposed to the prevailing westerly gales, exhibits a dilapidated appearance. It is said that the spray from the sea is frequently seen ascending far up its sides. The ground is covered with very fine short grass, and not ill adapted for the dances which sometimes take place there. The beating of the waves on the rugged rocks surrounding the castle has a very thrilling effect. Peel harbour is the principal resort of the vessels engaged in the herring fishing. A small tower stands on the hill above the castle, which has been named "Corrin’s Folly," and forms an excellent land mark. It was built by a Mr. Corrin as a family mausoleum. The town of Peel bears few indications of progress; the recent erection of gas works, however, and the proposed introduction of an abundant supply of pure water, promises favourably for the future. It is distinguished as a port not only for the number and excellence of its herring luggers, but for a description of very fast sailing schooners and smacks employed in the foreign and coasting trades, the building and outfit of which give profitable employment to tradesmen. The only manufactory of nets for the herring fishing on the Island is established here, and the enterprising proprietor kindly permits visitors to inspect the works, where the expeditious but somewhat mysterious process of manufacture is performed by young women. Having explored Peel Castle and the neighbourhood, our visitor may return to Ramsey by the shortest route, which is the shore road, seven miles to Kirk Michael. A pleasing view is obtained of the sea on one hand and hills on the other, and several romantic glens are passed.


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