The Stag Hunt on the Lake

Stag hunt on the lake near Muckross, portrayed at the moment when the quarry has been captured, and is held by the antlers against the side of a rowing boat manned by three liveried men. They are approached by a larger boat, with passengers under an awning, and by a small pack of hounds, their heads just emerging from the water. Further boats, a bridge, a large building and a densely wooded shoreline occupy the middleground, set against a backdrop of mountains.

Inscribed in Image

  • Caption outside of boundaries of image – The Stag Hunt on the Lake. / See Page

Image Details

Genre Landscape
Technique Etchings
Subject(s) Nature, Rural life
Geographical Location
  • Lough Leane - Lake
  • Kerry - County
  • Munster - Province
Keywords(s) Bathhouses, Boats, Deer, Dogs, Hunting, Lakes & ponds, Mansions, Men, Mountains, Passengers, Peasants, People, Sports & recreation, Women
Colour Monochrome
Dimensions 6.6 cm x
Published / created 1846

Bibliographical Details

Travel Account The Killarney Poor Scholar
Print or manuscript Print
Location of image in copy opp. p. 155
Source copy National Library of Ireland Ir 82389 s 78
Rights Courtesy of the National Library of Ireland

Related text from travel account

CHAPTER XIV. / From early day, vehicles of every kind were dashing into Killarney, to be ready for the stag hunt. The Clintons and Mr. Meredith were on the water, under the care of the Commodore, three hours before the appointed time for the hunt to commence. They landed at Brickeen bridge, whose very handsome single arch connects the island of Brickeen with Mucruss peninsula, while a smaller one connects Dinis island with Brickeen. These two islands are situated between the peninsula and the low land which stretches from Turk. Both these are richly wooded, and abound with luxuriant arbutus. They serve as resting- // places for the deer, which descend from Glenaà to feed in the meadows and plains of Mucruss. "How enchantingly," said Mrs. Clinton, "are the natural beauties of Dinis embellished by art, and how admirably is that gravel path made to wind among the rarest of both." "These lakes," said Mr. Meredith, "possess a variety of excellent fish, particularly salmon, carp, tench, trout, and eels. The pearl fish are frequently found in the river Laune, and some fine pearls from these have been taken. The mountains and woods abound with red deer, and moor-game are here plentiful; and that scarce and curious bird, the cock of the wood, has been formerly met with here. Eagles constantly breed here; and, in the season, there are plenty of woodcocks, wild swans, and always widgeon, teal, ducks, mallard, &c. "Boat, boat," shouted Barfly O'Donohue, "this way, this way, your honours, he'll be started in five minutes." They hurried on board, and the Commodore, taking his station off Darby's garden, ordered the oars to be shipped. It was an excellent position. Nothing could be better chosen. The red deer was started on G Glenaà mountain. With indescribable velocity it bounded up from rock to rock to gain the summit of the hill. The scene was beautiful and exciting: he doubled, and eluded the dogs more than hour. The whole bosom of the lake was covered with elegant pleasure boats, their gay little pennants waving bravely. Horns, bugles, and other instruments, provoked alternately the echoes wild and sweet. Now shouts arise from the mountain; the deer is turned and hunted down to the woods that border the lake. Hark again the hunter's horn ! Now bursts the musical cry of the deep-mouthed stag hounds—now the blended pursuit of men and dogs is borne on the ear. The poor deer is pressed closer and closer at every step, until finding no other chance of escape, he collects all his energies, puts forth at one effort his remaining strength, gives a single // desperate bound, and plunges at once into the lake. Oh, what a sensation! —true, but a momentary sensation—was excited by his courageous bearing. A dead silence was instantly succeeded by tremendous shouts, that were re-echoed far and wide, as the plunge was heard, and the silver spray of the lake was seen dashed high above his lofty antlers. The stag-hounds followed in full cry, and swam in chase for a considerable distance from the shore. At one and the same moment, fifty-three boats crowded with gay company, and decorated with various ornaments, pushed off to join in the water hunt. At once, full two hundred oars glanced in the sunbeam, as they arose, seemingly elastic, from the yielding water. All was anxiety to be a-head, and gaiety was in every heart. The fourth boat nearest to the swimming stag, (and who bore away most gracefully,) was that in the service of the "great West India mer- // chant." In her stern sat the Mac Donald family on cushions, while Ian Mac Ivor was occupied, from time to time, in settling Mr. Mac Donald's leg lounge, screening Mrs. Mac Donald from the fierce beams of an August noon, and in meeting all the various whims of the young ladies. In the boat's bow stood Yam and Ginger, actually weighed down with gold lace, gilt buttons, and monstrous hats, like umbrellas, stiff with the same costly materials, in the articles of broad bindings, bands, and rosettes. Now it so happened, that in order to make due impressions of his wealth and dignity on the exhilarated company, and add more animation to the animated scene, the lord of this great family took it into his wise head to carry out with him, on the grand occasion, a due supply of the ‘fragrant weed,’ and his superb meerschaum. Lolling in the luxury of enjoyment, he was amazing the Kerry population by the splendor of the tube, and the majesty of its proportions, when, in Mac Ivor's hurry to pick up Mrs. Mac Donald's fan, he // unluckily touched what is commonly called the crazy-bone of the merchant's elbow, and with such a smart, electric percussion, too, from his hard head, that never was cavalier, at rapier's point, more neatly and adroitly disarmed by his antagonist. Away flew the meerschaum out of the merchant's hand, and high and far, too, it was jerked into the lake! A roar, like the bellow of a buffalo, (excited equally by surprise, pain, and the loss of his meerschaum,) now burst from Mr. Macdonald; and the echoes of a sharp shrill response from his wife and his daughters, testified their perfect sense of his sufferings. "Why, you, Yam,—you, Ginger, jump direct-ly,—in this minute after your master's meerschaum !—jump!" "Oh, oh, ma!" screamed Miss Consty, "stop, stop them, ma; sure they have on their new liveries, that cost papa so much money!—No, no, ma; make some of these dirty sailors jump in." And she looked in vain at the boatmen; none pretended to hear; none made an effort to move. // At the first summons of their mistress, however, both Yam and Ginger prepared for the watery exhibition. They had not the remotest objection to display at this time their superior dexterity in the art of swimming, to the expected envy of the less practised beholders; and the visible coldness which seemed to disincline the sailors in the boat from obeying their mistress, they at once imputed to nothing but fear. Of fear from water, however, Yam and Ginger knew nothing. They could not well fancy, at any rate, how they themselves ought to fear any assaults of the salmon of Killarney, after having so often escaped from the fierce sharks of Kingston. Their recall was, therefore, rather a disappointment; and Ginger, in stooping to regain his former stand, suddenly dropped his hat overboard. This was rather too much for the negro to withstand; whether from the lingerings of his former wish for aquatic exercise, or in rueful anticipations of Mrs. Mac Donald's tongue, away then went the hat after the meer- // schaum, and away went black Ginger after the gold-laced hat. Cheers upon cheers, applauding to the very echo, followed from the numerous boats, and the interest of the scene was proportionably heightened, every eye being now intent upon the novel hunt. Ginger shot across the lake with a grin of confidence, which showed in fine relief his double row of strong white teeth. He sported on it as though he had but just found again his own native element; and, guided by the tasselled tuft on the crown though even its apparent magnitude was momentarily diminishing more and more, he at last was able to snatch at and regain it in the precise moment of its approaching fatality. Pushing away again for the meerschaum, having fixed the soaked hat tightly on his woolly head as he reared it, he found to his consternation that the splendid bauble was already in possession of a competitor with whom, his experience told him it would be very unsafe to contend. This was no other than a singularly // beautiful Newfoundland dog, whose body was snowy white, while his ears and tail glistened with jet-black hair. As Ginger advanced, the dog from time to time cast in that direction some very uninviting glances, which the black was scholar enough easily to interpret; and therefore sagaciously judging that the meerschaum must fall into hands that would not fail to restore it immediately to his master, he suffered the dog to bear it off unmolested; while Ginger, turning from the pursuit, for the amusement of the spectators, gave two or three rolls, like a young porpoise, and reached the boat of his master with the utmost celerity. By this time the stag showed evident symptoms of being unable much longer to evade his pursuers. Fatigued and overpowered, he was at last seized, almost unresisting, while the big tears rolled down his cheeks. He was taken into the leading boat, while all the crews of the escorting ones laid upon their oars and picked up the staghounds. The branching antlers of the captive // were tastefully decked with strawberry leaves, and then upon a given signal the entire fleet struck out in triumph, to the music of all the boats, for the wooded shore. As they neared it, the noble animal was set at liberty, and plunging into the water, he gallantly swam to the shore amidst the thundering acclamations of the assembled multitudes. The stag having once touched land, turned himself round towards the boats, by which he was so lately beset, and regarded them with a fixed look. He paused for a moment; when again erect in the pride of all his former strength, he glanced around him quickly on all sides and sprung forward into a thicket. [pp. 147-156]
The Stag Hunt on the Lake