View of Pig Island, east of Portacloy, Co. Mayo. An arch in the steep cliffs allows passage under the overhanging rocks; beyond the gap, the distant cliffs of the Stags of Broad Haven are visible. A sailing boat is shown to the left of the cliffs.

Inscribed in Image

  • Caption outside of boundaries of image – Innismuck.

Image Details

Genre Landscape
Technique Wood engravings
Subject(s) Marines, Nature
Geographical Location
  • Pig Island - Island
  • Mayo - County
  • Connaught - Province
Keywords(s) Birds, Boats, Cliffs, Islands, Pigs, Rock formations, Seas
Colour Monochrome
Dimensions 7.5 cm x 8.7 cm
Published / created 1841

Bibliographical Details

Travel Account Sketches in Erris and Tyrawly
Print or manuscript Print
Location of image in copy p. 292
Source copy National Library of Ireland Ir 914123 o 2
Alternative source

This is a link to a digital copy hosted by an external website.
Rights Courtesy of the National Library of Ireland

Related text from travel account

Having got another boat and crew, now under the command of Lieutenant Henri, we started for Portnacloy, and again we were called on for continued admiration. The mountains rose higher and higher, and consecutively these mountains were also broken down, as they appear to be all along this coast — the precipices became higher, and the ruins of the great breakage more various and magnificent ; and still we kept under the cliffs, and safely on the placid sea kept our way, hugging the shore. And now a long and lofty headland stood out northward, and beyond it stretched a long island, high and rocky, through the centre of which an arch is worn, looking through which you can see afar off the sun-lit ocean; rising out of its bosom the as yet distant Stags of Broad-haven. Were we to go through this arch that had been perforated through the island, which bears the euphonic name of Pig, or in Irish, Innismuck, or were we to pass between the headland and the island?
While I was thus uncertain of our course, one of the boatmen showed us where a man, who with his corragh was on this side of the headland, and hearing that his neighbours were taking plenty of fish on the other side, and aware that he dare not, in the rough sea, attempt to work round, actually fixed his boat on his back, and carried it over at a place so perpendicular, that it would appear scarcely possible [p. 294] for him to carry himself. While talking of the resolute energy of the man, our steersman had rounded a point of cliff unobserved by me, and all at once another magnificent passage presented itself, which I had the honour of passing through. This is similar in height and breadth to Moista Sound, but much more interesting. For some forty or fifty feet above the level of the water, the passage is closed up at top, and underneath is a natural arch. You get under this without any difficulty, in the present placid state of the sea, and you see at once that you owe to a perforated trap-dyke the opening that is formed for you. And now you are under this arch — look up — your boat has somewhat more room here than at Moista. Observe the black mass of basalt overhead — it goes up from thence 500 feet. What is to hinder this vein, twelve feet thick, from coming down and crushing you? I am sure I cannot tell. It has no key- stone, no wedge-like masses of rock. Is my friend Henri right, and is the trap safe and sure above, beyond the action of the sea, that has no power of working away at the disintegrated rock on either side? Be this as it may, here is a stupendous bridge, some 600 feet high, and as noble an arch as any in the world, by means of which you pass right through, a lofty and long headland from one bay into another. The poor fisherman who carried his boat on his back over the six hundred feet of headland, dare not venture through in a stiff gale; it is well we had our opportunity — what a contrast this gloomy arch presents to all that is bright and sunny in the land-locked bays on either side. The basalt is black over- [p. 295] head; the sides have no tints save those of sombre ochre; and there is, while your boat is kept stationary, a drop, heavy and fast coming down on either side of you. I am not sure whether the clamour here of the sea birds that were soaring and circling all around, their multifarious and multitudinous voices, their black, white, blue and grey colours, two or three eagles as it were reposing on their broad wings high overall, and sending out occasionally their lordly voices, which I cannot describe better than likening them to an angry man's laugh, — I say, I am not sure whether all this animal din might not be too much for delicate ears; but in such a place, amidst all the natural grandeur, with every thing in keeping — so savage — it was to me a glorious accompaniment, befitting a scene where man was but a rare intruder on the nesting-place of the oceanic birds, and the home of the eagle. [pp. 293-295]