Description of the Scalp – 1822

From ‘Guide to the County of Wicklow’ by Rev. G.N. Wright
Published by Baldwin, Cradock and Joy, Paternoster Row (London) 1822







Two miles from Enniskerry, on the Dublin road, and in the county of Dublin, which commences at the bridge of that village, is the extraordinary chasm in the range of
Dublin mountains, called the Scalp. Here the opposite hills appear to have been rent asunder by some tremendous convulsive shock, and being composed of granite
strata, the internal structure, when exposed to view, presents the secret recesses of mature in an awful and appalling point of view. Enormous masses of granite, many
tons in weight, are tossed about in the most irregular manner, and so imperfect and unfinished was the effort of nature in creating this gulf, that the opposite sides of the
pass are distant only the breadth of a narrow road from each other; in some places immeasurable masses actually, interrupt the continued regularity of the limit of the road,
As road-makers in latter days appear so adverse to any thing like a consideration of the picturesque, so in this instance they have destroyed the effect produced in passing
through. this frightful chasm, by what they call an improvement; formerly the road passed in the exact point in which the opposite sides, if continued downward, might be supposed to meet, and so on each side rose those confused and chaotic masses of rock, apparently possessing so slight a dependence upon each other that you are uncertain of what moment their obruitive motion may commence again; but the short road lately made through part of-the defile runs along the side of one of the hills, amongst the rude masses themselves, so that the height of both sides is apparently much diminished, and the conquest here effected of art over nature lessens our idea of her wonderful works.

To the east of the Scalp, a lead mine has been opened some years since, by a company of persons in Dublin, and worked for some time with varying success. Here mica is found in great abundance with a sort of greyish white splintery quartz with mica flakes interwoven – an approximation to quartz rock of which Shankill peak, In the neighbouring district, is totally composed.

The Scalp - c1900

The Scalp – c1900

Beyond the mines of Shankill, or Ballycorus, on the declivity of the hill is an ancient castle, the external wall of which is still perfect, and used as a shepherd’s dwelling. In this edifice, called Puck’s Castle, the unhappy monarch James, slept the night after his defeat at Old Bridge, while his army bivouacked in front. Tradition states, that James being apprehensive of an ambush, in the woods of Windgate , took a boat at Killiney-bay, and coasted to the town of Wicklow, where he slept in a house now inhabited by Dr. Smith.*

The Dublin road is now one continued descent of eight miles, passing through a few villages of little consequence, Kilternan, Golden-ball, Steepaside +, Kilgobbin, where
there is an old castle, Sandyford, and Dundrum, three miles from Dublin, a place remarkable for the purity and wholesomeness of its atmosphere, and where invalids come
from town in crowds every morning, in the summer season, to drink goats whey **; Windy Harbour #, Milltown, upon the river Dodder, Cullenswood, and Ranelagh, which last place is in the suburbs of Dublin.

* This anecdote relative to King James rests an the authority of an
unpublished MS. in the possesion of a private individual. From
Wicklow, he must have proceeded tn Shelton abbey, in the vale of
Arklow, which was the last place he slept at in the county of Wicklow.

+sw Stepaside
**sw now Goatstown
#sw or Windy Arbour

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