Laetitia and her group visited Ross Castle, built by the O’Donoghue clan during the fifteenth century. The poet Lord Alfred Tennyson visited this area in 1848. The Victorian hotel that he stayed in offered boat rides at sunset. At a spot on the lake known for its echo, the boatman blew a bugle. Tennyson described this scene at sunset on Muckross Lake, with views of Ross Castle, O’Sullivan’s Cascade, and snowy peaks in several verses of a poem called The Princess:
The splendor falls on castle walls
And snowy summits old in story;
The long light shakes across the lakes
And the wild cataract leaps in glory.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
Blow, bugle, answer echoes, dying, dying, dying.
At Ross Castle, Laetitia and her group boarded a boat. The boat was wooden, constructed of lapped boards held with nails, similar to the Viking boats Laetitia had once seen at a museum in Oslo. According to the boatman, this style of boat has been used on the Killarney lakes for centuries. They went to Innisfallen Island and walked among the ruins of the monastery that had been founded by St. Finian, the Leper, in 640 AD. Thomas Moore had visited here and found it a magical place, describing it as a “fairy isle” in his poem/song, Sweet Innisfallen:
Sweet Inisfallen, long shall dwell
In memory’s dream that sunny smile
Which over thee on that evening fell
When first I saw that fairy isle.
On the return trip, the boatman told Laetitia about a local lad named Bret who hoped to use the island’s magic toward his own ends. The story became the basis of the limerick of the day.
In his boat, Bret delighted in haulin’
Young ladies to “Sweet Innisfallen”
Whom he wished to beguile
On Tom Moore’s “fairy isle”
A practice that some found appallin.’