The O'Conors of Castle Conor
The O'Conors of Castle Conor
I shall never forget my first introduction to country life in Ireland, my first day's hunting
there, or the manner in which I passed the evening afterwards. Nor shall I ever cease to
be grateful for the hospitality which I received from the O'Conors of Castle Conor. My
acquaintance with the family was first made in the following manner. But before I begin
my story, let me inform my reader that my name is Archibald Green.
I had been for a fortnight in Dublin, and was about to proceed into county Mayo on
business which would occupy me there for some weeks. My head-quarters would, I
found, be at the town of Ballyglass; and I soon learned that Ballyglass was not a place in
which I should find hotel accommodation of a luxurious kind, or much congenial society
indigenous to the place itself.
"But you are a hunting man, you say," said old Sir P- C-; "and in that case you will soon
know Tom O'Conor. Tom won't let you be dull. I'd write you a letter to Tom, only he'll
certainly make you out without my taking the trouble."
I did think at the time that the old baronet might have written the letter for me, as he had
been a friend of my father's in former days; but he did not, and I started for Ballyglass
with no other introduction to any one in the county than that contained in Sir P-'s promise
that I should soon know Mr. Thomas O'Conor.
I had already provided myself with a horse, groom, saddle and bridle, and these I sent
down, en avant, that the Ballyglassians might know that I was somebody. Perhaps, before
I arrived Tom O'Conor might learn that a hunting man was coming into the
neighbourhood, and I might find at the inn a polite note intimating that a bed was at my
service at Castle Conor. I had heard so much of the free hospitality of the Irish gentry as
to imagine that such a thing might be possible.
But I found nothing of the kind. Hunting gentlemen in those days were very common in
county Mayo, and one horse was no great evidence of a man's standing in the world. Men
there as I learnt afterwards, are sought for themselves quite as much as they are
elsewhere; and though my groom's top-boots were neat, and my horse a very tidy animal,
my entry into Ballyglass created no sensation whatever.
In about four days after my arrival, when I was already infinitely disgusted with the little
Pot-house in which I was forced to stay, and had made up my mind that the people in
county Mayo were a churlish set, I sent my horse on to a meet of the fox-hounds, and
followed after myself on an open car.
No one but an erratic fox-hunter such as I am,--a fox-hunter, I mean, whose lot it has
been to wander about from one pack of hounds to another,--can understand the
melancholy feeling which a man has when he first intrudes himself, unknown by any one,
among an entirely new set of sportsmen. When a stranger falls thus as it were out of the