HOLYHEAD

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HOLYHEAD is familiar to every reader as the favourite point of rendezvous for
all who are on their way to the Irish capital. By the admirable arrangements of the Post-
office, and the sure and swift-sailing packets that are here in regular attendance, a
passage across the Channel is now a matter of as much certainty, as to time, as that
of the mail from London. The perfect order and the surprising expedition with which
passengers and dispatches may thus be forwarded to and from Dublin are the general
theme of admiration amongst foreigners, and a means of vast accommodation to our
own commercial houses. During a long series of years the improvement of Holyhead
has engaged the special attention of Government; every suggestion, entitled to the
approbation of skilful and experienced engineers, has been liberally carried into effect:
so that in the present day it seems hardly possible that any packet-station can offer
greater facilities for all the purposes of Government, or for the interests of social and
commercial intercourse, than Holyhead. The steam vessels that carry the daily mails
are of the best possible construction, commanded by experienced naval officers, and
affording excellent accommodation for the passengers who are constantly passing to
and fro between the British and Irish shores.

The harbour of Holyhead is shaped by the natural cliffs, which overhang the sea,
on the verge of which stand the ancient sanctuary of the place and its cemetery. The
foundation of thus church — originally a small monastery — dates from the close of the
fourth century: it was long afterwards remodelled into a college of presbyters by one of
the Lords of Anglesey; and, after under- going many alterations suitable to the varying
taste of the ages through which it has passed, it assumed its present appearance —
that of an embattled edifice built in the shape of a cross.

Under the Head — the mountain from which the harbour takes its name, and
which overshadows the town — are two rocky eminences nearly opposite the church,
both of which are crowned with ruins which carry the mind far back among the bright
days of Cambrian independence. In the rock is a wide and lofty cavern, supported
by natural columns, on which tradition has conferred the title of the Parliament-
house; and it is not to be denied that patriotic legislators have been often worse
accommodated. This curiosity requires to be visited in a boat. On the highest point
stands an uncemented circular stone wall, about ten feet in circumference, which is
conjectured to have served as a pharos in ancient times; for this coast has a perilous
celebrity attached to it, and no vessel could safely approach the haven by night without

a warning signal of this kind.

The pier of Holyhead is admirably constructed. It is built on a small island north
of the harbour, called Inys-halen, and combines in an eminent degree the requisites
of security and accommodation in a work of such importance to the interests of trade.
The foundation was laid in 1809, under fortunate auspices; and the grand object,
which had been so long and anxiously cherished, was happily accomplished, under
the able direction of Mr. Rennie, within a comparatively short period. It has a depth
of four fathoms water, so that vessels of heavy burden can ride at anchor in perfect
safety. At the extremity is a lighthouse, finely proportioned, substantially built, and highly
ornamental as well as useful to the pier and harbour.

The pier extends a thousand feet in length; and close adjoining to it are the
Customhouse, with several respectable family houses, among which are those for the
harbour-master and resident engineers. The lighthouse contains twenty lamps and
reflectors, at an elevation of more than fifty feet above the sea, and exhibiting in every
direction a steady blaze of light. At the present time, works for improving and enlarging
the harbour are proceeding on a very extensive scale, and bid fair, upon completion, to
render Holyhead one of the first harbours of the United Kingdom.

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