Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition
The Flight of the Earls (Author: Tadhg Ó Cianáin)

section 73

The next day the Earl proceeded over the Alps. Ó Néill remained in the town we have mentioned. He sent some of his people to search again for the money. Though they endured much labour, their efforts were in vain. Because of the snow and ruggedness and ice of the mountain in front of them, they were scarcely able to ride the next day except in the way that is usual when crossing the Alps. There were strong oxen with sleighs yoked to them bringing all of them that could not travel over the hard road. There is a splendid chapel on the very summit of the mountain erected and built in honour of Saint Gotthard. From it that portion of the mountain has taken its name. Near it there is a convenient hostel in which strangers and those who pass the way get supplies to buy. The roads over which they travelled immediately after having departed from that chapel were neither excellent nor such as would be level enough for riding on wild, spirited, untamed horses, but as they descended from the mountain they were icy, stony, narrow and rugged until they reached a town called Airolo. The worst and hardest portion of the mountain is only three leagues long. After that they went through a very beautiful valley until they reached the


gate called the Gate of Hell. Over it was written in Italian that no one, under pain of death, should go under it or past it without paying custom. The keeper did not neglect demanding and receiving it. The road was rough, rugged, narrow, and uneven until they reached Faido, and was crossed by a hard difficult river. The Earl was there waiting for them in the house of an earl of that country who does kindness and honour to every foreigner and every class of strangers who pass the way. He quickly and readily gave them dinner and provisions. Each of them paid no more than one half-crown at the settlement of their account with the master of the stable for the horses, the chamberlain and servants of the house being not forgotten besides. They remained there that night. Their journey was six leagues.