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Co. Cork – Lewis – A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1849)

CORK (County of), a maritime county of the province of Munster. and the largest in Ireland, bounded on the east by the counties of Tipperary and Waterford, on the north by that of Limerick, on the west by that of Kerry, and on the south-west, south, and south-east by St. Georges Channel. It extends from 51° 12′ to 52° 13 (N. Lat.), and from 7° 45′ to 10° 3′ (W. Lon.); and comprises 1,846,333 statute acres, of which 1,308,882 are arable land, 465,889 uncultivated, 52,180 under plantations, 6515 in towns and villages, and 12,867 under water. The population, in 1821, was 629,786; in 1831, 700,359 and in 1841, 773,398 exclusively of the city of Cork.

The earliest inhabitants of the south-western part of this extensive territory are designated by Ptolemy Uterns or Utrini, and by other writers Iberni, Iberi, and Juerns. They occupied most of the southern part of the country subsequently called Desmond: their situation, in the opinion of some authors, proves them to have been of Spanish Iberian origin; and their name, as well as that of the tribes from which they are thought to have sprung, and the designation Ibernia or Hibernia, applied to the whole island even by Ptolemy, was derived from the western situation of the country they inhabited. From Ptolemy’s map, it appears that the most eastern maritime part of the county in the south of Cork was, in the same age, inhabited by a people whom he called Vodia or Vodii, bat who are unnoticed both by Sir James Ware and Dr. Charles O’Conor. The Coriondi, whose name still bears some affinity to the Irish appellation of a tract in the county, were according to Smith, the inhabitants of the middle and northern parts, particularly near the present city of Cork; and are said to have sprung from the Coritani, a British tribe occupying a tract in the eastern part of England. The ancient divisions of the country prior to the English settlements, were intricate, and at present can with difficulty be ascertained. The whole formed the southern and most important part of the petty kingdom of Cork, or, as it is sometimes erroneously called, Desmond; which comprised also the western portion of the present county of Waterford, and all Kerry. Desmond, signifying “South Monster,” was properly only the south-western part of the principality, and was divided into three portions, of which the whole of that called lvelagh or Evaugh, including the country between Bantry and Baltimore, and also that called Bear, lying between Bantry and the Ken mare river, are included in the modern county of Cork. Bear still partly retains its ancient name, being divided into the baronies of Bear and Bantry. Evaugh is included in the barony of West Carbery, which, with East Carbery, Kinalmeaky, and Ibawn or Ibane and Barry roe, anciently formed an extensive territory, deriving its name from its chieftain, Carbry Riada: in this territory, are said to have been settled four of the eight families of royal extraction in Minister, the head of one of which was M’Carty Reagh, sometimes styled Prince of Carbery. Kerrycurrihy was anciently part of Muserry Ilane, which comprised also the barony of Imokilly, on the north side of Cork harbour: the only maritime territory remaining unnoticed, viz. Kinnalea, was formerly called Insovenagh. Besides Kerrycurrihy and Imokilly, the entire central part of the county, between the rivers Lee and Blackwater, formed a portion of the ancient territory of Muskerry, which name the western portion of it still retains. The north-western extremity of the county, constituting the present barony of Duhallow, is in some old writings called Alla and Dubh Alla; and its chief, who, to a very late period, enjoyed almost regal authority, was sometimes styled Prince of Duhallow. The remainder, to the north of the Blackwater, formed, before the English conquests, a principality of the O’Keefes, called Fearmuigh.

Henry II., about the year 1177, granted to Robert Fitz-Stephen and Milo de Cogan the whole kingdom of Cork, except the city and the cantred belonging to the Ostmen settled there, which he retained in his own hands, they were able to take possession of seven cantreds lying nearest the city, receiving tribute from the other twenty-four. They introduced other Anglo-Norman families and their retainers; and the military colony thus established was never completely uprooted. Cork was one of the districts erected into a county by King John, and the English power was gradually extended by the divisions arising from female inheritance and inferior grants; large tracts of country were successively held by the Carews, De Coureys, and other families, the first of whom, styled Marquesses of Cork, built the castle of Donemark, in the western part of the county, and others in Imokilly, for protection against the natives. The chief men of this family, however, with many other English settled here, removed into England on the breaking out of the civil war between the houses of York and Lancaster; while De Courcy, who remained, besides divesting himself of some of his possessions, which he gave in marriage with his daughters, lost a considerable portion by the superior power of the native chiefs. The English were thus greatly reduced both in numbers and influence, and were subsequently further weakened by the usurping measures of the earls of Desmond, to whom Robert Fitz-Geoffry Cogan granted all bis lands in Ireland, including one-half of Cork, but the whole was forfeited by the attainder of the last earl, in 1582. This induced the settlement of new colonies of the English; for although a considerable portion was regranted to the Fitz-Geralds and other resident families, the rest of the forfeitures were divided in seigniories and granted by letters-patent to several English gentlemen, who were called undertakers, from being bound to perform the conditions mentioned in the articles for the plantation of this province with English, who were consequently settled here in great numbers, especially by Sir Richard Boyle, afterwards created Earl of Cork. In the Spanish invasion of 1600, this county was wholly the scene of operations, particularly in the vicinity of Kinsale. During the civil war which broke out in 1641, the bands of trained English contributed much to the maintenance of British interests here, which, however, were greatly weakened by these commotions, until in a measure renewed, towards the period of the Restoration, by the settlement of republican officers, soldiers, and adventurers. The Protestant inhabitants of English descent again proved their strength by the most active and important services in 1691.

This large county contains the whole of the united dioceses of Cork, Ross, and Cloyne, and about 28,800 plantation acres of that of Ardfert and Aghadoe. By the statute of the 4th of George IV., cap. 93, it was divided, for the more frequent holding of general sessions of the peace, into two districts, called the East and West Ridings. The former comprises the baronies of Duhallow, Orrery and Kilmore, Condons and Clongribons, Fermoy, Kinnatalloon, Imokilly, Kerrycurrihy, Kinnalea, Barrymore, Barretts, and East Muskerry with the exception of the parishes of Ahinagh and Aghabologue; together with the baronies of Cork and Kinsale. The West Riding is composed of the baronies of Ibane and Barryroe, Beer or Bear, Bantry, West Muskerry, Kinaimeaky, Gourdes, East Carbery (East and West divisions), and West Carbery (East and West divisions), with the two parishes of Ahinagh and Aghabologue in the barony of East Muskerry. Besides the city of Cork, which forms a county of itself, the shire contains the borough, market, and sea-port towns of Youghal and Kinsale; the borough and market towns of Bandon and Mallow; the sea-port and market towns of Cove and Bantry; the market and post towns of Fermoy, Skibbereen, Macroom, and Dunmanway; the ancient disfranchised boroughs of Baltimore, Castlemartyr, Charleville, Clonakilty, Doneraile, Midleton, and Rathcormac, all of which, except the first, are post-towns; the post-towns of Ballincollig, Buttevant, Castlctown-Bearhaven, Castle-town-Roche, Cloyne, Innishannon, Kanturk, Kildorrery, Kilworth, West Millstreet, Mitchelstown, Passage, and Rosscarbrry; and the small towns of Castle-Lyons, Crookhaven, Liscarrol, and Timoleague. Prior to the Union it sent twenty-four members to the Irish parliament, being two for the county at large, and two for each of the eleven boroughs; besides the two for the county of the city of Cork. At the Union it was allowed to send to the Imperial parliament two representatives for the county at large, two for the city of Cork, and one each for the boroughs of Bandon, Kinsale, Mallow, and Youghal. The enactments of 1832 made no alteration in the number of representatives, but constituted each Riding a separate jurisdiction for the purposes of registry: the county members are elected at the court-house in the city of Cork. The total number of voters registered in 1843, amounted to 4611, of whom 1416 wen £50, 490 £20, and 1701 £10, freeholders; 182 £20, and 732 £10, leaseholders, and 90 rent-chargers.

The county is included in the Munster circuit; the assizes are held in the city of Cork. By the act of the 4th of George IV.; it was enacted that five general sessions of the peace should be holden in alternate months in each of the two ridings, so that in the county at large a session is held every mouth, except the two months in which the general-sessions are holden for the entire county. The sessions for each division were directed to be holden, for the Katt Riding, alternately in the city of Cork, and at Midleton, Fermoy, Mallow, and Kanturk; and for the West Riding, alternately at Bandon, Macroom, Bantry, Skibbereen, and Clonakilty; the precise days to be settled by the high-sheriff, the two assistant barristers, and the clerk of the peace. In all processes connected with these sessions, the several divisions were directed by the act to be carefully distinguished as Cork County East Riding, and Cork County West Riding; but with the exception of the power given to the Lord-Lieutenant to appoint an assistant barrister for each, with a salary equal to that of similar officers in entire counties, the officers and jurisdiction of the county are not in any manner different from those which are customary. In the city of Cork are the county gaol and house of correction, rules for the management of which were drawn up by a committee of the magistrates in 1816, and afterwards embodied in the general act for the prisons of Ireland. There are, besides, seventeen bridewells, situated respectively at Midleton, Bandon, Clonakilty, Skibbereen, Bantry, Dunmanway, Macroom, Mitchelstown, Fermoy, Mallow, Cove, Kinsale, Russcarbery, Millstreet, Kanturk, Youghal, and Charleville. The number of persons charged with criminal offences, and committed to the county prison, in 1844, was 1709. The local government is vested in a lieutenant, 26 deputy-lieutenants, and 264 other magistrates, besides whom there are the usual county officers, including four coroners. The constabulary force consists of two county inspectors, 16 sub-inspectors, 19 head-constables, 98 constables, and 486 sub-constables, with 21 horses; the expense of whose maintenance in 1842 was £27,237, defrayed equally by grand jury presentments and by government. The coast-guard districts are those of Youghal, containing the stations of Helwick Head, Ard- more, Youghal, Knockadoon, and Bally cot tun, Cert, containing the stations of Ballycroneen, Poor Head. Lighthouse, East Ferry, Cove, Cork, Crosshaven, and Robert’s Cove; Kinsale, containing the stations of Upper Cove, Oyster Haven, Old Head, Howshand, Courtmasherry, Barry’s Cove, Dunny Cove, and Dirk Cove; Skibbereen, containing the stations of Milk-Cove, Glandorr, Castle-Townsend, Barlogue, Baltimore, Long Island Crookhaven, Dunmanus, and Whitehorse; and (Castletown, containing the stations of Colaris, Garnish, and Castletown. The entire force consists of 5 inspecting commanders, 32 chief officers, and 251 men. The public charitable institutions are, the lunatic asylum, hour of industry, and infirmary at Cork, an infirmary at Mallow, 12 fever hospitals, and 63 local dispensaries, maintained partly by subscription and partly by grand jury presentments. The dispensaries of earlier foundation are situated at Mitchelstown, Millstreet, Castletown-Roche, Bandon, Ovens, Ballyneen, Newmarket, Kanturk, Cloyne, Rosscarbery, Timoleague, Charleville, Buttevant, Kildorrery, Dunbullogue, Whitechurch, Kinsale, Glanworth, Fermoy, Glenville, Midleton, Bantry, Ballyclough, Skibbereen, Rathcormac, Glandore, Innishanaon, Donoughmore, Doneraile, Glanmire, Carrigaline, Clonakilty, Dunmanway, Cove, Kilworth, Ballydehoh, Passage, Macroom, Castletown-Bearhaven, Iuniscarra, Conna, Castlemartyr, Magourney, Crookstown, Ballymacoda. Blarney, Glauntain, and Water-grass Hill: during the last ten years, 15 others have been established. The total amount of the county grand jury presentment, for 1844, was £84,819. In the military arrangements the county is in the Cork District; it contains sixteen military stations, situated respectively at Ballincollig, Buttevant, Charles Fort, Clonakilty, Fermoy, (which is the principal, and the military depot of the district.) Kinsale, Mallow, Mitlstreet, Mitchelstown. Youghal. Skibbereen, and, in Cork Harbour, at Spike Island, Camden Fort, Carlisle Fort, Rocky Island, and Hawlbowline Island. These afford barrack accommodation, in the whole, for 352 officers and 6799 men.

The SURFACE of the county is of considerable variety and much natural beauty, but exhibits a very great deficiency of timber, and of hedge rows and plantations. The western part is bold, rocky, and mountainous; while the northern and eastern portions are distinguished for their richness and fertility. But even in this irregularity some order is perceived, the ranges of high land stretching nearly in the direction of east and west, though several ranges of hills branch of in transverse directions. The principal deviation from this general character is seen in the Bogra mountains, forming a high and barren tract in the centre of the county, between the rivers Lee and Blackwater, and which, instead of rising into narrow summits, spread out into an ample area, having in some places a deep boggy surface. The great longitudinal ranges of high ground, likewise, are often intersected by deep glens and gullies, where numerous small streams find a rapid descent, and, after heavy rains, form beautiful waterfalls. The western mountains differ from the rest in form and aspect, being far more rocky, bold, and sterile, and abruptly parted by gaps and fissures. The entire south and south-western portions of the county are composed of stupendous masses of schistose rock, standing as barriers against the waves of the Atlantic, which, for the greater part of the year, are driven with fury against them by the force of the prevailing winds. Of low grounds, the most extensive tracts are those in which limestone is found: the largest is in the northern part of the county, lying north of the Blackwater, and extending upwards of twenty miles in length from east to west, the breadth varying from five to nine. This expanse of country is, however, though comparatively flat, agreeably diversified with gentle elevations, and contains but little land forming a dead level. By far the greater part of the county, excepting its western portion, has a similar undulating character, even the mountains are little more irregular in their outlines than the lower grounds, and the transition from one to the other is by very gentle degrees. The limestone vale in which part of the city of Cork is situated, commences at Castlemore, about 10 miles to the west of it, and though at first of inconsiderable breadth, on crossing Cork harbour and reaching Imokilly, it takes a wider range, and throughout its course to the sea presents a fine tract of the best cultivated ground in the county. The line of coast presents a series of magnificent headlands, separated from each other by inlets forming safe and commodious harbours, the most noted of which are those of Youghal, Cork, Kinsale, Baltimore, Crook-haven, Dunmanus, and Bantry: in the last, surrounded by the majestic scenery of the western mountains, whole navies may ride in safety. The numerous estuaries disclose, at low water, rich banks of calcareous sand for manure, and afford access to the interior of the country by navigation. On the south-western coast are various small rocky islands, the principal of which are Cape Clear and Iunisherkin, near the harbour of Baltimore; Bear Island and Whiddy Island, in Bantry bay; and Dursey Island, off Bearhaven promontory, forming the western extremity of the county. In the mountainous parts of the district are several lakes. Among these are those of Cahir, near Glengariffe, others on Three-Castle Head; that of Loughbofinny, near Bantry; and those of Shepperton; three between Bantry and Dunmanway, and the interesting lake of GooganeBarra, with smaller sheets of water at Rathbarry, Macloneigh, Ballintowlus, Drinagh, and in other parts.

The climate is remarkable for the mildness of its temperature, never reaching those extremes of heat and cold to which the same degree of latitude is subject even in England. This arises from the proximity of the county to the Atlantic, across which the prevailing winds come loaded with vapours, seldom objectionable in winter, but often intercepting the maturing rays of the summer’s sun; which circumstance renders the corn raised here, though good, generally inferior to that of a drier climate. The county, however, suffers much less in this respect than the neighbouring more western counties, and its climate has been decidedly improved by the draining of bogs and swamps.

The SOILS present no great variety, and may be distributed into four classes, each comprising several species differing in degrees of fertility, but united by a general resemblance of component parts. These are, 1st, the calcareous soils, or those found in the limestone tracts, which exceed all the rest in richness and fertility, producing the finest herbage and beat wheat, and having always a crumbling and mellow surface. 2nd, the loamy soils not calcareous, comprising the deep and mellow loams remote from limestone, occurring in several of the less elevated parts, especially towards the south, where they constitute the finest lands: they are next in quality to the former, to which some of the best bear a close affinity both in texture and fertility, they generally rest on clay-slate. 3rd, the light and shallow soils resting upon an absorbent bottom, as gravel or rubbly stone, and which have a much shallower and less vigorous arable surface than the preceding, but commonly afford a short sweet herbage peculiarly adapted for sheep, and produce the best corn in wet seasons. 4th, the moorland or peat soil, the usual substratum of which is a hard rock or coarse retentive clay: this is of greater extent than any of the preceding classes, occupying both bog and mountain, and even several tracts of elevated land, which, though improved by culture, still exhibit sufficient traces of their origin. Though inferior in fertility, some portions of this class may be rendered productive of good crops of grass, oats, and potatoes; but the most elevated portions can never afford anything better than coarse summer pasturage. Sands occur on the sea-shore, and are most extensive in the bays of Courtmasherry, Bantry, Kinsale, Clonakilty, and Ross.

The TILLAGE, except on the demesnes of resident gentlemen, presents rather unfavourable features, owing in a great measure to the want of skill and adequate capital, the too minute subdivision of farms, and the super-abundant population of the arable districts. The crop of the greatest importance and cultivated with the greatest care, is that of potatoes, which constitute the staple-food of the small farmers and the labourers: it is succeeded in the more fertile districts by wheat, for which the ground is not unfrequently manured with lime; and this is followed by one or two crops of oats. The ground is rarely levelled, properly cleared, or sown with artificial grasses, except by a few of the more opulent farmers on calcareous soils in the west and south parts of the county; barley and oats are more generally cultivated. The land held by the small farmers, or cottiers, presents an impoverished appearance, and is seldom left to recruit its productive powers by means of rest, until first exhausted by over-cropping. The cabins occupied by this class of tenants are for the most part of a wretched description. A considerable portion of the northern part of the county is appropriated to dairy-farms, and is thinly inhabited, the land there is in good condition, and the farmhouses more comfortable than in the tillage districts. Some of the principal landowners have corrected the abuses of the cottier system; and have adopted, for the improvement of their estates and the amelioration of their tenantry, the practice of letting sufficiently large farms to occupying and working tenants, and of providing them with comfortable dwelling-houses and farm-offices suitable to the extent of land and the condition of the bolder.

The substances generally employed as manure are, common dung, lime, earth collected from the ditches, sea-sand, and sea-weed. As the beds of limestone are situated in the northern and eastern parts of the county, the farmers in the south-west are precluded from using this material; but they find an abundant substitute in the calcareous sea-sand driven upon the shore, which is partly composed of pulverised marine shells in various proportions, and of which the coral sand of Ban try bay, being wholly calcareous, is most esteemed. Some kinds of a red colour are also in great esteem, those of a dark-blue colour seem to be composed chiefly of the fragments of muscle-shells. Spade labour is generally preferred to the use of the plough. The prevailing kind of plough is of rude construction, having short and thick handles, a low beam, and the coulter and sock placed obliquely, so that in working, the mould-board is raised out of the ground; the Scotch swing plough, however, has been introduced by the gentry and wealthy farmers in the neighbourhood of Cork and other places. Formerly, hay and corn were brought from the fields on slide cars or crooks, both of which are still used in the west; and though the improvement of the roads throughout the county has introduced the wheel car, yet it is of very rude construction, consisting of little more than a pair of shafts connected by a few cross bars, and resting upon a wooden axletree fixed into small solid wheels of ash plank and turning with them. In all the low districts the cart or “butt,” has become general. The fences contribute to the general naked appearance of the surface, being commonly formed of hanks of earth dug from trenches on each side, and faced with sods or stones; they are frequently planted with furze, and occasionally wit trees.

The Cattle of the south and south-west are small, seldom weighing more than 3cwt.: formerly they all black, but at present the breed is mixed, and of various colours; they generally yield abundance of milk. In the two baronies of Duhallow, and Orrery and Kilmore, forming the north-western portion of the county, the Leicester breed, or, as they are here commonly called, the Limerick heifers, form the stock of some of the rich dairy-farms, lands of inferior quality are stocked with a mixed breed of these and the old native black-cattle. Indeed, the cattle of the great northern vale are altogether superior in size and form to those of the more southern and western districts. and the same may be observed of all other kinds of livestock. The Holderness, Devon, Durham, and Ayrshire breeds have also been partially introduced. There are no large flocks of Sheep, except in gentlemen’s demesnes; the Leicester is the prevailing breed on good soils, and the common and half-bred Irish on inferior soils. Horses, mostly black, are, in the northern portion of the county, universally employed by the common farmers: in other parts are kept great numbers of mules of a small size, which are occasionally employed in draught, but chiefly for back loads; and being easily fed, very long lived, and able to endure fatigue, they are well adapted to the purposes of a poor peasantry in a rough country.

Of the extensive woods with which this county was once adorned, numerous vestiges are found both above and beneath the surface. Although now so denuded, the oak, birch, alder, fir, and yew, and even the ash and poplar, appear to be indigenous, and of shrubs and underwoods there seems to have been a still greater variety. The former growth of firs in this part of the island is traced by their existence in the bogs, in which they exceed in number all the rest. The mountain lands, covered with little but heath and sedgy grass, form of comparative waste: the bogs and are chiefly confined to these elevated regions, being elsewhere of very small extent. The scarcity and dearness of fuel is in many parts very disadvantageous. The maritime towns, and the richer inhabitants, generally obtain coal from England; while the mass of the people are compelled to seek for peat, which in many places has been exhausted: furze is often planted to supply this grievous deficiency.

The crown lands of POBBLE O’KEEFE are in the centre of a wild district on the confines of the counties of Limerick, Kerry, and Cork, which, until within these few years, had been neglected and deserted, and was nearly inaccessible for want of roads. They are estimated to contain about 9,000 statute acres of undulating hilly country, the soil of which varies from a strong clay to a loamy gravel and sand on the higher grounds, with tracts of alluvial land and peat bog in the valleys and along the bottoms. The crown is at present in actual possession, however, of 5,000 acres only; the remainder being withheld by the adjacent proprietors, who claim to be entitled to the inheritance. When the lands were surrendered to the crown, they were inhabited by about 70 families residing in miserable mud cabins (the only buildings then on the property), subsisting almost entirely on the deteriorated crops of a few acres of potato tillage, and depending on the produce of a few cows and their harvest labour in the adjoining district for the payment of their rent. With every local facility for drainage, the land was saturated with water, and covered with thick beds of moss, rushes, and heath, the growth of ages. Under these circumstances, the late Mr. Weale, who was deputed to survey the estate, suggested to the Commissioners of Woods and Forests, that the crown, instead of reletting or selling, should retain possession of the property, should render this wild district accessible by the construction of proper roads, and natural resources to be made available for ameliorating the condition of its inhabitants; thus, fostering a numerous body of loyal, contented, and prosperous peasantry. Mr. Weale’s benevolent suggestions were acted upon: and under the superintendence of Mr. Griffith, the government engineer, an excellent road was constructed from Roskeen Bridge on the Blackwater, about seven British miles above Mallow, by the collieries of Cooldough, Dromagh, and Clonbanin, through the village of Boherbee, and the centre of the crown estate, whence, crossing the Blackwater near its source, it extends to Castleisland in the county of Kerry. Another, branching off from Clonbanin, also crosses the Blackwater, and extends to Shanogh Cross in the same county. The former line is 33 British miles in length, and forms a direct communication between Tralee and Cork; the latter measures 9 miles, and forms an equally direct communication between Killarney and Mallow. Three roads were executed chiefly at the expense of government, who advanced £17,000 of the gross estimate of £24,987; the remainder, £7987, was presented by the grand juries of Cork and Kerry. The general improvement of the district already affords a striking contrast to its utterly neglected state previously to the formation of the roads. The new village called King-William’s-Town, on the east bank of the Blackwater, and on the road to Castleisland, with the various improvements made by government in its vicinity, is described that head.

The GEOLOGICAL divisions may be classed under four principal heads. The calcareous districts comprise the greater part of the vale to the north of the Blackwater, and of the vale south-west of Cork, the vale of Imokilly extending from Midleton to Killeagh, and the vale of the Bride from Rathcormac to Tallow. Detached beds of this formation are to be met with at Moylan and Taur, near Newmarket, at Blarney, near Macroom, near Bantry, at Timoleage, at Skibbereen, and near Cloyne. It also forms the Barrel rocks on the coast near Youghal. The Marble found presents a great variety of colours, and is for the most part close-grained, and susceptible of a good polish. That raised near Cork is grey, with white veins; that near Castle Hyde is of a darker hue, embellished with various shades and a rich display of shells. A very beautiful species is found near Castle-martyr. The district bordering on Kerry and Limerick forms a portion of the great southern Coal field, many parts of which contain valuable beds of non-flaming coal, similar to that of Kilkenny, and beds of culm much used for burning lime. It extends from the north-western boundary of the county to the Awbeg, running west of that river and north of the Blackwater, and lying chiefly between the limestone district and the last-named stream. The principal collieries, and the most important in the south of Ireland, are in the valley of the Black-water, where beds of coal and culm are found running parallel with each other. The largest now wrought is that of Dromagh, in the barony of Duhallow, 22 miles from Cork. This colliery has been worked uninterruptedly for nearly a century; a large capital has been expended in useful works connected with it within the last twenty years, and it is now in excellent order and capable of supplying any demand. The SECOND division includes the mountains on the western confines of the county, and the two extensive ranges inclosing the great calcareous vale on the north side of the Black-water, one on the north and the other on the south. The northern range is of the greywacke formation, and is composed of various beds of red, green, and grey schist and sandstone. The mountains which separate Bantry bay from the Kenmare estuary are composed of beds of schist and sandstone, of various colours, but similar in their composition to the greywacke formations of other parts of the county. The eastern mountains have generally a thick covering of clay mixed with small stones, while those of the west are more bare and rocky: indications of iron are more or less visible in all. The THIRD great district is that of the clay-slate, locally known as the brown and red stone, which prevails in all the middle and northern parts of the county not included in either of the above-named divisions, and which first occurs on the south on a line forming the southern boundary of the limestone district of Cork, from the western mountains eastward. To the north of the city, this stone occupies the whole of the great elevated tract between the vale of Cork and the Blackwater: though commonly of shades of red, it has some other varieties of colour as well as of texture | it affords good building-stone and flags, but will not split into laminae sufficiently thin for roofing. The last division is that of the clay-slate, called also grey-stone, the epithet grey being indicative of the prevailing hue of the rocks, the colours of which really vary considerably. It comprehends by far the greater portion of the remainder of the county, lying to the south of the vale of Cork; and contains several kinds of argillite. some of grit, a few strata of calcareous schist, and a large proportion of slate.
The numerous old quarries along the southern coast supply Cork, and most parts of the northern districts, with Slates for roofing, some of a good kind, but even the best of them of a quality inferior to those imported from Wales. Extensive quarries of excellent slate have, however, been lately opened near Skull, and others at Nohaval, Ringabella, and some other places. Large pieces of Quartz, generally of a circular form, and sometimes weighing three or four cwt., are frequently found lying on the surface of the ground; and near Ross is a very curious and remarkable rock, composed entirely of white quartz. Vast numbers of grit-stones, often of large sire, are likewise scattered over the surface, above which the rocks in the south-weatern parts are seen projecting in almost every field. The dip of the strata throughout the county is in most places very rapid, and everywhere very irregular. Freestone is found on Horse Island near Castle-Townsend, and in small veins in several places along the coast: extensive quarries of it are worked on the Duke of Devonshire’s estate near Bandon, and on Captain Herrick’s near Innishannon. on which latter appear also some rocks of greenstone. Of the metallic ores, that of Iron is the most abundant, and appears to have been formerly smelted. Lead ore has been found in many places in small veins, generally combined with quartz: in some parts it is very productive, particularly at Annacarriga and Ringabella; the latter mines are worked on a considerable scale. Copper has also been found in abundance; the whole barony of Bear produces it more or less, and near Castletown are extensive mines worked with much spirit. There are large deposits of this ore in the parish of Skull: valuable mines are now in operation on Horse Island, and on the main land, from which an abundance of excellent ore is obtained. Veins of copper-ore are likewise found in Kilmore near Crookhaven, and in several other places in the western part of the county. Manganese is abundant and very pure, particularly in the neighbourhood of Ross, the Leap, Nohaval, Castle-ventry, and other places; but is only worked with any degree of spirit in the parish of Kilfaughnabeg, near Leap, where it is obtained very good and in large quantities. The impregnation of two small turf bogs near Rosscarbery with particles of copper, by the agency of springs, has led to an opinion that the neighbouring mountains contain abundance of it: the turf of one of these bogs was burned, and the ashes sent to Swansea where good copper was procured from them. In Whiddy Island, in Bantry bay, is found a peculiar kind of black chalk.

The manufactures are various, but of trifling importance. Flannel and frieze are made in most places, some for sale, but the greater part for home use: the dyeing of the latter, chiefly of a blue colour, is carried on to a considerable extent in Carbery, and at Bandon, where a large number of bands are likewise employed in wool-combing, in the camlet and stuff trade, and in the cotton manufacture. The spinning of woollen-yarn, and the manufacture of camlets, stuffs, valentias, and woollen-cloth of various kinds, are carried on at Blarney and Glanmire, and there is an extensive manufacture of stuffs at Cork, of calicoes at Temple-martin, and of paper near Blarney, at Dripsey, and on the Bandon river near Morah: there are also iron-works near Blarney. The manufactures more immediately connected with the trade of the city of Cork, which, however, are unimportant as compared with its commerce, are described in the account of the city. The inhabitants of the maritime districts derive a principal means of support from fishing, frequently procuring not only enough for their own families, but a surplus for sale: the chief fish is hake, the season for taking which is from July to November. A singular kind of fishery is carried on during the months of September and October in the; strands of Ross and Castle-freke, where the inhabitants of the neighbourhood assemble, when the tide is low, and dig out of the sand great numbers of a choice and peculiar kind of small eel, which are sold in the markets of Clonakilty and Ross. Clonakilty and Courtmasherry strands also supply this fish, but less plentifully; and afford quantities of cockles and muscles. The commerce of the county consists in the exportation of a portion of its agricultural produce, and the importation of coal and other commodities for the ordinary supply of the inhabitants.
The principal River is the Blackwater, which, rising in the mountains on the confines of Kerry, runs southward along the western border of this county to the vicinity of Millstreet; it then suddenly turns eastward, and, after a course of many miles, passing Mallow, Fermoy, &c, enters the county of Waterford, after a short course through which, it returns to that of Cork at its most eastern extremity, where the river forms the harbour of Youghal. Owing to the rapidity of its current, this noble river is navigable scarcely higher than the reach of the tide; but few others present a greater variety of beautiful scenery, having on one side a range of lofty mountains, and on the other a wide tract of fertile country, both adorned by fine plantations and forming a striking and agreeable contrast. The river Lee has its source within the parish of Inchigeelagh, also on the confines of Kerry, in a lake called GouganeBarra, encompassed by wild and Rocky Mountains. After a course of about thirty miles eastward, it reaches Cork, through which city it flows in two channels, becoming navigable for vessels of considerable burthen on meeting the tide: below Cork it soon expands into a wide estuary, containing several considerable islands, on the largest of which stands the modern town of Cove. The course of this river until it reaches the vale of Carrigdrohid, is very irregular, through hills exhibiting much variety, but no scenery approaching in luxuriance to that of the Blackwater; at Carrigdrohid, however, and below Cork, it rivals the most celebrated rivers, in the winding variety of its channel and the cultivated richness of its shores. The Bandon has its source in the Owen mountain above Dunmanway, and runs eastward through the town of Bandon, and by the beautiful village of Innishannon, to Kinsale, of which place it forms the harbour. The llen rises in the same mountains, and runs nearly southward to the town of Skibbereen, where it increases in size on meeting the tide, and forms the harbour of Baltimore. Among the small streams, which are exceedingly numerous, may be noticed the Awbeg, tributary to the Blackwater, and celebrated under the poetic name of “the gentle Mulla,” by Spenser, who resided at Kilcolman Castle in its vicinity. The only valuable fish in the rivers is salmon, of which the Blackwater affords the greatest abundance, while those of the Lee are distinguished for their superior quaky and are always in season: eels and trout are found is all, pike and perch only in a few. Their general rapidity renders the number of advantageous sites for the erection of mills very great; and boulting-mills are particularly numerous on their banks. This county has no canals; some have been proposed, but none executed, and only one begun, viz., that designed to extend from Mallow to the Duhallow coal-pits. The roads, which were in a very bad state, have been much improved since the commencement of the present century by sums originally furnished for the most part by government, bat ultimately repaid by grand jury presentments; and several new lines have been constructed. The turnpike trusts, which are very few, are partly vested in trustees, and partly in the hands of contractors.

Among the ANTIQUITIES of the county, stone circles, cromlechs (commonly called Druids’ altars), raths or circular mounds of earth, caves, and stone pillars, are numerous; particularly raths. Near Clonakilty is a remarkable stone circle; close to the church is an ancient pillar formed of a single stone, and in the vicinity an artificial cave. In the neighbourhood of Ross is an imperfect circle of smaller diameter than the preceding, and near it are a cromlech, and an upright stone of the same kind as those composing the circle. In the mountains of Clondrohid is a spacious circle; at Ring, near Clonakilty, are the remains of another; and fragments of several may be seen in different parts of the county. Near Ulan worth is a monument of extraordinary size and form, called in Irish Labacolly, or the “witches’ bed:” in the demesne of Castlemary, near Cloyne, are the remains of a similar monument. At Rosscarbery are caves of much greater extent than that near Clonakilty: another subterraneous vault has been discovered in the Great Island in Cork harbour, between Cove and Cutkinny; and there are also large caves at the Ovens, about seven miles westward Iron the city of Cork. Many of the raths have vaults or caves, the entrances to which lie on the eastern side, and which, after winding for some distance, terminate in a small square room in the centre. A very large rath of stone may be seen on the hill of Knockdrummon, above Castletown; and there are several of similar construction in the rocky parish of Ballyvourney. Cairns and barrows are commonly met with near waters or bogs. Of ancient round towers there are two, one at Cloyne, the other at Kineth: the former is 102 feet high, with floors and ladders perfect from bottom to top; the latter is divided into six stories, each 11 feet 9 inches high. At various places, urns have been found in tumuli; and several brass trumpets were discovered in a bog between Cork and Mallow. Divers remains of minor importance are still occasionally dug up.
The number of religious houses, of the existence of which in ancient times evidences are still found in records or in ruins, was very great: Archdall enumerates no less than sixty-nine, and states that the sites of only nine of these were unknown. Most of those mentioned by him, were built subsequently to the first English invasion, and owed their foundation to the descendants of the English adventurers. Those of which some vestiges still exist are at Rosscarbery, Buttevant, Ballybeg, Monanimy, Timoleague, Innisharkan, Bantry, Abbey-Mahon, Abbey-strowry, Ballyvourney, Mourne, Bridge-town, Glanworth, Ballymacadam, Red Abbey in Cork, Tracton, Coole, and Youghal. Of the ancient Forbes erected by the early English invaders and their descents, the remains are very numerous, owing to their massy strength and durability. Some are of a superior description, and deficient neither in magnificence nor accommodation; but by far the greater number are composed merely of a square tower or keep, usually very high, to compensate for the small size of the area by the number of stories, and containing only cold and gloomy apartments. These towers generally occupy bold and commanding situations, and many had an enclosed area attached, flanked by smaller towers; in size there is a great disparity, some being very small and rudely built. The castle of Kanturk is of the greatest extent and magnificence: the other principal FORTRESSES of which there are extensive remains are those of Blarney, Macroom, and Lohort, the first being one of the finest edifices of the kind in the kingdom. Donneen Castle, though a very small structure, deserves notice for its remarkable situation in Ross bay, on a point of land forming part of the main land at the time of its erection, but now isolated by the force of the waves. Of fortified residences of a later age, bearing some resemblance to the English mansion-houses in the Elizabethan style, there are yet remaining three, built about the year 1638; one at Monkstown, near Cork harbour; one called Castle-Long, on Oyster haven; and the third at Ballyvireen, a little to the west of Ross. The modern residences of the nobility and chief gentry, among which Mitchels-town Castle, the splendid mansion of the Earl of Kingston, is pre-eminently distinguished for its extent and grandeur, are noticed in the descriptions of the parishes in which they are respectively situated.

The appearance of the farmhouses seldom affords matter for commendation. Though varying in size, according to the circumstances of the occupier, they are all built on the same plan, with an open chimney at one end, and at the other a small room, separated by a partition, and serving both as a bed-chamber and a store-Few farm-yards are attached to the houses; and what there are, are very confined, the corn being frequently stacked on circular stages supported by upright cap-stones: barns are never used for any other purpose than threshing, and are consequently built small; the common farmer, indeed, is often unprovided with either stage or barn, and threshes his grain in the open air. The cabins of the poor have no glass windows, and only one door, which is almost always left open to admit the light, and by which the smoke mostly escapes: this arrangement, in bad weather, of course makes them very cold and uncomfortable. The general condition of the labouring poor is very wretched; an acre of ground to plant potatoes in, generally held with a cabin at forty or fifty shillings per annum, and under an obligation of working for the farmer at an extremely low rate, forms their chief means of subsistence. Almost their sole food throughout the year is potatoes, except on the sea-coast, where they obtain fish, and boil different kinds of seaweed. The peasantry is nevertheless hardy, active, and lively, and, except in the mountain districts, speak the English language. A striking similarity in some of their customs in husbandry, and some of their agricultural terms, is observed between them and the inhabitants of the south-western English counties. The most remarkable ancient customs still preserved are, the wailing over deceased persons, the waking, and the lighting of fires on Midsummer’s-eve. Among the entire population there is a considerable intermixture of English blood, and English surnames, but the names of the old Irish families still remain. There are several chalybeate springs, but none of medicinal celebrity except those of Mallow, which resemble the Bristol waters in taste and temperature, and are reputed to possess the same properties.


Pete

I'm just someone who enjoys knowing a little about my local area, and helping others to learn about theirs too.

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