county lough limestone coast oughterard western corrib eastern country
GALWAY, a maritime county in the province of Connaught, in the extreme west of Ireland, between 52° 54' and 53° 43' N. lat., and 7° 57' and 10° 20' W. long. It is bounded on the N. by Mayo and Roscommon ; E. by Roscommon, King's County, and Tipperary ; S. by Clare and the Bay of Galway ; and W. by the Atlantic Ocean. The area comprises 2117 square miles, or 1,566,351 acres, of which 90,230 are under water.
Surface. - The county is naturally divided by Lough Corrib into two great divisions. The eastern, which corn-prebends all the county except the four western baronies, rests on a limestone base, and is, generally speaking, a level champaign country, but contains large quantities of wet bog. Its southern portion is partly a continuation of the Golden Yale of Limerick, so celebrated for its fertility, and partly occupied by the Slievebaughty Mountains. The northern portion of the division contains rich pasture and tillage ground, beautifully diversified with hill and dale. Some of the intermediate country is comparatively uncultivated, but forms excellent pasturage for sheep. The western division of the:county has a substratum of granite, and is barren, rugged, and mountainous. It is divided into the three districts of Connemara, Jar-Connaught, and Joyce's Country ; the name of Connemara is, however, often applied to the whole district. Its highest mountains are the grand and picturesque group of Binabola, or the Twelve Pins, which occupy a space of about 25 square miles, the highest elevation being about 2400 feet. Much of this district is a gently sloping plain, from 100 to 300 feet above sea-level. Joyce's Country, further north, is an elevated tract, with flat-topped hills of from 1300 to 2000 feet high, and deep narrow valleys lying between them.
Coast. - Galway enjoys the advantage of a very extended line of sea-coast, indented by numerous harbours, which, however, are rarely used except by a few coasting and fishing vessels. Commencing at the coast of Mayo in the north are the Killeries, two bays which separate the counties of Galway and Mayo. The first bay on the western coast capable of accommodating large ships is Ballynakill, sheltered by Freaghillaun or Heath Island. Next in succession is Cleggan Bay, having Inishboffin in its offing. Streamstown is a narrow inlet, within which are the inhabited islands of Omey, Turbot, and Inisliturk. Ardbear harbour divides itself into two inlets, the northern terminated by the town of Clifden, with excellent anchorage opposite the castle ; the southern inlet has also good anchorage within the bar, and has a good salmon-fishery. Mannin Bay, though large, is much exposed, and but little frequented by shipping. From Slyne Head the coast turns eastward to Round-stone Bay, which has its entrance protected by the islands of Inislinee and Inishlackeu. Next in order is Birterbuy Bay, studded with islets and rocks, but deep and sheltered. Kilkerrin Bay, the largest on this coast, has a most productive kelp shore of nearly 100 miles ; its mouth is but 8 miles broad. Between Gorumna Island and the mainland is Greatnian's Bay, and close to it Costello Bay, the most eastern of those in Connemara. The whole of the coast from Greatman's Bay eastward is comprehended in the Bay of Galway, the entrance of which is protected by the three limestone islands of Aran - Inishmore (or Araumore), Inishmann, and Inishee•.
Rivers. - The rivers are few, and, except the Shannon, are of small extent. The Suck, which forms the eastern boundary of the county, rises in Roscommon, and passing by Ballinasloe, unites with the Shannon at Shannon bridge. The Shannon, which rises at the foot of Cuilcagh in the county of Cavan, forms the south-eastern boundary of the county, and passing Shannon Harbour, Banagher, Meelick, and Portumna, swells into the great expanse of water called Lough Derg, which skirts the county as far as the village of Mount Shannon. The Claregalway flows southward through the centre of the county, and enters Lough Corrib some 4 miles above the town of Galway. The Ballynahinch, considered one of the best salmon-fishing rivers in Connaught, rises in the Twelve Pins, passes through Ballynahinch Lake, and after a short but rapid course falls into Birturbuy Bay.
Lakes. - The Lakes are numerous. Lough Corrib extends fron Galway town northwards over 30,000 acres, with a coast of 50 mile: in extent. It has now been made navigable to Lough Mask (whicl lies chiefly in Mayo county) and to the sea at Galway. The lake is studded with many islands, some of them thickly inhabited. Near it is Lough Ross, which receives a large supply of water from streams, but has no visible outlet. The district to the west of Lough Corrib contains in all about 130 lakes, about 25 of them more than a mile in length. Lough Rea, at the town of the same name, is more remarkable for scenic beauty than for extent. Besides these perennial lakes, there are several low tracts, called turloughs, which are covered with water during a great part of the year.
Geology and Minerals. - The boundary line between the limestone and granitic district is easily discernible by the diminution of the verdant hue which distinguishes the latter. The high road from Galway to Oughterard nearly marks the division. All the country to the north and east of this limit is limestone, all to the south and west granite, excepting some detached masses of primitive limestone between Oughterard and Clifden, and some scattered portions of other minerals, of great variety of appearance. The component rock of Binabola is quartz, in general distinctly stratified, or at least schistose. The position of its beds is various. Towards the western shore they are vertical, easily splitting by intervening mica plates, and affording good building stone. Limestone occurs in some places along the tout of these mountains. Round the base of this group are also gneiss and mica slate, with lands of 1101111)1(mile and primitive mica. Along the north side of Lough Corrib to the mica slate and hornblende rise into mountains, and the limestone disappears. From Lough Nask to the Kil'cries is a transition country of greenstone and grauwacke slate covered by the Old Rod Sandstone or conglomerate. The hill of Glan, on the shore of Lough Corrib, exhibits, in a small compass, all the formations which occur in the district. The western end is quartz, the north-eastern side mica slate ; the middle is penetrated by beds of mica slate, containing hornblende and granular mica covered by thick beds of pyritous grecustone. On the south and east are granite and syenite, which runs under the sandstone conglomerate towards Oughterard, and this again passes under the flotz limestone, which, beyond Lough Corrib, occupies the greater part of Connaught and Leinster. Along the borders of the flotz limestone is a series of vast caverns, usually traversed by subterranean rivers. A fine gritstone, highly valued for making millstones, is raised near Dunmore. Crystalline sand, of a superior quality for scythe boards, occurs at Lough Contra. Lead, zinc, copper, sulphur, and bismuth have been discovered in various parts of the western division of the county. Iron was raised at Woodford, and smelted until the timber was exhausted. The mountains of Slievebaughty, which separate Galway from Clare, are siliceous. In Connemara there is abundance of green variegated marble called serpentine ; and a beautiful black marble, without spots or flaws, and susceptible of a high polish, is obtained near Oughterard. Mineral spas, mostly chalybeate, are abundant.
Clinzqte and Agriculture. - The climate is mild and salubrious, but variable, and violent winds from the west arc not uncommon. Frost or snow seldom remains long on the western coast, and cattle of every description continue nnhoused during the winter. The eastern part of the county produces the best wheat. Oats are fre- quently sown after potatoes in moorish soils less adapted for wheat. The flat shores of the bays afford large supplies of seaweed for man-tire. Limestone, gravel, and marl are to be had in most other parts. When a sufficient quantity of manure for potatoes cannot be had, the usual practice is to pare and burn the surface. In many places on the sea-shore fine early potatoes are raised in deep sea-sand, man-tired with sea-weed, and the crop is succeeded by barley. Those parts of the eastern district less fitted for grain are employed in pasturage. Heathy sheep-walks occupy a very large tract between Monivea and Galway. An extensive range from Athenry, stretch-in, to Galway Bay at Kinvarra, is also chiefly occupied by sheep. 5the total area under crop in 1878 was 214,685 acres, as compared with 235,168 in 1853. The following tables show the acres under the principal crops, and also the numbers of the different domestic animals, during those years : - According to the returns or 1875-6, the total value of land, exclusive of the town of Galway, was £437,686, 15s., and the average value per acre was 5s. Hid., as compared with 6s. 9d. for the province, and 13s. 3d. for the whole of Ireland. The county was divided among 1235 proprietors, of whom 332, or 27 per cent., owned less than one acre. The following possessed more than 20,000 acres, viz : - Richard Berridge, 159,898 ; Marquis of Clanricarde, 49,025 ; Lord Dunsandle, 33,543 ; Allan Pollok, 29,366 ; Lord Clonbrock, 28,246; Sir Thomas J. Burke, 25,258 ; Earl of Clancarty, 23,896, illainrifactarcs. - M unufactures are not carried on beyond the demand caused by the domestic consumption of the people. Coarse friezes, flannels, and blankets are made in all parts, and sold largely in Galway and Loughrea. Connemara has been long celebrated for its hand-knit woollen stockings. Coarse linen, of a narrow breadth, called bandle linen, is also made for home consumption. A linen-weaving factory has been established at Oughterard. The manufacture of kelp, formerly a great source of profit on the western shores, is still carried on to sonic extent. Feathers and sea-fowls' eggs are brought in great quantities from the islands of Aran, the produce of the puffins and other sea-fowl that frequent the cliffs. Fish ing affords occupation to many of the inhabitants, but from want of capital is not prosecuted t%ith sufficient vigour. In 1877 the number of vessels engaged was 451, with 1104 men and 58 boys.
Popul«tion. - 'The county includes one parliamentary liorough, Galway ; and three townships, l'iallinasloe (part of which is, however, in the county of Roscommon), 4159 ; Loughrea, 3072 ; and 'foam, 4223. The largest of the villages arc Gort, 1773; Chide'' ,1313; 1313 ; Athenry, 1194 ; Ileadford, 870; Oughterard, 861; and Eyre-court, 747. The population in 1831 was 414,6S4 ; in 1651, 321,684 ; and in 1871, 248,458, of whom 122,496 were males and 125,962 females. In 1871 the number of Catholics was 239,902, and of Protestants 8556, of whom 7464 were Episcopalians and 615 Presbyterians. Of persons live years and upwards 173,361 were illiterate, a proportion of 56-9 per cent.; and 30,239 could speak Erse only, as comiared with 41,572 in 1861. Emigration from this county has drafted off a very large number of its inhabitants. From the 1st of Nay 1851 to 31st December 1877 time were 104,691 emigrants, or an annual average of 3950.
Icpresentation and Administration. - Two members of parliament are returned for the county, and two for Galway borough. There arc in the county :35 petty-sessions districts, and part of another. Quarter-sessions are held at Ballinasloe, Clifilen, Galway, Gorr, LongLarea, Oughterard, Portumna, and Tuam. There are Tice poo•-law unions wholly within the county, Galway, Longlirea, Mount Bellew, Portumna, and Tuam ; nearly the whole of Clifilen, Gort, and Oughterard ; and parts of live others - Ballinasloe, robe, Glennamaddy, Roscommon, and Sca•riff. The county is within the Dublin military district, and there are barrack stations at Loughrea, Dnnmore, Portumna, Galway, Gort, and Oughterard. It is divided into 18 baronies.
Antiquities. - Amongst these are the round towers of Ardraban, Ballygaddy, Kilbannon, liilnnacduagh,Meelick, and Murrough. Laths are numerous, and several cromlechs are still to be seen in good preservation. The ruins of monastic buildings are also numerous. That of Knockmoy, about 6 miles from Tuam, said to have been founded in 1180 by Cathal O'Connor, was adorned with rude fresco paintings, still discernible, which were considered valuable as being the best authentic representations existing of ancient Irish costumes. Ancient castles and square towers of the Anglo-Norman settlers are frequently met with ; some have been kept in repair, but the greater number are in ruins. The castle of Tuam, built in 1161 by Roderick O'Connor, king of Ireland, at the period of the English invasion, is said to have beenthe first building of this description of stone and mortar in Ireland. The remains of a round castle, a forur of building very uncommon in the military architecture of the country, are to be seen between Gort and Kilmacduag.