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Waterford County, Ireland

WATERFORD COUNTY, IRELAND, a county of Ireland in the province of Munster, bounded E. by Waterford Harbour, separating it from Wexford, N. by Kilkenny and by Tipperary, W. by Cork, and S. by the Atlantic. The area is 458,108 acres, or about 716 sq. m. The coast line is in some parts bold and rocky, and is indented by numerous bays and inlets, the principal being Waterford Harbour; Tramore Bay, with picturesque cliffs and some extensive caves, and noted for its shipwrecks, on account of the rocky character of its bed; Dungarvan Harbour, much frequented for refuge in stormy weather; and Youghal Harbour, partly separating county Waterford from county Cork. The surface of the county is to a large extent mountainous, providing beautiful inland scenery, especially towards the west and northwest. The Knockmealdown Mountains, which attain a height of 2609 ft., form the northern boundary with Tipperary. A wide extent of country between Clonmel and Dungarvan is occupied by the two ranges of the Comeragh and Monavallagh Mountains, reaching a height of 2504 ft. To the south of Dungarvan there is a lower but very rugged range, called the Drum Hills. The south-eastern division of the county is for the most part level. Though Waterford benefits in its communications by the important rivers in its vicinity, the only large river it can properly claim as belonging to it is the Blackwater. This river is famous for salmon fishing, and, particularly in the stretch between Cappoquin and Lismore, flows between high, wellwooded banks, contrasting beautifully with the background of mountains. It enters the county east of Fermoy, and flows eastward to Cappoquin, the head of navigation, where it turns abruptly southward, to fall into the sea at Youghal Harbour. Waterford Harbour may be called the estuary of three important rivers, the Suir, the Nore and the Barrow, but neither of the two last touches the county. The Suir reaches it about 8 m. from Clonmel, and thence forms its northern boundary with Tipperary and Kilkenny. It is navigable to Clonmel, but the traffic lies mainly on the left bank, outside the county.

Geology. The Knockmealdown Mountains are an anticline of Old Red Sandstone, cut away at the eastern end to expose Silurian strata, which are associated with an extensive series of volcanic and intrusive rocks, often crushed by earth-movement. The impressive scarp formed by the Old Red Sandstone conglomerate above this lower ground is called the Comeragh Mountains. The morainedammed cirque of Lough Coumshingaun lies in these, with a precipice 1000 ft. in height. The unconformity of the Old Red Sandstone on the greenish and yellowish Silurian shales is excellently seen on the north bank of the Suir at Waterford. Carboniferous Limestone is found in the floor of the synclinals on either side of the great anticline, that is, in the Suir valley on the north, and in the green and richlywooded hollow of the Blackwater on the south. Rapidly repeated anticlinal and synclinal folds continue this structure across the country befween Dungarvan and Youghal. Rich copper-mines were worked, mainly in the 19th century, in the Silurian area near Bonmahon, and the region remains full of mineral promise.

Industries. The land is generally better adapted for pasturage than for tillage, although there are considerable tracts of rich soil in the south-eastern districts. The proportion of tillage to pasture is, however, roughly as I to 3$, though the acreage under the principal crops of oats, potatoes and turnips is on the whole fairly maintained. The numbers of cattle, sheep and poultry increase steadily, and pigs are extensively reared. The woollen manufacture, except for home use, is practically extinct, but the cotton manufacture is still of some importance. There are also breweries, distilleries and a large number of flour-mills. The valuable deep sea and coast fisheries have distinct headquarters at Waterford, and the noted salmon fisheries of the Suir and Blackwater have theirs at Waterford and Lismore respectively. Railway communication is provided by the Waterford, Dungarvan, Lismore and Co. Cork branch of the Great Southern and Western railway, traversing the county from E. to W. ; and by the Waterford and Tramore railway, while the city of Waterford is approached by lines of the first-named company from the N. (from Dublin) and W. (from Limerick).

Population and Administration. The population (95,702 in 1891; 87,187 in 1901) decreases at a rate about equal to the average of the Irish counties, and emigration is considerable. Nearly 95% of the total are Roman Catholics, and about 74% constitute the rural population. The chief towns are the city of Waterford (pop. 26,769), Dungarvan (4850), and Lismore (1583); Portlaw and Tramore, and Cappoquin are lesser towns. The county is divided into eight baronies. Down to the Union in 1800 the county returned two members, and the boroughs of Dungarvan, Lismore and Tallow two each. Thereafter, and before the Redistribution Act of 1885, the county returned two members, the borough of Waterford two, and Dungarvan one. The county now returns two members, for the east and west divisions respectively, while the county of the city of Waterford returns one member. Assizes are held at Waterford, and quarter sessions at Lismore, Dungarvan, and Waterford. The county is mainly in the Protestant diocese of Ossory, and the Roman Catholic diocese of Waterford and Lismore.

History and A nliquilies. In the 9th century the Danes landed in the district, and afterwards made a permanent settlement. Waterford was one of the twelve counties into which King John is stated to have divided that part of Ireland which he nominally annexed to the English crown. On account of the convenience of the city as a landing place, many subsequent expeditions passed through the county, directed against disaffected or rebellious tribes. In 1444 the greater part of it was granted to James, earl of Desmond, and in 1447 it was bestowed on John Talbot, earl of Shrewsbury, who was created earl of Waterford. The county suffered severely during the Desmond rebellion, in the reign of Elizabeth, as well as in the rebellion of 1641 and during the Cromwellian period. There are in the county a considerable number of banows, duns, cromlechs and similar relics of the ancient inhabitants. At Ardmore, overlooking the sea from Ram Head, there is a round tower 95 ft. in height, and near it a huge rath and a large number of circular entrenchments. Among the old castles special mention may be made of Lismore, originally erected in 1185, but now in great part comparatively modern. The chief ecclesiastical remains are those of the chancel and nave of the cathedral of Ardmore, where a monastery and oratory were founded by St Declan in the 7th century. The see of Ardmore was abolished in the 12th century. Here are also remains of a church and oratory, and a holy well. Mention should be made of the existing monastery of Mount Melleray, a convent of Trappists founded near Cappoquin in 1830, on the expulsion of the foreign members of this order from France. Schools, both free and boarding, are maintained; and there is a branch of the order at Roscrea (Co. Tipperary).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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