From Atlas and Cyclopedia of Ireland (1900)
NAME.—The county took its name from the town of Tipperary, and this from a once celebrated well, situated near the main street of the town, and now closed up. The Gaelic form of the name is Tiobraid-Arann (pron. Tubrid-Auran) the well of Ara, from tiobraid, a well, and Ara (genitive, Arann), the name of the old territory in which it was situated.
SIZE AND POPULATION.—Length, from the eastern corner of the Knockmealdown Mountains near the village of Ballinamult, to the junction of the Little Brosna River with the Shannon, 66 ¾ miles; breadth, from the western boundary between Emly, and Knocklong to the eastern boundary 3 miles east of Mullinahone, 43 miles; area, 1,659 square miles; population, 199,612. For legal purposes the county is divided into North Riding and South Riding.
SURFACE.—The western projection, consisting of the barony of Owney and Arra, the southwestern part of Upper Ormond, and the western part of the two baronies of Kilnamanagh, are nearly all occupied with mountains. The greater part of the barony of Ikerrin, forming the northeast corner, is mountainous, hilly, or upland. The southwest also (namely, the barony of Iffa and Offa West, and the southern part of the barony of Clanwilliam) is very mountainous, being occupied by two great ranges (to be noticed presently in detail) inclosing a fine valley. The barony of Slieveardagh in the east is hilly, broken up by the inequalities of the Tipperary coalfields; and in the barony of Iffa and Offa East, northeast of Clonmel, there is one small but lofty mountain knot. All the rest of the county may be said to be level, interrupted by occasional detached mountains or hills, and in several places broken up by low ridges. The whole of the middle of the county is occupied by the magnificent plain traversed by the Suir. The "Golden Vale," containing the finest land in Ireland, may be said to be a branch of this great central plain; it runs west from Fethard into Limerick, confined on the borders of the two counties by Slievenamuck on the south, and by Slievefelim on the north; and from this it sweeps westward to Kilmallock and Bruree.
MOUNTAINS AND HILLS.—The southwestern extremity of Slieve Bloom just touches Tipperary at Roscrea. The valley in which Roscrea stands separates this end of Slieve Bloom from another range, which begins immediately south of the town and runs southwest. This is the Devil's Bit range, which culminates in the Devil's Bit (1,583), 3 miles from Templemore. This mountain has a singular gap in its contour (very conspicuous from the railway), from which it was formerly called Barnane-Ely, i.e., the gapped mountain of Ely (the old territory in which it was situated), which is still the name of the parish. The other chief summits are Kilduff Mountain (1,462), Borrisnoe (1,471), and Benduff (1,399), all near Devil's Bit in a line to the northwest; and 4 miles southwest of Devil's Bit, Knockanora (1,429) and Latteragh (1,257).
Southwest of this is a great mountain group consisting of several minor clusters separated by deep valleys. The highest summit is Kimalta or Keeper Hill (2,278), a fine mountain dome, which towers so conspicuously over the surrounding hills that it seems almost detached. Four miles southeast of Kimalta is Mauherslieve (1,783), near which again are Knockteige (1,312), and Knocknasceggan (1,296). The valley of the Bilboa River separates these from a sub-group to the southeast, which occupies a good deal of the two baronies of Kilnamanagh; the chief summits being Knockalough (1,407), and south of it Laghtseefin (1,426). The Silvermine Mountain (1,607), running from west to east 4 or 5 miles in length, lie north of Kimalta, and are separated from it by the valley of the Mulkear River. To the mountain group noticed in this paragraph belongs Slievefelim, lying in Limerick.
To the northwest of the preceding, in the north of the barony of Owney and Arra, are the Arra Mountains (1,517), rising over the southern end of Lough Derg; these form a distinct group, separated from the Silvermine and Kimalta mountains by the valley of the Kilmastulla River.
Along the southern border of the county the Knockmealdown range runs east and west. About half the range belongs to Tipperary, the southern flank lying in Waterford, The highest summit of all, Knockmealdown or Slievecua (2,609), lies on the boundary.
The Galty Mountains run east and west; they lie north of the Knockmealdown Mountains, from which they are separated by a fine valley six or eight miles wide: the eastern half of the range lies in Tipperary and the western half in Limerick. The Galty range is one of the finest in Ireland, for its altitude, for the magnificent and massive forms of its individual mountains, and for the deep valleys that pierce the heart of the range, traversed by mountain torrents, and overhung by tremendous precipices. Galtymore (3,015), the highest of the whole range, lies on the boundary with Limerick. Slievenamuck (1,215), a long low range, runs parallel to the Galtys, a little to the north and separated from them by the Glen of Aherlow.
In the southeast corner of the county the grand mountain mass of Slievenaman (2,364) rises from the plain quite detached. Several subsidiary summits lie round the main peak; chief among them being Carrickabrock (1,859), Sheegouna (1,822), and Knockahunna (1,654). Among the many detached hills of Tipperary, one of the most conspicuous is Knockshigowna (701) in the north, 5 miles northeast of Cloghjordan, standing in a plain quite detached, and well known for its fairy legends.
RIVERS.—The Shannon and Lough Derg form the northwestern boundary, from the mouth of the Brosna downward to a point a mile above O'Brien's Bridge. The following are the tributaries of the Shannon belonging wholly or partly to Tipperary. In the extreme north, the Little Brosna, coming from the southeast, runs on the boundary between Tipperary and Kings County for the last 13 miles of its course. Its chief headwater is the Bunow, which rises in Kings County northeast of Roscrea (though some of its head streams come from Queens County), crosses the corner of Tipperary by Roscrea, and leaving Tipperary for Kings County, takes the name of Little Brosna. The Ballyfinboy River rises near Moneygall, and flowing northwest, forms the boundary for a mile and a half between Tipperary and Kings County above Cloghjordan, and passing by Cloghjordan and Borrisokane, falls into Lough Derg at Drominagh. The Nenagh River, drawing some of its headwaters from the Devil's Bit, and some from the Kimalta Mountains, runs northwest by Nenagh, and falls into Lough Derg. The Nenagh River is joined on the right bank, a mile below Nenagh, by the Ollatrim and the Ballintotty Rivers, which unite their waters before the junction (the Ollatrim forming for 2 miles of its course the boundary between Kings County and Tipperary). The Newtown River rises in the Arra Mountains, and falls into Lough Derg at Youghal, near the mouth of the Nenagh River. The Kilmastulla River flows west by the northern base of the Silvermine Mountains, and enters the Shannon near Birdhill. The Newport River flows southwest by Newport and enters Limerick, its chief headwater being the Mulkear, which flows through the deep glen between the Kimalta and Silvermine Mountains (this Mulkear finding its way ultimately by the Newport River to the Limerick Mulkear). The Clare River, running west through the glen that separates Slievefelim from Kimalta, forms the boundary for some miles with Limerick, and enters Limerick (taking now the name of Annagh) to join the Newport River. The Bilboa River and its three tributaries—the Gortnageragh, the Cahernahallia, and the Dead River—all rise in Tipperary, and flow into Limerick to the Mulkear. Some of the headwaters of the Limerick River, the Camoge, come from that part of Tipperary lying round Emly.
The Nore takes its rise in the northern extremity of the Devil's Bit Mountains, about 2 miles east-northeast of Moneygall, and flowing east-northeast for 9 ½ miles through Tipperary, it forms the boundary with Queens County for 2 miles further, and then enters Queens County. Some of the head rivulets of the Erikna rise inside the boundary, or run on it, east of Temple more, and flow immediatley into Queens County. The Kings River rises by several headwaters in Tipperary, the chief of them having its source in the parish of Buolick, northwest of the village of Ballingarry, and flowing first southward and then eastward, enters Kilkenny 3 miles above Callan. The Munster River, flowing south, forms the boundary for about 8 miles between Tipperary and Kilkenny, and then enters Kilkenny to join the Kings River.
The Suir rises at the eastern base of Benduff Mountain, one of the Devil's Bit range, 2 miles southeast of Moneygall, the source being about 2 miles southwest of the source of the Nore, and flowing first eastward for 5 miles, it turns abruptly south. It runs in a direction generally south for about 55 miles (following the larger windings), when it touches Waterford at a point 9 miles in direct line southeast of Caher—the direction of the river from Caher to this point being southeast. It then turns abruptly north, and continuing in this direction for 5 miles, it turns east; and from the point where it first touches Waterord down to a mile and a half below Carrick-on-Suir (24 miles) it forms the boundary between Tipperary and Waterford.
The following are the Tipperary tributaries of the Suir, beginning on the north: Taking first the left or eastern bank—the Drish joins a mile below Thurles; one of its headwaters is the Black River, and some others of its head rivulets come from Kilkenny. The Anner comes southward from near Killenaule, and joins the Suir 2 miles below Clonmel; it is joined on its right bank by the Honor, the Clashawley (flowing by Fethard), and the Moyle. The Lingaun rises to the east of Slievenaman, and flowing eastward, touches Kilkenny; then turning south it forms the boundary between Tipperary and Kilkenny to where it falls into the Suir (a mile and a half below Carrick-on-Suir), a distance of 7 miles.
On the right bank the Suir receives the following—the Clodiagh rises among the hills east of Mauherslieve, and joins 3 miles below Holycross; it is itself joined by the Cromoge and the Owenbeg on opposite banks. The Multeen falls into the Suir a mile and a half above Golden, receiving from the north, a little above its mouth, a tributary also called Multeen. The Ara, flowing through the town of Tipperary, falls into the Suir 2 miles above Caher; it is joined by the Aherlow River, which comes from Limerick, enters Tipperary at Galbally, and flows eastward through the Vale of Aherlow, one of the finest glens in Ireland, with the Galtys towering over it on the south, and Slievenamuck on the north. Two miles above Ardfinnan the Suir receives the Thonoge, which rises in the Galty glens; and 3 miles below Ardfinnans, the Tar, which runs eastward through Clogheen along the northern base of the Knockmealdown Mountains, and is the principal stream that drains the valley between these mountains and the Galtys; the Tar itself having for headwater tributaries the Duag from Knockmealdown, and the Burncourt River from the Galtys.
The headwater of the Funshion, which rises in Galtymore, forms the boundary between Tipperary and Limerick for 5 or 6 miles, after which it turns west and leaves Tipperary, and ultimately joins the Blackwater.
LAKES.—A portion of Lough Derg belongs to Tipperary; all the other lakes of the county are small and unimportant. Near the summit of Galtymore, at its northern side, are two very remarkable mountain pools, overtopped by precipices, Lough Curra and Lough Diheen; and a little east of these are Borheen Lough and Lough Muskry, also on the north slopes of the Galtys. Baylough, another remarkable mountain tarn, lies above Clogheen, at the mouth of the pass that crosses Knockmealdown.
TOWNS.—Clonmel (9,325, of whom 52 are in the county Waterford), on the Suir, the chief town of the county, and the assize town of the South Riding; it is one of the most important of the inland towns of Ireland, and has great trade; beautifully situated, with the outskirts of the Cummeragh Mountains rising directly over it on the south side of the river. The following towns are also on the Suir: Carrick-on-Suir (6,583, of whom 1,166 are in Carrickbeg, a suburb lying at the south side of the river, in the county Waterford), below Clonmel, in the southeastern corner of the county. Ascending the river from Clonmel we pass the village of Ardfinnan (376), with its fine castle ruin perched on the summit of a rock, and come to Caher (2,469), a very pretty town, in a beautiful situation, under the eastern abutment of the Galtys, with a fine castle ruin on a rock in the middle of the river. Passing the village of Golden (380), with the beautiful old abbey of Athassel a mile and a half south of it, just beside the river; and the village of Holycross, where is one of the finest ecclesiastical ruins in Ireland, that of an abbey built in the 12th century; we come to Thurles (4,850), a flourishing town, with several ecclesiastical and castle ruins; and lastly, Templemore (2,800), near the eastern base of the Devil's Bit Mountain.
The following towns are on tributaries of the Suir: Fethard (1,926), lying 8 miles north of Clonmel, and near the western base of Slievenaman, is watered by the Clashawley River, and has some fine monastic ruins. Mullinahone is near the Anner River, not far from the eastern boundary. Borrisoleigh (788), lying southwest of Templemore, is on the little river Cromoge. In the southwest of the county, is Tipperary (7,274), on the Ara, almost at the base of Slievenamuck Mountain. In the valley between the Galty and Knockmealdown Mountains are Clogheen (1,209), on the Tar; and Ballyporeen (632), on the Duag, the headwater of the Tar.
On the streams that flow to the Shannon these towns are situated; Roscrea (2,801), on the Bunow; Cloghjordan (644) and Borrisokane 693 , on the Ballyfinboy River. On the Nenagh River is Nenagh (5,422), the assize town of the North Riding, with a fine castle ruin; a very important inland town. Southwest of this, on the Newport River, near the border of the county, is Newport, or, as it is commonly called, Newport-Tip (938).
The following towns are not connected with any of the principal rivers: Cappagh White (629), north of the town of Tipperary, at the base of a hill. Killenaule (829), north of Fethard prettily situated among hills. Lastly, Cashel (3,961), the ancient capital of Munster, but now a faded town, in the rich plain of the Golden Yale. Beside the town, is "The Rock of Cashel," a singular detached limestone rock rising abruptly and precipitously from the plain. Its flat top contains about 3 acres, and a great part of this area is covered by the most interesting collection of ruins in the kingdom, clustered close together; of which the chief are the Cathedral, Cormac's Chapel, a round tower, a castle, and several residences for the ecclesiastics. The Hock commands a splendid view, and is itself a conspicuous object for many miles round. Near the Rock, just outside the town, are the ruins of Hore Abbey.
MINERALS.—One of the two coal fields of Munster lies chiefly in Tipperary; it extends in length about 20 miles from Freshford in Kilkenny to near Cashel, and is about 6 miles broad. In the Arra Mountains, which rise over Lough Derg, northeast of Killaloe, are the slate quarries that supply the well-known Killaloe slates. And the Silvermine Mountains, a little to the southeast derived their name from their mines of lead with a mixture of silver, which were worked in the last century.
ANCIENT DIVISIONS AND DESIGNATIONS.—A considerable part of the north and northwest of Tipperary was originally included in the ancient sub-kingdom of Thomond or North Munster; and the middle and southern part in the sub-kingdom of Ormond or East Munster. In late times the northern end of the county was formed into two baronies, and designated Upper and Lower Ormond by the Earl of Ormond; but the name was wrongly applied, as what is now called the barony of Lower Ormond, and a good part of Upper Ormond, constituted the ancient district of Muskerry-Tirè, which was always a part of Thomond. There were two other Muskerrys in Tipperary, viz., first; Muskerry-Treherna, now the barony of Clanwilliam—also called Muskerry-Breogain, and Muskerry-Quirk, this last name derived from the family of O'Quirk, the ancient proprietors; the little mountain tarn, Lough Muskry, in the Galtys, still preserves the name of this territory. Secondly, Muskerry West-of-Fevin, so called as lying west of Moy-Fevin. Fevin or Moy-Fevin was the name of the plain south of Slievenaman, now called by the barony name Iffa and Offa East.
The Galty Mountains were anciently called Crotta-Cliach or Slieve-Crot or Slieve-Grod, which name is still preserved in that of the old Castle of Dungrod, in the Glen of Aherlow, near Galbally.
Beside Cashel there were anciently three royal residences in Tipperary. One was Caher, the old name of which was Caher-Dun-Isga; the present castle, on the rock in the Suir, occupies the site of an old circular stone fort or caher, which was destroyed in the 3d century; and that caher was erected on the site of a still older dun or earthen fort. The second was Dun-Crot, which is now marked by the old castle of Dungrod (mentioned above), a comparatively modern edifice, built on the site of the old dun. The third was Knockgraffon, about 3 miles north of
Caher, which was the residence of Fiacha Mullehan, king of Munster in the 3d century. The remains of this old palace are still standing, consisting of a very fine high mound; it is celebrated in legend, and the surrounding parish still retains its name—Knockgraffon.