From Atlas and Cyclopedia of Ireland (1900)
NAME.—"Waterford," the name of the city (which was extended to the county), is Danish; the old form is Vadre-fiord. The old Gaelic name, which is still in common use, is Portlarga.
SIZE AND POPULATION.—Length from the western point near Macollop to Cheek Point, 50 ¾ miles; breadth from Clonmel to the point at Ballynacourty, east of Dungarvan Harbor, 20 miles; breadth from Knockmealdown to the southern point east of Youghal Harbor, 22 ½ miles; area, 721 square miles; population 112,768.
SURFACE.—A broad district, extending east and west, from near Portlaw in the east to Macollop in the west, is almost uninterruptedly mountainous; in the middle this mountain region stretches across almost the entire county from Clonmel to Dungarvan. That large part of the county lying south and east of this highland tract is a mixture of gentle hills and dales.
MOUNTAINS AND HILLS.—On the northern boundary of the western projection of the county, the Knockmealdown Mountains run east and west between Tipperary and Waterford. The highest summit in the whole range, Knockmealdown Mountain (2,609), lies on the boundary. Under the summit of this mountain, on the west side, the range is crossed by a high pass through which runs the mail-coach road from Lismore to Clogheen, one of the grandest mountain roads in Ireland. Immediately south of Clonmel begin the Comeragh Mountains, extending south-southeast; the southwest part of the group is commonly called the Monavullagh Mountains. Knockanaffrin (2,478) lies 6 miles southeast of Clonmel; four miles southwest from Coumshingaun is Seefin (2,387).
In the south the Drum Hills (993) run east-southeast chiefly through the barony of the Decies-Without-Drum.
COAST LINE.—Generally speaking, the coast of Waterford is rocky, inhospitable, and dangerous. Several sandy bays and stretches of sandy coast interrupt the rocky margin; but the coast is, on the whole, not much indented by bays and harbors.
HEADLANDS.—Cheek Point stands at the confluence of the Barrow and Suir; south of which is Creaden Head, projecting eastward into Waterford Harbor. Swine's Head stands opposite Hood Head on the Wexford side, both marking the entrance of Waterford Harbor. Brownstown Head and Great Newtown Head are at opposite sides of the entrance to Tramore Bay; and in the bay itself is Slate Point, a long sandy projection dividing the outer from the inner strand. West of this is Dunabrattin Head, near Knockmahon. Ballyvoyle Head, toward Dungarvan Harbor, is a cliff 243 feet high; and Helvick Head, at the south side of the entrance of Dungarvan Harbor, is 231 feet high. South of this is Mine Head; and at the south side of Ardmore Harbor are Ardmore Head and Ram Head.
ISLANDS.—Little Island, nearly a mile in length and breadth, lies in the Suir below Waterford. Sheep Island, Burke's Island, and Green Island, west of Tramore, are mere sea rocks.
BAYS AND HARBORS.—Waterford Harbor separates Waterford from Wexford. Off this is Dunmore Bay, with cliffs pierced by numerous caves. A little to the west of Waterford Harbor is Tramore Bay, with its extensive sandy beach. Bunmahon Bay is at the mouth of the Mahon River. Dungarvan Harbor has also a very extensive area of sandy strand. Ardmore Bay lies outside the village of Ardmore; west of which is Whiting Bay. Lastly, Youghal Harbor, which separates Waterford from Cork, is the estuary of the Blackwater River.
RIVERS.—The Blackwater first touches Waterford beside Kilmurry (in Cork); then separates this county from Cork for two miles; next flows through Waterford, as far as the mouth of the Tourig River, 14 miles; and from that to the mouth, 3 miles more, it separates Cork from Waterford. From the place where it enters Waterford down to Youghal it exhibits a continuous succession of the finest river scenes in Ireland.
The following are the tributaries of the Blackwater, belonging wholly or partly to Waterford: On the right bank; south of Lismore, the Owbeg, the Bride (rising in Cork), the Glendine, and the Tourig (rising in Cork). On the left bank; the Glenmore, the Owennashad, and the Glenshelane River, come southward from the Knockmealdown Mountain; the Finisk joins at Affane, drawing some of its headwaters from Tipperary; a little south of this is the Goish; and further south still is the Lickey, which flows from the Drum Hills.
The Suir first touches Waterford at the mouth of the Nier; and from that point to its mouth bounds the county, except for 4 miles at Waterford city, where a single parish of Waterford county lies at the north side of the river. The Waterford tributaries of the Suir are the following. The Nier flows west through the fine valley of Glenahiry, and joins the Suir at Ballymakee. A little north of this is the Russellstown River.
The Glasha flows north through the pretty Glenpatrick, and joins nearly opposite Kilsheelan. The Clodiagh rises chiefly in Knockanaffrin, and falls into the Suir 1 ½ mile below Portlaw; one of its early feeders, the Ire, rises near Coumshingaun, within 2 miles of the source of the Nier.
A number of small rivers flow southward into the ocean. The Woodstown River is a little west of Tramore. The Mahon River rises near the sources of the Nier and the Ire, and falls into the sea at Bunmahon. The Tay rises near the sources of Nier, the Ire, and the Mahon, and falls into the sea near Stradbally. The Dalligan is west of Ballyvoyle Head. The Colligan enters the sea at Dungarvan; one of its early tributaries, the Araghlin rises in Seefin Mountain. The Brickey falls into Dungarvan Harbor.
LAKES.—Bally Lough, about half a mile long, lies between Waterford Harbor and Tramore Bay; Ballyscanlan Lake, near Tramore, is still smaller. The lakes of the Comeraghs are all small, but some are very remarkable. Coumshingaun, one of the grandest mountain lakes in Ireland, is nearly half a mile in length, lies in a tremendous chasm on the side of the highest part of the Comeraghs, with a wall of rock rising over it at one side, more than 1,000 feet high. Near it are Crotty's Lough, the two Comeragh Loughs, and the two Coumstilloge Loughs; Coumduala Lough is on the side of Knockanaffrin.
TOWNS.—Waterford (22,457), on the Suir, noted for its splendid quay. The other towns on the Suir and its tributaries are as follows: A portion of Clonmel, containing 52 inhabitants, lies on the Waterford side of the river. Carrickbeg (1,166) is the Waterford suburb of Carrick-on-Suir. Passage (688), or Passage East, is in a pretty situation on the shore, where Waterford Harbor begins to open out with a ferry across the broad river. Lower down stands the village of Dunmore (345), on a lovely little bay, a growing watering place. Below Carrick-on-Suir, on the Clodiagh River, is Portlaw (1,891), noted for its cotton factories, but now less prosperous than formerly.
The following towns are on the Black water. Lismore (1,860), situated in the midst of splendid and beautiful scenery, with Lismore Castle beside it, on the top of a cliff over the Blackwater. The town dates its origin from a monastery founded there in the 6th century by St. Carthach; and it became one of Ireland's most celebrated religious centers. Cappoquin (1,555) stands at the angle where the Blackwater turns south, and is beautifully situated at the base of the Knockmealdown Mountains. On the slope of the mountain over the town stands the Trappist monastery of Mount Melleray. Near the Bride, 6 miles above its junction with the Blackwater, is Tallow (1,232).
The following towns are on the southern coast. Dungarvan (6,306), on Dungarvan Bay, is the second town of the county; situated on a point of land jutting out into the bay at the mouth of the river Colligan; chief business, fishery. Tramore (2,036), on Tramore Bay, is the best known bathing place on the coast between Bray and Youghal.
Kilmacthomas (585), is inland; situated on the sloping sides of a deep glen through which flows the river Mahon.
MINERALS.—The copper mines of Knockmahon, at the mouth of the river Mahon, were long successfully worked, and were very productive; but the works have lately been discontinued.
ANCIENT DIVISIONS AND DESIGNATIONS.—Waterford formed a part of the ancient sub-kingdom of Ormond. The country of the southern Desi anciently included nearly the whole county of Waterford, as it extended from Lismore to Creadan Head, and from the Suir southward to the sea; its name is now preserved by the two baronies of Decies (see Meath).