From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837
The county possesses every diversity of surface, and great natural advantages, which require only the hand of improvement to heighten into beauty. Of the barony of Tulla, forming its entire eastern part, the northern portion is mountainous and moory, though capable of improvement; and the eastern and southern portions are intersected by a range of lofty hills, and are studded with numerous demesnes in a high state of cultivation; and there is a chain of lakes extending through this and the adjoining barony of Bunratty, which might easily be converted into a direct navigable line of communication between Broadford, Six-mile-Bridge, and the river Shannon. Bunratty barony, which includes the tract between this and the river Fergus, has in the north a large proportion of rocky ground, which is nevertheless tolerably productive, very luxuriant herbage springing up among the rocks, and affording pasturage for large flocks of sheep.
The southern portion of this barony, adjoining the rivers Fergus and Shannon, contains some of the richest land in the county, both for tillage and pasturage; the uplands of this district are also of a superior quality. Inchiquin barony, lying to the north-west of Bunratty, has in its eastern part chiefly a level surface, with a calcareous, rocky, and light soil; the western consists for the most part of moory hills, with some valleys of great fertility: the part adjoining the barony of Corcomroe is highly improvable, limestone being every where obtained. The barony of Islands, which joins Inchiquin on the south and Bunratty on the west, is chiefly composed on the western side of low moory mountain, but towards the east, approaching the town of Ennis and the river Fergus, it greatly improves, partaking of the same qualities of soil as Bunratty, and containing a portion of the corcasses. Between this last and the Shannon is the barony of Clonderlaw, very much encumbered with bog and moory mountain, but highly improvable, from the facility of obtaining lime and sea manure.
The four remaining baronies stretch along the western coast. That of Moyarta constitutes the long peninsula between the Shannon and the Atlantic, forming the south-western extremity of the county, and terminating at Cape Lean or Loop Head, where there is a lighthouse: this also abounds with bog and moory hills, capable of great improvement. The southern part of Ibrickane, which lies north of Moyarta, is nearly all bog, and the northern is composed of a mixture of improvable moory hills and a clay soil. Corcomroe, the next maritime barony on the north, is of the same character as the last-mentioned lands, having a fertile clay soil on whinstone rock, here called cold stone, to distinguish it from limestone: the land about Kilfenora and Doolan is some of the richest in the county.
Burren, forming the most northern extremity of the county, is very rocky, but produces a short sweet herbage excellently adapted for the sheep of middle size and short clothing wool, of which immense numbers are raised upon it, together with some store cattle. Besides the numerous picturesque islands in the Shannon and Fergus rivers, there are various small islets on the coast, in the bay of Galway, and in the great recess extending from Dunbeg to Liscanor, called Malbay, an iron-bound coast rendered exceedingly dangerous by the prevalence of westerly winds: the principal of these is Mutton Island, besides which there are Goat Island and Enniskerry Island, the three forming the group of the latter name. The coast at Moher presents a magnificent range of precipitous cliffs, varying from 600 to nearly 1000 feet in height above the sea at low water, on the summit of which a banqueting-house in the castellated style has been lately erected by Cornelius O'Brien, Esq., for the use of the public.
The lakes are very numerous, upwards of 100 having names: the majority are small, though some are of large extent, namely, Lough Graney, Lough O'Grady, Lough Tedane, and Lough Inchiquin; the last is remarkable for its picturesque beauty and for its fine trout. Turloughs, called in other places Loghans, are frequent; they are tracts of water either forced under ground from a higher level, or surface water mostly collected on low grounds, where it has no outlet, and remains until evaporated in summer: there is a very large one at Turloghmore, two near Kilfenora, and more in other places. Although the water usually remains on the surface for several months, yet on its subsiding, a fine grass springs up, that supports great numbers of cattle and sheep.