LEITRIM TOPOGRAPHY

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

The form of the county is somewhat pyramidal, or approaching to that of a slender cone, having its base resting on Longford, and its apex on the sea coast: its extreme length is about 46 miles; its breadth varies from 16 at the former extremity to 2 at the latter. The greater part of the surface not strictly mountainous being occupied by steep hills and deep valleys, it displays many varieties of picturesque scenery heightened by striking and sudden contrasts of wild heathy mountain, and rich cultivation, wood, and water. The southern extremity from Rusky to Carrick is fertile and well cultivated, particularly on the banks of the Shannon, which here separates Leitrim from Roscommon and spreads into Lough Boffin, backed by the heights of Sheebeg and Sheemore, forming a fine relief to the lofty grandeur of the more distant mountain of Slieve-an-irin, and the luxuriant swell of the adjacent part of Roscommon. Proceeding northward to Lough Allen, the country, though available for tillage, gradually assumes a gloomy aspect, and immediately from the verge of this lake steep ascents stretch to a distance of two, three, and four miles to the mountains, which on almost every side terminate the view: but even here various delightful prospects are obtained, especially near the points where the Shannon enters into and emerges from the lake.

The summit of the group called Slieve-an-irin, or Slieve-an-Jaroin, to the east of Lough Allen, is the highest point in this mountainous district, which extends five or six miles northward; but large tracts of good land appear around Dromahaire, Manor-Hamilton, and Glencar, where the face of the country is extremely varied and pleasing. Not far distant are the mountains of Lacka, 1315 feet high; Lugnacuillagh, 1485 feet high; Doon; Glanfarn or Mullaghusk; Benbo, 1403 feet high; and Green Mountain, 920 feet. These mountains do not form a connected chain or group, but are separated by deep and broad valleys, containing innumerable low but steep hills. The mountains, too, like those of the Slieve-an-irin group, are all of similar character, rising at a steep angle from their bases, and, except Benbo, frequently presenting mural precipices from 60 to 100 feet deep; but their summits are all nearly flat and covered with coarse herbage.

Further northward, on approaching the sea, the most barren mountains rise from the fertile vale, amid which many scenes of superior beauty arrest the eye. The Shannon and its tributaries add greatly to the beauty of the south-western part of the county, which is still further augmented by the numerous lakes scattered over its surface. The principal of these is Lough Allen, stretching about seven miles in length, between Drumkerrin and Drumshambo, and with a mean breadth of five miles; its south-western extremity is in the county of Roscommon; it is in some places very deep, and owing to the surrounding mountains, the storms upon it are extremely sudden and violent. Lough Gill, though forming part of the western boundary of the county, is chiefly in that of Sligo: it is about five or six miles in length, and two in breadth; and its shores, naturally romantic, have been richly planted and cultivated. Lough Melvyn, which separates the counties of Leitrim and Fermanagh for some distance, is 5 miles in length and varies in breadth from 3 miles to ¾ of a mile; Lough Clane, otherwise Belhovel Lake, is situated about 4 miles to the north-west of Lough Allen, with which it communicates by the river Duibhachar; this lake is nearly two miles long and one broad. Loughs Bodarrig and Boffin are merely expansions of the Shannon to the south of Drumsna; the only other lake worthy of particular notice is that of Garadise, an extensive and pleasing expanse of water, which, with Newtown-Gore Lake and several smaller in the vicinity of Ballinamore and Cashcarrigan, add greatly to the picturesque beauties of this part of the county.

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