WATERFORD TOPOGRAPHY

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

The surface is for the most part of a mountainous character; and the valleys watered by its various rivers are generally picturesque and beautiful. It is divided into two nearly equal portions by the Cummeragh or Monevullagh mountains, which extend from Cappa, three miles west of Dungarvan. The general range of these mountains is from west to east: their sides are wild and precipitous, their lofty rocks and deep ravines exhibiting extraordinary masses of light and shade. On the summits of most of them are irregular piles of stones, many of them of great size, which, from their extraordinary situation, are thought to have been placed there by the hand of man. Among these mountains are four lakes, two called Cummeloughs, and the others Stilloughs, the largest of which covers only five or six acres: they contain several inferior kinds of trout, and in the Cummeloughs are found also char: around these lakes are some very fine echoes.

Connected with the northern extremity of this mountain range is the sterile district called the Commons of Clonmel, which extends to the vicinity of that town; proceeding from which, however, down the course of the river Suir, is found a gradually expanding vale of the greatest beauty, particularly in the vicinity of Curraghmore, the seat of the Marquess of Waterford. From this vale, however, to the sea-coast, in a southern direction, the face of the country is wild and almost entirely destitute of trees, and, except near the village of Bonmahon, unimproved by any respectable residence.

A considerable range of high land extends from this part of the coast through the parishes of Dunhill and Reisk, in which latter it divides into two branches; the low land intervening is partially covered with water during the winter season, which in summer is confined to the small lake of Ballyscanlan. In this low land, trunks and roots of trees, chiefly of oak and pine, of considerable size, are found imbedded. Hence the hills extend to the vicinity of Waterford; and the entire range is overspread with rocks, forming in some places very curious groups, especially on the precipitous heights about Pembrokestown. The barony of Gaultier, which exhibits a varied though not very elevated surface, is a peninsular tract, appearing to have been at one period completely insulated in the direction of the line of marshy land which extends from Tramore bay to Kilbarry, near Waterford.

To the south of the Cummeragh mountains, from the parish of Clonea, the land declines in approaching the sea, and presents a large alluvial tract, highly cultivated and fertile, which entirely encircles the bay of Dungarvan. But immediately to the south-west of this noble inlet rises the elevated tract called the Drum mountain, which separates the old territory of the Decies into Decies within and without Drum. This mountain comprises a large tract of land, much of it already cultivated, and all capable of considerable improvement: the summit is a table land extending about twelve miles in length and from four to five in breadth, and comprising about 25,000 acres. It is supposed by some to have anciently belonged to the proprietors of the surrounding estates in common; by others, in consequence of its inferior value, to have never been appropriated; while a favourite notion among the common people is that it was reserved by Queen Anne for the relief of the poor of Ireland, of whom great numbers have made settlements on small plots of it.

The barony of Decies-within-Drum was cut off by this tract from the rest of the county, and was formerly accessible only by a circuitous route, or by attempting the mountain passes, which were impassable by a loaded carriage. Consequently, the produce of the land could be conveyed to the neighbouring markets only by sending it coastwise in boats, or employing horses that carried it on their backs over the difficult and dangerous pathways. This tract has lately been decided to be the property of Henry Villiers Stuart, Esq., M.P. Some of the finest scenes are presented by the shores of the Blackwater, throughout its course in the western part of the county; wooded heights generally bordering the broad and navigable stream on each side, and the whole being enriched by castles, seats, and villages. The general superiority of Coshmore and Coshbride, in cultivation and pleasing scenery, has procured it the designation of "the garden of the county."

The other western parts of the county, including even the small barony of.Glenahiery (so called from the glen of the Nier, a small river, which descends through it into the Suir), has for the most part an elevated and uninteresting character, except where the high mountain of Knockmeledown stands conspicuous to the north of Lismore, and has some picturesque glens descending from its sides to the Blackwater: its summit commands a prospect of great extent and magnificence. The coast presents a great variety of interesting features. Beginning at the Suir, the first remarkable object is the Little Island, two miles below Waterford, and nearly 12 miles from the sea. The rivers Suir and Ross unite their waters with great fulness and rapidity, and at once form a grand estuary nearly three miles in breadth. Woods-town strand, below New Geneva, has a low beach; beyond it the coast is bold and precipitous, with lofty headlands stretching out into Waterford harbour.

The same character of coast is continued past the harbour of Dunmore to Brownstown Head, which forms the eastern boundary of the bay of Tramore. On this line of coast there are several caverns of natural formation, remarkable for their extent. Next beyond Brownstown Head is Newtown Head, and between these is Tramore bay, noted for the shipwrecks that have occurred in it, and presenting a level beach and flat coast three English miles in extent. A bar or mound of sand, raised by the opposing influence of the tides and the land streams, prevents the further encroachments of the sea; and separates from the open bay a part called the Back Strand, containing about 1000 Irish acres, which it is designed to embank and enclose.

From the bay of Waterford to that of Dungarvan there is no shelter for vessels of any description: the shore is rocky and precipitous, and affords only precarious retreats for the boats of fishermen in a few coves. The rocks along this line appear to have been violently separated, the beds being heaped together in the greatest confusion. Contiguous to the coast, in the parish of Icane, are the islands of Icane, which are merely small masses of rock separated from the main land, and partially covered with coarse grass. Whiting Head, near Bonmahon bay, a small inlet formed by the mouth of the Bonmahon river, is high and steep; and to the westward of it is the square island rock of Templebric, about 100 feet high, on which numbers of sea-fowl breed. Clonea bay is an extensive sweep of coast, presenting at low water a vast sandy strand; the next great break in the line of coast, which here assumes a south-western direction, is the harbour of Dungarvan.

From Helwick Head to Mine Head the coast inclines southward about a league distance, and is high and rocky, enclosing Muggort's bay. From Mine Head it runs more directly westward into Ardmore bay, which has in part a flat shore, and is sheltered on the west by the bold and high promontory of Ardmore, to the west of which is a point called Ardigna Head, forming the eastern boundary of Whiting bay, enclosed on the west by Cabin Point. The low point called Black Ball, about half a league further, forms the eastern boundary of the entrance to Youghal harbour, and the western extremity of the coast of this county.

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