From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837
Cultivation has for many years been rapidly extending up the more improvable mountains, and in the richer districts has undergone considerable amelioration, to which the liberal measures of Earl Fitzwilliam, one of the largest proprietors, have greatly contributed. Tillage is the chief object of husbandry. The only crops in the more elevated situations are potatoes and oats in exhausting succession; wheat and barley, and occasionally green crops, are also cultivated in the lower districts, but the land is commonly left to recover itself under pasture. Turnips are cultivated in the south; and rape is grown by a few agriculturists.
Artificial grasses are seldom sown. The enclosed pastures are chiefly fields on which grasses have been left to grow naturally after having been worn out with corn crops; in the eastern part of the county these pastures are luxuriant, particularly near the sea, where cattle are fattened on them. On the banks of the Liffey and Slaney are also many excellent pastures. The upland and mountain pastures, devoted entirely to rearing and feeding store cattle and sheep, are also remarkably good of their kind, and even where bogs most abound there are spots covered with soft grasses. Lugnaquilla, to the very summit, which is nearly flat and clothed with a dry green sward of velvet softness, is a good sheep pasture.
The cattle reared in the northern part of the county are chiefly for the Dublin market; in the southern, for those of Ross and Waterford. The milk in the former is chiefly applied to the feeding of lambs for the Dublin market; and in the vicinity of Rathdrum some butter is made that is in high esteem in that city. But the common application of grass lands is to the feeding of store cattle and the produce of hay. Both cattle and sheep are commonly small; and the sheep of the mountains are usually very wild and active. Lime is one of the principal manures ; the cultivation of the land in Shillelagh entirely depends on the use of lime brought from Carlow county. It is also imported to Bray, Wicklow, and Arklow from Sutton, on the south side of Howth, as no limestone is found in the county, except in the alluvial beds, the pebbles of which have sometimes been burned. Marl and limestone gravel are used very extensively. Oxen are employed by many in the labours of husbandry, sometimes in teams by themselves, but more frequently yoked with horses.
The agricultural implements are of the ordinary improved construction, and the carriages one-horse cars. In the great vale of Newcastle the country is enriched and enlivened with hedgerows of various growth, interspersed with timber trees, but badly plashed; most other parts exhibit an appearance of nakedness from the fences being commonly composed of rough mounds of earth, covered here and there with furze. Walls are sometimes formed by piling the stones on the mountain lands, but so loosely that breaches are constantly occurring. Frequently the land is so encumbered with rocks as to be utterly valueless until these have been blasted or undermined, and buried. The gardens in the barony of Newcastle are generally very productive.
There are a few orchards. Owing to the nature of the country, there is more natural wood than perhaps in any district in Ireland of the same extent: it consists chiefly of coppices, usually cut at 30 years' growth, which enrich some of the most romantic glens. But the finest timber is that in gentlemen's demesnes, with which this county is so much embellished; that in Powerscourt Park and Rosanna is perhaps unequalled in grandeur by any in the island. Large tracts adapted to the growth of timber remain neglected, although Dr. Frizell, of Castlekevin, Henry Grattan, Esq., M.P., and some other proprietors, by their extensive and flourishing plantations on mountains of considerable elevation, have proved the capabilities of such situations. The natural growth of the country is chiefly oak, birch, and hazel.
Of the vast extent of bog and mountain, the greater portion forms the wild region in its centre. The mountainous and uncultivated lands of the entire range were estimated by the surveying engineer, who examined the district with the view of developing its capabilities, at 329,967 acres, of which 97,190 are black bog, and the remainder a moory soil, commonly producing coarse sedgy grass or heath, interspersed in many parts with tracts of pasture land, on some of which large numbers of sheep and young cattle are fed, while others, now unproductive, might be brought into a state of profitable cultivation by draining and manuring.
The bogs on the outskirts of the mountains are in some places becoming exhausted by the constant digging for turf; the barony of Newcastle is now beginning to apprehend a deficiency of that valuable article in the marsh extending along the coast northward from Wicklow. The peat of this tract, from its maritime situation, is found to be impregnated with salt, which gives its slight flame a blue colour. To make it fit for use, it is necessary to reduce it to a soft mud and spread it upon the surface to dry, in which state it is divided into lumps of convenient size, and when dry is carried home at the approach of winter; its superior durability compensates for the greater trouble in preparing it than in digging for that of the mountains.
In the barony of Shillelagh is a tract several miles in length, called the Derry bog, the principal of the kind south of Lugnaquilla. The ordinary fuel is everywhere peat, though much coal is imported to Bray, Wicklow, and Arklow from Whitehaven, for the gentry and farmers of the surrounding districts.
County Wicklow | Wicklow Towns and Baronies | Wicklow Topography | Wicklow Climate | Wicklow Agriculture | Wicklow Geology | Wicklow Manufacturing | Wicklow Rivers | Wicklow Antiquities | Wicklow Society | Wicklow Town
From a sad, comfortless childhood Giles Truelove developed into a reclusive and uncommunicative man whose sole passion was books. For so long they were the only meaning to his existence. But when fate eventually intervened to have the outside world intrude upon his life, he began to discover emotions that he never knew he had.
This is a story for the genuine booklover, penned by an Irish bookseller under the pseudonym of Ralph St. John Featherstonehaugh.
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