From Atlas and Cyclopedia of Ireland (1900)

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Description of County Cork | Shandon Church | Queenstown Cathedral | Blarney Castle | Cloyne Cathedral | View of Queenstown | Glengariff Castle | Patrick's Bridge | The Mall | The Square, Fermoy | Cork Map

NAME.—In the 6th century St. Finbar founded a monastery on the edge of a marsh near the mouth of the river Lee, round which a city subsequently sprang up. Hence the name of the city, Cork, which is a shortened from of the Gaelic word Corcach, signifying a marsh.

SIZE AND POPULATION.—Cork is the largest county in Ireland. Length, from Crow Head at Dursey Island in the southwest, to the northeastern corner at Kilbeheny near Mitchelstown in the northeast, 98 miles: greatest length, from Crow Head to Youghal, 102 miles; breadth, from the boundary at the Mullaghareirk Mountains in the northwest, to Robert's Head, south of Cork Harbor, 54 miles; area, 2,890 sq. miles; population, 495,607.

For legal purposes the county is divided into East Riding and West Riding.

SURFACE.—Cork is on the whole a mountainous county. The most rugged part is the west, where the mountains generally run in chains east and west, forming part of the great mountain group that covers the western parts of Cork and Kerry. In the middle and southeast there are stretches of champaign land, but with mountains and hills always in near view.

MOUNTAINS AND HILLS.—North of Bantry Bay the Caha Mountains lie on the boundary of Cork and Kerry, the Miskish Mountains being their continuation to the west, extending to the very point of the peninsula. Of these the most remarkable summits are Hungry Hill (2,251), just on the boundary near Bearhaven; and Sugarloaf (1,187), a conical hill, a little west of Glengarriff. East of these is a mountain group, containing within its circuit the Pass of Keimaneigh (a splendid gorge leading from the valley of the Owvane to the valley of the Lee) and the lake of Gougane Barra; of this group the chief summit is the fine conical hill of Shehy (1,797), at the head of the Owvane Valley.

North of these lies another east and west range, beginning on the west with the Derrynasaggart Mountains (2,133), lying on the boundary of Cork and Kerry, midway between Macroom and Killarney; east of these, still keeping the same general direction, is the longer range of the Boggeragh Mountains, culminating in Musheramore (2,118), rising over Mill Street; east of these again, and still in the same direction, are the Nagles Mountains, which terminate near Fermoy. This whole range, from the west end of the Derrynasaggart Mountains to Fermoy, is more than 40 miles in length. The Boggeragh Mountains and the Nagles Mountains define on the south the valley of the Blackwater; which has on the north the Ballyhoura range, extending into Limerick; and east of these are the Kilworth Mountains, between Kilworth and Mitchelstown.

The northwest angle of the county, near Newmarket, is a region of mountains. In the midst is Taur (1,329); while in the north the Mullaghareirk Mountains (1,341) form for part of their course the boundary of Cork and Limerick.

In the extreme southwest, Mount Gabriel (1,339), over the village of Skull, is very conspicuous, as rising quite detached in the midst of a great plain.

COAST LINE.—The coast is broken up the whole way round, from Youghal to Kenmare, by numberless bays and inlets, and exhibits every variety of configuration—tall cliffs, broken rocks, rugged promontories, and sandy beaches.

HEADLANDS.—Knockadoon Head is the turning point of the coast south of Youghal: Power Head, and Robert's Head, at either side of Cork Harbor: the Old Head of Kinsale, to the west of Kinsale Harbor, is a long peninsula, with its narrow isthmus in one place pierced across quite through by a sea cave: the Seven Heads and Galley Head, east and west of Clonakilty Bay: Toe Head, west of Castlehaven. Cape Clear is the southern point of Cape Clear Island: Mizen Head is the most southerly point of the mainland of Ireland. Muntervary or Sheep Head is the extreme point of the long peninsula between the bays of Bantry and Dunmanus: Dursey Head, the western end of Dursey Island, and near it is Crow Head on the Mainland. Cod's Head and Kilcatherine Point stand at both sides of Coulagh Bay, in the Kenmare estuary.

ISLANDS.—Beginning at the west: Dursey Island stands at the extreme end of the Peninsula of Bear, 4 miles long, hilly and full of rocks. In Bantry Bay are Bear Island, opposite Castletown Bearhaven, 6 miles in length, high and rocky; and at the head of the bay near Bantry, Whiddy Island, which is low and fertile. Cape Clear Island at the extreme south (3 miles long; area, 2 1/3 square miles), rocky and with precipitous shores, is now a telegraph station, where the first news is heard of ships homebound from America. Sherkin Island, between Cape Clear Island and the mainland, is nearly the same size as Cape Clear Island. Numerous small islands lie near, such as Ringarogy, Hare Island, Horse Island, etc. In Cork Harbor are Great Island, Little Island, and Foaty, all beautifully diversified; Haulbowline, a military depot; and Spike Island, a well known convict station.

BAYS AND HARBORS.—Youghal Harbor, at the mouth of the Blackwater, lies between Cork and Waterford: next to which is Ballycottin Bay. Cork Harbor, the opening of the River Lee, with a narrow entrance, is one of the finest and safest harbors in the empire. Kinsale Harbor is at the mouth of the Bandon River: Courtmacsherry Bay, at the mouth of the Arigideen River: the sandy Bay of Clonakilty comes next: Rosscarbery Bay lies west of Galley Head. Glandore Harbor and Castlehaven lie near each other, and are both noted for the beauty of their coast scenery: Baltimore Bay and Roaring Water Bay are both near Cape Clear. On the western side of the county are the two great inlets, Dunmanus Bay and Bantry Bay, the latter about 30 miles long, with an average width of about 4 miles; off Bantry Bay are Bearhaven, sheltered by Bear Island; and Glengarriff Harbor, celebrated for its splendid scenery. Kenmare Bay belongs for the most part to Kerry, off which, on the Cork coast, are Ballydonegan Bay, Coulagh Bay, and Ardgroom Harbor, which lies partly in Cork and partly in Kerry.

RIVERS.—By far the greatest part of this county is drained by the three main rivers, the Black water, the Lee, and the Bandon, and their tributaries; they run nearly parallel, their general direction being east; and all three bend south toward the mouth.

The Blackwater rises in Kerry, half a mile from the boundary with Cork, on the side of Knockanefune Hill, 4 miles northwest from the village of Kingwilliamstown. It first runs east to the boundary; then turning south, it forms the boundary between Cork and Kerry for 11 miles (not following the very small windings); then turning east, it enters Cork, through which it flows from that turning point in a direction generally east, for about 54 miles, to Kilmurry, when it forms for 2 miles the boundary between Cork and Waterford. Entering Waterford, it continues its eastern course as far as Cappoquin, whence it turns abruptly south, and for the last three miles of its course, at Youghal, again forms the boundary between Cork and Waterford. The scenery of the Blackwater is celebrated for its beauty; the finest part, however, belongs to the county Waterford.

The chief tributaries of the Blackwater that belong to this county are: On the right or southern bank: the Bride, which flows east, parallel to the main stream, and entering the county Waterford, joins the Blackwater below Cappoquin the Tourig, which joins about 1 mile above Youghal, and the Glen River, which flows from the slope of Mushera Mountain, and joins the main stream near the village of Banteer. On the left or northern bank: the Allow and the Dalua unite at Kanturk, and 2 miles further down flow into the Blackwater; the Awbeg (Spenser's Mulla) rises in the Ballyhoura hills, and flows by Buttevant and Doneraile into the Blackwater near Castletownroche; and the Funshion and the Araglin, both of which join near Kilworth.

The Lee rises in the romantic lake of Gougane Barra, and flowing eastward for four miles, it expands into the long winding lake of Inchageela or Lough Allua: it continues its eastern course through a long and beautiful valley, with a continued succession of demesnes and villas and many old castle ruins on both sides, till it expands into the broad Lough Mahon below Cork, when it turns south and enters the sea between two bold headlands.

Tributaries of the Lee: On the left bank: the Sullane and the Laney, which unite at Macroom, and join the Lee a little lower down; the Martin River, flowing through Blarney, into which flows the Blarney River, after which the united stream joins the Shournagh, which, a little lower down, falls into the. Lee: the Glashaboy, flowing through the pretty glen and village of Glanmire, a little below Cork; and still lower down the Owennacurra, flowing by Middleton. The only affluent of any consequence on the right bank is the Bride, which joins the Lee 7 miles above Cork.

The Bandon rises on the side of Owen Hill, 5 miles west of Dunmanway, and flowing by Dunmanway, Bandon, and Innishannon, enters the sea at Kinsale. It receives as tributaries the Caha River, which rises in Shehy Mountain, and joins a little above Dunmanway: the Blackwater, joining 6 or 7 miles lower down: and the Brinny, joining near Innishannon; these three are all on the left bank of the Bandon.

On the extreme southern coast, the Arigideen flows into Courtmacsherry Bay; and the Ilen, by Skibbereen into Baltimore Bay.

The Coomhola, the Owvane, and the Mealagh flow into Bantry Bay near Bantry. The Owvane, rising in the glens of the two mountains Shehy and Douce, flows through a fine valley traversed by the road from Bantry to Macroom, at the head of which is the Pass of Keimaneigh; and the Mealagh, entering Bantry Bay at the historic shore of Dunnamark, falls over a ledge of rock into the sea, ending its course in a fine cascade.

The four Mile Water flows into the head of Dunmanus Bay, at Carrigboy.

LAKES.—Small and unimportant: the only lakes of any consequence lie on the course of the Lee. This river rises in Gougane Barra Lake, a small body of water, completely surrounded by abrupt mountains and precipices, except on the east side where the Lee issues from it. There is a little island in the lake containing the ruins of a primitive religious establishment, founded in the 6th century by St. Finbar, who afterward founded Cork. Four miles lower down the river expands into the long, winding, beautiful Lough Allua, or Lake of Inchigeela. In the mountains over Bantry, Glengarriff, and Bear Island, there are hundreds of small lakes.

TOWNS.—Cork (80,124), the chief trading and commercial city of the southern half of Ireland, was originally built on an island inclosed by two branches of the Lee; but in later times it has been extended far beyond on both sides of the river. The city has a most picturesque appearance, as many of the streets and public buildings are built on the slopes or crown the summits of the little hills over the Lee. The environs are very beautiful, especially down the river, whose steep banks are studded with villas. Below Cork are a number of towns and villages, all prettily situated on the mainland and island shores of the harbor. Queenstown (9,755), the chief of all, a flourishing town, is built on the sloping shore of Great Island, with the streets rising in tiers from the water's edge. Proceeding down the river from Cork, the first town is Ballintemple (1,166), on the right hand; next is Blackrock (707), with its castle on a rock jutting into the harbor; on the left is Glanmire, at the opening of a pretty glen. Passage West (2,440) lies on the right shore of the narrow channel between Great Island and the mainland; and Monkstown (381), 2 miles lower down, is on the same shore.

On the Lee, 4 miles above Cork, is Ballincollig (1,130), where there is a military depot and large powder mills. The following are on tributaries of the Lee: Macroom (3,099), on the pretty river Sullane, near where it runs into the Lee, with its fine old Anglo-Norman castle. On the Martin River, 5 miles from Cork, is the lovely little village of Blarney, well-known for its flourishing tweed factory, and for its fine old castle ruin, the ancient residence of the Mac Carthys. Near where the Owennacurra flows into Cork Harbor stands Middleton (3,358), midway between Cork and Youghal. Lower down is Cloyne (1,126), a little east of Cork Harbor, a very ancient ecclesiastical town, with an old cathedral and a round tower.

A number of towns and villages stand on the banks of the Blackwater. Beginning at the mouth: Youghal (5,396), an ancient town, abounding in military and ecclesiastical ruins. Sir Walter Raleigh lived in Youghal, and his house stands there still. Passing by Cappoquin and Lismore, both in Waterford, we come to Fermoy (6,454), with large military barracks; and Mallow (4,439), in a beautiful situation in the midst of a most picturesque country, which is covered all over with demesnes and villas.

The following towns are on tributaries of the Blackwater: Kanturk (1,859), at the confluence of the two rivers Allow and Dalua, 2 miles from the Blackwater; 4 miles higher up on the Dalua is Newmarket (885). Millstreet (1,476), on the little river Finow, stands at the head of a fine valley, 2 miles from the Blackwater. On the Awbeg are Buttevant (1,409), and Doneraile (1,208), both beautifully situated, with Spenser's residence, Kilcolman Castle, in their immediate neighborhood; and Castletownroche (820), near the junction of the Awbeg with the Blackwater. On the Funshion are: Mitchelstown (2,467), near the base of the Galty Mountains, with Mitchelstown demesne and castle beside it, the finest modern baronial residence in Ireland; Glanworth (577), with abbey and castle ruins; and Kilworth (598) near the junction with the Blackwater, with its beautiful demesne, containing the ruins of Cloghlea Castle.

The towns on the Bandon River are: Kinsale (5,386), at the mouth, built at the base and up the side of the hill that rises over the harbor—an important fishing station; Bandon (3,997); and Dunmanway (2,049), in the midst of rocky hills.

The towns on the coast not yet enumerated are, beginning on the west: Castletown Bearhaven (1,028), opposite Bear Island, the only town of any consequence in the extreme western part of the county; within a mile of which, on a little creek, are the ruins of the O'Sullivan's castle of Dunboy; Bantry (2,632), finely situated at the head of Bantry Bay, and overtopped by beautiful hills; Skibbereen (3,631), in the extreme south, at the mouth of the Ilen River; Rosscarberry (693), one the great ancient ecclesiastical centers; and Clonakilty (3,676), at the head of Clonakilty Bay.

The only town of any consequence not connected with an important river or near the sea, is Charleville (2,266), a good trading town, on the northern boundary, near the base of the Ballyhoura Mountains.

MINERALS.—In the barony of Duhallow there is an extensive coal field, which is worked at Dromagh, 3 miles southwest of Kanturk. Copper ore is found in various places, the chief mines being those of Allihies near Castletown Bearhaven, and the Cappagh mine on the west coast of Roaring Water Bay, near Skibbereen.

ANCIENT DIVISIONS AND DESIGNATIONS.—The present county nearly coincides with the ancient sub-kingdom of Desmond, or South Munster.

Corca-Laighdhe (pronounced Corkalee), the old territory of the O'Driscolls, originally comprised all the southwestern district from Courtmacsherry Bay west to Bantry Bay, but subsequently it became much more restricted.

The peninsula between Roaring Water Bay and Dunmanus Bay was the ancient Ivahagh, the territory of the O'Mahoneys.

Off the point of Dursey Island are three solitary sea rocks, now called in English the Bull, the Cow, and the Calf: they are celebrated in legendary history as the place where Donn, one of the Milesian brothers, perished in a storm, with the crew of his ship: whence they were called Tigh-Dhuinn (pronounced Tee-Yine), which name is still well known among the Gaelic-speaking people.

Several of the old territories are still represented in name and position by the present baronies. Thus the old district of Beanntraighe is the present barony of Bantry: Cairbre, now the baronies of Carbury: Muscraighe, the baronies of Muskerry: Duthaighe-Ealla, the barony of Duhallow: Feara-Muighe, the barony of Fermoy, called in later ages the Roches' Country.

Description of County Cork | Shandon Church | Queenstown Cathedral | Blarney Castle | Cloyne Cathedral | View of Queenstown | Glengariff Castle | Patrick's Bridge | The Mall | The Square, Fermoy | Cork Map

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