County Clare Industry

Linen, generally of coarse quality, is manufactured by the inhabitants in their own dwellings, but entirely for home consumption. A small quantity of coarse diaper for towels is also made, and generally sold at the fairs and markets, as is also canvas for sacks and bags; but this trade is now very limited. Frieze is made, chiefly for home use; and at Curofin and Ennistymon, coarse woollen stockings, the manufacture of the adjacent country, are sold every market day, but the trade has considerably declined; they are not so fine as the stockings made in Connemara, but are much stronger. The only mills besides those for corn are a few tuck-mills scattered over the country. The river Ougarnee, from its copiousness and rapidity, is well adapted for supplying manufactories of any extent, and runs through a populous country.

Though the numerous bays and creeks on the Shannon, from Loop Head to Kilrush, are excellently adapted for the fitting out and harbourage of fishing boats, yet the business is pursued with little spirit. The boats that are used are not considered safe to be rowed within five miles of the mouth of the Shannon, and from their small size, the fish caught is not more than sufficient for supplying the markets of Limerick, Kilrush, and Miltown, and the southern and western parts of the county; the northern and eastern being chiefly supplied from Galway. In the herring season from 100 to 200 boats are fitted out in this river for the fishery, which, however, is very uncertain. It is thought that a productive turbot fishery might be carried on in the mouth of the river, but there are no vessels or tackling adapted for it: the boats are chiefly such as have been used from the remotest ages, being made of wicker-work, and formerly covered with horse or cow hides, but latterly with canvas; they are generally about 30 feet long, and only three broad, and are well adapted to encounter the surf, above which they rise on every wave. Kilrush has some larger boats.

In Liscanor bay a considerable quantity of small turbot is sometimes caught. Fine mullet and bass are sometimes caught at the mouths of the rivers, and many kinds of flat fish, together with mackarel and whiting, are taken in abundance in their respective seasons. Oysters are procured on many parts of the coast; those taken at Pouldoody, on the coast of Burren, have long been in high repute for their fine flavour. The bed is of small extent, and the property of a private gentleman, and they are not publicly sold. Near Pouldoody is the great Burren oyster bed, called the Red Bank, where a large establishment is maintained, and from which a constant supply is furnished for the Dublin and other large markets. Oysters are also taken at Scattery island and on the shores of the Shannon, particularly at Querin and Poulanishery, where the beds are small but the oysters good, and almost the whole of their produce is sent to Limerick. Crabs and lobsters are caught in abundance on the shores of the bay of Galway, in every creek from Black-head to Ardfry; and are procured in smaller quantities on the coast of the Atlantic, from Black-head to Loop-head.

The salmon fishery of the Shannon is very considerable, and a few are taken in every river. Eels are abundant, and weirs for taking them are extremely numerous. The commerce of the county consists entirely in the exportation of agricultural produce, and the importation of various foreign articles for home consumption: of this trade Limerick is the centre, although Kilrush likewise participates in it. The only harbours between the mouth of the Shannon and Galway bay, an extent of upwards of 40 miles, are Dunmore, which is rendered dangerous by the rocks at its entrance, and Liscanor, which is capable of properly sheltering only fishing-boats. The fine river Fergus is made but little available for the purposes of commerce, the trade with Limerick being chiefly by an expensive land carriage. The only corn markets are those of Ennis, Clare, and Kilrush, which are very abundantly supplied, and much grain is purchased at them for the Limerick exporters; corn is also shipped for Galway at Ballyvaughan and New Quay, on the north coast.

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