County Clare Rivers and Navigation

The most important river is the Shannon, which first touches the county on its eastern confines as part of Lough Derg, and thence sweeps round by Killaloe (where it forms the celebrated falls) to Limerick, from which city to the sea, a distance of 60 miles, it forms a magnificent estuary, nine miles wide at its mouth, where it opens into the Atlantic, and is diversified by many picturesque islands, bays, and promontories. This noble river, which washes no less than 97 British miles of its coast, is the great channel of the trade of the county, and besides its maritime advantages, affords a navigable access to all the central parts of the kingdom and to Dublin: the navigation, however, was incomplete until, through the exertions of the Board of Inland Navigation, the obstacles at Killaloe were avoided by the construction of an artificial line for some distance. The numerous bays and creeks on both its sides render it, in every wind, perfectly safe to the vessels navigating to Limerick, the quays of which place are accessible to ships of 400 tons' burden. Very important projected improvements of the navigation of this noble river, involving an enormous expenditure, are detailed in the account of the city of Limerick.

The Fergus, a river of this county exclusively, has its source in the barony of Corcomroe, and running through the lakes of Inchiquin, Tedane, Dromore, Ballyally, and several others, and receiving the waters of various smaller streams, pursues a southern course to the town of Ennis, where it is augmented by the waters of the Clareen; whence, flowing by Clare, it spreads below the latter place into a wide and beautiful estuary, studded with picturesque islands, and opening into that of the Shannon: from this river it is navigable up to Clare, a distance of eight miles, for vessels of nearly 500 tons' burden, and up to Ennis for small craft. Its banks in many places present a rich muddy strand, capable of being enclosed so as to form an important addition to the corcass lands: it receives many mountain streams, and after heavy rains rises s6 rapidly, that large tracts of low meadow are occasionally overflowed and the hay destroyed. From Lough Ferroig, situated on the top of the mountain of Slieveboghta, in the barony of Tulla, and on the confines of Galway, issues a stream which runs southward into the beautiful Lough Graney, and winding hence eastward collects the superfluous waters of Annalow Lough and Lough O'Grady, and, about two miles below the latter, falls into Scariff bay, a picturesque part of Lough Derg.

The fine stream of Ougarnee rises near and flows through Lough Breedy, communicates with Lough Doon, receives the waters of Lough Clonlea, and, after forming of itself a small lake near Mountcashel, pursues its southerly course by Six-mile-Bridge, and falls into the Shannon near Bunratty castle, about nine miles below Limerick; the tide flows nearly to Six-mile-Bridge. The other considerable streams are the Ardsallas, Blackwater, and Clareen, and the Ennistymon river: the smaller streams are almost innumerable, except in the barony of Burren, which is scantily supplied. Except the canal between Limerick and Killaloe, there is no artificial line of navigation, although it has been proposed to construct a canal from Poulanishery harbour, about twelve miles from Loop-head, across the peninsula to Dunbeg, and another from the Shannon, at Scariff bay, through Lough Graney, to Galway bay.

The roads are numerous and generally in good repair: the principal have been much improved within the last few years, and many hills have been lowered. Soon after the famine and distress of 1822, a new road was made near the coast between Liscanor, Miltown-Malbay, and Kilrush, and another between the last-named place and Ennis. The roads recently completed or now in progress, in aid of which grants have been made by the Board of Public Works, are, a direct road leading from the newly erected Wellesley bridge at Limerick to Cratloe, partly at the expense of the Marquess of Lansdowne; a road from Knockbreda to the boundary of the county towards Loughrea, extending along the eastern side of Lough Graney, and proposed to be continued to Kiltannan, towards Tulla and Ennis; and a road along the shore of Lough Derg, between Killaloe and Scariff. A road has also been lately made, at the expense of the county, from Scariff bay along the northern side of Lough O'Grady and the western side of Lough Graney, to the boundary of the county towards Gort, with a branch to the south towards O'Callaghan's mills. The bridges are generally good: a handsome new bridge has been lately built, under the superintendence of the Board of Public Works, over the Fergus at Ennis, and another of large dimensions and elegant structure is now in progress over the Inagh near Liscanor.

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