Cork Topography

The surface of the county is of considerable variety and much natural beauty, but exhibits a very great deficiency of timber, and of hedge rows and plantations. The western part is bold, rocky, and mountainous; while the northern and eastern portions are distinguished for their richness and fertility. But even in this irregularity some order is perceived, the ranges of high land stretching nearly in the direction of east and west, though several ranges of hills branch off in transverse directions. The principal deviation from this general character is seen in the Bogra mountains, forming a high and barren tract in the centre of the county, between the rivers Lee and Blackwater, and which, instead of rising into narrow summits, spread out into an ample area, having in some places a deep boggy surface.

The great longitudinal ranges of high ground are likewise often intersected by deep glens and gullies, through which numerous small streams find a rapid descent, and, after heavy rains, form beautiful waterfalls. The western mountains differ from the rest in form and aspect, being far more rocky, bold, and sterile, and abruptly parted by gaps and fissures. The entire south and south-western portions of the county are composed of stupendous masses of schistose rock, standing as barriers against the waves of the Atlantic, which, for the greater part of the year, are driven with fury against them by the force of the prevailing winds. Of low grounds, the most extensive tracts are those in which limestone is found: the largest is in the northern part of the county, lying north of the Blackwater, and extending upwards of twenty miles in length from east to west, varying in breadth from five to nine. This rich and beautiful expanse of country, though comparatively flat, is, however, agreeably diversified with gentle elevations, and contains but little land forming a dead level.

By far the greater part of the county, excepting its western portion, has a similar undulating character; even the mountains are little more irregular in their outlines than the lower grounds, and the transition from one to the other is by very gentle degrees. The limestone vale, in which part of the city of Cork is situated, commences at Castlemore, about 10 miles to the west of it; and though at first of inconsiderable breadth, on crossing Cork harbour and reaching Imokilly, it takes a wider range, and throughout its course to the sea presents a fine tract of the best cultivated ground in the county. The line of coast presents a series of magnificent headlands, separated from each other by numerous inlets forming safe and commodious harbours, of which the most noted are those of Youghal, Cork, Kinsale, Baltimore, Crookhaven, Dunmanus, and Bantry, in the last of which, surrounded by the majestic scenery of the western mountains, whole navies may ride in safety. The numerous estuaries, disclose at low water, rich banks of calcareous sand for manure, and afford access to the interior of the country by navigation. On the southwestern coast are various small, rocky islands, of which the principal are Cape Clear and Innisherkin, near the harbour of Baltimore; Bear island and Whiddy island, in Bantry bay; and Dursey island, off the extremity of Bearhaven promontory, forming the most western extremity of the county.

In the mountainous parts of the district are several small lakes, among which are those of Cahir, near Glengariffe; others on Three-Castle Head: that of Loughbofinny, near Bantry; and those of Shepperton; three between Bantry and Dunmanway, and the interesting lake of Googane-Barra, with smaller sheets of water at Rathbarry, Macloneigh, Ballintowlus, Drinagh, and in other parts.

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