County Down Topography

The county has a pleasing inequality of surface, and exhibits a variety of beautiful landscapes. The mountainous district is in the south, comprehending all the barony of Mourne, the lordship of Newry, and a considerable portion of the barony of Iveagh: these mountains rise gradually to a great elevation, terminating in the towering peak of Slieve Donard; and to the north of this main assemblage is the detached group of Slieve Croob, the summit of which is only 964 feet high. There are several lakes, but none of much extent: the principal are Aghry or Agher, and Erne, in Lower Iveagh; Ballyroney, Loughbrickland, and Shark, in Upper Iveagh; Ballinahinch, in Kinelearty; and Ballydowgan, in Lecale. The county touches upon Lough Neagh in a very small portion of its north-western extremity, near the place where the Lagan canal discharges itself into the lake. Its eastern boundary, including also a portion of the northern and southern limits, comprehends a long line of coast, commencing at Belfast with the mouth of the Lagan, which separates this county from that of Antrim, and proceeding thence along the southern side of Carrickfergus bay, where the shore rises in a gentle acclivity, richly studded with villas, to the Castlereagh hills, which form the back ground.

Off Orlock Point, at the southern extremity of the bay, are the Copeland islands, to the south of which is the town and harbour of Donaghadee, a station for the mail packets between Ireland and Scotland. On the coast of the Ardes are Ballyhalbert bay, doughy bay, and Quintin bay, with the islets called Burr or Burial Island, Green Island, and Bard Island. South of Quintin bay is the channel, about a mile wide, to Strangford Lough, called also Lough Cone. The lough itself is a deep gulf stretching ten miles into the land in a northern direction, to Newtown-Ardes, and having a south-western offset, by which vessels of small burden can come within a mile of Downpatrick. The interior is studded with numerous islands, of which Boate says there are 260: Harris counts 54 with names, besides many smaller; a few are inhabited, but the others are mostly used for pasturage, and some are finely wooded. South of Strangford Lough are Gun's island, Ardglass harbour, and Killough bay Dundrum bay, to the south-west, forms an extended indentation on the coast, commencing at St. John's Point, south of Killough, and terminating at Cranfield Point, the southern extremity of the county, where the coast takes a northwestern direction by Greencastle, Rosstrevor, and Warrenpoint, to Newry, forming the northern side of the romantic and much frequented bay of Carlingford.

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