Dublin Agriculture

The soil is generally shallow, being chiefly indebted to the manures from the metropolis for its high state of improvement. It is commonly argillaceous, though almost every where containing an admixture of gravel, which may generally be found in abundance within a small depth of the surface, and by tillage is frequently turned up, to the great improvement of the land. The substratum is usually a cold retentive clay, which keeps the surface in an unprofitable state, unless draining and other methods of improvement have been adopted. Rather more than one-half of the improvable surface is under tillage, chiefly in the northern and western parts, most remote from the metropolis: in the districts to the south of the Liffey, and within a few miles from its northern bank, the land is chiefly occupied by villas, gardens, nurseries, dairy farms, and for the pasturage of horses. Considerable improvement has taken place in the system of agriculture by the more extensive introduction of green crops and improved drainage, and by the extension of tillage up the mountains. The pasture lands, in consequence of drainage and manure, produce a great variety of good natural grasses, and commonly afford from four to five tons of hay per acre, and sometimes six. The salt marshes which occur along the coast from Howth northward are good, and the pastures near the sea side are of a tolerably fattening quality; but more inland they become poorer.

The only dairies are those for the supply of Dublin with milk and butter, which, however, are of great extent and number. The principal manures are lime and limestone gravel, of which the latter is a species of limestone and marl mixed, of a very fertilising quality, and found in inexhaustible quantities. Strong blue and brown marl are found in different parts, and there are likewise beds of white marl; the blue kind is preferred as producing a more durable effect: manures from Dublin, coal ashes, and shelly sand found on the coast, are also used. The implements of husbandry are of the common kind, except on the farms of noblemen and gentlemen of fortune. The breed of cattle has been much improved by the introduction of the most valuable English breeds, which have nearly superseded the native stock. The county is not well wooded with the exception of plantations in the Phoenix Park and the private grounds of the gentry: there are various nurseries for the supply of plants. The waste lands occupy 10,912 statute acres: the largest tract is that of the mountains on the southern confines, extending about fifteen miles in length and several in breadth. The scarcity of fuel, which would otherwise press severely on the industrious classes, from the want of turf nearer home, which can be had only from the mountains in the south and the distant commons of Balrothery and Garristown on the north, is greatly diminished by the ample supplies brought by both canals and by the importation of English coal.

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