An argillaceous soil may be considered as predominant throughout the county, within the limits of which there is very little ground unfit for tillage, or which does not, form good meadow or pasture. The northern part consists chiefly of a moory turf, a few inches deep, incumbent on a bed of stiff yellow or whitish clay, which is the worst soil in the county, and the only kind liable to be injured by surface water. More southerly, the soil is in general light, covering an argillaceous schistus. The northern part of the barony of Gowran is similar in quality, until its bills subside into a rich plain covered by good loam of various kinds. An excellent soil for the growth of wheat pervades the southern part of this barony from the Barrow to the Nore; its western portion consists of low hills or gently sloping grounds of good soil, dry, and sometimes deep, but diminishing in quality as it approaches the latter of those rivers. That to the west of the Nore, below the city of Kilkenny, is a clayey loam immediately over a bed of limestone. In general, the nearer the limestone is to the surface, the poorer the soil; but as this kind of ground, along the banks of the river, produces close and green herbage, and is extremely dry, it seems calculated by nature to form the best kind of sheepwalks.

A light soil appears all round the city of Kilkenny, frequently rising into hills of sand and gravel. Along the banks of the Nore, northwards, good meadow ground is found, apparently formed by aquatic depositions: some of it consists of a deep blackish loam, apparently the produce of decayed vegetables, and inducing the inference that the Nore, formerly obstructed by rocks or other natural impediments which the impetuosity of its water had ultimately broken down, was once an expansive lake, whose edges may still be traced round the flat plain inclining towards Freshford. Achadh-ur, or "the Field of Water," the old name for Freshford, strengthens this conclusion. The northwestern portion of the county is chiefly occupied by hills, the soil of which, though not deep, is of good quality and productive of fine herbage. From the whitish appearance of these calcareous hills, the district was probably called Geal-Magh, "the white field," corrupted into Galmoy. The country declines northwards into a varied plain of still better soil, until it is bounded by a branch of the Bog of Allen: the western part, with a varied surface and a limestone bottom, possesses all the gradations between a stiff, yet rich, clayey soil and a light gravel.

Proceeding southwards, the fertility of the land increases as it approaches the Suir, on the margin of which is some of the richest and deepest ground in the county. Some parts of this southern district consist of low hills covered by a light dry soil, producing good crops; and, as the soil has a large proportion of argill, it is peculiarly productive on the application of calcareous manure. There is a considerable extent of mountain land in the county, much of which is unimproved: all the hills, when they rise a little above the calcareous districts, incline to a moory surface, and when neglected produce little but heath. The quantity of peat is inconsiderable; by far the largest tract, amounting to 1000 acres, is in the northwestern extremity: several small tracts, from 30 to 50 acres each, are scattered in various parts; the whole may be estimated at about 1500 acres, not including mountain ground, the surface of which is often stripped for fuel. A bed of marl has been found in a bog between two strata of black peat; also three strata of bog separated by alternate beds of indifferent marl. Some of the lesser bogs may be cut to a depth of 20 feet: considerable quantities of oak, fir, and birch are found in them. A stratum of bog has been found 33 feet beneath the surface, covered with the following strata;—vegetable mould, 3 feet; marl with black stones, 15 feet; yellow clay and hard gravel, 15 feet.

There are no loughs of any extent: in the parish of Cloghmanta are some small lakes, here called Loughans, which are formed by the surface water in winter. The best land in the county, most of which has a limestone bottom, is applied to the growth of wheat, which is the predominant crop. Barley is usually sown after it: here is not in general cultivation. Oats are cultivated in all parts of the county: the species most commonly used is the Irish, a hardy but small grain, which does not shed easily. Rye, which is but little cultivated, is usually sown on land that has been pared and burned, and produces fine crops on mountainous ground. Potatoes are everywhere grown, and all the manure of the county is applied in their culture; but the most approved is that from the farm-yard, though the sweepings of the streets of Kilkenny are purchased at a high price, and other manures consist of composts of various kinds; lime only is sometimes used. In the barony of Iverk, and everywhere within reach of the coast, or of the Suir, sea-wrack and sand are generally used. Green crops are very rare, being cultivated only by some of the principal gentry and a few wealthy farmers. Manure is seldom used for any but the potatoe crop: when exhausted by repeated tillage, the land is too frequently left to recruit itself by a natural process; grass and clover seeds are, however, sometimes sown, and the advantages are beginning to be appreciated.

Kilkenny, County of | Kilkenny Baronies | Kilkenny Soil | Kilkenny Topography | Kilkenny Agriculture | Kilkenny Geology | Kilkenny Colleries | Kilkenny Manufactures | Kilkenny Rivers | Kilkenny Antiquities | Kilkenny Castles | Kilkenny Social History | Kilkenny Springs | Kilkenny, City of

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