The form of the county is very irregular; it has three isolated portions, which, though considered to be parts of Upper Philipstown, are wholly included within the barony of Ophaly, in the county of Kildare; its surface is, for the most part, an uninterrupted flat, except where it rises at its south-western extremity into the Slieve Bloom mountains, which range in a direction from north-east to south-west for twenty miles, forming the boundary between the King's and Queen's counties. The highest point is called the Height of Ireland; there is but one passage through them, called the Gap of Glandine, which is very diflicult of approach, steep and craggy, and but five feet wide. The only other elevations which merit notice are Croghan hill, to the north of Philipstown, rising about five hundred feet above the surrounding country, and beautifully clothed with verdure to its summit; and the great hill of Cloghan, which is the most commanding eminence between the Brosna river and the Slieve Bloom mountains, and abounds on all sides with numerous and never-failing springs.

Lough Pallas, between Tullamore and Ballyboy, is the most remarkable lake in the county: it is of inconsiderable extent, but has the finest tench in Ireland. Lough Annagh partly belongs to this county, as the divisional line between it and the Queen's county is drawn through its centre. It contains about 315 acres, the greater part of which is from five to eight feet deep in summer: its bottom is chiefly composed of bog, interspersed with roots of trees, with a bank of gravel and stones in the centre: several small streams flow into it, and its waters are discharged into the Silver river, which flows into the Brosna. Deroin lough, in . the barony of Eglish, comprises about 200 acres. Lough Boura contains 175 acres, but is so shallow that a man may wade through every part of it in the summer time: its bottom is composed of fine black bog and gravel. Lough Couragh is a small lough in the bog between Frankford and Parsonstown.

Although a great part of the county is covered with bog, the climate is as wholesome as in any other part of Ireland. The general soil, in its natural state, is not fertile, and is only rendered so by manures and attention to a proper course of crops. The quality is, generally, either a deep moor or a gravelly loam; the former very productive in dry summers, the latter most benefited by a moist season. Limestone is the general substratum, yet as a manure it is not used so extensively as it should be. Limestone gravel, here called corn gravel, is also abundant and in general use as manure, and without burning or any other preparation it produces abundant crops. The pastures, though not luxuriant, are excellent for sheepwalks, the flocks producing wool in abundance, and of very fine quality.

The unreclaimed moor is highly nutritious to young cattle; but it is observed that where bogs have been reclaimed, although the vegetation is rapid and rather earlier than in the upland, corn crops are generally two or three weeks later in ripening. The best land in the county is on the western side of the Slieve Bloom mountains, extending from the boundary of the Queen's county through Ballybritt to Parsonstown; but the barony of Clonlisk, in general, is decidedly the most fertile; that of Warrenstown has been recently much improved by the efforts and example of two enterprising Scotch farmers of the name of Rait: the land in it, though naturally good, requires great attention to draw forth all its capabilities.

The beneficial change has been brought about at considerable expense and labour, and it is now nearly as productive as the fertile barony of Clonlisk. A great part of the bog of Allen lies within this county, forming, in detached portions, the most remarkable feature of its surface. The mountains have a great variety of soils and substrata; but the greater portion of them merely affords a coarse pasture to young cattle in dry seasons; the only part worthy of especial notice is a tract of fertile pasture, which is grazed all the year by numerous flocks of sheep and young cattle, and having a limestone soil, with a stiff clay at the basis of the heights, yields abundant crops of corn.

King's County | Towns | Geology | Agriculture | Trees | Quarries | Manufacturing | Rivers | Antiquities | Society | Mineral Waters

Search Topographical Dictionary of Ireland »