The Brosna, formerly called Brosmog, rises in the county of Westmeath, and running westward by Ballycumber and Ferbane, discharges itself into the Shannon, which forms the entire western boundary of the county, separating it from Connaught. The county is also bounded for a short distance on the north-east by the river Boyne; the Barrow separates it from the Queen's county, in the neighbourhood of Portarlington; the Feagile separates it from Kildare, a little above Monastereven. The Lesser Brosna, which joins the Shannon below Banagher, is the boundary between this county and Tipperary, a distance of seven miles, and has been rendered navigable from the Shannon for about two miles above Riverstown bridge, for small turf boats. This interesting little river, from Riverstown bridge down to the Shannon, is also the boundary between the provinces of Leinster and Munster, so that at the mouth of the Lesser Brosna are the junction of three provinces and three counties.

Through numerous glens in the hilly district descend rapid mountain streams, which only flow in wet weather: the fall of their waters is generally as sudden as their rise. Many of them are discharged into Knockarley river, which sometimes appears but an inconsiderable stream, but when swelled by the mountain floods it. becomes of great magnitude, occasionally rising several feet and carrying away every thing on its banks: its bed has been completely changed in consequence of the violence of these floods, which baffle all the art and labour expended in endeavouring to confine the river to its original channel.

The Grand Canal enters the county near Edenderry, and continues its course through its entire length, in a western direction, by Philipstown and Tullamore, till it joins the Shannon, at Shannon-harbour, near Banagher, opening a direct communication with Dublin on the one side, and with Ballinasloe and the Shannon on the other: it is the chief line of trade for the county. It is proposed to make a navigation from the Shannon up the Lesser Brosna to Parsonstown. The roads are numerous in every part, and have been greatly improved within the last few years; several new lines have been opened through the bogs; but notwithstanding the central situation and great extent of this county, it is a singular fact, that there is not a mail coach to or from any town in it; the only mail coach road touching the county is that from Dublin to Limerick, for a very short distance south of Roscrea. The roads are all maintained by Grand Jury presentments.

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