The chief rivers connected with the county are the Shannon and the Suck. The Shannon, from Lough Allen, throughout the whole of its course along the eastern frontier of the county, has been made navigable, notwithstanding its numerous rapids. The difficulties of the first seven miles and a half are obviated by a canal from Lough Allen, near Drumshambo, to Battlebridge, whence the navigation is continued down the river to Carrick-on-Shannon, below which it winds a smooth and majestic course beneath high cliffs of gravel on the Roscommon side, and a mile or two farther forms numerous little bays and inlets, and encircles some small islands. A second canal then occurs, to avoid the rapids between Jamestown and Drumsna. After passing through Loughs Bodarrig and Boffin, the Shannon again becomes shallow and narrow, and, to obviate the obstructions, a canal of about three-quarters of a mile in length is carried past the falls of Ruskey.

At Tarmonbarry the rapids are avoided by coasting round the great island of Cloondra, at the lower end of which a short canal re-communicates with the river: the next town on the navigation is Lanesborough, where rapids are avoided by another artificial cut, and immediately below the river expands into Lough Ree, nearly eighteen English miles in length, the navigation of which is attended with some danger on account of its sunken rocks and shoals, the most difficult part being the end next Lanesborough, where the channel is narrow and tortuous; the greatest depth of water of this lake does not exceed seventy-five feet, and the general depth is much less. Great numbers of pleasure boats are kept upon it, but along the whole Roscommon shore there is not a quay for large vessels, nor any place interested in, or connected with, the navigation of the lake, except an occasional group of cabins.

From the lower end of Lough Ree the Shannon glides in a broad navigable channel a mile and a half to Athlone, below the ancient bridge of which the falls are avoided by a canal about a mile in length. The rest of its course is through a dreary and thinly inhabited country by Shannon bridge to the influx of the Suck, where it quits the county. With the Shannon navigation are connected all the other lines of water communication with which this county is intersected, the Royal Canal to Dublin entering it at Richmond harbour below Tarmonbarry, and the Grand Canal at Shannon harbour, below the confines of the county, whence a branch is extended westward to Ballinasloe.

The Shannon serves for the transmission of turf, brick, sand, lime, flags, marble, slates, native timber, manures, coal, culm, and stone for building; besides potatoes, meal, flour, grain, and other articles of provision. Coal is brought down from Lough Allen to Carrick, Drumsna, and even to Athlone; but the population is so dispersed over the country, that the trade in this article is necessarily very small. Corn and butter are exported by the canals; and heavy articles, such as sugar, iron, deals, slates, manufactured goods, &c., received by them in return.

The Suck is navigable to Ballinasloe for flat-bottomed barks of light burden; small row boats ascend still higher; but the construction of the canal from this town to Shannon harbour has rendered the river navigation unnecessary. The Shannon and Suck abound with all the common kinds of river fish, especially with eels, of which vast quantities are taken at weirs erected for the purpose, and a large supply sent to Dublin; those of the Suck are esteemed peculiarly fine.

The principal smaller rivers are the Breeogue; the Lung, which has a subterraneous passage for about a mile, collaterally with one of its tributaries, and at length enters Lough Gara; and the Gara river, or Boyle water, which, on emerging from Lough Kea, becomes navigable for small craft, but below Knockvicar bridge, and below the upper lough of Oakford, dwindles into a mere stream which, in ordinary seasons, could scarcely be supposed to afford the only channel for all the waters which pour from Lough Gara and Lough Kea. Besides this last tributary, the Shannon receives from Roscommon the powerful stream of Arigna; the Fiorish, from Lough Skean and Meelagh; and a large stream from under Carnadoe bridge, discharged from a chain of small lakes in the interior, the lowest and largest of which is about three miles in length.

Plans have been proposed for extending a branch of the Shannon and Royal Canal navigations to the town of Roscommon; but their execution has not been undertaken. The roads are numerous and highly important, as the lines of communication between Dublin and every part of Connaught pass through this county. The old lines of road are crooked and in many parts very hilly, but generally well made, though wet in winter in consequence of the drains and watercourses not being properly attended to. A line has recently been opened from Tarmonbarry to Lung bridge, another from Roscommon to Richmond harbour and Ruskey, and another from Lanesborough to Strokestown. All the roads are kept in order by Grand Jury presentments, as there are no toll gates in the county.

County Roscommon | Roscommon Towns | Roscommon Topography | Roscommon Lakes | Roscommon Agriculture | Roscommon Livestock | Roscommon Geology | Roscommon Mining | Roscommon Manufacturing | Roscommon Rivers | Roscommon Antiquities | Roscommon Town

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