The surface of the county is composed of several extensive and fertile tracts of champaign country, separated from each other by ranges of hills. The greatest tract of level country is that watered by the Suir, from its source near Roscrea to Ardfinnan, extending in length about 50 miles, and in breadth averaging 15. Although it presents a nearly level appearance, when viewed from the surrounding heights, owing to the general equality of its successive swells, it is found to be diversified with slightly depressed valleys and gentle elevations, which, combined with an exuberant fertility, present a pleasing though by no means a picturesque succession of scenery.

The part of this plain between the Kilnamanagh and Galtee ranges, in the centre of which the town of Tipperary is situated, and which is bounded by a line drawn from Bansha and Thomastown near Golden on the east, and by another from Galbally through Pallasgreine to the Bilboa mountains on the west, has been designated the "Golden Vale," on account of the surpassing richness of its soil. The general elevation of its surface is about 400 feet above the level of the sea, though in some parts it does not exceed 250: from Cashel upwards it varies from 326 to 474 feet. On the east it is bounded at first by a large tract of bog, a branch of that of Allen, extending into the contiguous county of Kilkenny; farther south it is enclosed by the low range of the Slievardagh hills, forming the Killenaule coal district, extending from the vicinity of Freshford, in the county of Kilkenny, a distance of eighteen miles south-westward, to a point five miles beyond Killenaule: the breadth of this range is about six miles; it is most elevated and abrupt towards the north-western side, where the height of the hills above the subjacent plain varies from 300 to 600 feet, while towards the south-east the surface gradually declines, and in that direction flow all the principal streams.

Farther south the boundary of the plain is terminated on this side by the elevated group of Slieve-na-man, to the south-east of Fethard, from which several ranges of hills extend into the county of Kilkenny. On the south the vale is immediately overlooked by the steep and towering heights of the Monevullagh and Knockmeledown mountains, which form the county boundary towards Waterford; and along the base of the latter, a branch of the plain extends westward from Cahir and Ardfinnan, by Clogheen and Ballyporeen, into the vale of the Blackwater, which forms the northeastern part of the county of Cork. On the north of this portion of the plain stands the noble range of the Galtees, which on this side rise for the most part with a gentle ascent, while on the north-west they are in many parts extremely precipitous. The length of this range is twenty miles to its termination at the river Funcheon near Mitchelstown, which river forms part of the boundary between Tipperary and Cork, and its breadth from five to seven.

The highest summit is Galtymore, which attains an elevation of about 2500 feet. The wild magnificence of this chain is, from its sudden elevation in the midst of a fertile plain, very striking; and its vast groupings present an assemblage of the most interesting features in boldness, freedom of outline, and variety of aspect. There are three curious circular lakes of small extent on these mountains, and the glens diverging from them present many natural beauties, particularly the western glen, in which is a fine cascade. North of these is a subordinate and lower parallel ridge, called Slieve-na-muck, near the base of which stands the town of Tipperary.

From this vicinity a second branch of the great plain, through which a road runs from Clonmel to Limerick, extends to the western confines of the county, where it is met by the more elevated district in the vicinity of Pallasgreine, in the county of Limerick; and to the north of this vale rises the grand group of the Bilboa, Keeper, and Slieve-Phelim mountains, presenting a grand and varied outline. Among these, which occupy a wide district, is pre-eminently distinguished the Keeper mountain, between Newport and Silvermines, to the north-west of which lies another mountain group on the borders of the Shannon at Lough Derg, appearing to form part of a range extending by Killaloe to the vicinity of Six-mile-bridge, in the county of Clare, though here intersected by this grand watercourse.

The Bilboa mountains separate the baronies of Ormond from the other baronies; and from them the western boundary of the grand vale of Tipperary is continued by a narrow range of heights, called the Kilnamanagh hills, which stretches hence north-eastward above Thurles and Templemore, forming the Devil's Bit mountains; and from these, again, a lower series of hills extends by Roscrea to the more elevated Slievebloom mountains, separating the King's from the Queen's county, and which makes the length of the entire range not less than 40 miles.

The Keeper mountains and their northern dependencies within the county of Tipperary form a wild tract of country, extending in length about 24 miles, and in breadth about 20, and comprehending an extent of about 480 square miles, throughout the whole of which there was, until lately, scarcely any road passable for wheel carriages; but two excellent lines have recently been constructed by Government. From these mountains to the banks of the Shannon, and its expansion Lough Derg, extends the fertile plain of the Ormonds, of similar character to the Golden Vale, like it highly cultivated and adorned with many rich demesnes. The common elevation of this plain varies from 114 to 274 feet, gradually declining towards Lough Derg.

County Tipperary | Tipperary Towns and Baronies | Tipperary Topography | Tipperary Soil | Tipperary Agriculture | Tipperary Trees | Tipperary Geology | Tipperary Manufacturing | Tipperary Rivers | Tipperary Communications | Tipperary Antiquities | Tipperary Town

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