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The coasts of Counties Dublin and Louth are the termination of the Great Plain. Many shifting sand-banks and sunken rocks lie off the east coast. Wexford Harbour is large but shallow, and has a sand-bank at its mouth. Dublin Bay ranks amongst the beautiful bays of the world, but it is shallow, and large ships have to unload at Kingston. The northern curve has more rocky shores, formed by the Mourne Mountains, and the Ards or Heights in Down, and the mountains of Antrim. Dundrum Bay and Loughs Carlingford, Strangford, and Belfast, are openings on this coast. Strangford Lough is deep, but the narrow mouth and strong tides render navigation difficult and dangerous. The other bays are either shallow or have sand-banks, which impede the passage of vessels.
LESSON XVI I.
CLIMATE, NATURAL PRODUCTION, AND INDUSTRIES.
1. From its position in the Atlantic Ocean, and from the prevalence of the moist and genial south-west winds, the climate of Ireland is more equable than that of England : that is, the average temperature is not so high in summer nor so low in winter : but it is also more moist. More rain falls in Ireland than in England, and there are a larger number of rainy days in the year. Its equable temperature and great moisture are so favourable to the growth of vegetation as to have given it from early times the name of the “ Green Emerald Isle.”
2. Ireland is essentially an agricultural country. Three-fourths of its surface is arable and pasture land, and four-fifths of its population are engaged in its cultivation. Oats is the principal corn crop, there being too much moisture and too little sunshine for wheat to ripen well. Potatoes and turnips and swedes occupy more than a million acres every year, but half of the total acreage of the country is under permanent pasture, and dairy farming is the chief branch of Irish agriculture.
Ireland possesses nearly as many cattle as England,* but less than one-fourth the number of sheep. Butter is produced in immense quantities for export, but very little cheese. An important crop in the north of Ireland is flax, from which the raw material is obtained for the manufacture of linen.
3. The seas around the coast of Ireland abound with fish; but, strange to say, the profitable industry of fishing has been much neglected by the Irish people, and boats from England, Scotland, the Isle of Man, and even from France, have done much of the fishing. In the twenty years preceding 1878 the number of vessels and men employed in the fisheries dwindled to less than one-half ; but since that time, owing to loans from the Government for the purchase of nets and boats, a great advance has been made. All along the west and south-west coasts the farmers combine fishing with farming. The patches of land they hold in most cases are not sufficient alone to support their families, but with the aid of fishing they can manage to make a tolerable living. The principal seats of the herring-fishery are Howth, Arklow, Kinsale, Greenore, and Ardglass. Many Manx boats, and a large fleet of French luggers attend the Kinsale mackerel fishery.
4. Valuable minerals are far less abundant in Ireland than in England, or even than in Scotland. There are some coal-fields—one in Kilkenny, extending into Queen's County, and another extending many miles northwards from the Kerry Mountains—but the seams are thin and the production small. Iron is found, and was formerly smelted with wood, but as the supply of wood failed, the works were abandoned. Copper, lead, and silver, are found in small quantities, and gold exists in the Wicklow Mountains. Granite, marble, and limestone, are abundant, and are exported to some extent. Ireland produces neither salt nor tin.
5. Ireland is not noted for the extent of her manufactures, and the making of fine linen, in and around Belfast, is the only manufacturing industry of the country carried on on a large scale. Lace is made at Limerick, and silk and poplin goods in and around Dublin.
* About 4,000,000.
6. The foreign commercial industry of Ireland is not very great-corn, fish, and timber being the chief imports direct from foreign countries,—but there is an extensive channel trade carried on with Great Britain. Cotton and woollen goods, coal, iron goods, and foreign and colonial produce are imported from England and Scotland. Linen, cattle, butter, pigs, bacon, eggs, potatoes, and whiskey, are the chief exports to Great Britain.
7. There are good facilities for inland traffic. Four railways run from Dublin as the centre—to Belfast in the north-east, Galway on the west, Limerick and Cork in the south-west, and Wexford on the south-east. Many of the principal rivers are connected by canals-one, the Royal Canal, connects the Shannon with the Liffey, another joins the Shannon with Lough Erne, a third Lough Erne with Lough Neagh, and a fourth connects Lough Neagh with Belfast Lough.
1. The people in Ireland being mainly engaged in agriculture, are scattered over the country, and inhabit small towns and villages instead of being collected into large towns, as in the manufacturing districts of England and Scotland. All the larger towns are ports, and in most of these some manufacture is carried on. There are only six towns with more than 20,000 inhabitantsDublin, Belfast, Cork, Limerick, Londonderry, and Waterford. The towns of Drogheda, Galway, and Kilkenny have populations exceeding 12,000, but there are no other centres of large populations.
2. Dublin, the capital of the island, is a beautiful city, built on both sides of the river Liffey, and the official residence of the lord-lieutenant, the Queen's deputy. The city has a small but increasing foreign
trade, and that mainly carried on through the flourishing port of Kingstown, on the south shore of the bay. Poplin-a mixture of silk and wool-stout, and spirits, are the chief articles of manufacture. Dublin is a very old city, for we read that Edgar, in 964, claimed to be “ King of the Isles of the Ocean lying around Britain," including “ Ireland, with its most noble city of Dublin.” The population amounts to a little over a quarter of a million.
3. Belfast, at the head of the lough of the same name, is the “ Manchester” of Ireland. It has a larger manufacturing and export trade than all the other towns of Ireland combined. Linen and cotton goods are the staple manufactures of Belfast and neighbourhood.
4. Cork is a busy city at the mouth of river Lee. It has a large export trade in dairy produce. The broad estuary of the Lee forms the harbour of Cork. Almost land-locked, this splendid anchorage has space and depth of water for all the British fleet. The estuary contains several islands, the largest being called Great Island, on which stands Queenstown, formerly the Cove of Cork. The Atlantic steamers embark mails and passengers at Queenstown for America.
5. Limerick is a port built at the junction of the river Shannon with its estuary. It is a place of some trade, being the outlet for the produce of the counties in the Shannon basin. It has also manufactures of woollen, linen, and lace goods.
6. Londonderry stands on a hill rising above the estuary of the river Foyle. It was formerly called Derry, the place of oaks, but in the reign of James I. it was re-built under a charter by the Corporation of London, and its name was changed to Londonderry. Londonderry withstood a memorable siege in the year 1689. The city has a coasting trade, and some linen manufacture.
7. Waterford has a good harbour, and exports large quantities of butter. Galway is the port of the west, and the largest town in Connaught Drogheda, the “Bridge of the Ford,” is an ancient town, celebrated in Irish history. It trades extensively with Liverpool in cattle, corn, and other products, and has manufactories for linen, cotton, and iron goods. Kilkenny owes much of its importance to its close proximity to the beautiful Lakes of Killarney.
8. The remaining towns and cities of Ireland all have populations below 10,000. Wexford and Wicklow have coasting trades; Balbriggan is noted for its knitted woollen hosiery ; Ballinasloe for its sheep and cattle fair ; Carlingford for its oyster-fishery; and Kinsale for herring and mackerel fisheries.