1902 Encyclopedia > Dublin (County), Ireland

Dublin (County), Ireland

DUBLIN, a maritime county of Ireland, situated in the province of Leinster, and containing the Irish metropolis. It is bounded on the N. by the county Meath, E. by the Irish Sea, S. by Wicklow, and W. by Kildare and Meath. With the exception of Louth and Carlow, Dublin is the smallest county in Ireland. Its greatest length is 32 miles, its greatest breadth 18; and the area is 354 square miles, or 226,895 acres.

Geology.—The greater part of the county rests on the eastern extremity of the great bed of flotz limestone that extends over the middle of the island, widening as it spreads westward. It rises in its southern part into a range of mountains, which forms the verge of an elevated district, extending thence for more than thirty miles to the south through the county of Wicklow. Through this tract a large body of granite passes in a south-western direction, commencing at Blackrock and passing by Dundrum and Rath-farnham, and forming the loftiest summit in the county, bounded on its eastern and western sides by incumbent rocks of great variety of structure and relations; micaceous schist exists at Killiney and Rathfarnham, and argillaceous schist, on both sides of the granite and quartz rock, in the eastern side alone, forming the promontory of Bray Head, and reappearing in the more northern part of the county, where it forms the picturesque peninsula of Howth, and rises to the height of 567 feet above the level of the sea. The country near Bray presents, within a small space, an instructive series of rocks ; and at Killiney schistose beds are to be seen, of considerable extent, reposing on granite. Near Booterstown, a mass of compact limestone is visible within a few fathoms of the granite. Calp, or " black quarry stone," a variety of limestone, is the prevailing rock in the immediate vicinity of Dublin, and is much used for building; and the granite of Dalkey and the neighbourhood is also much used for architectural purposes in the city and environs ; quantities of it are exported to England. Petrifactions abound in many parts of the limestone country. In the peninsula of Howth gray ore of man-ganese, brown ironstone, and brown iron-ore occur in abun-dance.

Surface.—The northern portion of the county is flat, and the soil good, particularly on the borders of Meath; but on the southern side the land rises into elevations of considerable height. The mountains are chiefly covered with heath, except where a subsidence in the ground affords a nucleus for the formation of bog, with which about 2000 acres are covered. There are also a few small tracts of bog in the northern part of the county. The mountain district is well-adapted for timber, to the growth of which some attention has lately been paid.

Coast.—The northern coast of the county from Bal-briggan to Howth has generally a sandy shore, and affords only the small harbours of Balbriggan and Skerries. In the promontory of Howth, the coast suddenly assumes a bolder aspect ; and between the town of Howth and the picturesque rocky islet of Ireland's Eye an artificial harbour has been constructed, at an expense of above one-third of a million sterling, which is useful only to vessels of small burthen, and those engaged in the fisheries. Soon after the harbour was finished it was discovered that a shifting sand-bank was likely to render the refuge quite useless; and the slow but certain filling up of the harbour is made apparent at low tide. Kingstown harbour, on the south side of Dublin Bay, is by far the best in the county. It was commenced in 1816, and was not quite finished until 1859,—at a total expenditure of £825,000. A quay runs out into the harbour to a distance of 500 feet, at which vessels drawing 24 feet of water may unload at any state of the tide. The petty harbours of Bullock and Coolamore are on this coast, the former being quite dry save at high tide, and the mouth of the latter being much higher than the bed. Balbriggan is little better, and that at Skerries is hardly to be mentioned. Opposite Coolamore harbour lies Dalkey Island, and the sound between the island and the shore is held to be dangerous in certain conditions of weather. The island is 22 acres in extent, and stands about midway between Kingstown harbour and the beautiful bay of Killiney. North of Howth lies Lambay Island about 600 acres in area, the property of Lord Talbot de Malahide. Shellfish, especially lobsters, are caught here in abundance. Small islets lie not far off, the most interesting of which is that known as Inispatrick, noted as the spot upon which St Patrick first landed in Ireland, and where he built his first church. Ireland's Eye, off Howth, is a very picturesque rock standing on about 54 acres of grass land. It has afforded great room for geological disquisition.

The fishery districts are Dublin and Howth. The chief stations are Howth and Skerries, the former of which is much used by the Manx and Cornish fishermen, who resort in considerable numbers to the harbour during the fishing season. Dublin Bay haddocks and herrings have long been esteemed, and justly, for their superior quality and flavour.

Rivers and Mountains.—The chief river m the county is the Liffey, which rises in the Wicklow Mountains about twelve miles south-west of Dublin, and, after running about 50 miles, empties itself into Dublin Bay. The course of the river is so tortuous that 40 miles may be traversed and only 10 gained in direction. The scenery along the banks of the Liffey is remarkable for its beauty. The mountains which occupy the southern border of the county are the extremities of the great group guarding the adjacent county of Wicklow. The principal summits are the Three Rock Mountain and Garry Castle, the former having an elevation of 1586 feet, and the latter of 1869 ; and the group formed by Kippure and the Seefin range, Kippure being 2527, and Seefin 2150 feet high. But the grandest features of these hills are the great natural ravines which open in them, the most extraordinary being the Scalp, through which the traveller passes from Dublin to Wicklow.

Agriculture.—Of the 226,895 acres which form the area of the county, 100,236 acres were returned in 1871 as under tillage, 91,503 as pasture, 4716 wood, 15,700 in towns, and 14,470 waste, bog, mountain, and water. The face of the county has indeed changed but little during the century, and the statistics as to the treatment of the soil exhibit an almost stationary result. The growth of the towns suburban to the city has made the only appreciable change, and that change has been not inconsiderable. The farms are in general small. Near Dublin, particularly on the southern side of the city, a very considerable portion of the county consists of ornamental grounds, and the rents are proportionately high.
The produce of the crops is generally greater than in any other county,—not so much on account of any natural superiority in the soil, as by reason of the facilities afforded by the neighbourhood of a large city, and the greater expenditure of capital on the land. Of cereals the prin-cipal crops are oats and wheat; and of green crops, potatoes. In live stock the county is particularly rich in proportion to its extent. The following tables give the acreage of crops and numbers of stock in 1873 and 1876 :—

== TABLE ==

As regards the division of the land, the number of holdings in the county has somewhat diminished within recent years. In 1853, there were 9016 separate holdings, while in 1876 there were only 8792. According to the Owners' Returns of 1876, the county was divided in 1874 among 4100 proprietors, of whom 2526, or 61 ^ per cent., owned less than one acre of ground, a proportion almost identical with the average of Leinster. Prom the same authority it appears that the total area held amounted to 217,457 acres, giving an average of 53 acres per property (that of the province being 187); and the total valuation amounted to £686,794, giving an average of £3, 3s. 2d. per acre, as against 18s. ll|d. for the whole province. Fourteen proprietors owned more than 2000 acres each, and 57,969 acres in all, or 26| per cent, of the area, viz :— Charles Cobbe, 9662 acres ; Earl of Howth, 7377; Sir C. C. W. Domville, 6252 ; George Woods, 4141; Sir Roger Palmer, 3991 ; Lord Langford, 3659 ; Ion Trant Hamilton, 3647; Mrs White, 3422 ; W. W. Hackett, 3198 ; Eyre Coote's representatives, 3107 ; R. Q. Alexander, 2973, Earl of Pembroke, 2269; Lord Annaly, 2139; Marquis of Lansdowne, 2132.

The manufactures of the county are mainly confined to the city of Dublin and its neighbourhood. There is, however, a manufactory of cotton hosiery at Balbriggan of some importance.

Administration, &c.—There are nine baronies in the county:—1 and 2. Balrothery East and West, containing Rush and Lusk (population 1800), Skerries (2236), and Balbriggan (2332) ; 3. Coolock, containing Clontarf (3442), and several minor villages; 4. Nethercross, containing the ancient parliamentary borough of Swords (1008), and the village of Glasnevin; 5. Newcastle, containing the village of Lucan, and Newcastle, which was represented in the Irish Parliament by two members; 6. Uppercross; 7. Rathdown, containing the towns of Dundrum (540), Blackrock (8089), Kingstown (16,378), Dalkey (2584), and Killiney (2290); 8. Castleknock, in which is situated the Phoenix Park; and 9. Dublin, containing the city and many outlying villages. The village of Donnybrook, famous for its fair and accompanying riotous pleasure, is now part of Pembroke township, one of the richest and most beautiful suburbs of the city.

The nine baronies, including the city, are divided into 99 parishes, all within the archdiocese of Dublin. The county proper, excluding the capital, contains 222,709 acres; the rateable property is valued at £700,854; the population at the last census (1871) was 158,936 ; and the number of houses, 28,803. Between 1841 and 1871 the increase of population was nearly 13'5 per cent., although between May 1851 and December 1871 there emigrated from the county 58,774 persons. In 1871, 70|- per cent, of the total popula-tion were Roman Catholics. In the city that denomination forms 79 per cent. The numbers of the last religious census were—Catholics, 111,964 ; Episcopalians, 39,289; Presby-terians, 2995 ; and various, 4688. There are two poor-law unions, Balrothery and Rathdown, but portions of the county are in unions situated in adjacent counties. The average daily number of paupers in the county workhouses in 1875 was 674.

Dublin is the head-quarters of the military district, and of the general commanding-in-chief and staff of Ireland.

The total number of children receiving education in 1824-26 was reported in a parliamentary return to be 33,008. In 1853, there were 159 national schools in operation, attended by 28,799 children, and in 1876 there were 52,127 children attending the national schools.
Previous to the union with Great Britain, this county returned ten representatives to the Irish Parliament,—two for the county, two for the city, two for the university, and two for each of the boroughs of Swords and Newcastle. The number of representatives was reduced to five by the Act of Union, one member being withdrawn from the uni-versity, and the boroughs of Swords and Newcastle disfran-chised. The Reform Act of 1832 restored the second member to the university, leaving the representation in other respects unchanged.

History.—It is stated by Ptolemy that the county Dublin was inhabited by the tribe of the Eblani, who dwelt for the most part in Meath county, but on their settling in Dublin founded the city Eblana, now presumed to be Dublin. Later writers affirm that the Eblani were driven out by the Danes, who held sway until the battle of Clontarf (1014) resulted in the overturn of their power. When the English landed, the people to the north of the Liffey were known among the Irish as Fingall, or white foreigners, and those living south of the river were called Dtibhgall, or black foreigners. The Rev. Cffisar Otway professed to be able to discern signs of the different races even as late as his day ; but the modern observer will fail to catch any marks whereby different portions of the communitj may be d istinguished.
In 1210, King John formed this district into a county, compris-ing the chief portion of country within the English pale. The limits of the county were, however, uncertain, and underwent many changes before they were fixed. Although so near the seat of government, 67,142 acres of profitable land were forfeited in the Rebellion of 1641, and 34,536 acres in the Revolution of 1688. _ In 1603 the boundaries were definitely marked, the country inhabited by the O'Tooles and the O'Byrnes being formed into the county of Wicklow. The absence of any considerable towns decreases the interest in Dublin county, and it has no historic fields to boast of. In 1867 the most formidable of the Fenian risings took place near the village of Tallaght, about seven miles from the city. The rebels, who numbered from 500 to 700, were found wandering at dawn, some by a small force of constabulary who, having in vain called upon them to yield, fired and wounded five of them; but the great bulk of them were overtaken by the troops under Lord Strath-nairn, who captured them with ease and marched them into the city.

Sir John .Forbes, a distinguished Scotch physician, who visited Ireland in 1852, speaks thus of the county in his Memoranda,:— "Without leaving the county of Dublin, the antiquary would have no difficulty in finding numerous objects of interest and instruction, casting light upon the early history of the country. Among the ancient raths, duns, or forts constructed by the native Irish or the Danes, and more probably by both people, for defence or security in positions of natural strength, improved by art and labour, several remain in this county. One at Raheny, although much reduced in its proportions, is still traceable ; several jTet more imperfect are faintly visible at Coolock ; one near Lucan is furnished with the subterranean vaults and passages not unusually found in connection with the larger specimens ; and another at Shankhill or Rathmichael, near the remarkable natural pass through the mountain called the Scalp, is of greater extent thaii the others, more commanding in position, and in close proximity to the ancient church, and supposed fragment of a round tower. Numerous sepulchral mounds of the same period also exist scattered through-out the county, occasionally somewhat similar in appearance to the raths, but generally smaller in extent, altogether artificial, and of conical form. Among its most interesting antiquities this county reckons three of the ancient round towers almost peculiar to Ireland,—one at Swords, another at Lusk, forming one of the angles of the church steeple, and a third in the highest state of preservation at Clondalkin."

Related pages:
Dublin (City), Ireland

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