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WICKLOW

"WICKLOW, a maritime county in the province of Leinster, Ireland, is bounded N. by the county of Dublin, E. by the Irish Sea, S. by the county of Wexford, and W. by the counties of Carlow, Kildare, and a detached portion of Dublin. It lies between 52° 40' and 63° 14' N. lat., 6° 0' and 6° 47' W. long.; its greatest length from N. to S. is 38 miles, and its breadth from E. to W. 33 miles. The area comprises 781 square miles, or 500,178 acres, of which 280,393 are arable, 200,754 are uncultivated, 17,600 under plantations, 341 under towns and villages, and 1,090 under water. The population in 1841 was 126,143; in 1851 it was 98,978; and in 1861 it was 86,479. The number of houses in 1861 was 15,129, of which 14,418 were inhabited, 667 were uninhabited, and 44 were in course of construction. The Poor-Law valuation in 1851 was £248,410, and the general valuation in 1861 was £258,095. The number of persons from this county who emigrated from Irish ports with the expressed intention of not returning, between May, 1851, and December, 1865, was 13,095, or 13 per cent. of the population at the former date, a comparatively small number, as the proportion of emigration from the entire of Ireland during that term was 20 per cent. This county was the seat of the Cauci, of Ptolemy, who also held the eastern parts of Kildare, and are supposed to have been of Belgic Gaulish extraction. On the arrival of the English, the low lands, being easily accessible, were speedily reduced and assigned to Maurice Fitzgerald, but the natives, having withdrawn to the mountains, long preserved their independence, and committed ravages on the lands of the invaders. Feagh M'Hugh, chief of the O'Byrnes, one of the original seats, was in rebellion in the reign of Elizabeth, but was defeated in 1596, and slain in the following year. His son gave in his submission to James I. in 1605, on condition that the county, which had previously been included with Dublin, should be separated from it under its present name. In 1641 the natives took share in the disturbances, and held their ground against Sir Charles Coote, but were subdued by Cromwell on his progress to Wexford. Again in 1798 many joined the Wexford insurgents in their march on Dublin, and, being repulsed near Arklow by the military, retired to the mountains, from which the soldiers could not dislodge them. They subsequently came to terms with the authorities, military roads were made through the district, barracks were built in several places, and order was re-established. The surface is much diversified, and the scenery wild and picturesque. It comprises a large portion of the south-eastern mountain chain of Ireland, the general direction of which is from N.E. to S.W., and while the northern and western declivities are rough and abrupt, those on the S. and E. slope gently downwards, terminating in many places in valleys and glens. The mountain districts may be divided into eight groups, separated by precipitous ravines, generally narrow and straight; the principal summits being Kippure on the N., 2,473 feet; Douce, 2,384 feet, Tonelagee, 2,683 feet, and Lugnaquilla, 3,039 feet, being the highest in the county, in the centre; Slieve Gadoe, 2,200 feet, and Keadeen, 2,158 feet, in the W.; and Croghan Kinsella, 2,064 feet, in the S. Within this mountain range are several lakes at great elevations, and many of them situated in mountainous recesses of great depth. The most important are Lower Lough Bray, 1,225 feet above the level of the sea; Upper Lough Bray, 1,453 feet; Lough Ouler, 1,829 feet; Nahanagan, 1,384 feet;- Lough Tay, 807 feet; and Lough Dan, 685 feet. The district to the W. of these lakes, and immediately about them, is generally uninhabited, but is now rendered easily accessible by the military road which traverses it. Eastward lies the Sugarloaf, a conical hill rising to 2,004 feet; the lesser Sugarloaf, and Bray Head, overhanging the sea. The Scalp, at the entrance to the county from Dublin, is a deep defile formed by a disruption of the granite rock, large disjointed stones covering the sides, and threatening to tunable down. The Dargle is a cleft in a wooded hollow, through which flows a river of the same name. The Glenisloreane, a feeder of the Dargle, forms a waterfall in the demesne of Powerscourt, tumbling over a perpendicular rock from an elevation of 300 feet. The Glen of the Downs, on the road to Wicklow, is wooded on both sides to a height of 500 to 600 feet. The Devil's Glen, near Ashford, resembles the Dargle, but is wilder. The N. side is wooded, large rocks occasionally appearing. At the head of the glen the Vartry river forms a water fall over a ledge of rocks 100 feet high. This river has been selected to supply the city of Dublin with water. Still farther S. is the Vale of Ovoca. The valley extends from Rathdrum to Arklow, about 10 miles. Its eastern side is richly wooded, but the other has been much cut up. The Ovoca is formed by the confluence of the Avonbeg and the Avonmore, at a point 3 miles below Rathdrum, which is known as the first "meeting of the waters," rendered memorable by the lovely melody by Thomas Moore which bears this name, and was suggested to the poet by this spot. About 2 miles lower down there is a second meeting, where the Aughrim, a mountain stream, joins the Ovoca. The Avonbeg, or Little Avon, which in the upper part of its course is called the Ess, rises in the W. of the county, and forms a waterfall at the head of Glenmalure, which lies on the N.E. of Lugnaquilla, and is 8 to 10 miles long. The mountains rise 600 to 800 feet above the valley, which has a desolate appearance. There are lead mines at Glenmalure. The Avonmore, or Great Avon, has its source near Tonelagee mountain, flows through Glenmacaness and the vale of Clara to its junction with the Avonbeg. At Laragh it receives the waters of the Glenealo, which comes from Glendalough. This valley extends E. and W., and is enclosed on both sides by inaccessible mountains, rising 500 to 600 feet almost precipitously, and uniting at the W., where the small stream falls over the rocks to the vale below, forming two small lakes. Near the lower end of the lesser lake are the ruins of the "Seven churches," with St. Kevin's Kitchen, a round tower, and some other antiquities. The only rivers of importance not already noticed, are the Slaney, which rises to the N. of Lugnaquilla, and flows south-westerly to the N. of the county of Carlow; and the Liffey, which has its source in a bog in the N., and flows into Kildare, receiving in this county the waters of King river. The coast is mostly rugged or dangerous from sand-banks, presenting no bay or other shelter for shipping. Near its northern extremity is Bray Head, rising with an elevation of 870 feet; further on is Wicklow Head, 268 feet, and Arklow Rock, about a mile N. of the boundary of Wexford county, 411 feet high. The only railway in the county is the Dublin, Wicklow, and Wexford line, which keeps for the most part along the coast, but turning inland below the town of Wicklow, runs through the vale of Ovoca to Arklow. The principal roads are the mail road from Dublin to Wexford, which passes Bray, Newtown Mount-Kennedy, Rathdrum, and Arklow, and has branches to Wicklow and Carlow; a road from Dublin to Carlow, passing Blessington and Baltinglass in the N.W. of the county; and the military road already mentioned, passing by Glendalough and Laragh. Many new roads have been made, and the condition of others has much improved, The geological strata belong chiefly to the primary and transition formations. The sea-cliffs, and most of the interior of the county, consist of clay-slate, greywacke, and greywacke slate, but the great central mountain range is composed wholly of granite, which is generally very pure, but in some parts is intermixed with various minerals, as rock crystal, heavy spar, magnetic iron ore, copper and iron pyrites, and small veins of quartz. This granitic district has a varying breadth of from 7 to 14 miles, and is flanked by bands of metamorphic rock. The strata near Bray are much inflected, but in other parts they are generally regular, dipping to the S.E. Wicklow is the only Irish county which has no limestone, but felspar porphyry, quartz rock, and greenstone, occur in many places, and at Arklow the rock exhibits a variety of trap similar to that of the Giant's Causeway. The principal minerals are pyrites and copper and lead ores, but silver, iron, zinc, tin, manganese, tungsten, arsenic, and antimony, are found, and gold in small quantities in the streams. Smelting, principally of lead, is carried on to a small extent in blast furnaces heated with turf, lime, and blind coal. The climate is mild and moist, but healthy. The principal agricultural products are oats, potatoes, and some wheat. Dairies are numerous, and large quantities of butter are made for the Dublin market. Flannels were formerly extensively manufactured, but are now little attended to. There is one silk-spinning mill with 1,182 spindles, which employs upwards of 100 persons. The Wicklow fishery embraces parts of the Dublin and Arklow districts, but is not much attended to, chiefly from the want of safe harbours. Oysters are taken from Arklow bank. The county belongs chiefly to the diocese of Dublin and Glendalagh, with small portions in the dioceses of Ferns and Leighlin, which are united with the see of Ossory. The diocese of Glendalagh, of which Saint Kevin was the first bishop, early in the 6th century, existed separately till 1491, when it was joined to that of Dublin. In the Roman Catholic distribution it forms part of the archdiocese of Dublin, and of the diocese of Ferns, which is suffragan to Dublin. Of the population in 1861, 15,285, or 17.7 percent., were members of the Established Church; 70,044, or 81.0 per cent. were Roman Catholics; and 1,150, or 1.3 percent., belonged to other denominations. The county is divided for civil purposes into 8 baronies, Arklow, Ballinacor, North and South, Newcastle, Rathdrum, Shillelagh, and Talbotstown, Lower and Upper, and contains 69 parishes. It returns two members to parliament for the county at large. Its government is entrusted to a lord-lieutenant and custos, vice-lieutenant, high sheriff, 17 deputy-lieutenants, 1 resident and about 92 local magistrates. It is in the Leinster circuit, the assizes being held at Wicklow. Quarter sessions are held there, and also at Arklow, Bray, Baltinglass, and Tinahely; and petty sessions at 13 places. The county is partly within the military district of the Curragh. Fairs are held at 35 places, and there are 12 market towns. The county gaol is at Wicklow, and there are infirmaries at Wicklow and Baltinglass. There are three Poor-Law unions, Baltinglass, Shillelagh, and Rathdrum; and 15 dispensary districts. The seats are more numerous than in any other county in Ireland. The principal are Shelton Abbey, of the Earl of Wicklow; Kilruddery, of the Earl of Meath; Stratford Lodge, of the Earl of Aldborough; Glenart Castle, of the Earl of Carysfort; Coolattin, of Earl Fitzwilliam; Charleville, of Viscount Monck; Powerscourt, of Viscount Powerscourt; Russborough, of Earl of Milltown; Hollybrook, of Hodson, Bart.; Lough Bray, of Crampton, Bart.; Castle Howard, of Brooke, Esq. There are cromlechs at Cabinteely, Lugnaquilla, and Baltinglass; a cairn at Knockroe, a druidical circle at Donoughmore, and raths near Knockloe and Baltinglass. Of the ecclesiastical remains, the most interesting are St. Bridget's chain and well, near Kilranclagh, the ruins of Seven Churches, the round tower and old cross at Glendalough, the abbey at Baltinglass, the friaries of Wicklow and Aghold, the old church of Donard, near Stratford, also old castles, which may be met with in many parts of the country."

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)]
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2018