County Kilkenny - A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland
As described in "A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland"
Samuel Lewis - Published 1837
KILKENNY, an inland county, in the western part of the province of Leinster, bounded on the east by the counties of Carlow and Wexford, on the north by Queen's county, on the west by the county of Tipperary, and on the south by the county of Waterford. It extends from 52o 14' to 52o 51' (N.Lat.), and from 6o 56' to 7o 38' (W. Lon.); and comprises an area, according to the Ordinance survey, of 536,686 statute acres, of which 417,117 are cultivated land, and 96,569 bog and mountain. The population in 1821, was 158,716; and in 1831, 169,945. According to Ptolemy, this county was originally inhabited by the Brigantes and the Caucoi, and it afterwards formed part of the kingdom of Ossory. The name Uisraigagh, modernized into Ossory, is supposed to be expressive of its local situation, being compounded of the Gaelic words uisge, "water," and rioghachd, "kingdom," as lying between the rivers. The portion between the Nore and Barrow is sometimes excluded from the kingdom of Ossory, and was anciently styled Hy Creoghain Gabhran; the southern part of the county was sometimes called Comor na tri uisge, "the high district of the three waters." The countries of Ely O'Carroll and Hy Carthin comprised some of the north-western portion of this county. This kingdom was sometimes tributary to Leinster, and sometimes to Munster. After the arrival of the English, it formed one of the counties into which King John divided the portion of the island that acknowledged his sovereignty. At the commencement of the reign of King James I., it was chiefly occupied by the Graces, the O'Brenans, the Wandefords, the Butlers, the O'Sheas, the Rooths, the Harpurs, the Walshes of the mountains, and the Shortals.
The county is partly in the diocese and province of Cashel, and partly in the diocese of Leighlin, but chiefly in and comprehending the greater part of the diocese of Ossory, in the jurisdiction of Dublin. For purposes of civil jurisdiction it is divided into the baronies of Gowran, Ida, Fassadineen, Kells, Galmoy, Cranagh, Iverk, Knocktopher, and Shillelogher. It contains the incorporated market and post-towns of Callan, Thomastown, and Gowran; the market and post-towns of Castlecomer, Durrow, and Graig; the ancient disfranchised boroughs of Knocktopher and Innistoigue, of which the latter is a post-town, and the former has a penny post; and the post-towns of Freshford, Ballyragget, Urlingford, Johnstown, and Goresbridge. Among the largest villages are those of Piltown, Clough, Bennettsbridge, and Rossbercon, besides the large suburb of Ferrybank, opposite the city of Waterford. Prior to the Union this county sent twelve members to the Irish parliament, -- two knights of the shire, and two representatives for each of the boroughs of Callan, Gowran, Thomastown, Knocktopher, and Innistiogue: but since that period its representation has been confined to the two members of the county at large. The constituency, as registered at the summer assize of 1836, consists of 266 l50, 108 l20, and &64 l10 freeholders; 27 l50m 12 l20, and 189 l10 leaseholders; and 5 l50 and 6 l20 rent-chargers: making a total of 1477 voters. The election takes place at Kilkenny; and the general quarter sessions at Kilkenny, Castlecomer, and Thomastown. The county court-house and the county gaol are in Kilkenny, and there is a bridewell at Thomastown. The number of persons charged with criminal offences and committed to the prisons, in 1835, was 574, and of civil bill committals, 21. The local government is vested in a lieutenant and 17 deputy lieutenants, of whom 13 are county magistrates; besides whom there are the usual county officers, including two coroners. There are 50 constabulary police stations, having in the whole a force of one stipendiary magistrate, 10 chief and 51 subordinate constables, and 341 men, with 22 horses, the expense of maintaining which is defrayed equally by Grand Jury presentments and by Government. There are 30 stations of the peace preservation police, consisting of two magistrates, 3 chief and 18 subordinate constables, and 112 men, with 2 horses, maintained at an expense, in 1835, of &6963. The county infirmary and fever hospital are at Kilkenny, and there are also fever hospitals at Freshford, Kells, Kilmaganny, and Rossbercon, and dispensaries at Kilkenny, Castlecomer, Ballyragget, Graig, Freshford, Kilmanagh, Knocktopher, Kilmaganny, Thomastown, Ida, Kells and Stonyford, Gowran, Callan, Durrow, Johnstown, Kilmacow, Urlingford, Whitechurch, and Innistioge, maintained by equal subscriptions and Grand Jury presentments. The amount of the Grand Jury presentments, for 1835, wa &29.793.14.8 1/2., of which &2603.11.6 was for the public roads of the county at large; &5907.19.1 for the public roads, being the baronial charge; &2387.6.9 in repayment of loans advanced by the Government; &7609.19.1 for officers' salaries, public establishments, &c.; and &11,184.18.3 1/2 for the police. In the military arrangements this county is included in the eastern district.
An argillaceous soil may be considered as predominant throughout the country, within the limits of which there is very little ground unfit for tillage, or which does not form good meadow or pasture. The northern part consists chiefly of a moory turf, a few inches deep, incumbent on a bed of stiff yellow or whitish clay, which is the worst soil in the country, and the only kind liable to be injured by surface water. More southerly, the soil is in general light, covering an argillaceous schistus. The northern part of the barony of Gowran is similar in quality, until its hills subside into a rich plain covered by loam of various kinds. An excellent soil for the growth of wheat pervades the southern part of this barony from the Barrow to the Nore; its western portion consists of low hills or gently sloping grounds of good soil, fry, and sometimes deep, but diminishing in quality as it approaches the latter of those rivers. That to the west of the Nore, below the city of Kilkenny, is a clayey loam immediately over a bed of limestone. In general, the nearer the limestone is to the surface, the poorer the soil; but as this kind of ground, along the banks of the river, produces close and green herbage, and is extremely dry, it seems calculated by nature to form the best kind of sheepwalks. A light soil appears all around the city of Kilkenny, frequently rising into hills of sand and gravel. Along the banks of the Nore, northwards, good meadow ground is found, apparently formed by aquatic depositions: some of it consists of a deep blackish loam, apparently the produce of decayed vegetables, and inducing the inference that the Nore, formerly obstructed by rocks and other natural impediments which the impetuosity of its water had ultimately broken down, was once an expansive lake, whose edges may still be traced round the flat plain inclining towards Freshford. Achadh-ur, or "the Field of Water," the old name for Freshford, strengthens this conclusion. The northwestern portion of the county is chiefly occupied by hills, the soil of which, though not deep, is of good quality and productive for fine herbage. From the whitish appearance of these calcareous hills, the district was probably called Geal-Magh, "the white field," corrupted into Galmoy. The country declines northwards into a varied plain of still better soil, until it is bounded by a branch of the Bog of Allen: the western part, with a varied surface and a limestone bottom, possesses all the gradations between a stiff, yet rich, clayey soil and a light gravel. Proceeding southwards, the fertility of the land increases as it approaches the Suir, on the margin of which is some of the richest and deepest ground in the county. Some parts of this southern district consist of low hills covered by a light dry soil, producing good crops; and, as the soil has a large proportion of argill, it is peculiarly productive on the application of calcareous manure. There is a considerable extent of mountain land in the county, much of which is improved: all the hills, when they rise a little above the calcareous districts, incline to a moory surface, and when neglected produce little but heath. The quantity of peat is inconsiderable; by far the largest tract, amounting to 1,000 acres, is in the northwestern extremity: several small tracts, from 30 to 50 acres each, are scattered in various parts: the whole may be estimated at about 1500 acres, not including the mountain ground, the surface of which is often stripped for fuel. A bed of marl has been found in a bog between two strata of black peat; also three strata of bog separated by alternative beds of indifferent marl. Some of the lesser bogs may be cut to a depth of 20 feet: considerable quantities of oak, fir, and birch are found in them. A Stratum of bog has been found 33 feet beneath the surface, covered with the following strata' -- vegetable mould, 3 feet; marl with black stones, 15 feet; yellow clay and hard gravel, 15 feet. There are no loughs of any extent: in the parish of Cloghmanta are some small lakes, here called Loughans, which are formed by the surface water in winter. The best land in the county, most of which has a limestone bottom, is applied to the growth of wheat, which is the predominant crop. Barley is usually sown after it; bere is not in general cultivation. Oats are cultivated in all parts of the county: the species most commonly used is the Irish, a hardy but small grain, which does not shed easily. Rye, which is but little cultivated, is usually sown on land that has been pared and burned, and produces fine crops on mountainous ground. Potatoes are everywhere grown, and all the manure of the county is applied in their culture; but the most approved is that from the farm-yard, though the sweepings of the streets of Kilkenny are purchased at a high price, and other manures consist of composts of various kinds; lime only is sometimes used. In the barony of Iverk, and everywhere within reach of the coast, or of the Suir, sea-wrack and sand are generally used. Green crops are very rare, being cultivated only by some of the principal gentry and a few wealthy farmers. Manure is seldom used for any but the potatoe crop: when exhausted by repeated tillage, the land is too frequently left to recruit itself by a natural process; grass and clover seeds are, however, sometimes sown, and the advantages are beginning to be appreciated.
In the best cultivated parts of the county about one-third of the ground is under tillage, but in the hilly parts the proportion is much less. The use of green food for any species of stock is almost unknown to common farmers: many of the cattle graze abroad the whole winter, but some are housed for Christmas to April. In the Walsh mountains grass is kept for the cattle, into which they are turned in the winter without hay, straw, or shelter. The only green food used in winter is furze tops pounded, which are commonly given to horses, and sometimes to black cattle: the former become fat, sleek, and fine-skinned on this food: the sort preferred is the large French furze, but the small Irish furze will serve. The stalks of potatoes, dug when green, are given to cattle: sheep are remarkably fond of them, and particularly of the apples, which fatten greatly. The Jerusalem artichoke has also been used successfully as food for sheep. Less attention seems to be paid to pasture than to agricultural objects, being, in the tillage districts, such fields as will no longer bear corn, let out without any seeds. The mountain pastures are left in a state of nature, unenclosed and unimproved. Sheep are banished from many places for want of fences, and the land seems to be applied to no purpose, being left to the spontaneous growth of heath. These heaths are very liable to take fire in dry summers by accidental circumstances, and cause some damage: the fire, however, eventually improves the surface, when not too intense, and sometimes is kindled for that purpose. That the hilly tracts are capable of being improved by culture is testified by the aspect of small enclosures near mountain villages, where the natural grass by a little shelter and manure becomes surprisingly green. Improvement is not much impeded by rights, if they exist, and landlords seem to have an undisputed authority in partitioning lands, which, though grazed in common, confer no legal claim on the occupier. Irrigation is but little attended to, although, where it has been practised judiciously, it has been found very advantageous. There is a considerable portion of land, bordering both on the Suir and the Nore, which is embanked and chiefly used for meadows: the most remarkable is in the parish of Roer, where the embankment is about two miles long; some of it is pastured, and was formerly tilled, but the greater part is constantly kept in meadow: it is intersected by open drains communicating with a main drain connected with a river by sluices. Besides this district, the most extensive dairies are in the barony of Iverk and principally around the Walsh mountains: this tract has a good depth of soil, much inclined to grass. As late as the close of the last century, the principal family residing in it consisted of five branches, holding among them more than 2,000 acres; they retained a remarkable degree of clanship, by constantly intermarrying, and were very comfortable and hospitable. But from the practice of subdividing the land amongst their descendants, the farms have become very small and the occupiers poor. The land, however, is much improved: the chief crops are oats and potatoes, and great numbers of cattle and pigs are bred here. The milch cows are principally fed on potatoes during the summer, and the butter is of a superior quality, and brings a good price both at Waterford and Kilkenny, whence it is exported to England. The pigs are mostly fed with buttermilk and potatoes and grow to a large size: vast numbers are annually shipped for England, and during the season the provision merchants of Kilkenny and Waterford obtain a large supply from the barony of Iverk. Throughout the whole of that part of the barony which is not immediately adjacent to the city of Waterford, the population is more or less connected by ties of consanguinity, rarely marrying out of their own district. Limestone to a great extent is burned for manure; and limestone sand and gravel, raised from the numerous escars and screened, were formerly esteemed nearly as efficacious as lime, and are still frequently employed when found at a distance from limestone rocks. Before the practice of burning lime became general, they formed the principal manures, for which reason large excavations are to be found whence these substances were raised: the most remarkable is in the barony of Iverk, where, from the magnitude of the old excavations, they have been in use probably a thousand years. A manure somewhat similar is used, under the name of Kilmacow sand, for hilly ground: it is carried up the Nore to Innistioge, and thence drawn for some miles up the hills. Marl is found in great quantities in different parts, generally mixed with fragments of limestone; but, in consequence of the higher estimation in which lime is held, it is not in general use. River sand, raised below Ross, is more extensively used than marl. At the edge of the river, near Ringville, black mud, containing the decayed remains of vegetables, is raised, and proves an excellent manure for light ground; some sand is also taken up, containing thin broken shells of a species of tellina; the earth of old ditches and from boggy ground is often mixed with it. A compost of lime and earth is common as a top dressing; and the scrapings of roads, and furze, fern and straw, spread in lanes and other thoroughfares, are also used. Burning was the usual way of bringing land into tillage, and was encouraged by many landlords under particular restrictions, but is now generally discountenanced, as the carbon and all volatile particles are dissipated by the fire.
The use of oxen in the plough seems to be rather increasing, though the proportion is very small in comparison with horses. The native horses are lively, active, hardy, and well adapted to the uses of the farmer: few are bred in the county; of English breeds the Suffolk is most in request. The attention paid to the breeding of cattle is inferior to that of the adjoining counties of Carlow and Waterford, and some parts of Tipperary: the common breed is a cross between the old Irish and Lancashire, and some districts have the old native cow. Some noblemen and gentlemen have a superior kind, being a cross between the Irish and Durham; and crosses between the Irish and Devon and Ayshire and Duham breeds appear to suit both the soil and climate. But those that attain the largest size are a cross between the Limerick and Durham; which fatten speedily and weigh well. The little Kerry cow is much sought after in some of the dairy districts, in which it improves much, and when crossed with the Ayshire is very profitable to the small farmer. The breed of sheep is generally little improved; the New Leicester and Ayrshire breeds are found in the lawns and demesnes of some gentlemen, but are comparatively few in number. Pigs have been greatly improved by the introduction of the Berkshire and other superior breeds. In all the minor departments of rural economy, except the rearing of poultry, the farmers are very deficient. The fences generally are very indifferent, principally consisting of an old broad mound of earth (called a ditch), with a deep and broad trench on one or both sides, or of dry and broken stone walls, except in the immediate neighborhood of Kilkenny or on the farms of gentlemen, where in many instances quickset hedges show to great advantage: the parks and demesnes are mostly enclosed with high stone walls. The county is very deficient in woods and plantations, although there are some of considerable extent around Kilkenny, Durrow, Desart, Woodstock, Besborough, Castlecomer, Thomastown, and other places on the banks of the Nore. Callan and its neighbourhood, once so celebrated for its extensive woods, is now denuded; but from Kilkenny to Callan the fences appear better and the land more judiciously divided than in other parts. Planting is by no means general, except around demesnes. An agricultural society, the first midland society formed, has been long established, of which, perhaps, the most beneficial result is the improvement of agricultural implements, which has been accomplished to a considerable extent.
As the soil is seldom much raised above the rock that forms its basis, it is not difficult to trace the substrata: these are granite, silicious schistus, silicious breccia, argillite, sandstone and limestone. The granite hills form a very small part of the county, being merely extensions of the Wicklow group, which, including Mount Leinster and Blackstairs in the county of Carlow, forms the hills of Brandon between the Barrow and the Nore, and ultimately terminates in the low and secondary hills which unite to the south, towards the mountains of Waterford. The stratum which usually joins the granite is silicious schistus, and lower down argillaceous slate. The granite varies in shades of grey, red, and yellow, and in the fineness of its grain; the best is of a light yellow tint, finely grained and compact; black mica is found in it, together with specks of iron ore and crystals of schorl: it can be raised in blocks of large size, and may be chiseled into any form. Below Innistioge, part of the hills are composed of granite; on their lower part the yellow mica is sometimes found by itself in large masses. The detached stones which form the surface of these hills are called fire-stones, and are worked into hearth-stones, and also applied to other purposes. Pieces of a very fine deep red and compact jasper, of various sizes, the largest ten or twelve inches long and half as broad, have been discovered in the granite district. The silicious schistus is blackish, sometimes containing grins of quartz; when broken it has a shivery texture and thin lamellae, and is hard enough to scratch glass. The base of Brandon Hill, and that extending thence to Graig, is composed of it; between Innistioge and Ross it is quarried out of the steep banks of the river. New Ross is mostly built of it: the dip of these quarries is eastward. Martial pyrites frequently lies between the beds of this stone: the strata are also intersected by broad veins of quartz: iron ochre occurs in it, and it is much tinged with oxyde of iron. A few specks of copper are sometimes perceived, but no vein has been discovered. Fine-grained galena has also been detected in it, in small quantities and in detached fragments. Silicious breccia forms many of the lower hills: it consists principally of fine quartz sand, united by a silicious cement and enveloping rounded pebbles of quartz, from the size of a pea to two or three inches in diameter, and of a reddish tinge; it seems to be one of the stones styled by Kirwan semiprotolites, and wherever its base can be discovered, it appears to lie on silicious schistus. This stone is constantly accompanied by red argillite, which covers the sides of the hills, but scarcely ever summits: it prevails on the northern sides of these hills, and from its appearance is sometimes called red slate. The hills of breccia run southward from the Nore, spreading south and south-east till they approach the Suir; the great hill of Drumdowney, bounded by the Ross river, forms the extremity of the principal range. The stone here is of a fine grain, and is raised for mill-stones, which are principally quarried on the top of the hill of Drumdowney, where an enclosure of about 300 acres has been made for the purpose: they are sent coastwise to Cork, Dublin, and other ports; the dimensions of the largest are five feet in diameter and sixteen inches in the eye. This stone is sometimes accompanied by a fine-grained white sandstone, consisting chiefly of quartz with a silicious cement: its chief defect is that the strata are very thin. Slaty argillite also often forms the lower parts of those hills, varying from reddish brown to green or blue, but being very heavy is not well adapted for roofing. In the western part of the county there is an extensive quarry of excellent slates, scarcely exceeded by any in colour and lightness. The northern part, including the whole of Fassadineen and the upper part of Gowran, consists either of ferruginous argillite, or of silicious schistus: of the latter, stones are raised in several quarries for the purpose of flagging; the former is always found above the coal, and is thence called coal-cover. It is a brittle blackish slate impregnated with iron ochre, and more of less inlaid with nodules of iron ore; it extends from the collieries to the south and west, forming the banks of the Dinan almost to its confluences with the Nore. The same stone forms lower hills which stretch towards the river, but in that part it is generally found of a fine soft grain, some of which is quarried for polishing marble, and the finer specimens are sometimes used as hones. In several parts of numerous escars, mostly near the banks of the rivers; some are seen near Urlingford, approaching the verge of the Bog of Allen, and they are also frequently found far removed from either river or bog; they are mostly comprised of rounded masses of limestone quartz, clay-slate, and ironstone, but most commonly of the first. They form gently rising hills, and may be traced from the banks of the Shannon, in the county of Limerick, through Tipperary and Kilkenny, to the banks of the Suir, whence they range through Carlow, Kildare, and near to the sea shore a little to the south of Dublin; along their entire extent the surface is generally fertile and very picturesque.
The Kilkenny collieries are situated two miles north from Castlecomer, twelve from Kilkenny, eight from Carlow, and forty-one from Dublin, and extend in length from Cooleban to the river beyond Maesfield, continuing thence into the Queen's county. In this county the coal field may be estimated at six miles in length by five in breadth, and the collieries are distinguished by the names Firoda, Ballyouskill, Clogh, and Maesfield. The mines were discovered in 1728....
The traces of antiquity are numerous. On the summit of Tory Hill, called in Irish Slieve-Grian, or "the Hill of the Sun," is a circular space covered with stones, on one of which, resting on several others, is an inscription which has given rise to much controversy. On the summit of the Hill of Cloghmanta, which signifies "the Stone of God," is another circular heap. Both these monuments are much decayed. The most remarkable cromlech is at Kilmogue, in the barony of Knocktopher; the upper stone is 45 feet in circumference, and is elevated six feet above the ground at its lower end, and 15 at its upper: the country people call it Lachan Schal, or "the Great Altar." Numerous other cromlechs are dispersed through various parts of the county. Not far from the spa of Ballyspellane is a large stone, formerly supported by several smaller: it is called Cloghbannagh, or "the Stone of Blessing." Not far from it is a conical stone, lying on its side. The remains of another heap, called Cloghan-carneen, may be seen at Ballynasliegh, near Durrow. Many human bones have been found in the neighbourhood, and among others, a skeleton enclosed between flags, with a horn near it. On the Hill of Garryduff, in Fiddown parish, is a place called Leibe-na-cuhn, or "the Dog's Grave," around which are the remains of ranges of stones. Several small urns containing ashes were found in front of a great stone in Kilbeacon parish, and in other places. Raths are very numerous in some districts, particularly in Galmoy and near the Nore; they are of various shapes, and are formed of one, two, or three enclosures. Chambers under ground, roofed with flags, are found not accompanied by raths. At Earlsrath is a very large fort, enclosed by a fosse, in the area of which are the vestiges of buildings. Some large moats are observable in several parts: the largest are at Callan, Kilkenny and Castlecomer; one of them, at Rathbeagh, is pointed out as the place where Hereman built his palace and was buried. There are five round towers: one at St. Canice, a few feet from the southern side of the cathedral; another at Tulloherm; a third at Kilree; a fourth at Fertagh, or Fertagh-na-geiragh; of the fifth, at Aghaviller, only the lower part remains. In the parish of Mucallee is a place called Reighlig-na-lughduigh, or "the Burying-place of the Black Lough," where are some upright stones, near which human bones and several bronze spear-heads were found. There is a faint tradition that a great battle had been fought here. Besides the ruined abbeys in the city of Kilkenny, there were two very celebrated monasteries of the Cisternian order, one at Jerpoint, the other at Graig, The Dominicans had abbeys at Rossbercon and at Thomastown, and the Carmelites at Knocktopher. An old abbey is said to have stood at Barrowmount; another near Kellymount; and a second monastery, not noticed by writers on the monastic antiquities of Ireland, at Thomastown.
The number of castles, though much diminished by the ravages of time and internal commotions, is still very great, but most consist of a single tower. Granny of Grandison Castle, in Iverk, is one of the most considerable: it was the residence of Margaret Fitzgerald, the great Countess of Ormond, a lady of uncommon talents and qualifications, who is said also to have built the castles of Balleen and Coolkill, with several others of minor note. The Butlers owned the castles of Knocktopher, Gowran, Dunfert, Poolestown, Nehorn, Callan, Ballycallan, Damagh, Kilmanagh, and Urlingford. King John built a castle at Tybrackny, where also are the foundations of a Danish town and a tombstone with Danish sculptures. The castes of Drumloe, Barrowmount, and Low Grange, are said to have belonged to Lord Galmoy; those of Stroan, Kilfane, Clofouke, Cohany, Ballyfoyle, and Cloranke, to the family of the Purcells; that of Cowen to the Brennans; those of Castlemorres, Frenystown, and Foulksrath, to the families whose names they bear; and those of Bishops-court and Kilbine to the Currys. The Shortalls possessed the castles of Cloghmanta, Kilrush, Tubbrid, Killeshuran, and Balief; the two latter, as well as that of Seskin near Durrow, are round. Gaulstown Castle belonged to a branch of the De Burgos; Grenan, said to have been built in the time of King John, to a family of the name of Den; the Walshes of the mountains held numerous castles in that district; Courtstown, Ballylench, and some others, belonged to the Graces; Dunfert, corrupted into Danesfort, was erected by William, Earl Marshall. The modern mansions of the nobility and gentry are noticed in the account of the parishes in which they are respectively situated.
The farm-houses are generally built of stone, oftener cemented with clay than with mortar; some of the better kind are slated, but thatch is most general; some may be comfortable, but few are neat and cleanly. The residences of rich farmers are generally inferior to their means; but the greatest defect is in the offices, which are sometimes covered with potato stalks, forming a very bad thatch, and sometimes with heath, which is not much better. Ash trees are often planted near the farm-houses, and, towards the border of Munster, cherry trees. The offices generally form an irregular yard in the front of the house, wholly or at least partially occupied by a dunghill. The most usual tenure for farms is for thirty-one years, or three lives: some lands in the hilly districts is held at will, but tenures of this description are decreasing; the inhabitants of these districts, who generally live in scattered villages and hold in partnership, usually obtaining a joint lease for years. There is not much land in mortmain: the see of Ossory possesses about 9,300 acres, besides the manors of Durrow and Freshford. The condition of the labouring poor is wretched in the extreme: it is only by slow degrees that they can procure articles of clothing; turf is their general fuel, in consequence of the high price of coal; potatoes, with milk when it can be procured, are almost their only food; sometimes, but not always, salt is added, and occasionally a herring. The clothing is frieze and flannel; the women wear stuff petticoats; straw hats manufactured at home, and estimated at from sixpence to a shilling, are commonly worn by both sexes. The English language is very generally spoken.
At Ballyspellane, in Galmoy barony, is a mineral spa, celebrated both for the medicinal properties imputed to it, and by the lines written on it by the witty and eccentric. Dr. Sheridan, the friend of Swift; the water is best drunk on the spot, as the carbonic acid gas contained in it, and to which its effects are chiefly attributed, soon evaporates on exposure to the air. Chalybeate spas, but not of much strength, exist near St. John's bridge on the Nore, near the marble hill on the same river, and at Jerpoint Abbey. In the Castlecomer collieries there are also some weak chalybeates, and others are to be found dispersed through the county. Springs of very pure transparent water are also numerous; most of them are named after some saint, and have a patron annually held near them.
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