1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Dublin (county)

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DUBLIN, a county of Ireland in the province of Leinster, bounded N. by Co. 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, having an area of 218,873 acres, or about 342 sq. m. The northern portion 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. The northern coast of the county from Balbriggan 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 rocky islet of Ireland’s Eye an unsuccessful artificial harbour was constructed. Kingstown harbour on the south side of Dublin Bay superseded this, and is by far the best in the county. Dalkey Island, about 22 acres in extent, lies about midway between Kingstown harbour and the beautiful bay of Killiney. North of Howth lies Lambay Island, about 600 acres in area. Shell fish, especially lobsters, are taken here in abundance. Small islets lie farther north off Skerries; the most interesting of which is that known as Inispatrick, reputed as the first landing-place of St Patrick, and having the ruins of a church said to be the saint’s first foundation, though it shares this reputation with other sites. Ireland’s Eye, off Howth, is a very picturesque rock with about 54 acres of grass land. It has afforded great room for geological disquisition. The chief river in the county is the Liffey, which rises in the Wicklow mountains about 12 m. S.W. of Dublin, and, after running about 50 m., empties itself into Dublin Bay. The course of the river is so tortuous that 40 m. may be traversed and only 10 gained in direction. The scenery along the banks of the Liffey is remarkably beautiful. The mountains which occupy the southern border of the county are the extremities of the great group belonging to the adjacent county Wicklow. The principal summits are the group containing Glendoo (1919 ft.) and Two Rock (1699 ft.) within the county, and the border group of Kippure, reaching in that summit a height of 2475 ft. 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.

Geology.—On the north a Silurian upland stretches, falling to the sea at Balbriggan, where fossiliferous strata contain contemporaneous volcanic rocks. A limestone of Bala age comes out under shales and andesites in the promontory of Portrane, and rocks of the same series occur in the bold island of Lambay, associated with a large mass of dark green porphyritic andesite (the “Lambay porphyry”). Silurian rocks reappear at Tallaght in the south-west, where the granite of Leinster rises through them, forming a moorland 2000 ft. in height only a few miles south of Dublin. Old Red Sandstone, seen at Donabate and Newcastle, leads up into Carboniferous Limestone, which is often darkened by mud and even shaly (“calpy” type). This rock produces a fairly level country, both north and south of the valley of the Liffey, although the beds are greatly folded. Beds of a higher Carboniferous zone are retained in synclinals near Rush. The rugged peninsula of Howth, connected by a raised bench with the mainland, is formed of old quartzites and shales, crushed and folded, and probably of Cambrian age. The rocks of the county show many signs of ice-action, and boulder-clays and drift-gravels cover the lowland, the latter being banked up on the mountain-slopes to heights of 1200 ft. or more. Much of this glacial material has been imported from the area of the Irish Sea. Lead-ore has been mined at the granite-contact at Ballycorus.

Industries.—The extension of Dublin city and its suburbs has no doubt had its influence on the decrease of acreage under both tillage and pasture. Oats and potatoes are the principal crops, but live stock, especially cattle, receives greater attention. A large proportion of holdings are of the smallest, nearly one-half of those beneath fifteen acres being also beneath one acre. The manufactures of the county are mainly confined to the city and suburbs, but there is manufacture of cotton hosiery at Balbriggan. The haddock, herring and other fisheries, both deep-sea and coastal, are important, and Kingstown is the headquarters of the fishery district. The salmon fishery district of Dublin also affords considerable employment. As containing the metropolis of Ireland, the communications of the county are naturally good, several important railways and two canals converging upon the city of Dublin, under the head of which they are considered.

Population and Administration.—The population (148,210 in 1891; 157,568 in 1901) shows a regular increase, which, however, is not consistent from year to year. About 70% are Roman Catholics, the Protestant Episcopalians (24%) standing next. The chief towns, apart from the capital, are Balbriggan (pop. 2236), Blackrock (8719), Dalkey (3398), Killiney and Ballybrack (2744), Pembroke (25,799), Rathmines and Rathgar (32,602), and the important port of Kingstown (17,377). These are urban districts. Skerries, Howth and Rush are small maritime towns. There are nine baronies in the county, which, including the city of Dublin, are divided into 100 parishes, all within the Protestant and Roman Catholic dioceses of Dublin. Assizes are held in Dublin, and quarter sessions also in the capital, and at Balbriggan, Kilmainham, Kingstown and Swords. 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 county parliamentary divisions are now two, north and south, each returning one member. The city of Dublin constitutes a separate county.

History.—Dublin is among the counties generally considered to have been formed by King John, and comprised the chief portion of country within the English pale. The limits of the county, however, were uncertain, and underwent many changes before they were fixed. As late as the 17th century the mountainous country south of Dublin offered a retreat to the lawless, and it was not until 1606 that the boundaries of the county received definition in this direction, along with the formation of the county Wicklow. 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 1867 the most formidable of the Fenian risings took place near the village of Tallaght, about 7 m. 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 Strathnairn, who captured them with ease and marched them into the city. There are numerous antiquities in the county. Raths or encampments are frequent, and those at Raheny, Coolock, Lucan, with the large specimen at Shankill or Rathmichael near the Scalp pass may be mentioned. Cromlechs occur in Phoenix Park, Dublin, at Howth, and elsewhere. There are fine round towers at Swords, Lusk and Clondalkin, and there is the stump of one at Rathmichael.