The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868

"COUNTY WATERFORD, a maritime county in the province of Munster, Ireland, is bounded on the N. by the counties of Tipperary and Kilkenny, E. by the county of Wexford, S. by the Atlantic Ocean, and W. by the county of Cork. It lies between 51° 56' and 52° 20' N. lat., and 6° 58' and 8° 8' W. long. Its greatest length from E. to W. is 52 miles, and from N. to S. 28 miles. Its area is 721 square miles, or 461,553 acres, of which 325,315 are arable, 105,496 uncultivated, 23,408 under plantations, 1,525 in towns and villages, and 5,779 under water. The population in 1841, including the city of Waterford, was 196,187; in 1851 it had decreased to 164,035; and in 1861 to 134,242. The number of inhabited houses in 1861 was 21,492, 1,026 were uninhabited, and 53 were in course of building. The poor-law valuation in 1851 was £326,979, and the general valuation in 1861 was £315,610. 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 49,525, or 30 per cent. of the population at the former date. The ancient inhabitants are thought to have been a Belgic colony, called the Menapii, who extended into Wexford. During the 3rd century a portion of the tribe of Decii, or Decii, who occupied that part of the county of Meathnow called Deece, migrated southwards, and established themselves in that part of this county lying between Carrick-on-Suir and Dungarvan, and eastwards to Waterford Harbour. In the 9th century a body of Danes settled themselves in the territory aboutthe city of Gaultier. When the English in the 12th century landed in the S., Waterford was quickly overrun, and the greater part of the country was granted by Henry II. to Robert le Poer, his marshal, and the western districts were included in the grant of Cork to Milo de Cogan and his companions.

The possessions of Robert le Poer descended by marriage to the Beresford family, who still hold large property in the county. During the wars towards the close of Elizabeth's reign the county suffered severely by the sword and from famine, as also in the civil war of Charles I., and in the rebellion of 1798, when the county was disturbed by bands of Whiteboys, or Levellers, and agrarian outrages were not unfrequent. The surface in the northern and western districts is rugged and mountainous. The principal ranges of hills are the Cummeragh, or Monavoulagh Mountains, which rise from the valley of the Suir, near Clonmel, and attain elevations of 2,597, 2,504, 2,478, and 2,387 feet, being among the wildest in Ireland. The Knockmiledown mountains occupy the north-western corner, extending into Tipperary, and at one point rise 2,609 feet high. To this range belongs Mount Melleray, with the abbey of St. Bernard la Trappe, by the monks of which upwards of 200 acres of mountain land have been reclaimed. The valley of the Blackwater is rich and undulating; its eastern flank consists of a broad based mountain summit called Drum. The central parts are undulating, with hills and low ridges interspersed by vales and hollows. The coast line is regular, affording little shelter for shipping. Immediately to the W. of Brownstown Head, at the entrance to Waterford Harbour, is Tramore Bay, the beach of which is flat and dangerous to shipping. The line of coast westward to Dungarvan Harbour, a distance of twenty miles, is rocky and dangerous; in some places the cliffs rise 250 feet, and contain several natural caverns of considerable extent. From Helwick Head, the southern boundary of Dungarvan Harbour, it runs in a south-westerly direction to Ardmore Point, and then bends north-westerly to Youghal, about 5 miles distant. This part of the coast is generally flat. The principal river is the Suir, which comes from Tipperary, and after forming the northern boundary of the greater part of the county, falls into Waterford Harbour. It is joined by the Nier from the Cummeragh mountains, and is navigable for small vessels to Carrick-on-Suir. The Blackwater, also a noble river, rises in Kerry, and flows due E. across the county of Cork to Cappoquin, where it turns southwards and falls into the sea at Youghal. It receives in this county the waters of the Bride, and is navigable to Cappoquin for vessels of 70 tons. There are some small lakes among the Cummeragh mountains. The Waterford and Kilkenny railway opens direct communication with Dublin and the N., and the Waterford and Limerick line with the W. There is a short line of 8 miles from the city of Waterford to the bathing-place of Tramore. It is intended to make a railway to Wexford, and there join the Dublin, Wicklow, and Wexford line. The principal roads are from Waterford to Cork, passing Cappoquin and Youghal; from Dungarvon to Clonmel; and two from Dungarvon to Youghal. The geological character of the county varies. The eastern half is formed of transition rocks, as clay, slate, graywacke, and graywacke slate. In Glenpatrick, near Clonmel, good roofing slates are extensively quarried. Old conglomerate rocks, and formations of purple, red, green, and grey clay slate abound in the western districts. The valley of the Blackwater is of floetz limestone, and contains all the fossils of the carboniferous limestone, whilst the old red and yellow limestone occupies the central parts. Potter's clay is found in many places, and marble is quarried near Cappoquin and Whitechurch. There is an extensive copper mine at Knockmahon, from which 682 tons of ore, of the value of £25,657, were sold in Swansea during the year 1863. Lead and iron mines have also been worked, and silver has been got at Carysfort and Bonmahon. The climate is variable, and the S. and S.W. winds which prevail are occasionally violent; it is, however, considered healthy. The surface is in many places marshy, and the soil is generally thin and poor, but some rich districts are found in the valley of the Blackwater, and in the central parts of the county. In 1866 there were 104,206 acres under crops, of which 18,786 acres were of wheat, 31,158 acres of oats, 1,799 acres of barley, here, and rye, 20,713 acres of potatoes, 10,904 acres of green crops, 153 acres of flax, and 20,693 acres of meadow and clover. Dairy farming is extensively carried on, and large quantities of butter and bacon are exported. A cotton factory has been established at Portlaw, containing 30,292 spindles and 940 looms, and driven by steam and water power; it employs 1,412 persons. There are also four woollen factories, with 2,760 spindles and 49 looms, and employing 93 persons. The fishery district of Waterford extends from Bannow to Ballyvoile Bridge, embracing 76 miles of sea-coast, and trawling is practised to a considerable extent. The number of vessels and boats engaged at the fishery in 1864 was 336, employing 1,269 men and boys. There is a small bank in the estuary of the Suir producing oysters. The county is in the diocese of Waterford and Lismore, now joined to the see of Cashel and Emly. In the Roman Catholic distribution it remained an independent diocese, which is suffragan to Cashel. Of the population in 1861, 5,197, or 3.9 per cent., were members of the Established Church, 127,654, or 95.1 per cent., were Roman Catholics, and 1,401, or 1 per cent., belonged to other denominations, or were unspecified. The county returns five members to parliament, two for the county at large, having a constituency of 3,477 in 1865, two for the city of Waterford, and one for the borough of Dungarvan. The county is divided for civil purposes into eight baronies -Coslimore and Coshbride, Decies within Drum, Decies without Drum, Gaultier, Glenahiry, Kilculliheen, Middlethird, and Upperthird, and contains 82 parishes. Its government is intrusted to a lord lieutenant and custos, high sheriff, 20 deputy lieutenants, and 3 resident and about 94 local magistrates. It belongs to the Leinster circuit; the assizes are held at Waterford. Quarter sessions are held at Carrickbeg, Dungarvan, and Lismore, and petty sessions at 16 places. The county gaol, county infirmary, and district lunatic asylum are at Waterford. The county belongs to the Cork military district, and there are barrack stations at Waterford and Dungarvan. Fairs are held at 32 places, and there are 5 market towns. The poor-law unions are Dungarvan, Kilmacthomas, Lismore, and Waterford, containing 16 dispensary districts. The principal seats are Lismore Castle, Duke of Devonshire; Curraghmore, Marquis of Waterford; Clashmore House, Earl of Huntingdon; Summerville, Earl Fortescue; Dromana, Lord Stuart de Decies; Barron Court, Barron, Bart.; Cappoquin House, Keane, Bart.; Curraheen, Kennedy, Bart.; Mount Rivers, Musgrave, Bart.; besides numerous residences of the local gentry. There are Druidical remains at Dunmore, Dun Hill and Kilmacombe, and the ruins of churches, abbeys, and castles may be seen in many parts of the county. There are traces of a large double trench, called "the Trench of St. Patrick's Cow," extending across the Blackwater towards Lismore, and also of one from Cappoquin into the county of Cork. There are chalybeate springs in the barony of Gaultier, and also at Clonmel, and between Dungarvan and Youghal. The county confers the title of marquis on the Beresford family, and of earl upon that of Talbot, and the barony of Decies gives the title of baron to a branch of the Beresfords."


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