Carlow Topography

This county presents a considerable variety of surface: the ground is generally undulating, particularly in its northern parts, where the rivers Barrow and Slaney form broad valleys of great fertility and beauty, rising into low hills clothed to the summits with a rich herbage varied by fine plantations. To the south and west the character changes. In the south the land rises into a very elevated ridge, which runs along the whole of the south-eastern verge of the county, separating it by a strongly marked natural barrier from that of Wexford. The northern portion of this ridge, which commences from the valley of the Slaney at Newtownbarry, is called Mount Leinster, and is separated at its southern extremity from the Blackstairs mountain by Sculloge gap, the only passage through which a communication can be kept up between the two counties. Blackstairs extends in the same direction till it is interrupted by the Barrow, where its rugged and precipitous termination, together with the peculiarly sombre tints of its appearance throughout its whole extent, has fixed upon it the name just mentioned. This part of the country is comparatively barren and of discouraging aspect.

To the west of the Barrow there is also a tract of elevated land, called the Ridge of Old Leighlin, which, however, being cultivated to the very summit, does not strictly merit the name of mountain. This latter district is deficient in the natural beauties which gratify the eye in the northern and eastern parts; but their absence is considered to be amply compensated by the treasures concealed beneath the surface, as this part of the county forms the commencement of the great coal field of Leinster, and bears all the external marks of diminished fertility which usually characterise such tracts. Though the country is well watered, there is nothing in it entitled to the name of lake, although the more ancient name of its chief town, Catherlough, " the city on the lake," would lead to such an inference. The climate is mild and salubrious, subject neither to the extremes of heat and cold, nor of excessive moisture, to which regions in the neighbourhood of lofty mountains, or near the shores of the Atlantic, are liable.

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