The climate of the mountains, though remarkably mild for their elevation, is necessarily moist, and rain frequently falls among them when the low lands on the east side are free from it; the vapours, carried by the prevailing westerly winds, following the summits of the mountains to the sea at Bray Head and Wicklow Head. Although these low lands are exposed to the chilling effect of the east winds in spring, yet, being completely sheltered on every other side, the climate is more genial than that of any other part of the county; and the vigour with which the arbutus, laurestinus, and other delicate shrubs flourish even in elevated situations is very remarkable.

The soils of the county are various. A great part of the mountain tract is covered with heath and peat to a considerable depth, underneath which is found a coarse gravel, consisting of decayed granite; and where not encumbered with rocks, it is commonly a deep bog. The table land of the Vartrey has for the most part a thin mould interspersed with bogs, and encumbered with vast masses of granite. The soil of the marsh along the coast is a black peat, but that of the firm land bordering on it is commonly a deep loam of the greatest fertility.

Beyond Wicklow to the south, the soil changes into a variety of thin loams and poor gravels on slate rock, extending to the southern confines of the county; marl, however, has been found in one or two places near the Ovoca. Along the banks of the Liffey and the Slaney, on the western side of the mountains, are alluvial strata of limestone gravel, pebble limestone, and loose marl; and in the glen of Imale these are found as high as the base of Lugnaquilla. These strata give a character of fertility to the entire district, except on the border of the county of Dublin, where there is a considerable extent of low hills covered with heath and dwarf furze on a wet and boggy soil, producing very poor herbage in summer, and in winter wholly unprofitable.

These soils acquire their unproductive character from a stratum called "the curb" or "griddle," occurring within a few inches of the surface, totally impervious to water, and, though but from four to six inches thick, so hard as to resist the plough and spade: when broken with the pick-axe, however, and intermixed with the substrata of argillaceous earth and limestone gravel, it forms a productive soil: these hills extend from those of Tallaght to Dunlavan.

The barony of Shillelagh, like the south-eastern part of the county, is covered with various thin soils, based on clay-slate, and much interspersed with rocks and stones, often of granite. The soils in these lower districts are generally of an argillaceous nature, becoming gradually gravelly and heathy in the vicinity of the mountains.

County Wicklow | Wicklow Towns and Baronies | Wicklow Topography | Wicklow Climate | Wicklow Agriculture | Wicklow Geology | Wicklow Manufacturing | Wicklow Rivers | Wicklow Antiquities | Wicklow Society | Wicklow Town

Search Topographical Dictionary of Ireland »