Statistical Survey of the County of Clare, 1808

By Hely Dutton

Chapter V - Section 17

State of the effects of encouragement heretofore given by the Dublin Society, particularised in the annexed list, and any improvement, which may occur for future encouragement, particularly for the preservation of trees when planted

THE following gentlemen received premiums for planting from the Dublin Society in the years annexed to their names:
James Molony, Esq. in 1785, 1786, 1789, 1793, and 1794; his plantations have been well preserved.
Sir Joseph Peacock for planting oak, now completely destroyed by cattle. 
The late Charles M’Donnel, Esq. 1789; well preserved and flourishing.
Robert O’Hara, Esq. 1790 and 1791; well preserved and beautiful.
Boyle Vandeleur, Esq. 1795; well enclosed and very thriving.

There are some trifling plantations mentioned in the list of premiums granted, that I did not see, particularly for raths, which I confess I never wish to see planted, whilst they are permitted to retain their present round shape; the money granted for the above premiums amounts to 403l. 7s. 5d., and seems to have been very justly expended, except that given to Sir Joseph Peacock in 1793, whose plantation has been quite ruined by cattle, if it was the one, that was shewn to me in the barony of Tullagh. I beg leave to suggest that, as the public mind is now sufficiently pointed to the subject, and the value of plantations so well ascertained, a discontinuance of these premiums, and the converting of the fund to some other beneficial purpose, would be eligible. 

I beg also to mention, that giving a premium for oak without limiting, or at least advising the proper soil, is so much money thrown away; for some of the plantations I have seen are upon dry, rocky, shallow hills, where larch would have been infinitely more valuable.

What a reproach to the county, that in twenty-five years, one of such extent, and where trees are so much wanting, has had only ninety-six acres planted! It may be said, that this is only the quantity, that were planted for premiums, but I am convinced there has been little more planted to the year 1795; of what has been planted since I have no account; but, except the plantations of Sir Edward O’Brien, Bindon Blood, Esq. and William Burton, Esq. the number is very small indeed.

Whilst a whole county in twenty-five years has had only ninety-six acres planted, an individual in Scotland has, in fifteen years, planted 3005 acres. We learn from the Transactions of the Society of Arts, that the Earl of Fife planted the following trees in fifteen years, viz.

Oak,

-

-

196,973

Larch,

-

-

181,813

Ash,

-

-

57,500

Elm,

-

-

55,600

Sweet chestnut,

-

-

64,100

Beech,

-

-

192,679

Sycamore,

-

-

50,000

Birch,

-

-

231,813

Alder,

-

-

31,500

Hazel,

-

-

47,200

Laburnum,

-

-

51,100

Poplar,

-

-

10,000

Willow,

-

-

15,000

Spruce fir,

-

-

10,000

Silver fir,

-

-

10,000

Scotch fir,

-

-

3,668,420!

_____________

Total,

4,874,198

The first thing, that strikes me on this amazing extent of planting, is the immense loss, that must accrue to the heirs of Lord Fife from planting such a large proportion of Scotch fir,* and other trees of inferior value to larch. The following list shews it at one view. 

Scotch fir,

-

3,668,420

Birch,

-

-

231,813

Hazel,

-

-

47,200

Poplar,

-

-

10,000

-

-

_________

-

-

3,957,433

By referring to the remarks of the woods of Cratilow, p. 273, some estimate may be formed of the many hundred thousand pounds Lord Fife’s heirs will lose by this erroneous method of planting. 

We are gratified also with the measurement of some of the trees at twenty-five years growth, taken three feet from the ground.** 

SOIL.

Kinds of trees.

Length of trunk.

Height.

Circumference 3ft. from ground.

Loam and clay bottom,

Oak.

Feet.
12

Feet.
25 to 30

Feet.
2

Inches.
9

Light black earth,.........

Elm.

13

30 to 35

5

4

Heavy wet ground,.......

Ash.

20

35 to 40

3

9

Dry sandy soil,.............

Beech.

14

30 to 35

3

8

Good heavy loam,{

Larch.

Silver fir.

...

...

46 .........

44.......

6

6

3

8

The superiority of the larch is conspicuous here, and in a soil not the best adapted for it, a heavy loam, as also the great inferiority of the oak in a soil well adapted to it.

These plantations were well enclosed with walls, measuring in length upwards of forty English miles.*** 

When I inform my readers, that the Earl of Egremont, Marquis of Thomond, Lord Conyngham, Marquis of Buckingham, Lord Milton, Mr. O’Brien, Mr. Westby, and a long etcetera of absentees have thousands of acres of waste land, as capable of being planted as Lord Fife’s estate, what will they think?

* Previous to the year 1788, when these trees were planted, Scotch fir was quite the rage in Scotland, but, since that, larch has assumed its deservedly high rank amongst timber trees.

** It would be exceedingly useful, if this distance from the ground was the established standard, as many errors are commited by measuring nearer to the ground.

*** If to the loss Lord Fife sustains, by planting trees of inferior value, is added that he will suffer by planting only 1230 trees on the acre (Scotch) instead of 6000 or 7000, the amount will be astonishing; not only from ground unoccupied by trees, but from the inferior value of the Scotch fir, whilst permitted to grow into large side branches, that will produce timber, all knots, and of little value.

Back to Statistical Survey of the County of Clare - Chapter 5