Statistical Survey of the County of Clare, 1808

By Hely Dutton

Chapter I - Section 3


THE climate is in general remarkably healthful; the strong gales from the Atlantic, though very unfriendly to planting, in so much that trees upwards of 50 miles from the sea have, if not sheltered, a lean to the east, yet seem to agree well with most constitutions*.

Though the air is usually moist near the sea, the neighbouring inhabitants seem to feel no kind of inconvenience. Were the magistrates to do their duty in suppressing private distilleries, which abound in the county, and the proprietors of land or their agents to encourage domestic and personal cleanliness, there would not be a more healthful country in the world: there would be no complaint of those low fevers, which run through whole parishes, and destroy many, and which, I am informed by Doctor Hynes, proceed chiefly from want of cleanliness.

When the proprietors of those extensive tracts of bog and mountain, which abound in the East and West part of the county, are sensible of their value, and when planting such parts, as are worth little for any other purpose, on an extensive scale takes place, the climate will be less damp and consequently much warmer.

I have not been able to obtain any meteorological observations on the weather, pursued for a series of years, by which any material change might be ascertained, but it seems to be the opinion of the old people, that it has been more subject to Atlantic storms than formerly; this seems to be corroborated by finding the remains of trees of great length and thickness in situations, where it would be very difficult to make them grow at present, as they are generally thought to be Scotch fir, which is by no means that very hardy tree, that is imagined; I suspect very much they are pine-aster, which will stand as single trees, where no other kind in the same situation can exist. I have made many enquiries from those, who have raised timber from bogs, and have been informed, that they have often found cones as large as their fists; as it is well known, that the cones of Scotch fir are seldom above an inch long, and half as broad, we may fairly conclude they are either pine-astre or stone-pine. Some faint idea may be formed of the force, with which the waves of the sea are impelled by the western storms, when it is known, that cubes of limestone rock 10 or 12 feet in diameter are thrown up on ledges of rock several feet high near Doolen; and at the same place may be seen a barrier of water-worn stones, some of them many tons weight, thrown up above twenty feet high across a small bay, into which fishermen used to land from their small boats, and where their former quay surrounded with huts remains many yards from the sea; this has occurred in the memory of many living at present.

Where the coast is rocky, this sea is daily gaining on the land; but, where fine sand forms the barrier, the land is encreasing**. Frost or snow is seldom of any long continuance; when snow continues long, as it did this year, (1807) great losses are sustained on extensive sheep-walks, as few, if any, ever make any provision of hay, except for those sheep they intend to sell fat in the spring; many sheep were found in good health after lying upwards of twenty days under the snow. 

There was a slight frost the 11th and 12th of September, 1807; the tops of the potatoes were a little injured, but slight early frosts are always a very fortunate circumstance; they not only help to dry the ground and ripen the potatoes by stopping vegetation, but likewise give a fillip to indolence, that otherwise would leave potatoes undug until Christmas. Where wheat follows potatoes, the advantage is very great.

Some of the finest myrtles I have any where seen, are in the open ground at Ralahine and Bunratty; some are upwards of 18 feet high, and well furnished; they are both broad and narrow leaved.

* There are many instances of longevity; one Hagarty near Moy died lately at the age of 107, and preserved the use of his intellects to the last. A family of the name of Rumsey, at Kilrush, are remarkably long-lived - a few years since, a priest (Mr. McCurtin) died at the age of 100; he never had the tooth-ache, and got a new tooth at 98, never lost a tooth but the one, that was replaced at this unusual age, and enjoyed good health to the last.

** This effect is produced in a very rapid degree at a small distance beyond the Pigeon-house, and on the North Bull near Dublin: in a few years they will be pastures, or at least rabbit warrens, and, if a little pains were taken, this effect might be accelerated.

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