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Ireland, a large island of Europe, W of Great Britain, between lon. 6 and 10, 40 W, and lat. 51, 15 and 55, 13 N, 280m. long and 160 broad, and containing 19,436,000 acres divided up into 4 provinces; Ulster N, Leinster E, Munster S, and Connaught to the W, and subdivided into 32 counties. ... The climate is in general more temperate than that of other countries in the same latitude; at the same time it is much more inclined to moisture ... The face of the country is level; it is well watered with lakes and rivers, and the soil, in most parts, good and fertile. A remarkable feature of this country is the extensive bogs, estimated at 2,330,000 English acres. Corn, hemp, and flax are produced in great plenty; beef and butter are exported; and hides, wool, tallow, wood, salt, honey, and wax, are articles of commerce.


The principal manufacture is fine linen cloth, which is brought to great perfection, and the trade in it is very great. Ireland is well adapted to trade, on account of its numerous secure and commodious bays and harbours. The principal rivers are the Shannon, Bandon, Lee, Blackwater or Broadwater, Liffey, Boyne, Sure, Burrow, Slane, and Bann; lakes, lough Neagh, or the lake of Killarney, the most distinguished for its beauties, lough Erne, and lough Corrib. The established religion is Protestant, though the majority of the people are Catholics." [From The New London Gazetteer (1826)]

The Province of Connaught

Connaught is the smallest and most westerly of the four provinces. It includes counties Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Roscommon and Leitrim.

The name of the province derives from the Connachta, the large tribal grouping which dominated the west and north of the island in the first few centuries A.D. They claimed descent from the mythical Conn, brother of Eogan, the ancestor of the rulers of Munster, the Eoghanachta. By far the most important of the Connachta were the Uí Néill, who ruled much of the northern and eastern parts of Ireland. The Uí Brion and the Uí Fiachra , offshoots of the southern Uí Néill based at Tara in Co. Meath were dynastic kings of Connacht from the fourth century down to the arrival of the Normans in the late twelfth century, when the entire territory was granted to the de Burgos. These were eventually completely assimilated into Gaelic culture, becoming the Mayo and Clanricard Burkes, and, in true Irish fashion, producing many offshoot families, among them Gibbons, Jennings and Philbin, all surnames still commonly found in Connacht.

Because of their remoteness and the relative poverty of the land, the counties of Connacht, together with Co. Clare, were excluded from the confiscations following the wars of the seventeenth century, and became a refuge of sorts for those dispossessed elsewhere. By the nineteenth century the region was densely populated and desperately poor, with the result that its people suffered disproportionately in the Famine and the mass emigration that followed.

County Galway (Gaillimh)

Galway is 82 m. long and 42 broad; bounded W by the Atlantic, N by Mayo and Roscommon, E by Roscommon, King's county, and Tipperary, and S by Clare and Galway bay; it contains 2593 square miles, is divided into 116 parishes, and sends 2 members to parliament. The greater part is very fertile; but towards the N and W the soil is coarse. It abounds with rivers and lakes: of its rivers, the principal are the Shannon, the Suck, and the Blackwater: lakes, lough Corrib, lough Reagh, and lough Contra. Pop. 286,921. Chief town, Galway."  [From The New London Gazetteer (1826)]

Galway is the second largest county in Ireland. Physically it divides into two distinct parts; the eastern two thirds are flat, with many small lakes and rivers, while the western part of the county includes the area known as Connemara, with its rocky bogs, fjords, and magnificent mountains. The west of the county has the largest remaining Irish-speaking population of any county in Ireland.

Before the advent of the Normans in the twelfth century, the west of the county was a separate territory, in the possession of the O’Flahertys. In theory, these were dispossessed by the granting of the region to the de Burgos, ancestors of the Burkes, in the thirteenth century, but they retained their power more or less intact down to the final catastrophe of the seventeenth century.

One area over which the Normans gained decisive control was Galway city. After the building of the town walls around 1270, a strong trading and seafaring tradition developed, which saw Galway merchants traveling as far afield as Spain and the West Indies. Traces of Spanish influence can still be seen in the city. In recent years it has undergone an explosive growth in population, and has become one of the major cultural centres in Ireland.

Surnames associated with the county include Burke, Conneely, Madden, O’Flaherty, Egan, Joyce, Kelly, Mannion, Lally, McDonagh, and Hession,

County Mayo (Maigh Eo, "Plain of the yew trees")

Mayo is the third biggest county in Ireland, with a wild and rocky Atlantic coastline studded with inlets and islands. Inland are numerous lakes and rivers and, in the north-west, a vast tract of bogland, the largest single expanse in the country. In agricultural terms, the land is poor, but there is a wild magnificence to the landscape which is unique.

The region was granted to the Norman William de Burgh (Burke) in the twelfth century, but the tenacity of the Gaelic chieftains and the fact that the Burkes were rapidly absorbed and soon became Gaelic chieftains themselves meant that the county retained its original character well into the seventeenth century. The county’s loose allegiance to the northern O’Donnells remained, and it was only after the mass confiscations of the mid-seventeenth century that English families such as the Binghams, (later earls of Lucan), Altamonts and Brownes came to prominence. Also at this time, attempts were made to transplant settlers from Ulster to Mayo.

Surnames associated with the county include O’Malley, Gibbons, Durcan, Barrett, Waldron, Joyce, Harkin, Moran, McNulty, Caulfield, Cummins, Padden, Dever and Farragher