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Ireland Gazeteer
County Donegal on 1837


The soil of the primitive district is generally cold, moory, and thin.

The limestone tract from Ballyshannon to Donegal is covered with a warm friable soil, varying from a deep rich mould to a light-brown gravelly earth.

The soil of the transition district, arising chiefly from the decomposition of slaty rock, is a light but manageable clay, which is very well adapted for crops of potatoes, flax, oats, and barley, and in some situations, as along the rivers Finn and Foyle, bears wheat abundantly.

The ordinary rotation of crops in the limestone district is potatoes, oats, or on the sea-coast, barley, and flax: on the cold lands of the western coast potatoes and barley, and among the mountains, potatoes and oats.

Alternate green crops and house-feeding have been practised by some of the leading gentlemen farmers since before 1802, but the practice is not general.

The loy, or one-sided spade, and old wooden plough, are still in common use in the highland districts. Donegal is not a grazing country; the good land is almost all under tillage; and the grasses of the remainder are generally too sour for feeding.

Cattle grazing on the mountain districts are liable to two diseases, the cruppan or crippling, and galar or bloody urine, which are said to alternate as the cattle are removed from the higher to the lower pastures: horses are not subject to these diseases.

The Raphoe and Tyrhugh farming societies originated about 1800, and have been of some service in the encouragement of green crops and nurseries.

The principal plantations are at Ardes and Tyrcallan, a fine seat near Stranorlar, where Mr. Stewart, the proprietor, has a nursery of sixteen acres.

Two thousand larch-trees, each measuring at nine feet from the butt, from two feet to two feet ten inches in girth, are at present (April, 1837) for sale in the latter neighbourhood.

This is the first home growth of timber offered for sale in Donegal. The trees have been grown on steep and poor land, and are good evidences of the capabilities of the waste lands of this county.