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Ireland Gazeteer

County Meath in 1839

Rivers & Lakes

Rivers.—The county belongs almost entirely to the basin of the Boyne; a small portion in the northern part of the county belongs to that of the Dee; the heights about Slane separating the two.

The southern and south-eastern borders are watered by the affluents of the Liffey, or by some smaller streams which flow into the sea between the Liffey and the Boyne.

The Boyne touches the border of the county at its south-western extremity, and after dividing it for a few miles from the county of Kildare, passes within the boundary and flows in a winding channel north-east by Trim to Navan, where it receives the Blackwater, its chief tributary.

The Menagh (which skirts the south-western border of the county till its junction with the Boyne at the spot where the latter first touches the border), the Blind, the Blackwater (which divides Meath on the south side from the county of Kildare), and the Deel, all small streams, join the Boyne before it receives the greater Blackwater.

From the junction of the last, the Boyne flows east-north-east by Slane to the border of the county, and from thence along the border (separating Meath and Louth) into the sea at Mornington, below Drogheda.

The length of that part of the Boyne which is in the county of Meath or upon the border is about 56 miles. It is navigable in the natural bed of the stream to above Drogheda (where it is crossed by a bridge), and afterwards partly in the natural bed and occasionally by a lateral cut or canal, to the junction of the Blackwater at Navan, about 23 miles from its mouth.

The Blackwater touches the border of the county on the north-west side at the junction of the Crosswater, a small brook which, as well as the Blackwater itself, separates Meath from Cavan.

The Blackwater soon quits the border and flows east-south-east, 18 miles, into the Boyne at Navan. It passes near the town of Kells. It receives a considerable stream, to which the maps give no name, from the border of the county near Moyonalty.

The continuation of the Boyne navigation to Trim, and the making of the Blackwater navigable to Kells, would be of the greatest advantage to the county.

The Nobbor rises from some bogs and small lakes on the northern side of the county near Kilmainham; it flows in a winding course, first south-east, then north-east until it quits the county to enter that of Louth, where it unites with the Dee. Its length in this county is about 18 miles.  

Lakes.—There are several small lakes. Lough Sheelin, which separates the counties of Meath and West Meath from that of Cavan, is of an oval form, 5 miles long from north-east to south-west, and about 2 miles broad.

It contains a small islet, called Church Island, with the ruins of an old church in it. Lough Bawn, 1 mile long, but very narrow, and some smaller lakes, are on the western border of the county.

The lake of Kilmainham, formed by an expansion of the river Nobbor, is about one mile long and above a quarter of a mile broad.

Bogs are numerous, but the aggregate of their extent is small: the largest bog is on the border of the county south-west of Athboy; it is partly in Meath and partly in West Meath.