County Meath in 1839
Surface; Coast-line; Geological Character.
The loftiest elevations are in the western part of the county just to the south of the Cross-Water stream, which separates this county from Cavan.
The principal hill is Sliebhnalliagh, near the village of Loughcrew, between Oldcastle and Crossakeel. There are considerable elevations also in the north-east part of the county, on the north bank of the Boyne about Slane and Newtown Fortescue. Various other parts of the county are hilly, but not so much as the districts just mentioned.
The coast has a tolerably straight outline running south by east from the mouth of the Boyne to the boundary of the county of Dublin near Gormanstown. The shore is low skirted by sand-banks or hills, and broken by one or two small streams which flow into the sea.
The county of Meath is for the most part included in the great central carboniferous limestone district of Ireland; the whole of the southern part of the county, and considerable portions of the north and west, are occupied by this formation.
The limestone districts are comparatively low and flat, as they usually are in Ireland, while in England they have, from their ruggedness and elevation, given to their component rocks the distinctive designation of mountain limestone.
A part of the Meath limestone-beds belongs to the calp or black shale series, composed of alternations of impure black argillaceous limestone with black shale containing balls of grey ironstone.
From beneath the beds of the calp series, those of the lower limestone crop out. It is probable that from beneath these the lowest series of the carboniferous limestone beds are found cropping out near the limits of the limestone district; this lowest series consists chiefly of a yellow sandstone, sometimes inter-stratified with dark-grey shale and dark-grey limestone; in some localities it contains very thin beds of impure coal.
The hilly parts of the county belong to the transition district, which extends from the coast of the county of Down into the counties of Longford and Roscommon.
The rocks of this district are greywacke-slate, fissile clay-slate, flint-slate, and chlorite-slate. A small tract, insulated in the midst of this transition district, is occupied by the rocks of the limestone formation already described, and by a small coal-field, the beds of which rest upon the limestone.
This coal-field is partly in the county of Monaghan, partly in that of Cavan, but chiefly in Meath. Many trials have been made, but no coal worth working has been found. (Irish Railway Commissioners' Second Report, Appendix; and Geological Map.)
Limestone and marl are abundant.