The place-names of Co. Roscommon
Ó hAisibéil, Liam
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Ó hAisibéil, Liam. (2018). The place-names of Co. Roscommon. In Richie Farrell, Kieran O'Conor, & Matthew Potter (Eds.), Roscommon History and Society: Interdisciplinary essays on the history of an Irish County. Dublin: Geography Publications.
Roscommon is one of five counties comprising the province of Connacht, bounded to the west by the counties of Galway and Mayo, by Sligo and Leitrim at all points to the north, and by Leitrim, Longford, Westmeath to the east, and counties Offaly and Galway to the south. Around two thirds of the boundaries of Roscommon are defined by two significant rivers, namely the River Shannon to the east, and the River Suck which forms the southern and south-western boundaries of the county, formally established in the late-sixteenth century. Extensive tracts of peat, moorland, and areas of upland comprise its western and northern boundaries. Writing in 1832, the topographical writer Isaac Weld, describes the geographical character of the county as follows: ‘The mountains on the borders of Lough Allen, the Curlew mountains in the same district, the great sand-stone ridge of Slievebawn, extending through the baronies of Ballintobber and Roscommon, and Slievealuyn in the west, afford sure indications that the surface of the county is not devoid of inequality and variety. Neither is it merely in the vicinity of the mountains that the surface is broken; but in various parts it is agreeably undulated with hill and dale. Nevertheless, considerable tracts of flat ground intervene likewise, through which dull and sleepy rivers wind their sluggish course, frequently overflowing their sedgy banks and flooding the country to a considerable extent on either side. Some of the larger bogs also present flat surfaces of considerable extent, whilst others are diversified with all the inequalities of the hills upon which they repose. Along the river Suck, and likewise on the Shannon, there are extensive tracts of flat alluvial soil, and also vast plains of bog’.1 The physical geography of the county as described above is echoed in its place-names, where the names of natural features, evidenced in townland names, indicate a landscape characterised by riverside meadows, extensive patches of peat and moorland, tree-covered drumlins, and rich grazing lands which are situated, for the most part, atop limestone plateaus through the geographic centre of the county.
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