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County Cork
Physical and Statistical Info

Updated 27 June 1999

Submitted by Jane Lyons and posted here with her kind permission.

© Copyright Jane Lyons 1999
The following is a description of the county taken from Thom's Directory of Ireland for the year 1931.

There are statistics listed comparing figures from past censuses at the end of this which may be of interest to people. however, while I can space them in word I have never managed to master the art of creating tables in word, personally I use excel most of the time and usually use that to paste tables like these into the county descriptions when i am going to post one to any newsgroup. The tables lose any formatting when in e mail. For those of you who are interested in these figures if you take my top row and count the number of columns there are and then look at teh following row and break the numbers there into a corresponding number for the columns you should be able to work out the figure for the year you are interested in.

Hopefully that will be easy enough to follow.......

County of Cork:

Cork, a maritime county is in the Province of Munster, the largest in Ireland, is bounded on the north by Limerick, on the east by Tipperary & Waterford, on the south by the Atlantic ocean and on the west by Kerry. Length from Dursey island in the south west to Kilbeheny near Mitchellstown is 98 miles: greatest length from Crow Head to Youghal is 102 miles; breadth from the boundary at Mullaghareirk Mountains is the south west to Robertís Head south of Cork harbour is 54 miles. For County Court and Constabulary purposes the county is divided into East and West ridings, but its affairs are administered as a whole by one county council.

Name and Former Divesions.

The name of the county is derived from that of the city, being a shortened form of the Gaelic word Corcagh which signifies a marsh. The present county clearly corresponds with the ancient sub kingdom of Desmond or south Munster. Corka Laigdhe (pronounced Corkalee) the old territory of the Oí Driscolls comprised all the district from Courtmacsherry Bay to Bantry Bay, and the peninsula between Roaring Water Bay and Dunmanus Bay was the ancient Iveagh, the territory of the OíMahoneyís. On the point of Dursey island are three sea rocks called in English, the Bull, the Cow and the Calf; they are celebrated in legendary history as the place where Donn one of the Milesian brothers perished in a storm with the crew of his ship. Several of the old territories are represented in name and position by baronies. Thus the old district of Beanntraighe is the Barony of Bantry; Cairbre the Baronies of Carbery; Muscraighe the Baronies of Muskerry; Duthaighe-Eada the Barony of Duhallow; Feara-Muighe the Barony of Fermoy called in later ages, the Roches country.


In the Barony of Duhallow, there was at Dromagh, 3 miles south-west of Kanturk an extensive coal field; Copper ore was found in various places, the chief mines being those of Allhies near Castletown Berehaven, and the Cappagh mine on the west coast of Roaring Water bay near Skibbereen. North of Bantry Bay are the Caha mountains on the boundary of Cork and Kerry; the Miskish extending thence to the western point of the peninsula. Their most remarkable summits are Hungry Hill (2,251), near Berehaven; and Sugarloaf (1,187) west of Glengariff. East of these are mountains encircling the Pass of Keimaneigh, and the lake of Gougane Barra. The highest point is Shey Hill (1,797) at the head of Owvane Valley. North of these lies another range running east and west, beginning on the west with the Derrynasaggart Mountains (2,133) on the buondary between Cork and Kerry midway between Macroom and Killarney; east of these are the Boggeragh Mountains, culminating in Missheramoe (2,118) rising over Millstreet; further east are the Nagles Mountains terminating near Fermoy. This whole range from the west end of Derrynasaggart Mountains to Fermoy is over 40 miles in length. The Boggeragh and the Nagles Mountains define on the south the valley of the Blackwater, which has on the north the Ballyhoura range extending into Limerick. East of these are the Kilworth Mountains. Near Newmarket on the borders of Cork and Kerry is Taur (1,329) and north of it Mullaghareirk Mountains (1,341) forming part of the boundary between Cork and Limerick. Mount Gabriel (1,339) over Skull rises quite detached in th emiddle of a great plain.

The Headlands beginning on the east are Knockadoon, south of Youghal; Power Head and Robertís Head at the entrance to Cork Harbour; the Old Head of Kinsale west of Kinsale Harbour; Seven Heads east of Clonakilty Bay, and Galley Head on its west; Toe Head west of Castlehaven; Cape Clear on the south of the island with the same name; Mizen Head is the most southerly point of the Irish mainland; Muntervary or Sheep Head is the extreme point of the peninsula between the Bays of Bantry and Dunmanus; Dursey, west of Dursey island; and Crow Head on the adjacent mainland. Codís Head and Kilcatherine mark Coulagh Bay on the Kenmare river estuary.

The Islands taking the opposite direction are Dursey at the end of the Bear peninsula; Bear island in Bantry Bay opposite Castletown; and further inlandnear Bantry town is Whiddy. Cape Clear island is at the extreme south and on its south-west is the Fastnet Rock. Sherki is between Cape Clear and the mainland with other small islands in the neighbourhood. Cork Harbour contains Great Island, Little Island and Foaty; Haulbbowline and Spike Island, formerly a Convict Station.

The Bays and Harbours are Youghal Harbour separating the counties of Cork and Waterford, where the Blackwater enters the sea; Ballycotton Bay; Cork Harbour, at the mouth of the lee; Kinsale Harbour at the mouth of the Bandon, and Courtmacsherry at the mouth of the Arigideen; next are the Bays of Clonakilty and Rosscarbery, Glandore Harbour and Castlehaven. Baltimore and Roaring Water Bays are near Cape Clear. Dunmanus and Bantry Bays are on the west; off the latter are Bearhaven and Glengariff Harbour. Kenmare Bay belongs jointly to Cork and Kerry; on the Cork side are Ballydonegan and Coulagh Bays, and Ardgroom Harbour belongs jointly to Cork and Kerry.

The chief rivers are the Blackwater and the Lee, the Bandon and their tributaries. The Blackwater rises at knockanefune Hill near Kingwilliamstown in Kerry. It runs east and then south, forming for 11 miles the boundary between Cork and Kerry; then flowing east for over 50 miles it forms, for a couple of miles, the boundary between Cork and Waterford; then flowing through Waterford past Cappoquin, it enters the sea at Youghal. The chief tributaries of the Blackwater in Co. Cork are the Bride, the Tourig, the Glen, the Allow, the Dalna, the Awbeg (Spenserís Mulla), the Funshion and the Araglin.

The Lee rises in Gougane Barra lake, and in its course forms Inchigeela Lake, and eventually below Cork City forms Lough Mahon and enters the sea between Poewr Head and Robertís head. The tributaries of the Lee are the Gullane and Laney; the Martin and its tributary the Blarney River;; the Glashaboy; and the Owenacurra. Another Bride river enters the Lee seven miles above Cork.

The Bandon rises at Owen Hill west of Dunmanway, and flowing by Dunmanway, Bandon and Inishannon enters Kinsale harbour. Its tributaries are the Caha, another Blackwater and the Brinny.

Other rivers in the county are the Adrigeen which enters Courtmacsharry Bay, and the Ilen river into Baltimore Bay; the Coomhola,the Owvane, and the mEalagh flow into Bantry Bay; and the Four Mile Water into Dunmanus Bay. The only Lakes calling for notice are those formed as already mentioned in the course of the River Lee.


Comparitive Statistics (1821-1926)

Census Period  Population  Increase/Decrease
1821   730,444   N/A
1831   810,732   + 80,288
1841   854,118   +43,386
1851   649,308   -204,810
1861   544,818   -104,490
1871   517,076   -27,742
1881   495,607   -21,469
1891   438,432   -57,175
1901   404.611   -33,821
1911   392,104   -12,507
1926   365,747   -26,357

Families & Houses in 1926

The number of families in the county was 74,878, the average number in each family being 4.6. The number of inhabited houses was 63,245, showing an average of 4.9 people to each house. The Special Inmates of Public Institutions are omitted from the above.

There were in the county 37,445 occupiers or Heads of families who were in occupation of less than 5 rooms, being 50.1% of the total for the county. Of these, 1,301 (1.9%) occupied one room; 7,729 (10.4%), two rooms; 10,649 (14%), three rooms and 17,766 (23.7%), four rooms.

There were 639 tenements in the county in which the room had only one occupant; 546 cases where the room had 2-4 occupants; 101 cases of 5-7 occupants and 15 cases where the room had more than 7 occupants including one case where ten persons occupied the same room, including one case where ten persons occupied one room.

Of the population in 1926, 89.2% were born in the county, 8.6% in other counties in the Republic,

0.2% in N. Ireland, 1.5% in Great Britain, and 0.5% were born abroad. Religious Persuasion: (1821-1926) % of popluation
No. of people 1926 1911 1901 1891 1881 1871
RC 271,07294.3491.4591.3291.391.7 91.5
C of I3,7914.867.297.317.4 7.27.1
Presbyter.4680.130.330.330.4 0.40.3
Methodists1,2210.420.650.680.7 0.50.5
All others7050.250.28.360.2 0.20.6


In 1911 there were in the county 259,477 persons aged 9 years and upwards; of these 230,564 (88.9%) could read & write; 4,489 (1.7%) could read only and 24,424 (9.4%) were illiterate. As this census was the first where the starting point for age had been raised from 5 years to 9 years, no comparison could be made with the corresponding figures in any previous census. However, the report states that the percentage of those of 5 years and up who were unable to read and write was 20% in 1891, 14.2% in 1901 and 11.3% in 1911.

Irish Speaking: Numbers of People
Years:1911 1901 1891 18811871 1861
Irish only5571,065 2,270 5,571 11,532 16,478
Irish & Eng.76,64896,914 110,246 156,785 135,437178,979

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