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valley, and the working of its mines became an object of earnest speculation with several companies, who made the borders of Lough Allen the scene of revived activity and industry.
The Irish and Hibernian Mining Companies, with large capital and intelligent agents, began operations in the mountains on the north side of the Arigna river; but, doubts having been insinuated by the agents both as to the reputed extent and thickness of the coal strata, the Hibernian Company at once abandoned the speculation, as unworthy of further attention. The Irish Mining Company, however, persevered, and opened several pits; the largest of which, at Tullynahaw (Mr. Lloyd's), on the verge of this barony, was worked to advantage for a long time. But the body that engaged most extensively was the “Arigna Mining Company,” formed in London during that speculating period. They obtained an assignment of the original demise which Mr. La Touche had so acquired, and which title was confirmed to him by a decree consequent upon the foreclosure of a mortgage; and, with the concurrence of Mr. Flattery, and the sanction of an Act of Parlialiament (6 Geo. IV.c. xxi.), entered into possession of the premises. A colony of workmen and engineers was brought over from England; the works were restored; a blast-furnace raised; a railroad from the Aughabehy colliery constructed for a distance of three English miles; and an adit or level opened from the foot of that mountain, six hundred yards
through, to the shaft, by means of which not only was the coal transmissible in waggons from the shaft, but the water was drawn off from the pit. The level, where it strikes under the shaft, is 103 yards beneath the surface of the mountain, and fifty yards under the coal, which is lowered down to it by a break. During the period between November, 1825, and May, 1826, two hundred tons of iron were manufactured here, at an expense of £8 4s. per ton. Remuneration was, however, retarded, and ultimately rendered hopeless, by the frequent change of managers, their utter disregard of the company's true interest, the exorbitant salaries to incompetent officers, and the impositions, idleness, and inebriety of the workmen. The company, deterred by the expense of restoring or re-heating the furnaces, discontinued the smelting, when, finally, the concern became the subject of parliamentary investigation, and a protracted Chancery suit, during which the works were suffered to fall into decay, until, on a decision in Equity, the company entered into an arrangement with the before-mentioned Mr. Flattery, who thereupon, in July, 1836, recommenced the manufacture of pig iron and every other description of castings. The value, however, of these exertions, was long deteriorated by reason of the inaccessibility of the mines, until a partial construction of roads and railways removed to a small extent that source of discouragement; but the renewal of litigation has led to a neglect of the
works and machinery; and their total abandonment in latter years has induced a proportionate neglect of the collieries. The place of Mr. Flattery's operations was near the shore of Lough Allen, on the southern bank of the Arigna river, within nine miles of Carrick-on-Shannon, where the royalties chiefly belong to Captain Tenison. It is more particularly noticed hereafter in the parochial account of Kilronan, where an engraving of the scene is introduced.
Of the mountains of this barony, those in the iron and coal district are the highest, indeed the highest within the county of Roscommon. Brah Slieve is considered to be about 1100 feet above the level of the valley at its base; while Slieve Curkagh, on the northern and opposite side, seems yet more elevated. (“Sliabh,” it may be here observed, signifies, in the Irish language, an eminence of more than ordinary elevation). A portion of the “Curlew Mountains," as they are called on the very earliest maps, is included in this barony on its north-western confines. These latter hills appear from the town of Boyle in full view, rising from the opposite side of a valley at the distance of about a mile ; their height is not considerable; and, as every part of their surface is applicable to tillage, pasturage, or planting, houses may be observed gathering far up their sides, and cultivation, under the encouragement given by its noble landlord, is rapidly approaching the very crest of the hill. That crest is in some places so narrow, that, after looking down from the one side upon Loughs Arrow and Gara, with a fine perspective of the hills of Knocknaree and Benbulben, in the county of Sligo, an equally interesting view may be obtained on the other of Rockingham, Loughs Ke, Skean, and Meelagh, and the fine eminence of Slieve Ban in that of Roscommon, with breaks of the Shannon opening through more distant vistas.
Of the internal lakes of this barony, the largest and most beautiful is Lough Ke(a), now more generally known by the name of Rockingham Lake, from the seat of Viscount Lorton on its southern shore, and the demesne, within whose extent it is almost entirely enclosed. Receiving the surplus waters of Lough Gara close to the town of Boyle, it fills the bottom of a gentle valley, of nearly a circular form, measuring in diameter upwards of three English miles, with a summer level above the sea, at low water, of 139 feet, and a winter of 144. The shores at north and west, under the Curlew mountains, are rocky, and in their whole circuit are varied by bays and inlets, while the abundance and beauty of its islands impart softness and repose to the enchanting scenery that surrounds it. Nearly twenty of these islands are laid down in the county map; and their names, as Castle, Church, Trinity, House, Hermit, Green, Orchard, Stag, Hog, Bullock islands,
(a) Lough Ce would be more correct orthography, as there is no "K" in Irish, but might mislead pronunciation,
&c., suggest their quality and appropriation, but the detail of their respective attractions and objects of interest, is postponed to the subsequent description of Rockingham; and, for the present, the reader is referred to the drawing taken for this work from the Rock of Doon, the most commanding position for exhibiting their extent. To the north of Lough Ke are the smaller lakes called Lough Skean (i. e. the lake of wings, a name which appears to have been given, like that of Lough Skian, near the Tay in Scotland, by reason of its shape somewhat resembling a kite on wing) and Lough Meelagh, both abounding with pike. The latter, which is particularly picturesque, covers an extent of upwards of three hundred acres, borders the demesne of Kilronan Castle and Knockrany, and washes the margin of the cemetery of the venerable church of Kilronan. Besides these larger lakes of the barony are Carnacarta, Loughankedy, Derrywanna, and Loughangrania, in the parish of Boyle; Blacklough and Derrynasallagh ("the lake of the willow wood"), in that of Kilbryan; Loughnagalliah (“ the lake of the old women,” from a nunnery that, according to tradition, once existed on its shore), Lough-na Sheidh (“ the lake of the fairies”), and Culbalken (that “ of the hazel spot”), in Kilronan parish; the two former communicating with the Shannon: Oakport, Finlough (“ lake of the limpid water”), Derreen (that “of the little oak wood), Drumcunny (said to be derived from Dochonna, whom St. Co