"Facts About Leitrim"
The county of Leitrim is situated in the north-west of the province of Connaught. It is a long narrow county with a land area of 1,526 sq km (589 sq miles). It is mainly a rural area rnowned for its beautiful and largely uncultivated landscape.|
The land is wet and infertile in many areas with bogs and small loughs, particularly in the south, where it forms part of the central lowland plain of Ireland. Glacial action has left strangely shaped deposits of clay known as Drumlins over a limestone base. In the north a high plateau of millstone grit is split by narrow steep valleys. The river Shannon forms part of the western boundary and flows through Lough Allen. Leitrim has a mild climate. The average January temperature is 5° C and in July 15° C. The average annual rainfall is 1,000 mm (39 in) on lower ground and 1,500 mm (59 in) on the uplands.
Leitrim has an estimated population of 25,301 (1991), about 95 per cent of whom are Roman Catholic. Carrick-on-Shannon, the main administrative centre, is also a tourist centre. From here people explore the most beautiful reaches of the Shannon in cruisers, or fish in Lough Allen, which is said to have the best pike fishing in the country. Lough Melvin is another important angling centre for trout and salmon. Manorhamilton, a small market town where four fertile valleys meet, is situated in beautiful touring country. At nearby Dromahair in the 12th century, a wife of the local chief eloped with the King of Leinster. The chief appealed to Henry II of England for help. He refused, but others from England did so, bringing about the first Anglo-Norman incursion of Ireland in 1172.
Because the land is so wet there are few places where it can be cultivated. Farmers mainly raise young stock which are then sold off for fattening. Sheep graze the higher ground, and there is a little dairying. Small scale industrial development has taken place mainly in centres like Ballinamore, Mohill, and Carrick-on-Shannon. About 17 per cent are employed in manufacturing. By far the biggest source of employment is the service industries that account for 40 per cent of the work force. Tourism focuses on boating on the Shannon, and angling.
Carrick-on-Shannon is the main administrative centre; Ballinamore, Dromahaire, and Manorhamilton are district councils. Leitrim is joined with County Sligo under a county manager.
Despite the original incursion in the 12th century by the Anglo-Normans Leitrim was not settled until the early 17th century. It suffered badly in the Irish Famine in the 19th century.
The Shannon, which flows through Leitrim, rises at the foot of Cuilcagh Mountain in the northern part of the country, and flows about 354 km (220 mi) to the Atlantic Ocean between Loop Head and Kerry Head. The longest river in the British Isles, it forms an estuary about 97 km (60 mi) long below Limerick, to which it is navigable by a chain of locks for vessels up to about 900 tonnes. North from Limerick, the Shannon is navigable for most of its length for small craft. The river passes through several loughs on its course, including Lough Allen, Lough Boderg, Lough Ree, and Lough Derg. Canals connect the river with the Irish Sea at Dublin. A hydroelectric power station on the river is located at Ardnacrusha, near Limerick.