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    DEFINITIONS
    General Account of the Area and its Superficial Deposits. The dominant physiographical feature of the district is the great River Shannon, which enters the map on the north-east, flows south-westward for five miles, and then bending west-ward, takes a sinuous course across the map into its estuary. The river is affected by the tides up to about two miles above Limerick; but from above its westerly bend to the place where it enters the map near Castleconnell its current is swift, and broken in places into picturesque rapids by rocky ledges, so that continuous navigation is impossible. Communication between the more placid waters above and below this broken reach is carried on by means of a canal lying to the west of the river. In the upper part of its course this canal follows a pre-glacial hollow deeply filled with drift, but on joining the Blackwater River it leaves this hollow which, however, is continued southward to the Shannon at the great bend.
    ...it would appear that the river has attained its present dimensions only since Glacial times. Although its present course between Killaloe and the intake of the canal at O'Brien's Bridge probably coincides with a pre-glacial valley, the river loses touch with this valley before reaching Castleconnell and has cut a new channel for itself across a hummocky lowland of Carboniferous Limestone and Glacial drift; and not until it reaches Limerick does the river permanently recover the pre-glacial hollow.

    Edward Hull, 1878
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    Detail from the Bowen map of Ireland, 1747.
    Above: detail from the Bowen map of Ireland, 1747.
    Map © Cartography Associates, from the Rumsey Collection.

    Left: detail from satellite photo (click for larger version).

    Charon (MIT Project) 1989, James Coleman ©