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    Three fields of schistose rocks, chiefly argillaceous, occur in the eastern mountain division of the county: the smallest measures about 8 statute square miles in area, and extends, east and west, on a narrow belt, upon a line about 5 miles north of Limerick; the largest measures about 55 statute square miles in area, and extends 15½ statute miles south-south-westward from the Shannon, in the immediate northern vicinity of Killaloe; and the third measures about 40 square miles in area, lies north of the former, surrounds Lough Graney, and touches both the western and the northern, but not the north-western, boundary. Three or four small patches of the same schistose formation occur near the outskirts of the last or most northerly of the three fields. An old red sandstone formation, partly stratified and partly conglomerate, completely surrounds and insulates all the schistose fields, and, of course, follows the outskirts of the two larger beyond the limits of the county; yet it is divided into two great sections by a long tongue or peninsula of carboniferous limestone, which comes down to Lough Derg at Scariff; and it probably measures, in aggregate area, very little if any more than the aggregate extent of the schistose formations. A very narrow zone of yellow sandstone, partly stratified and partly conglomerate, engirds the northern section of the old red sandstone; and follows it, as that formation follows the schists, beyond the limits of the county. The Slieve Baughta mountain region, or eastern upland territory, has, in consequence, been not very inaccurately, though rather loosely, described as "consisting of a nucleus of clay-slate", only the nucleus is comparatively a very large one, "supporting flanks of sandstone, intruded through a break, in the surrounding limestone plain, in the same manner as the Slieve Bloom range on the opposite bank of the Shannon".

    Parliamentary Gazetteer of Ireland, 1846

    Detail from the Fullarton map of Ireland, 1872.
    Above: detail from the Fullarton map of Ireland, 1872.
    Map © Cartography Associates, from the Rumsey Collection.

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

    Charon (MIT Project) 1989, James Coleman ©