Page:EB1911 - Volume 14.djvu/779

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was not more than 150 ft., while now only from 40 to 100 ft.

remain. This chalk appears to underlie nearly the whole basaltic plateaus, appearing as a fringe round them, and also in an inlier at Templepatrick. The western limit was probably found in the edge of the old continental land in Donegal. Chalk flints occur frequently in the surface-deposits of the south of Ireland, associated with rocks brought from the north during the glacial epoch, and probably also of northern origin. It is just possible, however, that here and there the Cretaceous sea that spread over Devonshire may have penetrated the Irish area.

After the Irish chalk had been worn into rolling downs, on which flint-gravels gathered, the great epoch of volcanic activity opened, which was destined to change the character of the whole north-west European area. The critical time had arrived when the sea was to be driven away eastward, while the immense ridges due to the “Alpine” movements were about to emerge as the backbones of new continental lands. Fissure after fissure, running with remarkable constancy N.W. and S.E., broke through the region now occupied by the British Isles, and basalt was pressed up along these cracks, forming thousands of dikes, from the coast of Down to the Dalradian ridges of Donegal. One of these on the north side of Lough Erne is 15 m. long. The more deep-seated type of these rocks is seen in the olivine-gabbro mass of Carlingford Mountain; but most of the igneous region became covered with sheets of basaltic lava, which filled up the hollows of the downs, baked the gravels into a layer of red flints, and built up, pile upon pile, the great plateaus of the north. There was little explosive action, and few of the volcanic vents can now be traced. After a time, a quiet interval allowed of the formation of lakes, in which red iron-ores were laid down. The plant-remains associated with these beds form the only clue to the post-Cretaceous period in which the volcanic epoch opened, and they have been placed by Mr Starkie Gardner in recent years as early Eocene. During this time of comparative rest, rhyolites were extruded locally in county Antrim; and there is very strong evidence that the granite of the Mourne Mountains, and that which cuts the Carlingford gabbro, were added at the same time to the crust. The basalt again broke out, through dikes that cut even the Mourne granite, and some of the best-known columnar masses of lava overlie the red deposits of iron-ore and mark this second basaltic epoch. The volcanic plateaus clearly at one time extended far west and south of their present limits, and the denudation of the lava-flows has allowed a large area of Mesozoic strata also to disappear.

Volcanic activity may have extended into Miocene times; but the only fossiliferous relics of Cainozoic periods later than the Eocene are the pale clays and silicified lignites on the south shore of Lough Neagh, and the shelly gravels of pre-glacial age in county Wexford. Both these deposits may be Pliocene. Probably before this period the movements of subsidence had set in which faulted the basalt plateaus, lowered them to form the basin of Lough Neagh, and broke up the continuity of the volcanic land of the North Atlantic area. As the Atlantic spread into the valleys on the west of Ireland, forming the well-known marine inlets, Europe grew, under the influence of the “Alpine” movements, upon the east; and Ireland was caught in, as it were, on the western edge of the new continent. It seems likely that it was separated from the British region shortly before the glacial epoch, and that some of the ice which then abutted on the country travelled across shallow seas. The glacial deposits profoundly modified the surface of the country, whether they resulted from the melting of the ice-sheets of the time of maximum glaciation, or from the movements of local glaciers. Boulder-clays and sands, and gravels rearranged by water, occur throughout the lowlands; while the eskers or “green hills,” characteristic grass-covered ridges of gravel, rise from the great plain, or run athwart valleys and over hill-sides, marking the courses of sub-glacial streams. When the superficial deposits are removed, the underlying rocks are found to be scored and smoothed by ice-action, and whole mountain-sides in the south and west have been similarly moulded during the Glacial epoch. In numerous cases, lakelets have gathered under rocky cirques behind the terminal moraines of the last surviving glaciers.

There is no doubt that at this epoch various movements of elevation and subsidence affected the north-west of Europe, and modern Ireland may have had extensions into warmer regions on the west and south, while the area now left to us was almost buried under ice. In post-Glacial times, a subsidence admitted the sea into the Lagan valley and across the eastern shore in several places; but elevation, in the days of early human occupation, brought these last marine deposits to light, and raised the beaches and shore-terraces some 10 to 20 ft. along the coast. At Larne, Greenore and in the neck between Howth and Dublin, these raised beaches remain conspicuous. To sum up, then, while the main structural features of Ireland were impressed upon her before the opening of the Mesozoic era, her present outline and superficial contours date from an epoch of climatic and geographical change which falls within the human period.

See maps and explanatory memoirs of the Geological Survey of Ireland (Dublin); G. Wilkinson, Practical Geology and Ancient Architecture of Ireland (London, 1845); R. Kane, Industrial Resources of Ireland (2nd ed., Dublin, 1845); G. H. Kinahan, Manual of the Geology of Ireland (London, 1878); E. Hull, Physical Geology and Geography of Ireland (2nd ed., London, 1891); G. H. Kinahan, Economic Geology of Ireland (Dublin, 1889); A. McHenry and W. W. Watts, Guide to the Collection of Rocks and Fossils, Geol. Survey of

Ireland (2nd ed., Dublin, 1898).

 (G. A. J. C.) 

Economics and Administration

Population.—Various computations are in existence of the population of Ireland prior to 1821, in which year the first government census was taken. According to Sir William Petty the number of inhabitants in 1672 was 1,320,000. About a century later the tax-collectors estimated the population at a little over 2,500,000, and in 1791 the same officials calculated that the number had risen to over 4,200,000. The census commissioners returned the population in 1821 as 6,801,827, in 1831 as 7,767,401, and in 1841 as 8,196,597. It is undoubted that a great increase of population set in towards the close of the 18th century and continued during the first 40 years or so of the 19th. This increase was due to a variety of causes—the improvement in the political condition of the country, the creation of leaseholds after the abolition of the 40s. franchise, the productiveness and easy cultivation of the potato, the high prices during the war with France, and probably not least to the natural prolificness of the Irish people. But the census returns of 1851 showed a remarkable alteration—a decrease during the previous decade of over 1,500,000—and since that date, as the following table shows, the continuous decrease in the number of its inhabitants has been the striking feature in the vital statistics of Ireland.

Decrease per cent. of Population 1841-1901.
   1841-1851.   1851-1861.   1861-1871.   1871-1881.   1881-1891.   1891-1901. 

 Leinster 15.25 12.86 8.11 4.49  6.8  3.5
 Munster 22.47 18.53 7.93 4.98 11.8  8.4
 Ulster 15.69  4.85 4.23 5.11  7.07 2.4
 Connaught  28.81  9.59 7.33 3.43 12.4  9.7

 Ireland 19.85 11.50 6.67 4.69  9.08 5.3

The cause of the continuous though varying decrease which these figures reveal has been emigration. This movement of population took its first great impulse from the famine of 1846 and has continued ever since. When that disaster fell upon the country it found a teeming population fiercely competing for a very narrow margin of subsistence; and so widespread and devastating were its effects that between 1847 and 1852 over 1,200,000 of the Irish people emigrated to other lands. More than 1,000,000 of these went to the United States of America, and to that country the main stream has ever since been directed. Between 1851 and 1905 4,028,589 emigrants left Ireland—2,092,154 males and 1,936,435 females, the proportion of females to males being extraordinarily high as compared with the emigration statistics of other countries. Between these years the numbers fluctuated widely—1852 showing the highest total, 190,322 souls, and 1905 the lowest, 30,676 souls. Since 1892, however, the emigrants in any one year have never exceeded 50,000, probably because the process of exhaustion has been so long in operation. As Ireland is mainly an agricultural country the loss of population has been most marked in the rural districts. The urban population, indeed, has for some years shown a tendency to increase. Thus in 1841 the rural population was returned as 7,052,923 and the urban as 1,143,674, while the corresponding figures in 1901 were respectively 3,073,846 and 1,384,929. This is further borne out by the percentages given in the above table, from which it will be seen that the greatest proportional decrease of population has occurred in the two provinces of Munster and Connaught, which may be regarded as almost purely agricultural. That the United States remained the great centre of attraction for Irish emigrants is proved by the returns for 1905, which show that nearly 80% of the whole number for the year sailed for that country. Ireland does little to swell the rising tide of