Page images
PDF
EPUB

ally fertile calcareous soils of this great district, foreign matters are added, derived from the disintegration of granitic and trappean ig. neous rocks, as well as from mica slate, clay slate, and other sedi. mentary rocks, soils of an unusually fertile character are produced. Thus, the proverbially rich soil of the Golden Vale, situate in the limestone district extending between Limerick and Tipperary, is the result of the intermixture of disintegrated trap, derived from the numerous igneous protrusions which are dispersed through that district with the calcareous soil of the valley. The site of these trappean hills is represented on the Geological Map, by a dark red tint.

Lands of superior fertility frequently occur near the contacts of the upper series of the carboniferous limestone, and the shales of the millstone, grit or lower coal series; important examples of this kind will be found in the valley of the rivers Barrow and Nore, extending from Stradbally in the Queen's County, by Carlow, to Kilkenny, &c., also under similar circumstances, along the northeastern boundary of the millstone grit district of the County of Clare, extending from the sea coast at Doolin, by Kilfenora, towards Corrofin.

The stratification of the third, or calp series, consists of alternations of dark gray shale and dark gray impure argillo siliceous limestone. The soil arising from the disintegration of these rocks, is usually cold, sour, and unsuited to cereal crops, but in many districts in which the soil is naturally dry, or which have been drained and laid down for pasture, this soil produces naturally, superior feeding grasses, particularly the cocksfoot grass.

These pastures are found annually to improve in quality, and in consequence, are rarely broken up; such lands are esteemed to be the best for fattening heavy beasts.

Extensive tracts, consisting chiefly of these valuable pastures, occur in the district which extends westward from the east of the County Dublin, by Trim and Athboy, in the County of Meath, and Castletowndelvin and Mullingar, in the County of Westmeath, to Edgeworthstown, &c., in the County of Longford, (see Geolog

Fertile pasture lands, of similar quality, occur likewise in the calp district of the County of Galway, extending westward from Eyrecourt by Ballydonnellan, towards Athenry.

The fourth series, or the upper limestone, distinguished by the dark blue color on the Map, also produces admirable sheep pasture, and in some localities, superior feeding grounds for heavy cattle ; like the lower limestone, the soil of the upper series when well tilled, is capable of producing every variety of cereal and green crop.

It is of the utmost importance, that the valuator should carefully attend to the mineral composition of the soil in each case, and a reference to the Geological Map will frequently assist his judgment in this respect, the relative positions of the subjacent rocks having been determined upon sectional and fossiliferous evidence. He should also carefully observe the cha in the quality and fertility of the soil, near to the boundaries of different rock formations, and

ical Map.)

he should expect and look for sudden transitions from cold, sterile clayey soils, as in the millstone grit districts, into the rich unctuous loans of the adjoining limestone districts, which usually commence close to the line of boundary, and similar rapid changes will be ob. served from barrenness to fertility along the boundaries of our granite, trap, and schistose districts, and likewise on the border of our schistose and limestone districts, the principle being ibat every change in the composition of the subjacent rock tends to an alteration, beneficial or otherwise in the quality of the subsoil and also of the active soil."

We should consider ourselves as intruding upon the attention of our readers by giving those extracts, did we Dot bear in mind the great interest that must necessarily be taken in anything bordering upon the nature of soil in a country like Ireland, where Agriculture forms the staple support of her inhabitants. This being the case, the following way be found to be of some advantage to those employed in Agricultural pursuits, especially as they are the results of the experience of agriculturists of the highest character.

The niture of Indigenous plants should be observed, as they may sometimes assist to indicate particular circumstances of soil and subsoi!.

Thus, the grasses require a comparatively large proportion of alumina, and therefore indicate a tendency to clay soil. Thistle, has been considered to indicate Strong good soil, Dockweed and nettle

Rich dairy land, Sheep sorrell,

Gravelly soil, Trefoil and vetch,

Good dry vegetable soil, Wild thyme,

Thinness of soil, Rag weed,

Depth of soil, Mouse ear, hawk weed,

Dryness of soil, The iris, rush, & lady's smock,

Moisture of soil, Purple dead nettle and naked horse tail,

The Subsoil to be retentive. Great ox eye,

Poverty of soil. Under the head Plantations and Woods we find the following important information, namely:-

The condition of trees is worthy of attention, as indicating the nature of the soil, thus :

The oak requires a strong clayey loam, but it should not be wet. The alder, poplar, and willow thrive best in wet places.

The birch, pine, and lurch require dry, sandy, rocky, or gravelly thin soil, and grow at a great elevation.

The spruce fir requires a deep moist soil, in low situation, and will not thrive well on thin sands or exposed soils.

The brech requires a calcareous soil, and does not thrive well in

[ocr errors]

stiff clay.

The ash requires a dry subsoil, and also dislikes stiff clay.

The elm thrives in moist soils, but especially near the banks of rivers.

The soil for sycamore must not be too stiff, it thrives in moist deep soils.

The hutse chesnut requires deep loam, but not in exposed situation.

From these extracts, fraught as they are with useful and important information to the agriculturalist, our readers can judge of the practical experience of the man entrusted with the valuation of the country. And this experience has not been achieved by casual observations made in a few counties, nor are those extracts composed of inere opinions--10—they are the results of long experience, and careful observation made in each and every townland in Ireland. The following extract affords another instance of the experience of Dr. Griffith in agriculture.

* It has been ascertained with sufficient accuracy that the weight of fat in an ox fit for the butcher, is about one-eighth of that of the lean. In good herbage also this proportion has been found very nearly to hold between its fatty matter and the sum of the saccharine and protein compounds. The value of good pasture will therefore vary with the quantity of herbage per acre, and this, for the most part, is dependent on the nature and circumstances of the soil the method of grazing too, has some influence. The best lands will produce about ten tons of grass per acre in the year, of which one beast will eat from seven to nine stone per day, according to its age and condition. Cattle under similar circumstances, consume food nearly in proportion to their weight. Thus ten sheep weighing together sixty stone, ought to consume as much as an ox of the same weight ; on pasture, however, it is found that six sheep, on an average, are equivalent to one ox. Prime pastures will finish for sale, two sets of oxen

per
Irish

acre, between April and September, after which sheep may be put on till the December following." The extracts we have given will

, no doubt, be read with much interest by the agriculturist, who alone can justly appreciate the ability of their author, who is himself a practical agriculturist. We need not wonder, then, at the wisdom lisplayed in overcoming the many obstacles he had to contend with in conciliating the landed proprietors of the country, and, at the same time, discharge bis duties with fidelity to the Government, and with the greatest credit to himself. Dr. Griffith has done all this, and what is more, he has done it at an expense to the country, as we shall hereafter show, so small as seems to many financial eco. nomists almost incredible.

As a public officer we should be wanting in our duty were we to onit bearing testimony to some of the many exemplary featu of the character of this able and learned gentleman. All acquainted with him must admit, and give him credit for, the upright and straightforward manner in which he has ever conducted the public business entrusted to him. In the political affairs of the country he has never been known to take a part. In his employment Protestant and Catholic share alike of his patronage.

Interest with him had no nndue influence. Ability, was the watchword to the public service over which he presided; and if at any time charges have been preferred against the ability or integrity of an officer under him, investigations were made carefully, and with justice to both parties, and his decisions were always in accordance with the merits of the case. But there is another circumstance which contributes still more to the character of the Commissioner, and one we feel bound to mention here, since it may serve as an example to the heads of other Public Departments. It is this--that no man is permitted to remain in his service who refuses to pay his debts, provided that those debts can be proved to have been lawfully incurred He does not, of course, coerce the debtor to pay those debts at once, but he enforces their payment by instalments proportional to the debtor's means. In dealing with the public in this manner Dr. Griffith has attained the well deserved and justiy earned reputation, among all classes to whom he is known, of an honest, straightforward and upright man. If we had such men presiding over all our Public Institutions, we should not have many of the most important situations in the country filled by inen whose only recommendations are favoritism and aristocratic interest, as the events of the last few years have but too clearly proved. Dr. Griffith is an Irishman, we are glad to say, and one of whom Ireland may be justly proud. Not alone in Ireland have his merits been appreciated, but throughout the British Kingdom, as was testified by a late Premier in the House of Lords, when he said that " The Valuation of Ireland was conducted by a gentleman in whom the government and the country had the greatest confidence.In fact, throughout his long and arduous career, Dr. Griffith has given such proofs of ability, justice and earnest solicitude in the faithfal discharge of the duties devolved upon him, that lie could not fail to

enjoy the approbation of all parties, no matter what their creed or political feelings may be; and we only express this feeling when we say, that a more faithful public officer never presided over any branch of the Civil Service.

In the first department of the house no. 108 Lower Baggotstreet is to be found, in daily attendance from 9 to 4 o'clock, a gentleman on whom devolves the whole details of the Valuation Service, and the responsibility of keeping the working power of the establishment in motion. Mr. Greene, for such we understand this gentleman's name to be, was appointed by the Commissioner to the situation of General Superinterident, an appointment which, while it confers honor on Mr. Greene, reflects the greatest credit on the Commissioner, denoting, as it does, the latter's anxiety to have "the right man in the right place.” Mr. Greene, assisted by his courteous and efficient principal clerk, Mr. Shaw, has adopted plans in organizing the office in question, that have been, and continue to be, productive of most important results to the public good. Our readers are not to understand that the business of this public office is carried on by clerks alone. The duties of this department of the Service afford but very limited employment for men of that stamp. The assistants are composed of four classes, namely, Valuators, Surveyors, Draftsmen, and Clerks, and every man in those classes is provided with what is termed a “Progress Sheet,” in which must be inserted the quantity of work done on each day, which, with the accuracy of such work, is examined at stated intervals by the General Superintendent, or those appointed by him for that purpose. We give a copy of the Valuator's, Surveyor's and Office Assistant's "Progress Sheets,”* which, we have no doubt, will interest those of our readers connected with the Civil Service of Great Britain, as well as those anxious to know how the public funds allotted for the General Valuation of Ireland have been disbursed. The Sheets of themselves are sufficient to show how minutely the organization of the office is carried out, and the fact that a scale of payment for each class of work, denoted at the heading of each Sheet, has been laid down, after a due consideration been paid to a fair average day's work, manifests at once that no waste of the public money is sanctioned or allowed by the Commissioner. By this ineans each man kuows the quantity of work expected froin him; and he knows, also,

* See Appendix 1 for copies of those sheets.

« PreviousContinue »