During the course of the nineteenth century, reports of industrial pollution became more frequent. In 1873, the inspectors of Irish fisheries observed that
constant allusions are made…to the deadly effects of the various deleterious matters let into nearly all the salmon rivers by manufacturers: flax-water, bleach works’ refuse, and other pollutions…
(Cork Constitution, 5 June 1873)
Although the report covered all of Ireland, it demonstrates that in the latter half of the nineteenth century, rivers were being polluted by a variety of industries. While pollution in West Cork would not have been at such high levels as in large, urban areas, rural areas would not have escaped completely.
A range of small industries were represented along our study area, from Clonakilty to Bantry Bay, including the linen trade, breweries, mills, tanneries, mining and dredging. West Cork’s exports give an indication of some of the industries that existed in this area. In the early nineteenth century, cargoes leaving the port of Baltimore included slate, copper ore and flax, as well as wheat, oats and potatoes (Lewis, 1837).