Distribution of Towns (Ireland)

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Factors influencing the distribution of towns in Ireland.
Junior Cycle Geography.

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Distribution of Towns (Ireland)

  1. 1. Patterns of Distribution of Towns
  2. 2. Settlement Patterns (the way in which settlements are arranged in an area) Patterns in the distribution of towns and cities relate to: 1. Historical and social factors – Settlements have always been influenced by history. Over a long period of time, many different groups of settlers (such as the Vikings and Normans) came to Ireland from abroad. Most of these groups built settlements that eventually grew into towns. 2. Physical factors – altitude, land quality and drainage patterns affect the location and development of towns.
  3. 3. Historic factors 1. Viking towns: The Vikings came to Ireland from Scandinavia around 800AD. They made dangerous journeys on longboats and settled along the east and south coastline of Ireland. Many of these settlements developed into towns, which now form a linear pattern along or near the coast. Many of the place names where they settled end in ‘ford’, which comes from the Norwegian ‘fjord’. E.g. Waterford, Wexford.
  4. 4. Historic factors 2. Norman towns: The Normans invaded Ireland in the 12th century and developed many towns. They built great castles often along the banks of rivers so they could defend themselves. They first arrived in the south and east of Ireland and mainly settled there. An example of a Norman settlement is Kilkenny city, famous for its magnificent castle.
  5. 5. Historic factors • The Primacy of Dublin: A primate city is a city that is twice as big as the second biggest city in the same country. Dublin is a primate city because it is twice as big as Cork. Dublin’s primacy has heavily affected the distribution of settlements in Ireland. Many settlements have circled Dublin and surrounded it forming a cluster pattern. The major roads leading out of Dublin tend to have linear settlement along them.
  6. 6. Physical factors 1. Altitude (height above sea level): Little settlement occurs in upland areas. They are too cold, wet and windy. Most settlements are on low-lying land under 200 metres. It is also more difficult to build roads or railway lines in upland areas than on flat land.
  7. 7. Physical factors 2. Land Quality: Fertile land attracts settlement. This is why more people settled in the south and east of Ireland where the land is more fertile than the west. Soils on low lying land in river valleys usually have very fertile and alluvial soils.
  8. 8. Physical factors 3. Drainage: Rivers attract settlement – many towns are located in areas that are well drained by rivers. In the past rivers were important for food, water and transport.

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