Golden Vale

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The valley in eastern Limerick landscape
The Golden Vale in winter with the Galtee Mountains behind

The Golden Vale is an area of rolling pastureland stretched across three Munster counties: Limerick, Tipperary and Cork. It is reckoned the best land in Ireland for dairy farming.[1]

Historically the vale has been called the Golden Vein. An early instance is an 1837 book by Jonathan Binns, a government official, where he refers to the area as '"the golden vale" (more correctly the "golden vein")'[2] and states "The land is of excellent quality, being part of the golden vein of Ireland—a district reaching from Tipperary towards Limerick. The extent of the golden vein is about fourteen miles long, by six or seven wide." (which is to say about 58,000 acres)[3] Some subsequent writers similarly prefer "vein".[1]

The Golden Vale is bordered in the east by the Galtee Mountains, with the Glen of Aherlow as a picturesque abutting valley. The Munster Blackwater valley is the Vale's southern part.

Towns in the Golden Vale include Charleville, Mitchelstown, Kilmallock and Tipperary.[1] From Tipperary town to Golden, and then south to Cahir, Mitchelstown, Kildorrery, Mallow and Charleville, this 'square' could be considered the best land in Ireland. In 1739, Walter Harris suggested the "Golden" name was a corruption of Gowlin,[4] former name of a village now called 'Golden', from the Gaelic An Gabhailín, meaning "the little fork [in the River Suir]".[5]



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Freeman, T. W. (July–September 1947). "Farming in Irish Life". The Geographical Journal (Blackwell Publishing on behalf of The Royal Geographical Society) 110 (1/3): 48,fn.1. doi:10.2307/1789193. "The Golden Vein (sometimes called the Golden Vale) consists of the lowlands of Co. Limerick with an extension towards Tipperary and Cashel and a southward extension to the neighbourhood of Charleville and Mallow. In effect it is the heart of the Munster dairying country.". 
  2. Binns, Jonathan (1837). Miseries and beauties of Ireland. Vol.2. Longman, Orme, Brown and co. Retrieved 25 September 2021.  |page=101
  3. Binns, p.161
  4. Ware, Sir James (1739). Harris, Walter. ed (in en). History of the Bishops of the Kingdom of Ireland. The Whole Works of Sir James Ware Concerning Ireland. I. Dublin: E. Jones. p. 20, fn.†. Retrieved 2 March 2019. 
  5. Mills, Anthony David: 'A Dictionary of British Place-Names' (Oxford University Press, 2003) ISBN 978-0-19-852758-9