The West of Ireland comprises of the counties Mayo, Galway and Roscommon. The West is a socio-economic region. It can be described a s being ‘disadvantaged’ and ‘peripheral’.
The region is dependent on farming of sheep and dry cattle. Rocky slopes in the region restrict the use of machinery for tillage farming. Sheep are reared on the mountains and on infertile lowlands. One factor that restricts tillage farming is the infertile soils that are common in this region. The West of Ireland receives high rainfall which causes heavy leaching in places such as east of Mayo. Severe leaching makes the soul infertile as it washes plant nutrients down through the soil and out of the reach of plant roots. Mountains such as the Twelve Pins are mainly covered in peaty soils. These soils are infertile as they are shallow and have poor mineral content. Other parts of the West contain good-quality brown earth soils but are too shallow to suit tillage farming so they are used instead for cattle rearing.
Fishing in the West due to the physical processes has shaped the coastline there. The indented coastline provides sheltered harbours for boats. The warn North Atlantic Drift keeps the fishing ports such as Rossaveal ice-free throughout the year. The shallow waters of the continental shelf encourage the growth of plankton on which many fish species feed. The seas off the West of Ireland are relatively clean and are free of biotoxins and other pollutants. The development of inland fishing has provided employment opportunities and reduces out-migration.