Statistical Survey of the County of Clare, 1808

By Hely Dutton


IN the Statistical Survey of the county of Kildare, a new method of planting potatoes is mentioned as having been discovered by the very intelligent author. He plants whole potatoes in squares at three feet asunder, and uses only about forty cart loads of dung to a plantation acre. The earth is thrown up to the potatoe stalks as they advance in their growth, as long as any can be found of a good quality, until the hillocks are sometimes upwards of two feet high. By this method a great saving of seed is made, and they can be landed with the plough, or by the cottier’s wife and children; and this is so much more cheaply done than in the usual lazy-bed way, that the expence of producing a barrel of potatoes of twenty stone, according to this improved method, amounts only to about 8d. whilst that of a barrel in the lazy-bed way amounts to 4s. 9d.; the quantity produced in the bank method is stated in the Survey, as follows, per acre,

                                                                                                Barrels of 20st

"Rednose kidney,


English reds,


Red bottoms (a new species of apple.


Lewis Mansergh, Esq. Athy, (apples)


Mr. Ryder, Bray, (apples) - -
N. B. These were neglected to be landed.


C. P. Doyne, Esq. Queen’s county, had from thirty-seven potatoes, occuping a square perch at four and a half feet apart, fifty stone of potatoes, or per acre, -



Lennon, one of my labourers cultivated half a rood, of which he took much care in landing; he has upwards of a stone from each of his banks, English reds, that is per acre,"



Improved cider, or farmer’s wine

"Take new cider from the press, mix it with honey till it bears an egg; boil it gently for a quarter of an hour, (but not in an iron pot,) take off the scum as it rises, let it cool, then barrel it, without filling the vessel quite full; bottle it off in March. In six weeks afterwards it will be ripe for use, and as strong as Madeira. The longer it is kept afterwards, the better."

Particular care must be taken, that the cider be of the best kind, and that the honey be perfectly free from wax.

In several parts of this work I have endeavoured to impress on the minds of land proprietors the ruinous tendency of setting lands to unimproving middlemen, and of employing agents totally ignorant of country business to transact their affairs. The following extract from the Agricultural Magazine, p. 272, comes so strongly and practically in aid of my reiterated assertions, that I beg leave to insert it here.

The estate of Rathdangan, in the county of Wicklow, improved by occupying tenants

By the Rev. Arthur Conolly, of Donard near Baltinglass.

"SIR,                                                                                                                                              March 1798.

" I send you the scheme proposed for the improvement of Mrs. Hamilton’s estate of Rathdangan, and add a few lines to explain more particularly its design and success. In April 1806, I was requested by Mrs. Hamilton to take possession of an estate she had in the county of Wicklow, and to assist her in resetting it with my advice. It had been set for 31 years to two head-tenants, one of whom had bought the other out long before the expiration of the lease. I went there, and took regular possession, and in doing that beheld, both with regard to the land, houses, and inhabitants, such a scene of desolation, wretchedness, and misery, as I had before no conception of. Above thirty poor families lived under the head-tenant, who was an unfeeling, overbearing savage, in hovels not fit for swine, in the most squalid poverty. Struck with horror at this affecting scene, I ventured to propose to Mrs. Hamilton the annexed scheme, which, contrary to the advice of her agent, and other persons, whom she consulted, (who deemed it visionary and impracticable,) she adopted. At the end of the four years, mentioned in this scheme, she was so pleased with its success, that she continued the premiums, that were then to cease, above two years more. There are now on it thirty-two neat convenient farm-houses, built of lime and stone, and the land is in a very high state of cultivation and improvement, far superior to any thing in that country; the inhabitants are decent, regular, and content, and no taint whatever of that dangerous spirit, which too generally prevails in this kingdom, (and from which the county of Wicklow is far from being free,) has reached that happy spot. I should add that, besides the premiums mentioned, there is one of a guinea-and-a-half for the best plantation of that useful tree, the sallow; a guinea for the second best; and half-a-guinea for the third: in consequence, most of the houses are half concealed in shade. The estate lies in a very wild country, about thirty miles from Dublin; to which, for want of a more convenient market, they send that part of the produce of their land, butter and bacon, of which they make their rent. The rents are paid with a punctuality unknown in that country."
                                                                                                                                                                    Arthur Conolly.

Report of the state of the Farm, 11th April, 1799

"Though the estate above-mentioned has been cruelly ravaged and plundered by the insurgents, and much harrassed by the free quarters, that prevailed last summer, there is not now due an arrear equal to a seventh part of the year’s rent. There is also strong presumptive proof, (such as no houses having been destroyed be the army, nor one of the inhabitants punished, though near (five miles east of) Baltinglass, where a very watchful eye is kept over the people,) the inhabitants resident and improving their farms, that this spot, though surrounded by as disturbed districts as any in the kingdom, continues well affected and peaceable."

A scheme proposed for the improvement of the lands of Rathdangan

10th April, 1786

"Mrs. Hamliton’s estate of Rathdangan is mountainous, and in a very rude neglected state; in want of buildings, drains, and inclosures; on all these accounts it requires a numerous tenantry, for which it seems well calculated, from its abounding in good fuel, water, and being well situated for a manufacture, particularly the woollen one, the spinning branch of which is tolerably well understood. 

According to my judgment, aided by the best information I could procure, it is in its present state not worth more than £250 yearly; nor do I think, that it would set for more than that sum, if so much, to one or two head-tenants; but I am assured, that the present tenants, if assisted for a few years, will pay with comfort what they have proposed, which is £317, will thrive, and raise the value of the estate. My scheme for the improvement is as follows. Buildings should be the first object; inclosures, which, if made with judgment, will serve as drains, the second; manuring with lime, the third. I would recommend, that Mrs. Hamilton should determine on places for houses of two sorts, proportioned to the different farms. I shall send, should she choose it, plans of such, which I think would answer; that on the tenants drawing the stones, clearing the foundation, and consenting to attend the mason, Mrs. H. should pay for the mason-work and lime, which would come to about six pounds the larger, and four pounds the smaller houses, by contract. I would propose, that six of these houses should be built in each year after the first, which would come to about thirty pounds; at the end of four years this expence would cease, as there would then be a house to nearly every thirty acres of land. I would apply the sum of ten pounds, yearly, to defray half the expence of inclosures, made in the situation and manner appointed by a person fixed on by Mrs. H.; this expence I think would also cease in four years. I should also propose ten pounds, yearly, in premiums for liming; this last expence, I should think, it might be prudent to continue.

Thus by being content to receive for four years a sum, which would exceed what any oppressive and rapacious land-jobber could pay, Mrs. H. would raise her rent-roll, considerably improve her estate, diffuse an air of cultivation and plenty over a barren wild, promote a spirit of decency and order, and make the industrious peasant’s heart sing for joy.

It is by no means my idea, that Mrs. H. should enter into any engagements relative to her bounties; she ought to have them entirely in her own power; and they will operate more powerfully, when she can make a difference between honesty and dishonesty, industry and sloth.

Though I should be happy to oblige Mrs. H., the offer I now make her, of taking it on myself to see, that her encouragements are not thrown away, is by no means complimentary, but selfish; my means of doing good are much confined: my avocations will often lead me into that neighbourhood, and I must be well repaid for any trouble I may have, by riding through a villlage instead of a waste, and in seeing happiness take place of misery.


Note by the editor—This plan, so judiciously conceived by Mr. Conolly, and generously supported by Mrs. Hamilton, forms an excellent example for other proprietors to follow. Each occupier being accommodated with as much ground, secured by lease, as he is fully able to manage, is the surest mode of advancing the improvement of land, and the prosperity of the tenant, particularly when favoured by the attention and countenance of a benevolent proprietor." J.H.

What a treasure would such a benevolent clergyman be in the county of Clare? He would find ample means to bestow his wishes on a numerous part of the tenantry of this county, who are precisely in the same situation, under that scourge of Ireland, an unimproving, unfeeling middle-man.

List of rare Plants found in the county of Clare by Dr. Wade, and Mr. Mackay

Sea reed, or sea matweed, Arundo arenaria. On the sandy beach on the sea coast of Burrin mountains. Cattle feed on it in winter; it is used for thatching houses, and will last for upwards of twenty years.

Squinancy-wort, or small woodrooff, Asperula cynanchica. Plentiful along the sand hills on the western coast, and very abundant on the limestone rocks near Corrofin, and in other parts of Clare. 

Least mountain bedstraw, Galium pusillum. Abundant amongst the limestone rocks at Magherinraheen, near Corrofin.

Spring gentian, Gentiana verna. Plentiful on the estate of Bindon Blood, Esq. at Glaniny, near the bay of Galway, on a limestone gravelly soil; also near Magherinraheen, between that and Kilmacduagh church, in the county of Galway.

Autumnal gentian, Gentiana amarella. Very plentiful on a limestone soil, between Gort and Corrofin, and in other places in the county of Clare.

Broad-leaved water parsnep, Sium latifolium. Plentiful on the side on the river Fergus, a little above the bridge at Ennis; also in ditches, near Corrofin.

Creeping water parsnep, Siumrepens. In a marsh on the river Fergus, a little above the bridge at Ennis.

Flowering rush, Butomus umbellatus. In ditches near d’Esterre’s bridge, seven miles from Limerick, on the road to Clare; and in ditches near Corrofin, in great abundance.

Red-berried trailing arbutus, Arbutus uva ursi. Plentiful on the limestone mountains in the barony of Burrin, along with Dryas octopetala.

Shrubby cinquefoil, Potentilla fruticosa. On low swampy ground, near the bottom of the Burrin mountains, the estate of Bindon Blood, Esq.; plentiful at Magherinraheen, near Corrofin. The ground it generally grows in is covered in winter with water, that gushes up from beneath, and then gets the name of Turloughs. 

Mountain avens, Dryas octopetala. This plant covers whole mountains of limestone on the estate of Bindon Blood, Esq. in the barony of Burrin, where there is scarcely any other vegetable to be seen. It has been observed before in that country.  

White water-lily, Nymphæa alba. Common in the lake of Inchiquin, near Corrofin, and many other places.

Great spearwort, Ranunculus lingua. In a marsh by the side of the river Fergus, a little above the bridge of Ennis.

Nep, or cat mint, Nepeta cataria. On the road side, north of the Shannon, opposite to Limerick.

Hairy tower mustard, Turritis hirsuta. Plentiful on the rocks at Clifden.

Shining crane’s-bill, Geranium lucidum. This plant covers many of the thatched houses in the town of Ennis, where it makes a very beautiful appearance.

Musk thistle, Carduus nutaris. Found sparingly on the north road side, between Gort and Corrofin, in August, 1806.

Common frog bit, Hydrocharis morsus ranæ. In a marsh, by the side of the river Fergus, a little above the bridge of Ennis.

Alpine club moss, Lycopodium selagenoides.

In moist grounds, near Glaniny, bottom of Burrin mountains, in great abundance.

Marsh aspidium, or polypody, Aspidium thelypteris. In a marsh, near the river Fergus, a little above the bridge of Ennis.

Common spleenwort, Scolopendrium ceterach.

On limestone rocks and walls, near Corrofin, and other places in the county of Clare, in great abundance.

Stinking iris, or Gladwyn, or roast beef plant, Iris fœtidissima. Ennis church-yard.

Cock’s-foot panick grass. A few specimens of this very scarce grass were found by Dr.Wade, on the sand hills of Dough, near Lehinch.

Yellow loose strife, Lysimachia vulgaris. Upon the east bank of a lough, adjoining the lands of Drumkevan, near Ennis.

Great Burnet saxifrage, Pimpinella magna. About the high road, Rosstrevor, Co. Clare.

Red whortle-berry, or crow-berry, Vaccinium vitis Idæa. The rocky mountains of the county of Clare are covered with this very delicate evergreen.

Orpine, or live long, Sedum telephium. Covers the walls of an old fort, called Cahiromond, near Kilfenora.

Pennyroyal, Mentha pulegium. The churchyard of Ennis furnishes it in tolerable quanity.

Wood betony, Betonica officinalis. In the wood, by the river side, at Corronanagh.

Daisy-leaved lady’s-smock, Cardamine bellidifolia. This was found in the rocks about Finto.

Sea stock, Cheiranthus sinuatus. This fine scarce plant was found, at high-water mark, about the sand hills of Dough, but sparingly, flowering the latter end of August.

Marsh-Mallow, Althæa officinalis. In prodigious plenty in all the salt marshes about the rivers Shannon and Fergus. 

Mountain cudweed, Gnaphalium dioicum. Abundant on the Burrin mountains.

Yellow mountain pansy, Viola lutea. On the sand hills of Dough and Ballinguddy.

Lizard satyrium, or orchis, Satyrium hircinum. This very rare and tall orchis is to be met with in very shady situations, among shrubs, producing abundant flowers in the beginning of August, in the barony of Tullagh. The flowers are said to smell like a goat; hence, I suppose, the trivial name.


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