Mason's Parochial Survey, 1814-19

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Union of Kilrush, Killard, Kilfieragh, Moyferta, and Kilballyhone

IX. Modes of Agriculture, Crops, &c.

Modes of Agriculture
In this highly improved tract of country, the modes of agriculture hitherto in use, are not of that description likely to improve it, or to remunerate the cultivator for his pains. It is, however to be hoped, that with resources for renovating the soil beyond the reach of those who cultivate the inland parts of the island, the inhabitants of this interesting district will ere long avail themselves of its great local advantages, and by the cultivation of green food in winter, as well as the improvement of all their rough land, will render their fields as productive and beautiful as the richest spots in England or Wales.

Lord Lyndock rode over this union on a military tour with Lord Cathcart during the last war; and the illustrious and patriotic warrior, who was known soon afterwards to spend the midnight hours of an active campaign in planning cottages for the happy tenantry of Ballygowan, declared he had never beheld in any country a more interesting or improveable tract of ground, than that through which he passed in the neighbourhood of Kilrush.

Course of Crops
The course of crops here is,—1st, potatoes, with manure; 2nd, Potatoes, without manure; 3rd, wheat; 4th, oats; 5th, flax, or oats, with grass seed. The potatoes here are the original apple, the black, and a kind of white potatoe, called the cups: the latter are excellent, and most generally planted.

Implements, Flax
The plough is the old Irish one, sometimes drawn by four horses abreast; but Mr. Vandeleur has lately introduced some Scotch and English ploughs. There are a few Scotch carts here; but that ill constructed vehicle, the old Munster car, is still in use. It is in the drawing of turf to the shore, that the advantage of carts, or single horse machines, such as Mr. Edgeworth first introduced into the county of Longford, would be particularly experienced here. Flax is of late years become a favourite crop; and the soil of these parishes is peculiarly favourable to its growth.

The injurious mode of tenure, called rundale, has been nearly abolished, particularly on Mr. Vandeleur’s estates; but it prevails still, with its usual ill consequences, in some parts of “The West.”

The black cattle here are of a tolerably good kind, considering the little care taken in breeding them. The neighbouring county of Kerry produces a small breed of cows highly prized here, and in all other parts of Ireland, for producing great quantities of excellent milk on the poorest pastures. The horses of this barony, in common with those of the whole county of Clare, were once the finest in Ireland; and though they are now degenerated, they hold a respectable rank among the classes of horses in the province of Munster, being active, hardy, and serviceable. The horses of Lord Clare’s Dragoons were remarkably beautiful, and some of their breed were preserved in Carrigaholt till the accession of his present majesty. In the memory of some persons now living, Mr. Dennis MacMahon had some very fine horses in his demesne, that were not put into horse-rider’s hands, till they were past the age of seven years.

Asses are very common here, from a prevailing idea, that they by a certain instinct, they destroy the murrain-worm, which was once said to have been very disastrous to the cattle of this district, by polluting the water they drank: mules are also much used, and sell at very high prices. The old mountain breed of sheep are small; but the mutton of such as are old enough, is of as delicious a flavour as that of Ennishowen in the county of Donegall. They are, however, wearing out as the country advances in cultivation; and our most constant supply of mutton is of a larger kind, from the midland and the eastern parts of the county. The quantity of pork produced here is very great: the best breed is the mixture of the Dutch and Irish. Goats are very common.

Fair and Markets
A daily market is held at Kilrush; but the principal market is on Saturdays; and fairs are held at the following times and places:—May 2nd, Dunbeg; 10th, Kilrush; June 1st, Moyarta, near Carrigaholt; 3rd,Ballykett; July 4th,Ballykett, a great fair; 5th, Moyarta; 26th, Dunbeg; August 17th, Ballykett, 19th, Moyarta; October 8th, Dunbeg; 12th, Kilrush; December 1st, Ballykett; 16th, Dunbeg.

Wages of Labour
Labourers, hired without board, have per day, 1s. 8d. and with board 10d. By the half year, with board, as a servant man for labour, they receive from three to four guineas. The general wages of women servants are from 15s. to £1. per quarter.

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