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Posts Tagged ‘Farming’

I’d had enough of Belfast, so dragged my chattels down to the bus station through the rain and got on the next bus to Enniskillen. The weather changed from warmish and sunny to rain and sleet five times in the hour and a half it took to get here! So here I am in actual Fermanagh, in a little motel room where I can cook my own dinner (bought ravioli and pasta sauce!) and enjoy a glass (or 2) from my own bottle of (Chilean) wine for the price of one glass in the pub.
Enniskillen is cuter than Belfast at least. I’ve spent the last two days coughing and spluttering all over the kind, helpful people at Enniskillen Library. Maybe a bit less today than yesterday which seems like a good sign. I sure hope you don’t catch this flu Sean! I looked through the 19th century Fermanagh newspapers, but there was no death notice for our farmer James. This is not surprising. Until the late 19th century, newspaper readers evidently only wanted to know about the doings of the upper classes, or drownings and suicides – oh, and “ruffians” get a lot of press – a term which apparently included Union members ­čÖé
Today I learned as much as I could about farming in mid 19th century Fermanagh.James Beatty land description 1863
This is the description which goes with the map of James’s land in the last post. He has 15 acres of arable land, 13 acres of “heathy pasture” and 3 acres of “whiny pasture”. The latter I’m told, means covered with gorse (currently in vivid golden bloom) not much use for anything.
James, with 60 acres before he split his land with his eldest son Joseph in 1855, and with 33 acres thereafter had a relatively large holding for a farmer at the time – the average was 15 acres I’m told.
He can’t have just grown potatoes, as was scornfully suggested by one of his descendants! ┬áThe “arable” land could well have been used for various crops, but, I’m told, would have grown enough potatoes to sink the Titanic! ┬áThe “heathy pasture” was probably used for cattle. The contemporary newspapers report frequent sales of “black cattle” at the local markets. Sean thinks these were probably the same as “Kerry c0ws” (Sean says “a lot of Irish things get called ┬á“Kerry””). I gather that both of┬áthese terms refer to┬áthe cattle that were around in Ireland┬ábefore they decided that there should be “breeds” of cattle – cattle breeding as such was something the gentry later got into. ┬áJames’s farm would certainly have produced milk, butter, eggs and everything else they needed to subsist and earn enough to pay the rent every six months. They may also have had sheep, pigs or goats. It’s also clear from the survey maps that during James’s time an orchard was established. Tomorrow. I’ll go there.

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