Employment

From An Illustrated History of Ireland by Margaret Anne Cusack

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Rearing and tending cattle was the principal employment of the people, as, indeed, it always has been. There were, he estimates, 150,000 employed in this way, and 100,000 in agriculture. "Tailors and their wives" are the next highest figure—45,000. Smiths and apprentices, shoemakers and apprentices, are given at the same figure—22,500. Millers and their wives only numbered 1,000, and the fishery trade the same. The woolworkers and their wives, 30,000; but the number of alehouse-keepers is almost incredible. In Dublin, where there were only 4,000 families, there was, at one time, 1,180 alehouses and ninety-one public brew-houses. The proportion was equally great throughout the country; and if we may judge from the Table of Exports from Belfast before-mentioned, the manufacture was principally for home consumption, as the returns only mention three barrels of beer to Scotland, 124 ditto to the Colonies, 147 to France and Flanders, nineteen to Holland, and forty-five to Spain and the Mediterranean. There are considerable imports of brandy and wines, but no imports of beer.

We find, however, that "Chester ale" was appreciated by the faculty as a medicament, for Sir Patrick Dun, who was physician to the army during the wars of 1688, sent two dozen bottles of Chester ale, as part of his prescription, to General Ginkles, Secretary-at-War, in the camp at Connaught, in 1691. He added two dozen of the best claret, and at the same time sent a "lesser box," in which there was a dozen and a-half potted chickens in an earthen pot, and in another pot "foure green geese." "This," writes the doctor, "is the physic I advise you to take; I hope it will not be nauseous or disagreeable to your stomach—a little of it upon a march."[7] It is to be supposed such prescriptions did not diminish the doctor's fame, and that they were appreciated as they deserved.

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[7] March.—Gilbert's Dublin, vol. i. p. 178.


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