GALWAY CROPS

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

Wheat is the crop at which the farmer mostly aims, and it is always sown after potatoes, except in moory soils, when oats form the succession. The want of manure for potatoes is supplied by hiring land and paring and burning the surface: the ground is skinned, or scrawed by a spade, sharp and broad at the end, with a considerable bend in the blade to prevent the necessity of stooping. Where sea weed is used, the potatoes are planted on it after it has dried; as, when used fresh, it injures the potatoe sets. A dry spring always ensures a plentiful crop of potatoes; a wet one, on the contrary, is the usual forerunner of scarcity.

On the sea coast corallines are also used for manure, the succession being potatoes, wheat, oats, and, in sandy soils, barley, and then potatoes with a fresh manuring. In many places on the sea coast, very fine early potatoes are raised in several feet of pure sea sand, manured by sea weed, and after that fine barley, which is mostly consumed by the innumerable private stills of Connemara. The small farmers or cottiers till almost exclusively with the spade. Crops of every kind on the lands of cottiers are generally carefully weeded.

The chief markets for grain are Galway, Loughrea, Tuam, Ballinasloe, Gort, Eyrecourt, Mount Bellew, and Clifden; they are well supplied. The numerous flour-mills lately established have tended much to increase and improve the cultivation of wheat. Among the green crops, the use of which is daily extending, that of fiorin is peculiarly encouraged, as being found, among the most productive and congenial to the soil. Pasturage is carried on to a great extent. Heathy sheep-walks occupy a tract of dreary country ten miles square, between Monivae and Galway. A considerable quantity of pasture is obtained from the turloughs, particularly the Turloughmore: there is also an extensive range of many miles between Athenry and Ardrahan, stretching down to the sea at Kinvarra, chiefly occupied by sheep: the baronies of Ballynahinch, Ross, and Moycullen, are all under pasture, with the exception of patches of tillage in the valleys. To many farms large tracts of moory bottom are attached, which, if judiciously drained, a process as yet but ill understood and little practised, would amply repay the outlay.

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