The parishes along the sea coast, particularly in the baronies of Forth and Bargy, are divided into small farms of from five to twenty acres, the competition for which produces high rents, and on which is exhibited that wonderful exertion of industry which seldom fails to shew itself in Ireland where the inhabitants are secured in the enjoyment of the fruits of their labour. The crops consist of wheat, oats, barley, and beans; also tares, rape, and turnips. Barley is the principal corn crop throughout the county, and, though uncertain, it generally repays the cultivator by a luxuriant produce. Beans are sown on the lea after it has been manured with marl; the kind sown is the small horse bean, and the produce is generally exported to the West Indies: in seasons of scarcity, this crop has been found of great utility in diminishing the severity of famine.

The potato, however, is the staple crop here, as in all the other counties, and all the manure is used for its culture: the seed is planted with the plough in small ridges, three rows in the ridge, and covered with the spade. The general succession of crops is potatoes, barley, and oats; but, in the barony of Forth, beans are introduced. The sowing of clover, which has been for some time increasing, is now very general; but the English green crops for winter feeding are still chiefly confined to the lands of the resident gentry or experimental agriculturists.

In some parts, particularly in the peninsula of Hook, the natural grasses are very luxuriant: in the interior, on the cold clay soils, they are thin and of little value: the farmers in general depend upon artificial grasses. Dairies are numerous, but they are not managed with the attention to neatness requisite for ensuring the best kind of butter; nor is sufficient pains taken in the selection of a suitable stock of cows; yet nevertheless there is a large annual export of that article.

In Forth and Bargy the farmers manure with marl found in abundance in the interior of those baronies; also with calcareous sand, which is procured in the vicinity of Duncannon fort; floating sea weed is much used in some parts: by these kinds of manure the land is kept permanently in a state of great fertility. In Carne, where the tillage grounds are so overspread with large stones that the superficial observer would think that the plough could hardly be used at all, the land has been kept, from time immemorial, under alternate crops of barley and beans, affording abundant returns. In the eastern district, where also marl is abundant, use is made of it. In this tract, particularly on both sides of the Slaney, pebble limestone is burned, and applied to the purpose of manure. In the western baronies lime, brought with much toil and expense from the neighbouring counties, is the chief manure.

The cottiers on the side of Mount Leinster travel with a horse a journey of two days in going and returning to bring home a load of limestone, forty loads of which are required for manuring an acre. The farmers on the parts adjacent to the Barrow and Suir procure from the beds of these rivers, at low water, a rich sediment of the nature of marl, but which is so heavy that it cannot be carried to a distance without much expense. Under all their various natural disadvantages, the lands of this county, by incessant industry and superior skill, are generally kept in an excellent state unknown in many other parts of Ireland; and in the baronies of Forth and Bargy this distinction is of long standing.

The fences in the southern baronies are in general good and well kept, being formed of mounds of earth and sods, planted with furze on the sides and top, which affords good shelter for cattle, and has the additional advantage of being extremely useful for fuel, while it presents an impenetrable barrier against trespassing. In some cases they are still farther improved by a row of quickset on the summit, which increases both the shelter and ornament.

In those parts where turf is plentiful, less attention is paid to the construction of fences; and there they are generally rugged and defective. The farmers are by no means so attentive to the improvement of the breed of cattle as in many other counties: the long-horned was most prevalent, but the short-horned is now most encouraged.

Although all the farmers, even the smallest, keep a few sheep for their wool and milk, the common breed reared here is by no means of a good kind, being long-legged, narrow-backed, large-boned, and as wild as deer, insomuch that they are kept from destroying the fences and breaking into the corn-fields by tying their feet with side lines: of the improved breeds, the Leicester is the most encouraged. Swine are numerous, but, like the former kinds of stock, not in general of the best kind.

The poultry is excellent; farmers and even cottiers rear vast quantities of turkies and other domestic fowl; and many old leases contain a clause binding the tenant to rear poultry for the landlord. In the neighbourhood of Wexford they are fattened by cramming, and sent to Dublin and Liverpool. There is a fair every Michaelmas at Ballyhack for poultry only, where the various kinds are sold in large quantities and very cheap, owing to the great number of small land-holders who rear them at a trifling expense from their potato offal and a little barley meal.

Bees are in some parts much attended to, and much mead is made. Means are used in some places to save the honey without destroying the bees, by driving them into a fresh hive instead of smothering them.

A source of riches, arising from the contiguity to the sea, is found in the extent of sandy warren which furnishes great numbers of rabbits yearly. The burrow of Rosslare, near Wexford harbour, furnishes the market weekly with 300 pair for three months: they are considered peculiarly delicate and well-flavoured. Pigeons are also attended to and found profitable; and, in consequence of the growth of a peculiar kind of grass or sea weed, myriads of wild fowl frequent the shores, the flesh of which is of remarkably delicate flavour. The barnacle, whynyard, widgeon, teal, and duck, are most esteemed; besides which there is a great supply of sea fowl, which are readily bought, though of inferior quality.

Fuel in some parts of the county is very scarce, especially in places remote both from the sea coast, where coal from England can be obtained at a reasonable rate, and from the mountains, where turf can be procured. The great improvement which has been made in the agriculture of the county, even within the last few years, has been mainly effected by the exertions of two agricultural associations, one in the northern and the other in the southern part, in the success of which a lively interest has been taken by the resident gentry, as well by pecuniary contributions as by personal attendance and encouragement,: the former is held at Gorey, and is in a flourishing state; the latter, held at Fook's Mill, is on the decline.

An agricultural school was carried on for some time at Bannow, and an horticultural institution has been established at Kyle, the particulars of each of which are given in the accounts of the parishes of Ban-now and Kilpatrick.

County Wexford | Wexford Towns and Baronies | Wexford Topography | Wexford Climate | Wexford Agriculture | Wexford Geology | Wexford Manufacturing | Wexford Rivers | Wexford Antiquities | Wexford Town

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