Results Of Europe’s First Study Of Farm Machinery Released
The results of Europe’s first audit of farm machinery have been published in County Clare.
[ClickPress, Mon Apr 14 2008] The Clare Heritage section secured funding from the Heritage Council and Clare County Council to undertake the project last year, as part of the implementation of the Clare Heritage Plan 2003-2007.
Produced by Clare County Council and East Clare-based consultants Minogue Associates, ‘Antique Farm Machinery of County Clare’ tells the social story of the county’s farm machinery from the early 1800s to the 1950s. The audit has also led to the development of recommendations for the conservation and posterity of early agricultural machinery items such as seed drills, harrows, ploughs and rollers, horse carts, and harvesting and haymaking machinery.
Mr. Tomás Mac Conmara of the Clare Heritage Office said the audit was timely and significant due to the present pace of agricultural change in Ireland and the declining numbers of farmers who remember working and using early machines.
He added, “We found that the artefacts resonated deeply with the people involved, where in many cases, items were linked to uncles or grandfathers who were remembered using them in previous generations. Ultimately, the attachment of a social history to the artefacts added considerably to their heritage importance, which in the context of the project offered a more complete study of Farm Machinery in county Clare”.
In all 278 items were identified with ploughs and tractors being the most common. Unusual and interesting machines were also identified such as limestone rollers that would have been quarried and made locally. These were only found in limestone areas in the county.
A small number of thrashers and binders were also identified, one of which was in use until the 1950s and was used around Newmarket-on-Fergus, Tulla, Ogonnolloe and Bridgetown. The study also identified a rare plough - the Minogue plough that was manufactured at the Minogue Foundry in Whitegate. A hand made wooden donkey plough was identified near Inagh that had been used until the 1980s.
“All these machines show the importance of local skills in either metal/iron work (Minogue plough); quarrying and stonemasonry (limestone rollers), woodwork (donkey plough) and also the diversity of agricultural activity in rural Ireland until recent times”, explained Mr. Mac Conmara,
He added that some of items examined during the audit were of significant historical importance.
“The mowing machine imported into the Ralahine Commune in 1831 was the first mowing machine brought into Ireland. Unfortunately the original machine was not identified. However, a seed drill was identified that originated in Toronto, Canada and was imported by the Newmarket on Fergus Co-Operative. This machine is symbolic of the influence of the co-operative movement and their successful attempts to cut out middlemen by importing machines directly from the manufacturer”, outlined Mr. Mac Conmara.
Commenting on the audit, Cllr. Pat Hayes, Chairperson of the Clare Heritage Forum, explained, “The old machines recorded in the study illustrate how diverse County Clare’s agricultural sector was through the engineered and mechanical methods used to obtain nutrients from the land. It is hoped that this audit and the accompanying brochure will help to raise awareness of the agricultural heritage of County Clare and nationally.”
Councillor Hayes said that although there had been many individual efforts across Europe to collect and preserve antiquated farm machinery, no large-scale audit had ever been undertaken.
He continued, “There is a significant gap in awareness when it comes to our agricultural heritage despite its fundamental impact on the socio-economic development of this country over the last number of centuries.”
“The Clare Heritage Forum is confident that this audit and its subsequent promotion will help address that gap in Clare and also provide an effective template that can be used on a national and international level. For example, local authority heritage offices in Galway and Donegal have already followed our lead by undertaking similar studies”, concluded Cllr. Hayes.
Any information on existing antique machinery artefacts can be forwarded to Clare County Council at firstname.lastname@example.org for inclusion on a database. Alternatively, call 065-6821616 to report your find.
The complete ‘Antique Farm Machinery of County Clare’ study can be obtained from the Heritage section of Clare County Council.
Notes to Editor:
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