Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Tuesday 22 August 2017

Meath farmers are going back to their western roots

Pictured at the launch of the 2017 Diageo Baileys Champion Cow Competition which takes place at the Virginia Show, Co.Cavan on 23rd August are from left: Kathleen Watson, President IHFA; Robert Murphy Manufacturing Manager Diageo Baileys Global Supply; Martin Tynan General Manager Glanbia Ireland Virginia; Brendan Smyth Competition Director and Mary Gaynor, Secretary Virginia Show.
Pictured at the launch of the 2017 Diageo Baileys Champion Cow Competition which takes place at the Virginia Show, Co.Cavan on 23rd August are from left: Kathleen Watson, President IHFA; Robert Murphy Manufacturing Manager Diageo Baileys Global Supply; Martin Tynan General Manager Glanbia Ireland Virginia; Brendan Smyth Competition Director and Mary Gaynor, Secretary Virginia Show.
Claire Mc Cormack

Claire Mc Cormack

Meath farmers are tracing their agri roots from so-called "congested districts" of Connacht to superior holdings of the Royal county as part of a new book.

The Meath Land Commission Heritage Group (MLCHG), are eager to collect stories, photographs and insights relating to the Land Commission Resettlement Programme within the county, which operated from the 1920s to the mid-1970s.

The aim of the project is to document the significant influence the Land Commission - a controversial body created in 1881 to redistribute farmland in Ireland - had on the county in terms of its agricultural, social, economic and sporting identity.

Organisers say those with a direct link to this influential period are now a "diminishing generation," as such they hope this new venture will preserve these special stories for both present and future generations.

Pat Farrelly, chief organiser of the MLCHG said it is "vital" that the experiences and stories of these families are not lost.

"We want to document the movement of our people, where they came from, the estate that they moved to, the year they arrived so we will have an archive for people for years to come.

"In 50 years times when people come to Meath to trace their heritage they will be able to access all the typical Land Commission information from that period," he said.

Over the last year the group have collected dozens of colourful stories of farm families that originated in Mayo, Kerry and west Cork.


"We heard one story of a man from Mayo who came to Drogheda to get the boat to work in the coal mines in England. When he was near Drogheda he discovered his dog was following him. He couldn't bring the dog on the boat so he had to leave him there. Three weeks later the dog landed back in Mayo," he laughed.

Based on research so far he said the vast majority of people were welcomed into the county in those early days of land reform when a 25ac farm was considered adequate to sustain a family.

"Any struggle for independence in Ireland was for the rights of the people in Ireland so they were welcomed to the county. It was the pre rural electrification period so farms were very small and people survived on very little," he said.

We've been working on this for the last year and we really want to push on with more stories. There is tremendous interest throughout the county, when you start talking to people all they want to do is to tell you more and more about their forebearers," he said.

Interested individuals can get in touch with the group by contacting meathlc@gmail.com.


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