It's true - Irish farmers have influenced the world

Harry Ferguson.
Harry Ferguson.

FarmIreland Team

Irish farmers have been to the fore of technology and innovation for decades and many are having their tales of how they spread Irish knowledge around the world.

An Irishman was responsible for bringing Merino sheep to Argentina in the 1800s and his story is told at the EPIC museum on Irish emigration.

Through 20 themed galleries the stories of why people left, see how they influenced the world they found is told, including a number of Irish farmers.

Peter Sheridan (1792 – 1844) emigrated to Argentina, along with hundreds of Irish, thanks to a new land scheme. Today, in fact, approximately 500,000 Argentines can trace their ancestry back to Ireland.

Many of those Irish people who reached Argentina went into sheep farming, and Sheridan went to Buenos Aires in 1817 with his two brothers, Richard and Hugh Thomas. Once they were settled, they set up a merchant house from which they began trading in textiles. By the time of his death, his ranch had a total of 10,000 sheep, 8,000 cattle, and 2,000 horses.

Sir Patrick Hogan (1939 – present), from Cambridge, New Zealand, is regarded as the king of Australasian horse breeding. Hogan and his wife Justine are now the owners of the most successful privately owned thoroughbred stud farm in New Zealand and Australia.

His Irish-born father Tom was a dairy farmer and horse breeder and had a big influence on Hogan’s decision to pursue a career in thoroughbred horses.

One of the best known Irish agri inventors, Harry Ferguson (1884 – 1960) designed and manufactured numerous agricultural machines – the most famous undoubtedly being the Ferguson tractor.

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He started out in his career by repairing and selling cars and motorbikes alongside his brother in Belfast, and in 1909 he even designed and built his own aeroplane. It was this very aircraft that made the first ever recorded powered flight over Ireland. He established his own motor company in 1911 – May Street Motors.

In the late 1930s, he developed the Ferguson tractor in response to a need for a low-cost and dependable tractor. In 1938, the Ferguson tractor was manufactured in the US by Henry Ford. He was passionate about the improvement and modernisation of farming techniques, and in 1943 notably he said, “Agriculture should have been the first industry to be modernised, not the last.”

EPIC is located in the restored vaults of CHQ in Dublin’s Custom House Quarter.

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