Papers relating to proceedings for relief of distress, and state of unions and workhouses in Ireland, 1848
Sessional Papers 1847-1848 HMSO
Along the shores of the bay of Kinvarra and bay of Galway, which form a portion of the boundary of the electoral divisions of Kinvarra and Killeenavarra, reside a considerable number of persons, some with and some without land, who have heretofore supported themselves by fishing, and by the sale of sea weed for the purpose of manure. The failure of the potato crop in 1845 and 1846 by its discouragement to the planting of potatoes, completely paralysed the operations of the latter, who are now in a most abject state.
The only portion of the population remaining to be noticed is that which comprises the miscellaneous class of pedlars, hucksters, small dealers in fruit or vegetables, and mendicants, all of whom are affected by the general poverty of the district and are mostly in a destitute state.
As regards the prospects of the Union for the ensuing harvest, we have learned that a considerable quantity of wheat has been put down by the larger farmers, but it is certain there will not be anything approaching to the breadth of corn of the past year. On the other hand, it would appear from the reports of the relieving officers, and from personal observation, that the general success of the potato crop in 1847 has encouraged the larger holders of land to make arrangements for planting in a greater quantity in the spring. Many, however, of the smaller farmers will, we fear, be unable to set any, in consequence of the scarcity and high price of seed, added to their inability to purchase manure, and it is therefore to be apprehended that a much greater quantity of land will remain uncultivated this year than last. In former years most of the labouring population had potatoes in con-acre, but their impoverished conditions now renders them incapable of making any preparations for having a crop in the present season. Even if they were able to procure seed and manure, they have no means of support while engaged in their cultivation.
The amount of agricultural employment at present is very trifling, and we regret to say that after making the most minute inquiries we have no reason to hope that the demand for labour will be much increased for a considerable period.