Peter, I take your point about the Lieutenant’slikely background but there are plenty of other contemporaneous descriptions oflife in Ireland in the mid 1800s, some written by respected Irish born people that tend tosupport his account of rural life.
The image of spending 12 hours planting potatoes is suitably graphic but, the time spent plantingpotatoes each year wasn’t excessive. One of the many great aspects of potatoes is theyare a low maintenance crop. They are easy to plant, grow particularly well inmost Irish soil (save if blighted of course) and need very little attention.You stick them in and then forget about them. You don’t need to spend much timeon them at all. You also get more spuds to the acre than nearly any other cropand so if land is in short supply, and you have a large family – as was oftenthe case then – they are ideal. That then left the labourer free to undertakeother work, if there was any. The easewith which potatoes grew, was one of the reasons why people were so reluctantto grow anything else, even when faced with possible blight. Elwyn From: peter mcdonald via CoTyroneList <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Cc: peter mcdonald <pfm22...@gmail.com> Sent: Friday, 26 October 2018, 16:51 Subject: [CoTyroneMailingList] A few thoughts on the Lt. Stother account > In the British army of the time, commissions, such as that of Lieutenant, > were acquired through purchase. The cheapest lieutenancy, in an infantry > regiment, cost seven hundred pounds. Access to that sort of money, roughly > equivalent to fifty-eight thousand pounds sterling today, places the > lieutenant in a social class unlikely to have had much contact with people > like our peasant ancestors. No wonder he was shocked. Across Europe, subsistence farmers have shared their accommodation with their animals as a matter of course, partly to benefit from the heat generated by the beasts in winter. In parts of France, where I live, earthen floors and wandering livestock are still to be found. Anyone passing by many farms anywhere today would notice defunct machinery rusting away in farmyard or behind apparently ramshackle buildings. Farming, other than of the massive-scale, highly mechanised industrial variety, tends to be a messy business. No doubt Tyrone then, as Tyrone today, had its share of ne'erdo wells, but it’s not easy to get up to mischief when you have just spent up to twelve hours planting the potatoes that you and your family will depend on through the winter, or cutting turf so you don’t die of cold. We should not view our ancestors through rose-tinted glasses, but it is worth bearing in mind that the good lieutenant had his own prism when looking at a people who shared neither his background, nor his religious beliefs, nor yet, in many cases, his first language. He would have been viewed as the representative of an army of occupation by many in the Catholic population. I hope this contributes usefully to the conversation around this account. _______________________________________________ CoTyroneList mailing list CoTyroneList@cotyroneireland.com http://mail.cotyroneireland.com/mailman/listinfo/ (_internal_name)s
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