Ireland of the past was truly an agricultural economy. A century ago two thirds of Irish farms were owner-occupied and this trend was to gather pace in the following decades.
The size structure of farms was heavily weighted towards smaller holdings: about 230,000 farms were less than 30 acres in contrast with around 50,000 today.
Before the advent of electricity or tractors on the farms of Ireland was a time when all the work was carried out using horses, donkeys, and human labour. To a great extent the lives of country people were ruled by the natural world around them, each season brought its own set of activities, in the house, on the farmyard and on the land. These activities were governed by the weather and the requirements of the animals and crops.
For the small farmer at that time 30 acres of land would have been considered a larger…
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