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Implements Used on Irish Farm's.

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When early man progressed from a lifestyle as a hunter gatherer and adopted an agricultural way of life he would have needed some way to break up the earth to plant seeds, he may have used slash and burn, as an easy means to clear the land, planting the seeds in the scorched earth between the tree stumps.

It probably wasn't long before he realized the superior physical strength of cattle could be utilized to pull a plough, which would have been a stout tree branch. Exactly when the plough came into use and whether or not it was was fitted with a share or point, is not known, the practicalities of attaching a flint or stone point to a wooden object pulled through the ground seem rather daunting.

With the advent of the Bronze Age about 1700 BC man had learned to cast copper and tin into almost any shape he desired, this metal would have probably been considered to precious to be used for such a mundane task as ploughing, particularly so when it would have worn away and been lost, although it was almost certainly used for sycles and scythes.

Over one thousand years passed before the secrets of smelting iron was discovered. This was a very significant step in mans development, enabling him to produce articles of strength and durability hitherto only dreamed of, small wonder the early smiths were venerated and credited with almost mystical powers. As with bronze the early iron would have been available only in small quantities and it may have been some considerable time before it found its way into agriculture.

The majority of small farms would not have been able to afford a horse, the spade was used to work the land and feed their families. Although some formed themselves into unofficial groups sharing a horse and helping each other during planting and harvest, this system found favour in the west of the country, it was called Rundale. A group of people involved in the agricultural scene was the 'spalpeens' these were labourer's who traveled the country with a spade or scythe offering their services to farmers or landowners.

In earlier times the spade was made by the local blacksmith, communities then were more or less self sufficient each town or village having craftsmen catering for the needs of the locality. This is probably the main reason for the diversity of spade types seen across Ireland, although the soil type had a bearing on this also, Mayo and the western counties favoring a narrower blade for their stony soil.

With the advent of the industrial revolution in Ireland a few spade mill's were set up across the country producing spades and other farm implements, many of these were water powered, one such was Patterson's Spade Mill in County Antrim.

The invention of the internal combustion engine revolutionize Irish farming practices, some farmers employed small stationary petrol engines to drive barn threshers, potato sorting machines or to pump water. The early tractor was little more than a means of pulling things, Harry Ferguson revolutionized the tractor with his hydraulic lift system. In the 1949's 50's his little TVO (Tractor vaporizing oil) tractor was a common sigh.


Farm Machinery.
Click for a larger image and information.

Farm Cart.

Hay Rake.

Potato Digger.

Hay Reaper.

Land Roller.

Turnip Barrow.

Turnip Pulper.