Page images


[APRIL 11TH, 1860.]

[ocr errors]

ORD CLANCARTY rose to present the thanks of the Society to His Excellency the Lord Lieutenant for presiding over the proceedings, and for the interest he always evinced in the welfare of the Society and the country at large. It was a gratifying fact that the Prize Cup had been taken by an Irish animal, the property of an Irishman, out of English hands; and he said so, not through any feeling of jealousy towards their English friends. He congratulated His Excellency on being a second time called on to occupy the Viceregal throne during a period of Ireland's greatest prosperity; and he was sure he expressed the feelings of all present, when he said they believed that His Excellency's first wish, as Her Majesty's Viceroy in this country, was that Ireland should be prosperous and happy.




I rise to return my very sincere thanks for the honour which has been so kindly and courteously proposed. I can assure you that I resume with great satisfaction the distinguished station of President of those annual spring meetings of the Royal Dublin Society. Some years have elapsed to be quite precise, I believe, it is five years exactly, almost to an hour, since I first discharged that honourable function. is true, there has been some break in the continuity of my performance; but you will not need to be reminded how well the place was filled, and the duties performed, by my respected and accomplished predecessor, who, as he was keenly alive to all that concerned the welfare of Ireland generally, could not and did not fail to be specially interested in the progress of Irish agriculture. So, I trust, Gentlemen, it will long continue; and that, however lengthened the series of Irish Viceroys may be destined to be, it will, as in that custom of antiquity of which we read, when the lighted torch was delivered from the hand of one runner, to

another, and, although different arms held the blazing brand aloft, the bright flame still burned on steady and unquenched through whatever changes of successive hands it was transmitted. It would be, indeed, impossible for any ruler or any native of Ireland to be indifferent to her agricultural success; for Ireland, however fondly her poets and orators may recur to the memories and legends of the past, is in fact becoming in every successive year more and more a nation; for, in what does the life of a nation mainly consist but in the industry, the enterprise, the encouragement, and the welfare of the people that inhabit it? And if she becomes still more and more of a nation, it also follows, from the circumstances of climate, of position, of temperament, that she will be, above all things, an agricultural nation. And if we descend further into the particulars of the species of agriculture by which she will become, certainly not exclusively, but still very prominently distinguished, they must be the richness of land held in pasture, and the quality of live stock. Now, for a nation so circumstanced, a central and metropolitan exhibition like this must be of the very highest importance; and, in common with those who have preceded me, I feel that I can cordially congratulate the present company, and the Members of the Royal Dublin Society, and all the well-wishers of Irish agriculture generally, upon the results which we have witnessed in the Show to-day. Like my excellent friend, your Honorary Secretary, who opened these proceedings, I confess that I had felt some apprehension that the dismal and ungenial weather with which it has been our disagreeable lot to be visited of late our protracted winter, the blasts of March, and the snows of April-would have told with untoward effect on the varied and animated assembly in the courts below. Far otherwise, however, has been the case; and true it is that, although the leaves hardly peep as yet from the trees-although the hedges have no fresh shoots, and the banks no primroses-although our gardens grow blacker instead of greener, and our asparagus refuse to swell, yet out come our short-horns and Kerries with more rounded proportion of form, and more silky glossiness of skin than ever-out comes in unrivalled majesty and rotundity of form "Dr. M'Hale" himself. Who could look upon him without being reminded of the snow-white herds of Clytumnus? did he not look like the great sacrificial victim, maximus taurus victimus? But, so far from the entries being at all diminished in consequence of the unfavourable nature of the season, I find that the entries in short-horn year


ling bulls amount to no less than 120, or an increase over last year thirty-seven head; and of sheep, eighty-five lots, being an increase of eighteen lots over last year, or an increase in the total number of sheep of 108. Now, I think, considering the circumstances to which I allude, and that quality has been at least equal with quantity, that this is a very gratifying result. I know that attention has been drawn of late to the circumstance of there seeming to have been a deficiency of produce in corn and several other crops in Ireland, as appears from the returns of the Registrar-General, during last year. Now, every one must be aware that, under the permanent influence of weather and climate, as well as the thousand causes which must tell upon a year's supply and demand, it would be utterly delusive to lay stress upon the actual amount of cultivation or rate of production in any single or successive number of years. But the general question of national progress or decay must be gathered from a much more extensive summary; and, looking upon the condition of Ireland in another point of view, I find that since the census of 1841, not twenty years ago, there have been reclaimed of waste lands no less than a million and a half of acres. Half a million of acres have been added to the land actually under tillage—a point where a deficiency for the time was complained of; and with respect to live stock, the value since the period I have named has more than doubled. The quantity itself has fully doubled, and the value, I believe, has increased in a far greater proportion; and, what I value still more than even the symmetry or substance of the best Durhams or Devons— the best Leicesters or Cotswolds, is that the wages of the people themselves of those by whose strength and skill this vast amount of animal growth and development, as well as of that varied vegetable produce which sustains man and beast, is produced, and tended, and improved, has exhibited at least a corresponding ratio of increase. The Irish labourer is infinitely better fed, better clothed, better tended in sickness, and, I think, under the operation of a recent Act of Parliament, I may say soon, with the same confidence, better housed than he has ever been before. I know there are still higher influences to be brought to bear upon him and upon all of us, than the bread we are to eat or the raiment we put on; but still I contend that agriculture in our day holds a very high position, when its processes generally have attained to the dignity of a science, and when its daily work corresponds with the bestdirected efforts of patriotism and of charity.




[JULY 25TH, 1860.]



"The Health of the Earl of Carlisle, and Prosperity to Ireland."

THE noble Chairman, LORD CLONBROCK, said it gave him sincere


pleasure to propose "The Health of the Lord Lieutenant," and he knew it would be most heartily received. They were all anxious to pay that nobleman that honour and respect due to him not only officially, as the Representative of Her Majesty, but also personally, as the warm friend of Ireland. Ever alive to the best interests of the country over which he so worthily presided, His Excellency was ever ready to afford the advantage and honour of his presence upon all occasions important to those interests, whether of a local or more general nature-whether, taking advantage of our geographical position, the magnificent project is entertained of spanning the ocean with a magnetic wire, and thereby joining together the interests and destinies of the Old World and the New; or, whether the foundation stone is to be laid of a building devoted either to scientific or other useful purposes; or whether, as on the last occasion of His Excellency's visit here, a rich country is to be opened by a new line of railway-on all these occasions we find His Excellency at his post, and, in that graceful and eloquent language which is peculiarly his own, encouraging our hopes, and bidding us "God speed." To his name most appropriately is added "Prosperity to Ireland," which prosperity is the object of His Excellency's best wishes.



For the great honour which has been so kindly and warmly paid me, I beg to return my best thanks to this numerous and distinguished

company. I can assure you all that I look upon it as one of the most pleasant of my functions when I had the privilege to attend those great annual gatherings of the Royal Agricultural Society; for, besides the animation and the gaiety which lie upon the surface, I attach a deep and wide-I might say a national-importance to those occasions. It assumes, from the very nature of things, that agriculture in Ireland is the most important of all subjects connected with her prosperity. Agriculture employs, as appears from the Census returns of the year 1851, more than 53 per cent. of the whole population; while those occupied in trade and manufacture-some of them, again, pertaining themselves to agriculture-only amounted to 24 per cent. It may be mentioned, however, that this proportion is diminished, and that the number represented in 1851 by 53 per cent. stood as high in 1841 as 64 per cent.; but it cannot be doubted that varied occupations are advantageous to the full development of the talent and faculties of an advancing people. In sight of this noble harbour and those beautiful waters, I need not remind you that it is not one branch of industry or one kind of element which should engross the industry and enterprise of an alert and quick-witted race. Our business, however, to-night, is especially with agriculture. Now, the crops and produce of any country must depend mainly upon her structure, position, and climate; not but that the law of the market, as well as the law of the season, will have considerable influence upon the degree in which it may be advantageous to grow one kind of production or another, even sometimes at greater cost, or under comparative difficulties. Now, with reference to the climate of Ireland, perhaps some of you may remember the very beautiful passage in which the late lamented Lord Macaulay speaks of the unrivalled beauties of the scenery in the neighbouring county of Kerry. He says, in his "History" :-" The south-west district of Kerry is now well known as the most beautiful tract in the British Isles. The beauties of that county, indeed, are too often hidden in the mist and rain which the west winds bring up from a boundless ocean; but, on the rare days when the sun shines out in all his glory, the landscape has a freshness and warmth of colouring seldom found in our latitude. The myrtle loves the soil; the arbutus thrives better than on the sunny shores of Calabria; the turf is of a livelier hue than elsewhere; the hills glow with a richer purple; the varnish of the holly and ivy is more glossy, and berries of a brighter red peep through foliage of a


« PreviousContinue »