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the family in preparing it for market. Flax may be made even more valuable to Ireland than cotton is to England; because, while it is necessary to import the raw material of the cotton manufacture from a foreign country, at an annual cost exceeding £10,000,000, it is within our power, if proper attention be paid to the cultivation of flax, to supply not only our own manufacturers, but also those of England and Scotland. A society has been formed in Belfast, to promote and improve the cultivation of flax in Ireland, and their exertions appear to have been very useful, both in extending the cultivation into other parts of the country, and in improving the quality. By the sixth annual report of that society, we find that the quantity of flax and tow imported into the kingdom in 1845 amounted to 1,418,323 cwts. and that the value of the imports of flax, flax-seed, and oil-cakes averages about £6,000,000 annually. The deficiency of exports this year has already been noticed. Unless our peasantry again revert to the potato as their sole, or at least their principal, food, our exports of grain must be permanently diminished; in which case, some other articles of export are necessary, to enable us to purchase clothing and foreign luxuries. Can we look to anything so important as flax to supply this
deficiency 2 We cannot expect at once to increase the cultivation, to such an extent as to render importation from foreign countries unnecessary; but we may hope to do so in time, and that eventually, the growth of flax being extended throughout Ireland, and the manufacture of linens greatly increased, we may find these products of our industry to be the chief support of the prosperity of the country. That the fisheries of Ireland might be made a most important means of increasing the national wealth is universally admitted, and the neglect of such valuable resources appears the more to be lamented at the present time, when so much suffering has been and is experienced for want of food. The sea around our shores teems with fish, offering an almost inexhaustible supply of food, and a mine of wealth which only requires to be diligently and skilfully worked. In the various sea-ports and fishing villages along the eastern coast, the business is followed with more or less success, supports a large number of fishermen, and supplies the various markets well. But along the western coast, there is but little regular fishing, except in a few of the principal ports. When the herrings appear on the coast, they take them, often in large quantities, but it is only for local and immediate consumption. They are rarely salted, or sent to any great distance for sale. The small number of persons in the west of Ireland able to purchase fish, are insufficient to constitute a market, except in the large towns. Under such circumstances, it could scarcely be expected that any regular fishing should exist. The government, with the view of supplying this deficiency, have instituted an experiment in the establishment of curing stations, where they are always willing to purchase fish for curing at a low. fixed price. They hope thus to induce the habit of constant fishing, by securing to the fisherman the certainty of a market. If the experiment prove successful, the curing stations will doubtless be transferred to private individuals, and the fishing trade will be left to the support of private enterprise. Perhaps the fisheries on the western coast may never become very profitable, until a better distribution of property take place, which may increase the home market, so as to afford a good remuneration to those who may be induced to devote their whole time to fishing. Assistance has also been given to the formation of harbours in many places; but as yet by no means sufficient for the due protection of the
and open to the full force of the ocean. Much more will probably be done in this respect, as the government are evidently impressed with the importance of supplying this deficiency.
Great extent of emigration—More advantageous to the emigrants than to Ireland—Large number of Irish resident in Great Britain—Increased emigration to England this year—Must continue until the condition of the working classes in the two countries be equalized– Tenantry sometimes assisted by landlords to emigrate—Emigration must be on a very extensive scale to relieve the labour market—Estimate of the cost—Government assistance would interfere with voluntary emigration—Cultivation of waste lands—Their reclamation by government considered—If they were saleable, government interference unnecessary—Improvement of land now in cultivation a more important object—Consolidation of farms—Prejudice against small farms not well founded—Necessity of capital for farming purposes— Injurious effects of insecurity of possession—Advantages resulting from the custom of tenant-right in Ulster—Proposition to extend this custom to the rest of Ireland–If effected by Lynch-law, the results would be most disastrous—Definition of tenant-right—Difficulty of converting it into a legal right—Compensation to tenants for permanent improvements considered—Abortive legislation on this subject—Customs of tenantcy in England–Improvements best effected by the proprietor—Agrarian outrages—Popular sympathy with the offenders—Coercion unavailing while the exciting causes exist—Want of capital in connection with land the original cause—A free sale of land the remedy–Difficulty of supporting popular institutions in Ireland for want of a middle class—No means so likely to afford a remedy as the free sale of land.
That there is a constant stream of Emigration
from Ireland is well known. Those who sailed
for foreign countries, direct from Irish ports, in