Tobacco-growing in Ireland

Published in 18th-19th Century Social Perspectives, 18th–19th - Century History, 20th Century Social Perspectives, 20th-century / Contemporary History, Feature Article, Issue 3 May/June2013, Letters, Volume 21

Sir,—Regarding the article on ‘Death and taxes: tobacco-growing in Ireland’ by Gearóid Ó Faoleán (HI 21.2, March/April 2013), which was most interesting, it may be of interest to your readers that the cultivation of tobacco was not confined specifically to the east coast. At the turn of the twentieth century and during the First World War, the cultivation of this crop was most prominent in parts of west Limerick where the land was suitable for this purpose. The village of Adare, Co. Limerick, was the nerve centre for this activity under the auspices of the 4th earl of Dunraven, who had a factory, the Adare Cigarette Company, situated on his estate. The firm employed c. 70 people in grading the leaves into five different categories consistent with their excellence, each being used for a special brand of tobacco. The buildings involved in this enterprise covered almost four acres, with additional annexes in the process of being added during the First World War. Girls were also employed in the making of cigarettes, which were blended with imported Virginia, Turkish and Egyptian tobaccos. However, the importation of these tobaccos ceased during the First World War and with it the manufacture of cigarettes.

The cultivation of tobacco was not confined to Adare; areas around Askeaton, Ardagh, Kildimo, Co. Limerick, were also involved, and it was then transported to the factory at Adare. The Adare Cigarette Company sent the crop that it had accumulated during the war years to Messrs Gallaher Ltd, Belfast, after its managing director had visited the factory. He is recorded as having stated that this was done to ‘give a helping hand to Irish industries in which he [Gallaher] takes the deepest interest’. It may, however, have also been due to the inability of the firm to import tobacco during the war. The prospect of further employment in this area as a result of the war was indeed very good. Unfortunately, a fire destroyed the factory on New Year’s Day 1917, and it was never reopened.—Yours etc.,
TADHG MOLONEY

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