The Revival at Local Level

Local research indicates that a considerable body of expertise was available among local growers and furthermore, their attempts to secure an outside expert were thwarted by a lack of support from the Minister. Local growers were never sure that their applications to
grow the crop would be accepted, and their diaries indicate repeated trips to Randlestown to learn their fate at the hands of the Department.

The last year that can be safely stated that tobacco was grown in Meath was 1938, as a ledger survives from the County Meath Co-Operative Tobacco Growers Society Ltd. for 1937, listing thirty-seven growers who were paid advances on their crops for the 1938 season.

The tobacco industry was revived for the 1930s in the context of a policy of self-sufficiency. This policy was too all-embracing as departments were operating against each other. The Department of Agriculture supported tobacco growing regardless of consumer demand, while Industry and Commerce championed the recalcitrant manufacturers. It was the mandarins in the Department of Finance who ended the county's flirtation with the tobacco industry by arguing that, as Mary E. Daly notes: "There is no more case of continuing to encourage the cultivation of the crop that there would be for encouraging as a matter of industrial policy the production of a commodity for which there was not only no demand, but towards which there was positive antipathy." Tobacco ultimately failed through the failure of the native leaf to win over smokers who preferred the Virginian brands rather than the heavy Irish leaf. Tobacco was bought from growers and placed in bonded warehouses in the full knowledge of the manufacturers that it would never be used to produce tobacco for the domestic or any other market.


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