Revival of Tobacco Growing in Meath

The pioneering Everard sowed the first 'legalised' seeds of tobacco in 1898 on the Randlestown estate, under special government licence. The experimentation phase concentrated on proving the viability of growing the crop to a new generation, and growing it on a commercial basis with profit to the community.

After five years of work Everard received permission in 1903 to grow twenty acres. He sent his son Major Richard to America to study methods of growing the crop. On his return, he became the Manager of the plantation. Initial hesitancy in the local reporting of the issue in the Meath Chronicle of 1904 is evident in the belief that 'it is certain only the coarsest and cheapest of tobacco can be grown in Ireland'. However, by August of 1904, the Chronicle carried a feature, expressing little doubt as to the success of tobacco cultivation and requesting the gratitude of all for "the political philanthropy with which he (Everard) has taken up and worked out to such a successful issue this important industry."

A number of advantages associated with the growing of tobacco emerged during the experimental stage and led on to the introduction of a Small Growers' Scheme (1910). The amount of labour required was far greater than that required for any other crop commonly grown in the country (748.5 hours manual labour required per acre as against 309 for potatoes).

The whole family could be employed. It was at a quiet time falling between the turnip sowing and the early meadows. It improved the soil as a result of the heavy manuring required and subsequent crops produced higher yields. The advantages were presented to landlords as a means of regulating the cost and supply of labour on estates. Laying off workers at slack times resulted in workers migrating or joining the army, and shortages led to increased costs at later times.


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