Farming in Swords

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  • Life in Fingal in the Past

Tractors replaced horses on farms in the 1940's. This was a big change for farmers. It also changed the way agricultural work was organised, and resulted in the loss of employment for those who were traditionally hired as farm labourers. Can you think of any ways that tractors may have changed farming?

In Working Life in Fingal, 1936-1959: Recollections From North County Dublin, one farmer from Swords remembers the time when farmers started using tractors:

"I remember when the tractor came in first. My father kept saying, "Oh the land will be destroyed. Ah, the land, they're going too deep down and they're destroying the land!" Oh gosh, it was terrific and sure you didn't know half how to use it some of the time. It was a great novelty, it was quite a big change on the farm. Done away with the horses and the carts. The pony and trap too. That took us to school in the early days, the pony and trap."

New machinary, like tractors and combine harvesters, changed the landscape as well as how farmers worked. The Swords farmer here recalls the changes to the landscape and to the corn threshing process brought about by this machinery:

"It did change the land, the shape of the whole place. I put a lot of drains in and levelled lots of ditches. It was a lot bigger. Instead of a five acre field you'll have a 25 acre field or 30 acre, to suit the machinery, to suit the tractors.

The combine harvester was a big development really, because the farmers were able to get their own machinery. If it was nice and dry they'd cut the corn, and if it was raining they'd stop."