A Discussion On Making Hay In Ireland In 1806.

In his book entitled “A Tour In Ireland”, [In 1806], the author, Sir Richard Colt Hoare, describes the difference in the method used to harvest hay in Ireland.

He writes: “The Irish method of making hay, though most obstinately defended and approved by the generality of the natives, appears to the English farmer both singular and contrary to reason.

Hay Cocks.
Picture: Jonathan Wilkins (

Hay-harvest extends from the beginning of July, to the beginning of October, including the early crops near towns and the more backward in the mountainous regions.
Saving hay is thus performed: after the mowers, the grass you’re shaken out, in the day following, if weather permits, it is turned in rows with rakes and forks; after which it is made into small cocks, called lap-cocks

This operation is thus conducted: One person goes before, with a rake and takes in as much ground as can be reached: a small arm-full of the grass gathered from this space into a ridge, is taken by another person, who closely follows, shakes it, and with the hands and knees, neatly folds it into small round heaps, with a whole passing through it like a muff, and lightly lays it on the ground.

In this situation the grass is suffered to remain until sufficiently withered; in the course of one day, by shaking and turning, it is in a proper state to be put into trump-cocks, which are made of different sizes, and so it is suffered to remain until it is taken in.

Such is the mode almost universally adopted by the Irish in making their hay; and as an objection to their adopting the English method, they state the extraordinary succulents of their grass, and humidity of their climate, which renders it necessarily to expose the hay in cocks for a considerable time to the sun and wind; and this I have seen carried to a great extent in many places, where the tramp-cocks have remained for several weeks exposed to all kinds of weather and as the corn follows the hay harvest as a very short interval, the latter is frequently not put into rick’s before the other is safely housed.

The loss of good hay by great surface of outside in the tramp-cocks, and which are often soaked with rain from top to bottom, must be evident to every one, and I am clear, that if the grass, when cut, was turned as often as it is in England, during the heat of the day, there would be no danger in ricking it; but the operation of turning is slightly attended to; and that process only constitutes the difference between good and bad hay.”


1 comment to A Discussion On Making Hay In Ireland In 1806.

  • Katie

    Watch a wonderful program the other night about the farmers in Cork Brought back lovely memories, Certainly better than watching the Matilda’s women’s football. Australia gone totally mad on sports. Never see any Irish sports or English sports. Hope we will be able to pick up on making Hay in Ireland. That will be great.

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