Flax Improvement Society and the End of the Ballinasloe Show, 1845

Meeting of the Flax Improvement Society
Pursuant to public notice, a meeting of the Flax Improvement Society of Ireland was held today in the court house at one o’clock. Nearly all the nobility and gentry in the town were present. The Earl of Erne took the chair.

His lordship called upon the secretary to read the report of the society’s proceedings for the last year, and observed, that there were two or three gentlemen present who would be happy to answer any questions asked them regarding the cultivation of flax.

Mr. Wardham then read the report, which was regarded as most satisfactory.

Mr. Walker from the co. Donegal, who cultivates annually fifty to seventy acres of flax, came forward at the request of the noble chairman to state the result of hi practice. He said that after many years experience he found that there was a clear profit of at least £20 per acre upon an average crop, after the payment of all expenses, from five and a half packs of seed. His rotation of crops was potatoes, wheat, flax and clover. It was a crop which gave more employment to the poor than any other, and at a season when the country people were not otherwise engaged, and it was by no means an exhausting one unless to itself. His opinion therefore was that it should not be sown a second time in the same land for a period of seven years, and when cut, it should be, if possible, laid on new cut meadow land. As regarded seed, he considered that it was best when taken before the flax was perfectly ripe, and its being allowed to ripen did not at all injure the fibre (applause)

Some very interesting conversation then took place respecting the merits of home and foreign flax for seed. The prevailing opinion appeared to be in favour of the native article. Several cultivators, from different parts of the country, stated it to be so from their experience, and observed that it was almost always the successful seed when offered for competition with foreign seeds at local shows.

Ballinasloe, Friday
The proceedings of the show closed last evening, or more properly speaking this moring, with the usual ball, and a more splendid affair, both as regards numbers and respectability, never took place in any provincial town in Ireland, or, perhaps I might say, even in the metropolis. The evening was most unpropitious. No less than five hundred persons promenaded the rooms, one fourth of whom, at least, were members of the aristocratic families in town.
The King’s Co. Chronicle
Vol. 1 No. 3
Wednesday, Oct 6th, 1845