Europe's first study of farm machinery


The results of Europe’s first audit of farm machinery have been published in County Clare.

The Clare Heritage section secured funding from the Heritage Council and Clare County Council to undertake the project last year as part of the implementation of the Clare Heritage Plan 2003-2007.

Produced by Clare County Council and East Clare-based consultants, Minogue Associates - ‘Antique Farm Machinery of County Clare’ - tells the social story of the county’s farm machinery from the early 1800s to the 1950s. The audit has also led to the development of recommendations for the conservation and posterity of early agricultural machinery items, such as seed drills, harrows, ploughs and rollers, horse carts and harvesting and haymaking machinery.

Mr. Tomás Mac Conmara of the Clare Heritage Office said the audit was timely and significant due to the present pace of agricultural change in Ireland and the declining numbers of farmers who remember working and using early machines.

He added - “We found that the artefacts resonated deeply with the people involved - where, in many cases, items were linked to uncles or grandfathers who were remembered using them in previous generations. Ultimately, the attachment of a social history to the artefacts added considerably to their heritage importance - which, in the context of the project, offered a more complete study of Farm Machinery in county Clare.”

In all, 278 items were identified - with ploughs and tractors being the most common. Unusual and interesting machines were also identified - such as limestone rollers that would have been quarried and made locally. These were only found in limestone areas in the county.

A small number of thrashers and binders were also identified - one of which was in use until the 1950s and was used around Newmarket-on-Fergus, Tulla, Ogonnolloe and Bridgetown. The study also identified a rare plough - the Minogue plough - that was manufactured at the Minogue Foundry in Whitegate. A handmade wooden donkey plough was identified near Inagh that had been used until the 1980s.

Any information on existing antique machinery artefacts can be forwarded to Clare County Council at - [email protected] - for inclusion on a database. Alternatively, telephone - 065-6821616.

The complete ‘Antique Farm Machinery of County Clare’ study can be obtained from the Heritage section of Clare County Council.