Trial of Harvesting Machines at Blarney September 1883

The trial of harvesting machines advertised for some-time since, took place at Blarney yesterday (September 5th). The exhibition which was held under the auspices of the Cork Agricultural Society was originally intended to have been held last Thursday, but in consequence of some adverse occurrences having taken place, it was decided to postpone it until yesterday. The display yesterday was not at all as successful as it might have been, and its comparative failure would appear to be due to more causes than one. In the ordinary course of things, the fact that the exhibition was to take place in the picturesque district of Blarney, and within a few minutes’ walk of the railway station would have been sufficient to secure the attendance of a large crowd from far and near, as well as such a number of competed entries as would ensure, at least, fairly good contest. The position of the weather is a factor in the success of such an exhibition in such a season as this is rather hard to define; wet, harsh weather, such as we have not been unused to lately would have justified people in remaining away from the attractions of such a show, however great; while on the other hand, the weather yesterday, fair, genial and sunny-like, that of a day, which had a character to maintain was too precious in the present critical circumstances of the harvest to allow people to ignore it heedlessly in order to go to view an exhibition, however instructive. A few words may be necessary to explain this condition of things. The suggestion of having an exhibition of harvesting machines – more especially of the combined reaper and binder – was first made by Mr. D.J. Riordan at the meeting of the General Committee of the Agricultural Society a few weeks ago. He at the same time offered a field of his within three or four miles of the town for the purpose of the contest. The consideration of this proposal was postponed to the next meeting when Sir George Colthurst came forward with a proposal that the exhibition should take place on a farm of his. The Society having considered his position, decided to accept it – Sir George most accurately describing the field as being a large level one within 10 or 15 minutes’ walk of Blarney railway station. The attendance yesterday was of the most meagre description. The occasion attracted gentry and ladies, but it failed to bring to the place, either competitors or any great number of agricultural observers. The only machines at work were two of Samuelson’s. A reaping machine, which did its work in splendid style, and deserves the acquaintance of every intelligent farmer – and a ‘binder and reaper’, a very complicated, but, as far as yesterday’s experience went to show, a very unworkable implement under the management of experts; the latter machine may prove excellent in its operation on the corn crop, but certainly, even to the uninitiated, it yesterday showed in its working certain very serious defects. These might, however, be much more quickly remedied if the machine were in the charge of persons thoroughly acquainted with its mode of working. As happened, it was undergoing repairs during a large portion of the time it might be supposed to be at work. A wag remarked that its principal complaint seemed to be that it was perpetually running out of ‘twine.’ This, however, was not well founded, as there was no defect in that respect; somehow or other all the same it had to be pulled up for repairs. It must, however, be observed as a matter of justice that the machine does not pretend to be suitable for cutting and binding, except when the corn is standing upright, and not beaten down by the storms of the past week as it is at present. Under more favourable circumstances the machine would probably have made a better show than it did yesterday. To show the effect of the notice issued by Mrs. Forrest, it may be mentioned that Messrs. James O’Connor and Co., King Street, agents for the well-known agricultural implement makers, Messrs. W.A. Wood and Co., entered a formal protest against any award or medal being granted on behalf of the County Cork Agricultural Society to any machine exhibited there, on the ground that the Messrs. Wood could not possibly, for obvious reasons, exhibit their machines on the farm which the Society had selected for the show. The notice contains the not irrelevant observation that “it would have been more conducive to the public interests and good feeling if a neutral ground had been selected” instead of one which formed portion of a farm which had been evicted within the past twelve months. For these reasons the Messrs. Wood’ agent felt that he could not, irrespective of feeling, attend the trial. The necessity for such a protest was, however, obviated by the fact that there was no contest whatever. There was only one machine of each description by the one firm, and, therefore, there are no individual comparisons forced on a person. Among those who were present during portions of the day were – Sir George Colthurst, the Mayor, Sir J.W. Mackey, Sir John Barrington, Sir D.V. O’Sullivan, G. Moyers LLD., T.C.D; W.R. Meade, President Royal Agricultural Society; R. Newman, M. Corcoran, T. Mahony, N. Mahony, J.J. Mahony, Dr. W.K. Sullivan, Col. Shuldham, R. Walker C.E; W.H. Barry, W.H. Beamish. The members of the Irish Rifle Team were also included among the visitors at the early part of the business but shortly after they left to observe the lovely scenery of the neighbourhood. The Cork Rifle Club made arrangements to invite the Irish Rifle Team, and the gentlemen who accompanied them from Dublin, for an excursion down the River Lee, at 11.30 a.m., on board the chartered steamer, Mount Etna. The Judges appointed were Messrs. Ussher Williamson and A. Ferguson, but it hard to see how under existing circumstances, their judicial powers could have been called into requisition. The gentlemen present were entertained at luncheon by Sir George Colthurst with the hospitality characteristic of Blarney Castle. Blarney & District Historical Society presents an illustrated lecture on Thursday 1st May 2014 in Scoil Mhuire Gan Smal (Blarney Secondary School) at 8pm titled ‘Monard Spade Mills and the Small Water-powered Founderies of Co. Cork’. This evenings illustrated presentation examines Monard SpadeMills, ‘the most important archaeological site of its type in Ireland’ and the industrial community who lived there from the late 18th century to its eventual closure in 1960. Several other water-powered foundries from around Co. Cork will also be discussed. The Speaker is Dr. Colin Rynne, Senior Lecturer at Dept. of Archaeology U.C.C., Author of many eminent publications and Director of The Cork Butter Museum. A nominal cover charge of €3 applies to non-members and for further information contact Brian Gabriel on 0872153216