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Reforming food in post-Famine IrelandMedicine, science and improvement, 18451922$
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Ian Miller

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780719088865

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719088865.001.0001

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Reforming food production: agricultural science and education

Reforming food production: agricultural science and education

(p.41) 2 Reforming food production: agricultural science and education
Reforming food in post-Famine Ireland

Ian Miller

Manchester University Press

The immediate post-Famine period was marked by profound optimism about the potential of Irish agricultural development. For some improvers, agricultural practice offered a fertile ground upon which to plant the seeds of modernisation to facilitate fuller Irish integration into an international capitalist market economy. This chapter suggests that post-Famine agriculturists promoted new understandings of how to productively harness biological agro-material found on Irish farms during and after the Famine. It examines post-Famine scientific readings of the biology and physiology of crops, plants and animals and their subsequent promotion as an aid to Irish food production. In the 1850s, agricultural science was institutionalised via a state-supported network of agricultural schools and model farms aimed at all social classes. Ultimately, however, small farmers exhibited resistance and apathy towards these educational schemes for an assortment of social, political and practical reasons, a factor that restricted the socio-economic effectiveness of agricultural schools. By exploring these themes, this chapter reveals further connections made between food and national improvement while demonstrating that food production, as with consumption, evolved into a site of deep contestation between different Irish social groups and, sometimes, between colonising and colonised powers.

Keywords:   History of agricultural science, History of Irish agricultural, Agricultural reform, Justus von Liebig, Robert Kane, History of agricultural education, History of science in Ireland

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