Lurgan Union Farming Society.
The Belfast News-Letter,
Friday, February 2,
On Monday last, the annual ploughing-match of this excellent society took place, in a field belonging to a Mr. T. Cuppage, Silverwood, near Lurgan. The assemblage on the ground, at three o’clock, must have numbered upwards of a thousand; and the fineness of the day, and the animating spectacle of the competitors, combined, rendered the scene particularly agreeable. There were about five acres, in all, turned up; the ploughs amounting to twenty in all; of which number, eleven were in the farmers’ class, and nine in the servants’ class. The ploughing was pronounced excellent. Premiums having been offered for draining, fourteen yards long, and one deep, eighteen competitors presented themselves; and to this portion of the day’s proceedings, very considerable interest was attached. In addition, there were exhibited, on the ground, a number of farming implements, constructed on recently-adopted principles – viz., ploughs, harrows, grubbers, turnip barrows, double-trees complete, &c.
In the evening, the members of the society sat down to an excellent dinner, in the Brownlow Arms. Upwards of fifty were present. The chair was filled by Francis Fforde, Esq., Raughlan; and the vice-chair by James Brown, Esq., Donacloney.
After the usual loyal and appropriate toasts, The Chairman proposed “The health of the Lord of the Soil.” The lamented father of the present lord of the soil was the founder of that society; and of his goodness every man in that room was fully acquainted. He gave ¬£59 a year to the society; and did all he possibly could, at all times, to increase its usefulness. The present Lord Lurgan, he earnestly hoped, would grow up, and walk in his father’s footsteps; and, if he did, no more could be expected from him. (The toast was then drunk, the company standing.)
The Rev. Mr. Falloon responded. As their excellent chairman had said, the very name of mention of the toast of the health of the lord of the soil should be received with affection and admiration. (Hear, hear.) But, when they recollected the noble father of the present Lord Lurgan – when they remembered the anxiety he always manifested to serve the society – when they thought of the many acts of kindness which he did, when he was amongst them – when they reflected on his uniform goodness and endeavours to promote the spiritual, as well as the temporal, welfare of his tenantry – they could scarcely repair the loss they sustained in the death of such a man, of whom it might be said, that he sacrificed his life through his anxiety to promote the comforts of the people. (Hear, hear.) In truth, he died a martyr to the cause of philanthropy; and the last words from his dying breast were a testimony of his anxiety to effect the temporal benefit and eternal comfort of the tenantry committed to his charge. (Hear, hear.) If the present lord of the soil only walked in the steps of his revered father, that was all that the tenantry might require of him. He was, as yet, but a youth; and it was to be hoped that he would prove himself worthy of treading in the steps of his good father. (Hear, hear.) Indeed, he (Mr. Falloon) knew that he felt the liveliest anxiety for the welfare of his tenantry; and, when he came of age, they might safely say that he would be glad to meet them, and preside in that chair which Mr. Fforde now so ably filled. (Applause.)
The Chairman, after a suitable preface, next proposed “The Lurgan Union Farming Society, and prosperity to it.”
Mr Fennell, Woodbank, responded.
The following toasts were given in succession : –
“The Healths of the Judges” – Mr. Greer responded.
“The Successful Candidates” – replied to by Mr. Ellis, who seems determined to hold a monopoly of this toast, for neither old or new hands can beat him.
“The Unsuccessful Candidates” – Mr. Brown responded.
“The Royal Agricultural Improvement Society of Ireland” – Mr. McLernon, stewart to Dean Waring, acknowledged this toast.
“The Chairman.” (Loud cheers.) The Chairman returned thanks.
The Chairman then proposed “Thorough-draining.”
Mr. Maule, steward to the Marquis of Hertford, responded. There was still much difference of opinion as to the proper width and depth to make drains; but he thought, that the rule must vary, according to the circumstances of each soil to be drained. (Hear, hear.) It should be recollected, that subsoiling must always go hand-in-hand with thorough-draining; for, after the water was carried off, there was a crust which must be broken up, if the farmer wanted his land enriched and healthy. (Hear, hear.) From the loss of the potatoes, farmers were obliged to turn their attention to green crops; but they must always remember, that, without draining, they cannot have good green crops: and he called on the landlords to give every encouragement to their tenants, with this view; for these lines were truthful and suggestive :-
“Drain your land and plough it deep,
And you’ll have corn to sell and keep.”¬†¬†
The Chairman then gave “Success to the Linen Trade.” but for which the farmers would be badly off. He would call on Mr. Watson, of Lakeview, who, to his knowledge, gave employment to an immense number of persons. (Hear, hear.)
Mr. Watson responded: and he said, the toast was one of the deepest importance. From infancy he had been connected with the linen trade, and always wished to be a friend to the weaver, and keep him in constant employment; but, in doing so, he was as well consulting his own interests as that of the poor man. It was, therefore, the duty of manufacturers to look to the comforts of all round them, for thereby they equally conduced to their own prosperity. (Cheers.)
The Chairman said, the next toast was “The Town and Trade of Lurgan.” and he need not say, it would be well received. (Loud cheers.)
Mr. S. Watts responded. He would merely say, that Lurgan was well situated for trade and commerce, and the people of the town and neighbourhood appreciated this, and availed themselves of such peculiar advantages. (Hear, hear.) They had their beautiful damask and diaper manufactory. They had their handkerchief manufacture, which stood unrivalled. They had shops in the town that were not excelled by either Belfast or Dublin; and, if they were to judge of the quality and the quantity of the meat sold in their shambles, they were over any provincial town, of the same extent in the three kingdoms.¬†¬†They had also their fine gas establishment; and though last, not least, they had their Lurgan beer – (laughter) – which was unrivalled in the world. (Cheers.) But, besides this, they had their grain market, where the farmers knew they got every fair play. Then they had their wheat and oat markets; and the largest barley market in Ireland. Since the railroad was opened, he knew oats sold in Lurgan on Thursday, and carried over to Glasgow, and sold there the next morning. (Cheers.) Then they had their markets for pork and fowl, and butter, which were always well stocked; and he should not forget their excellent tobacco and snuff manufactories; so that, in Lurgan, with manufactories all round them, and the seats of the gentry, they could show a prosperous, thriving community not to be excelled elsewhere. (Cheers.)
The next toast was “The Flax Improvement Society.”
Mr. Thomas Haughton, Gilford, responded.
The Chairman said, he should state, that Mr. Douglas, of Grace-hall, would have been here, but for the death of his brother-in-law, Doctor Blacker; and so would Mr. Hancock, but that a similar cause prevented him; and he was sure that both gentlemen would be present at the next meeting. (Hear.)
The Vice-Chairman then, after some culogistic remarks, give –
“The health of Charles Douglas, Esq.” (Cheers.) Mr. Pentland responded to the toast.
The next toasts were :-
“The health of the Rev. Mr. Falloon”¬† – Mr. Falloon responded;
“The Ladies” – responded to by Mr. Fleming;
“The health of Mr. Armstrong.” the Chairman remarking that no man did more for the improvement of the town of Lurgan than his father did. (Hear.)
Mr. Armstrong returned thanks. He was a member of the society for three or four years, and was a successful competitor. He had made one bold attempt, and he wouldn’t decline making another. (Hear, hear.) He then praised the efforts of the society, and hoped it would be generally supported. It was in good working order, and would fully succeed in its objects. (Hear.)
“The health of Mr. Cuppage” was then drunk; after which the company seperated, after having spent a most pleasant evening.
This Newspaper Article has been reproduced by the kind permission of the British Newspaper Archive Limited, (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk).