Baltinglass - The Farmers and the Land
Victory over the “Land Question” proved a triumph for the Irish tenant farmers who were able to survive the Famine. These farmers usually began with 20 acres or more, and they consolidated their position through marriage, purchase and taking up abandoned land. No longer did the farmer pay rent to a landlord. Instead he paid off a mortgage, often to the government in the form of an annuity, which was fixed at a rate to his advantage. The fact that the Baltinglass farmers owned their land, and that their children could inherit after them, gave them a greater incentive to maintain and improve their farms.
The cattle loading docks and pens at the railway station show how Baltinglass had become part of a nation-wide beef farming system known as “ranching”. Young store cattle were grazed on poor grassland in the West of Ireland. After about 18 months they were moved to better pasture such as Baltinglass to be fattened for the huge market in Dublin. This system was not as labour-intensive as grain growing, but it did provide work for travelling herdsmen, drovers and jobbers.