[Irish Cabin with Livestock]

Artist(s) : Arthur Young (Draughtsman)

View of a roughly thatched cabin and its surroundings. The dwelling is overgrown with vegetation, and there is smoke coming out of the door. Part of a second cabin is seen nearby. In the middle ground, a barefoot man with a stick is seated on a rock. Beside him, a woman is apparently peeling potatoes, or preparing them for storage or sowing. They have been collected in a large round container, which appears to be made of wicker. A child is dipping a hand into the container, and two other naked children are playing nearby. There are several animals in their vicinity. In the foreground, a very lean pig and a horse, both spancelled, are foraging for food. Further back, a horned cow is suckling a calf. Also included are a tethered sheep, a rooster, a hen, three chicks, a goose, and a dog. Garden plots, possibly lazy beds, cover part of the hillside beyond the cabin. The illustration is a greyscale ink wash drawing with light blue wash border.

Image Details

Genre Genre painting
Technique Wash drawings
Subject(s) Agriculture, Manners and customs, Rural life
Geographical Location
  • Summerhill to Slane - Road
  • Meath - County
  • Leinster - Province
Keywords(s) Cabins, Children, Cottages, Dogs, Doors & Doorways, Farming, Folklore, Gardens & parks, Horses, Lands, Livestock, Men, Peasants, People, Pigs, Sheep, Women
Colour Monochrome
Dimensions 18.5 cm x 23 cm
Published / created 1780
Closely related image:
  • An Irish Cabbin – Print appears to have been engraved from Young's drawing of an Irish cabin.

Bibliographical Details

Travel Account A Tour in Ireland [Young; copy with unique drawings]
Print or manuscript Print
Location of image in copy opp. p. 25
Source copy National Library of Ireland LO 10203
Rights Courtesy of the National Library of Ireland

Related text from travel account

June 29th, left it [Summerhill], taking the road to Slaine, the country very pleasant all the way; much of it on the banks of the Boyne, variegated with some woods, planted hedge-rows, and gentle hills: the cabbins continue much the same, the same plenty of poultry, pigs, and cows. The cattle in the road have their fore legs all tied together with straw, to keep them from breaking into the fields; even sheep, and pigs, and goats are all in the same bondage. I had the pleasure of meeting Colonel Burton at the Castle, in whom I was so fortunate as to find, on repeated occasions, the utmost assiduity to procure me every species of information, entering into the spirit of my design with the most liberal ideas.
His partner in Slaine Mills, Mr. Jebb, gave me [p. 24] the following particulars of the common husbandry, which, upon reading over to several intelligent farmers, they found very little occasion to correct. Farms rise from 100 to 300 acres, the soil, a stoney loam upon a rock, and lets on an average at 25 shillings and the whole county throughout the same. The courses of crops,
1. Fallow with lime, 120 barrels an acre, at 7d. besides carriage.
2. Wheat, sow a barrel, and get 6 to 7, sometimes 11.
3. Barley or oats, if barley, sow 1¼, and get 13.
4. Oats, sow two barrels, the crop 16. Also,
1. Fallow, 2. wheat, 3. barley, 4. oats, 5. clover, for Two Years 6. Barley.
Another. 1. fallow, 2. wheat, 3. spring corn, 4. spring corn, 5. fallow, 6. wheat, 7. barley, and red or white clover or trefoile and hay seeds. Another, 1 fallow, 2. wheat, 3. clover, 2 years, 4. barley, 5. oats. A common practice is, for the farmers to hire any kind of rough waste land, at three guineas, or three pound an acre for three crops, engaging to lime it if the lime is found them; 120 barrels per acre, which comes to £3 10s. from £9 9s. leaves six for three years. They cultivate it in the common course of I. fallow, 2. wheat, 3. barley, and 4. oats. Turneps not generally come in, but farmer Macguire has 20 acres to 40 every year, but does not hoe them, he feeds sheep on the land and then sows barley and clover. Clover would be more general, was it not for the expence of picking the stones for mowing, which costs 10s. or 12s. an acre. Sometimes mow it once, and feed afterwards; the crops exceedingly great. A few tares sown for the horses. On the banks of the Nanny water, many white pease sown, instead of a fallow, and good crops, wheat sown after them. They also sow beans about Kilbrue. Every farmer has a little flax, from a rood to an acre, and all the cottages a spot, if they have any land, they go through the whole process themselves, and spin and weave it. From hence to Drogheda, there is a considerable manufacture of coarse cloth, which is ex- [p. 25] ported to Liverpool, about 1s. a yard. At Navan there is a fabrick of sacking for home consumption; the weavers earn 1s. a day at these works.
Potatoes are a great article of culture; the cottagers take land of the farmers, giving them £4 10s. an acre, dunged. All in the trenching way, the ridge six feet, the furrow two and a half; always weed them, the best season for planting the middle of April. The crop 64 barrels on an average, and the price 3s. 6d. a barrel. They have got much into the apple potatoe.
Rent £4 11s. 0d.
Spreading dung £0 2s. 0d.
Seven barrels of seed 3s. 6d.: £1 4s. 6d.
Cutting and laying £0 6s. 6d. Trenching and earthing up £4 0s. 0d.
Taking up picking 1½d. a barrel, 64: £0 8s. 0d.
[Total] £10 12s. 0d.
From whence it appears, that the prime cost of the potatoes is 4s. a barrel. Wheat is sown after them, and sometimes barley; the wheat is generally a bad crop and bad grain, but the barley good. For fat hogs they boil them, and at last mix some bran or oats; a hog of 2 cwt. will fatten in two months, on six barrels and one barrel of oats. Much poultry is also reared and fed in all the cabbins by means of potatoes. [pp. 23-25]
Irish Cabin with Livestock