Flax Growers in Shanagolden, Limerick. 1808

Small Sources 16: This list is of 26 persons who purchased flax seed from the Monteagle estate in the Shanagolden area of county Limerick in 1808.  The estate was owned by the Spring-Rice family whose titles included Lord Monteagle.  This list is from the correspondence of Stephen Edward Rice and the original is in the National Library of Ireland (NLI Ms 605A).  In this period there were many incentives for farmers to grow flax  as a means of developing the linen industry.  The heading on the list states that 124 pottles of flax seed were sold at 1 shilling 7 pence halfpenny per pottle on 15th May 1808. (A pottle is an old measure of liquid equalling a half-gallon). Each purchaser bought from 2 to 7 pottles.  These people would clearly have had access to land for planting and were probably tenants of the Monteagle estate. Note that eight of the purchasers are women.  Many of the stages in the making of linen, particularly spinning, provided employment for women in the home. Growing of the flax would therefore have been of direct interest to women in the area.  In areas where wool was not common, flax-growing provided a means of production of cloth for households.

The names include many that are common in Limerick and North Kerry including Madigan, McMahon, Flanagan, O’Brien,  but also a few less common names such as Hassett and Collis. Further information on some of these families may be available through our e-book title ‘Sources for Irish Family History 2021‘.  It   lists 6,500 books and articles written  about specific Irish families.  It provides access to a wealth of published information on about 2,500 Irish families.

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Thomas Hanly
Molly Crowe
Cate Flannagan
Cate Shea
Peggy O’Brien
M. Mc Mahon
John O’Brien
Dennis Maddigan
John Browne
Norry Browne
Arthur Hassett (?)
Danl. Keating
Marks Gearan
Michael Clancy
Thady Connor
Molly Crowe
John Griffin
Peggy Browne
John McMahon
Jams. Collis
John Barrett
Thos. Neale
Danl. Moore
Dennis Corbett
John Kennelly
Molly Flannagan

Fig. 1. Exctract from the list of flax-seed buyers

Further Limerick and general articles in our series on Irish Family History sources include:

Limerick Sources