[IRISH FARMERS’ JOURNAL] The Irish Farmers’ Journal, and Weekly Intelligencer: containing A Summary of Occurrences foreign and domestic from September 5, 1812 to Saturday August 11, 1824. Twelve volumes. Dublin: Printed by William Porter, Grafton Street, 1812/1824. Contemporary half calf over marbled boards, wear to spines. The bound volumes are in robust condition (although volume I has a loose board and some pages [pp 129-35] torn prior to binding, without loss of text), and in volume II the text on a few page is scuffed [pp 293-4]). Some joints starting. Internally a fine set. Of the utmost rarity.
The first periodical bearing the title Irish Farmers Journal was a weekly newspaper that was continuously published from 1812 to 1826. It was owned by a well-established Dublin printer, William Porter, whose premises were in Grafton St., Dublin, and who had been in business since c.1781 [Pollard, Dictionary]. The first editor of the paper was William P. Le Fanu until his death in 1817 (I.F.J., 16 Aug, 1817), and Porter may have edited it on his own thereafter until handing management of the paper to his son c.1822; in 1824 the paper and printing works were being offered for sale as a going concern (I.F.J., 27 March 1824).
Although the paper was patronized by the Irish Farming Society from the beginning and by the Dublin Society for nearly as long, it was conducted as a commercial enterprise (although unlike most contemporary newspapers it carried relatively little advertising). Despite Porter’s former radical sympathies and his membership of the Dublin Society of United Irishmen in 1792-3, the Journal’s tone was consistently conservative and its appeal was directed towards the champions of ‘improved’ farming, whether Irish landowners or big farmers; this was most evident in the early years when it published several lists of its annual subscribers (over a thousand are named at the end of vols. II and III).
Much of the paper’s content relates to international news, especially in the war years, and to detailed accounts of improved agricultural methods, but the comprehensive weekly reports of agricultural prices in up to twenty Irish towns (as well as fuller data for Dublin) provide a unique insight into the wartime boom at the regional level, then into the post-war recession that inaugurated a decade of economic and social crisis. Local harvest reports feature very prominently, while the surge of agrarian disorder in Munster in the early 1820s receive abundant attention, with local newspaper reports being extensively abstracted (some, perhaps many, of these local papers are not extant in the original).
No full set of the paper exists in either an Irish or British library, and the best runs (in the British Library – spanning ten years – and the NLI – seven years) appear to have breaks and gaps. Surprisingly, despite all the attention given to Dublin Society and its activities, the RDS Library lists no copy. The paper has been largely overlooked in the modern literature (for example it is not mentioned in the recent Oxford history of the Irish book, vol. 4.
The set on offer here, a bound collection of 12 quarter-leather folio volumes (4,984 pp. in all), runs almost without a break from the inception of the paper in August 1812 to the end of the 12th volume in August 1824, and comprises individually stamped weekly issues of the paper (the edition of 23 Jan. 1819 is missing). The set appears to have privately owned; there are no library marks, and there is an MS slip at the end of volume XI indicating that the final two volumes were bound for a Miss St. Leger, although no St. Leger or Doneraile is listed as a subscriber and the volumes were not part of the Doneraile Court library when it was broken up and auctioned in 1969.