Debates of the Athenry Agricultural College in the House of Commons by Ronan Killeen

In April 1903 an inspector from the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction, Dublin, visited Moyode Castle near Moyode Castle to see if it was suitable for an agricultural college for the county of Galway. The location had been proposed by the Chairman of the County Galway committee of agricultural instruction and the chairman of the county Galway committee of technical instruction.[1]
It was later decided that the location was deemed unsuitable for an agricultural college in Athenry.[2]
   In 1905, a balance of £35,000 was used to meet expenditure on marine works; new buildings and equipment of the Albert Agricultural College and also Athenry.[3]
There were nine farm apprentices in residence at the Agricultural station in 1907 and one vacancy. One teacher was employed in addition to the farm manager, whose duties included instruction in practical agriculture. The extent of land crop last year was 230 acres. The cost of maintaining the start last year was £917, including the salaries, wages, and general up-keep of the station. Besides the use for teaching purposes the station was utilised as a distributing centre in connection with the operations of the Department’s live stock scheme in the West of Ireland. [4]
In June 1907, a sum of £10,000 was provisionally allocated by the Department for the erection of an agricultural college at Athenry. Owing to the unsettled start of the distinct,  action in regard to the expenditure of this money was indefinetaly postponed and the Department are unable to say when if ever, any portion of the said sum will be expended for the purpose  for which it was allocated.[5]
The area of the farm occupied by the Department at Athenry for the purpose of their agricultural station was 670 acres.  During that time  250 acres are under rotation crops, 20 are under plantations, 80 are permanent meadow, and the remainder is pasture. The number of live stock, exclusive of premium cattle disposed of at this station, was between 400 and 500 head, including lambs.[6]
The £10,000 that was given towards the Athenry Agricultural college was provisionally set aside due to the problems of seriously interfering with the work of the place the project of building a college at the station was indefinitely postponed, and the department had resolved not to proceed with it.[7]
By 1909 plans were in preparation for an agricultural college and the sum of £370 10s. 3d. was so expended due to the chaos of agrarian and labour troubles to which Captain Craig retorted in the House of Commons ‘Will the right hon. Gentleman have any objection, seeing that there is so much agrarian trouble about Athenry, to building this college in one of the law-abiding counties?’[8]
By 1910 there was no agricultural college but ‘An agricultural station where live stock for the Department’s schemes for the West of Ireland are distributed, and where certain apprentices are taken in connection with the farming operations carried on there. The cost of acquiring the lands and providing the buildings has been £23, 117. The annual cost of maintenance is approximately £2000. The station has been established five years.The Athenry station serves chiefly the western congested districts. No county committees have made contributions in respect of the cost of these institutions’.
That same year Mr. Duffy asked the chief secretary ‘whether he is aware that a large farm of land was acquired some years ago by the Congested Districts Board in the neighbourhood of Athenry; that the farm was subsequently acquired by the Estate Commissioners; and that later on the greater portion of the farm was sold to the Agricultural Department for the express purpose of building a college thereon  and maintain the farm for the training and education of the young men of Connaught in the science  of agriculture; will he state at what date the farm was purchased by the Department; what sum of sums of money have been earmarked for the purpose of building the college’ to which Mr. Redmond Barry replied  ‘I have given nothing to add to the reply given by the  Vice-President of the Department to a question on the same subject asked by the hon.Member for South Mayo on 29th July, 1909’.
In 1910 agitation in Athenry was at its height, the agricultural station and a farm in that district belonging to the Department are protected by sixteen police, of whom eleven belong to the free force and five are extra police. Half the cost of the extra police is charged to the county, and no part was paid to the Department.[9]
Might be an investigation as to weheter the farmers, at any rate in the West of Ireland, are employing the best methods in regard to the care of cows, and a portion of the money might be allocated in that direction.   'One question which I wish particularly to address to the right hon. Gentleman is as to whether any part of the investigations to be made will take place at the Agricultural College at Athenry. It appears to me most desirable that experiments should be carried out there.'[10]











[1] HC Deb 14 June 1904 vol 136 c23
[2] Ibid
[3] HC Deb 05 December 1906 vol 166 cc958-9
[4] HC 18 March 1907 vol 171 cc429-30
[5] HC Deb 29 July 1909 vol 8 cc1450-2w
[6]  Ibid
[7] HC Deb 30 July 1909 vol 8 c1545W
[8] HC 04 August 1909 vol 8. C1843
[9] HC Deb 11 July 1910 Vol. 19 c37
[10]ibId

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