Weights and Measures of the Major Food Commodities in Early-nineteenth Century Ireland: A Regional Perspective

Dermot Feenan, Liam Kennedy

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    This paper describes in detail and discusses the regional variation of weights and measures of major food commodities (potatoes, oats, oatmeal, wheat, barley, rye, butter and milk) in early nineteenth-century Ireland. It builds upon the exposition by Wakefield and Bourke of weights and measures in Ireland before the Great Famine. New sources examined include estate records, market reports in regional and local newspapers, archives of the Irish Folklore Commission in the Department of Irish Folklore, and Ordnance Survey memoirs. A wider range of weights and measures is shown, illustrated through tables and with calculation of median and modal values. The diversity appears to reflect one or more variables, commodity, location, time and point in the chain of distribution, thus indicating the need for caution in assumptions about uniform or smooth interchangeability of weights and measures. The government's attempts to standardise weights and measures in Ireland are discussed with reference to the wider international movements towards quantitative standardisation.
    LanguageEnglish
    Pages2-45
    JournalProceedings of the Royal Irish Academy Section C: Archaeology, Celtic Studies, History, Linguistics and Literature
    Volume102C
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2002

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    Ireland
    commodity
    nineteenth century
    folklore
    food
    regional difference
    newspaper
    market
    Commodities
    Food
    Values
    Folklore
    time

    Cite this

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    abstract = "This paper describes in detail and discusses the regional variation of weights and measures of major food commodities (potatoes, oats, oatmeal, wheat, barley, rye, butter and milk) in early nineteenth-century Ireland. It builds upon the exposition by Wakefield and Bourke of weights and measures in Ireland before the Great Famine. New sources examined include estate records, market reports in regional and local newspapers, archives of the Irish Folklore Commission in the Department of Irish Folklore, and Ordnance Survey memoirs. A wider range of weights and measures is shown, illustrated through tables and with calculation of median and modal values. The diversity appears to reflect one or more variables, commodity, location, time and point in the chain of distribution, thus indicating the need for caution in assumptions about uniform or smooth interchangeability of weights and measures. The government's attempts to standardise weights and measures in Ireland are discussed with reference to the wider international movements towards quantitative standardisation.",
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