When I travel to Ireland one of the highlights of the trip is the Irish Breakfast featuring “rashers or Irish bacon”. I quickly discovered that pigs were very important in Irish history and still today. In the days before the Irish Potato Famine, many farmers were allowed a small plot of land on a large landowners property as tenants on that land. The Irish laborer or small tenant farmer was allowed to plant potatoes which sustained the family all year, but only after he had tended to the landowners crops. While the potatoes were usually enough for the typical farmer to feed his family they often raised a pig. The pig was so well cared for and coveted by the small farmers that they were allowed to sleep in the house! The pig was the means for the farmer to pay half the rent and was sold at market or at a local fair on or around May Day (May 1). The remainder of the rent was due on November 1. The days the rent was due were called “gale day”.
I planned to write a full article about pigs in Irish culture. However, when I started my research I found someone had already beaten me to the punch! So here is the article I wanted to write done very nicely by Mairead’s blog Irish American Mom, Thanks for a job well done Mairead! Irish American Mom