This section is from the book "The Potato: A Compilation of Information from Every Available Source", by Eugene H. Grubb, W. S. Guilford. Also available from Amazon: The Potato: A Compilation Of Information From Every Available Source.
History is responsible for the statement that the first potatoes grown in Great Britain were planted in Ireland, near Cork. The name "Irish Potato" has come into universal use and many believe the tuber to have originated there.
The potato has for generations been one of the principal foods of the Irish peasant, and at the present time potato growing and all other branches of Irish agriculture are receiving great attention. One of the world's best agriculturists, Professor Campbell, is doing a wonderful work in advancing the farming interests of Ireland.
In another chapter considerable history and data concerning Irish potato conditions are given. As stated there, the future of the Irish early potato seems particularly bright. In "Leaflet 19" of the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction for Ireland, issued from Dublin, is the following:
The cultivation of potatoes for the early market is undoubtedly one of the most profitable branches of agriculture, provided the produce can be put on the market at the beginning of the season while high prices still obtain. In May phenomenally high prices are procurable; anytime in June the price is usually good enough to insure handsome profits; the first half of July is, as a rule, better than the ordinary late or main crop, and the latter half of July as good as winter marketing.
With the advent of August, prices often fall to a very low point, and the risk of disease being very great, only those growers who are in favored positions as respects markets and freightage can succeed. It should be borne in mind that the cost of production is much greater than in the case of the late crop, and unless several pounds sterling per acre more is received for the early crop it is not profitable. Within the last twenty years great developments have taken place in this industry. Foreign countries have participated in a trade which was thought impossible to them, and in our own country the crop has been greatly accelerated.
The season opens in April with potatoes from Malta and Teneriffe. In May great quantities are poured into our markets from Jersey and C6tes du Nord, France. Strangely enough, the next place in point of earliness is a strip of seaboard, on the west coast of Scotland, where for fifty miles in Ayrshire and Wigtonshire the Gulf Stream exercises a beneficent influence directly through the North Channel, and renders that district singularly immune from spring and May frosts. The Ayrshire season commences generally about the middle of June. Good crops ready to raise at that date are worth £40 per statute acre, and are sold growing to merchants, who take all further risks and bear the expense of raising, the farmer having no more to do except cart the potatoes to the nearest station.
Ireland's share in this lucrative industry has hitherto been small, although her physical conditions are extremely favorable. It would not be possible to approach the earliness of the Channel Islands, but what can be done in Scotland may assuredly be improved upon in Cork and Kerry, subject to the same ameliorating influences in even greater degree, 200 miles farther south, and possessing ideal soil.
The east coast of Ireland does not enjoy so mild a climate, but whatever is lacking in that respect is compensated for by contiguity to markets and greater facilities for intensive farming.
Early potato growing has long been practised in County Dublin, and at one time Scotch markets were largely supplied from there. Even now it is perfectly wonderful what has been achieved at Rush, by a race of shrewd and hardy men, whose ceaseless and laborious industry deserves a better reward. By the adoption of some of the new methods for accelerating the crop they can in some measure recover their lost supremacy, and Ireland generally may to a very large extent participate in the extremely profitable industry of supplying England with early potatoes."