Living History, — June 18, 2009 13:19 — 0 Comments

Hiring Fairs History

Even as labour was first being ‘Unionised’ in the first decade of the last century, a form of indenture that was little removed from slavery prevailed in the largely-unregulated agricultural labour market. 


Where our Hiring Fairs were held


Some historians say that Hiring Fairs owed their origin to the fourteenth century Black Death and the consequent shortage of labour: it is said that they were, in response an attempt to control the supply of labour and to fix wages. 

 

Whatever the truth of this, by the early twentieth century in Newry (and throughout the northern part of our isle) poor families readily hired out their children for six months at a time, boys and girls, at some eighty ‘Agricultural Labour Markets’.  Ours was in the Market Street/Castle Street area.

 

Gradually some regulation crept in and by 1904 a Newry newspaper carried the advertisement that …

 

‘A Hiring Fair will be held in the Butter Market vicinity on 19 May when wages arranged for six month periods will be ..

 

Ploughman –

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