‘Stewards Enquiry’: The Curragh Mutiny and trade in Horse Meat in Ireland in 1914!

In recent days there has been a furore surrounding the discovery of traces of horse meat in beef products sold in Ireland. As a historian, this has sparked a personal debate; what is the real issue here? Irish people appear to be genuinely horrified, vociferous in their condemnation, by the actions of the parties that introduced this ‘foodstuff’ into circulation. However the strident complaints seem to stem from the fact that the slaughterhouses carried this out covertly in order, we can assume, to cut margins and maximise profits.

When eventually confronted with the ethical issue of animal welfare, generally and grudgingly, people will concede that there should also be concern expressed for the animals involved. But not at the expense of their indignation! This attitude has changed little in the last hundred years! I direct you to ‘The Army and the Curragh Incident, 1914’ (edited by Ian F.W. Beckett), for proof! The following extract is from the letter of an officer stationed in the Curragh, to his family in which he describes the caring nature of some racing folk towards their animals!

             ‘Hope your horse meeting was successful. A friend of mine sold a bad hunter to a sausageman the other day and got a better price for it as meat than he would have as a hunter! But it was not ‘broken down’ or ‘worn out’. The man told him that horses weigh so much more than beef and are better value in that way!’

This officer’s candid letter does pose the question ‘how are we best served with horses?’ By hook or by hoof?

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About eamonntgardiner

I am a PhD Student at the National University of Ireland, Galway. I am conducting research into links between wartime traumatic-neurosis and evidence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder amongst British First World War veterans serving as Auxiliary Policemen in Ireland during the Anglo-Irish War 1919-1921. I have previously conducted research into local Irish Volunteer/Old IRA units in Munster as well as British responses to popular insurgencies in areas they administered. I have previously published a book on the British Counterinsurgency responses to the IV/IRA conflict in Ireland, 1919-1921, entitled 'Dublin Castle and the Anglo-Irish War: Counter Insurgency and Conflict.' I have also published papers on various aspects of that war and also on other insurgencies. I write a regular blog on those and other related matters, which can be read at https://eamonntgardiner.wordpress.com/ My research interests include Feminism and De-Colonialisation/Post-Colonialism, Insurgency, Police and Military Histories, Institutional Histories. Subaltern Studies, International History of the 20th Century, Modern Irish History, Historiography, History of Conflict, Peace Keeping/Enforcement/Protectorates, Spheres of Influence, Hegemonic Theories, Old and New Terrorism.
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