Some years ago the district of Bannow was famous for its crops of beans. Nearly every farmer produced a field of them. They were grown up to thirty or twenty five years ago and I can always remember the magnificent perfume of a field of beans which grew opposite the farmhouse gate above. I believe that even still a farmer or two in Co Wexford -about Drinagh - still grow them. They are generally sown on lea land and manured with sea weed or short well rotted manure. The crop being a "legumenosae" was particularly useful to the land and succeeding crop of wheat was usually most productive - in yield + quality.
Furlongs who lived where Paddy Roche of Verneglye now lives where the last people to grow them in this district.
They were very often grown for the sake of bees as being of the clover family they were rich in nectar.
They were cut down when ripe and each man took out with him a bundle of straw latches with which to bind the bundle of beans. The bundles were put in stacks to save. They were readily saved as even after a heavy night's rain they dried quickly. They were threshed with a flail and the beans put up in sacks and sometimes sold.
In earlier times Wexford beans were exported even to the West Indies. The beans kept for home use were ground and the meal was a splendid food for pigs, cows + fowl. The meal is specially useful for finishing off horses in training and Mr Barthy Hickey, Wexford always uses it to give a finish to his animals. The stalks were used for firing being specially useful for putting on lids when bread was baked in bake pots.
- Mr John White
- Bannow, Co. Wexford