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Bittersweet Beet: A History of Irish Sugar

The above advert for Irish sugar made in the 1970s with its tagline ‘a taste of the goodness we’re rich in’ reveals much about the historic place of Irish sugar in relation to the Irish culinary landscape.  With the demise of Irish sugar in 2006, we are no longer rich in the product or the profits of the sugar industry, and most people would now question the wisdom of calling sugar ‘good’ in any nutritional or dietary context. Yet sugar is a foodstuff that still provokes a strong reaction. Food writer Aoife McElwain recently wrote a short piece about sugar for the Irish Times. In it she mentioned the sugar issue of Feast and my research for this article. Following its publication, I received emails from people who wanted to talk to me about sugar beet. The interest in sugar and the resonance it seems to have is a sign of how deeply embedded Siúcra (pronounced shook-rah, the Irish for sugar) was as a food product in the Irish culinary psyche, and how much sugar beet was part of rural life around the country.  For much of the twentieth century sugar was a taken for granted Irish product that people trusted as benevolently familiar. The emotive signification in the advert’s tag line is a sign of those times, showing how foodstuffs can be charged with moral qualities: sugar is good, it is ours, and it is abundant. From the late 1920s until 1991, sugar beet growing and processing into refined sugar was a nationalised industry headed by the Irish Sugar Company. The social and economic impact of the industry on the new Irish state, struggling to find its feet, was immense, helping to forge self-confidence in the ability of Ireland to meet its own needs. 

Yet, the taste for refined sugar is an imported one, brought to Ireland via the colonial sugar trade in which Ireland played a role with its ports, its produce, and of course its emerging middle class and elites who were becoming consumers of sugar. By the beginning of the twentieth century, refined sugar had been so common as a staple and necessary food product that it warranted the state management of Irelands’ own sugar production. The centralised approach to the development of the sugar industry has an interventionist, faintly socialist flavour. It was zealously pursued and rolled out across four areas in the country providing jobs, training and knock-on economic benefits to the towns and farming hinterlands where it was established. A  radio documentary made for the State broadcaster by Dick Warner in 1984 on the 50th anniversary of the Irish Sugar Company  introduces the organisation as “one of the great modern institutions built by the Irish people and one of the most significant instruments for social change in modern Ireland” and that sense of pride remains. When Ireland joined the European Economic Commission the industry was transformed, and later reforms eventually brought it to a close. Looking towards the future, questions can be asked about the feasibility of reinstating an Irish sugar beet industry in the context of food sovereignty, sustainability and public health.

A Taste for Sweetness

Ireland shares a significant culinary overlap with Britain in terms of both general cooking ingredients and recipe repertoires. Traditional cakes and desserts in Ireland mirror the British palate and sugar is the most common sweetener in modern times. Before that, honey was the main source of sweetness. Isotopic evidence for use of bees (via traces of wax on pottery) is dated later in Ireland than the rest of Europe. Archaeologist at University College Dublin Jessica Smyth explained to me that bees were likely exploited for their honey in parts of central and southern Europe and Britain up to five millenia BC, but in Ireland this seems to have happened later, after the Neolithic or New Stone Age period. Agricultural historian Fergus Kelly states “expert opinion is divided as to whether the honeybee spread naturally to Britain and Ireland when there was still a land connection with the continent, or whether it was brought over by man.”

Ireland, Empire and Sugar

During the peak of the sugar and slave trade, Ireland was under British rule. Irish ports were used as bases for trade routes; Cork was the last stop before crossing the Atlantic. The British treated Ireland in many ways like a larder, exporting the rich dairy, pork and beef produced by Irish tenant farmers to the colonies. Preservation methods were perfected in Ireland to ensure that foods could traverse the Atlantic to the Americas; commonly sent was a salted beef called ‘Irish horse’ or ‘cow beef’, as well as salted Irish butter.5 Confectionary, Cashman argues, was one way for the Irish upper classes to use taste and conspicuous consumption to become of trans-European aristocracy, “Confectioners in Georgian Ireland plied their trade within the boundaries of elite society and those who sought to emulate it.” In feeding merchant sailors and the colonies, Irish ports further facilitated the importation of sugar, tobacco and rum to Britain, becoming directly implicated in the plantation sugar economy and its slave labour system. As farmers and labourers around the country produced food for export, they were expected to exist largely on a diet of potatoes, the cheap and efficient monocrop installed by British rule. The consequences of this dependent relationship were devastating. As Kevin Whelan notes, “Economic development and the evolution of Ireland as the larder of the Industrial Revolution brought with it a permanent, proliferating and potato-dependent underclass.”4 Failure of the crop in 1845 and the following seven or so years led to starvation and emigration on a mass scale.

At the same time as this developing underclass, the importation of sugar in Georgian Ireland brought wealth to Ireland and with it the trades of sugar baker and confectioner. Dorothy Cashman has written on the emergence of these culinary skills and their demand. She uncovers hidden histories that reveal a more agentive class of Irish protagonists within the sugar trade. Sugar refining had been practised in Dublin and Ireland since the eighteenth century. By 1766 there were at least 59 refineries in Dublin alone.5 Confectionary, Cashman argues, was one way for the Irish upper classes to use taste and conspicuous consumption to become of trans-European aristocracy, “Confectioners in Georgian Ireland plied their trade within the boundaries of elite society and those who sought to emulate it.”6 Cashman references Nini Rodgers’ assertion that the sugar trade and industry was key to the economic development of Ireland in the eighteenth and nineteenth century, and fuelled the rise of the middle class.7 Rodgers maintains that this economic activity also fuelled urban growth, particularly the cities of Cork and Dublin. The Irish appetite for sugar increased at a rapid rate;8 from 1733 until the outbreak of the American war in 1775 the amount of sugar imported into Ireland increased fivefold.9

By the middle of the eighteenth century, sugar had become Ireland’s most valuable import, and two-thirds of its sugar supply was refined in Dublin.

As the trade grew, the stakes increased. Ireland was subject to the tariffs and taxes of Britain, who often protected its own interests and was at the mercy of the global sugar trade. By the nineteenth century, the European demand for sugar was so high that it became imperative to find sources for sweetness that did not depend on the Atlantic trade. Together with questions of the morality of the slave trade an unwelcome volatility arrived in the provision of sugar to Europe.10

The Arrival of Sugar Beet

During the Napoleonic Wars in the early 1800s, Britain’s near monopoly on the Atlantic sugar trade meant they were able to blockade the French supply and leave France almost sugarless. This encouraged the French to find an alternative source for sugar. It had been known that beet contained sweet properties but the blockades intensified efforts to utilise this on an industrial scale. The growing and refining of sugar beet quickly spread throughout Europe. With a new source of sweetness and the corresponding increase in its availability, sugar reduced in price and became a more affordable and highly consumed product. By the middle of the nineteenth century sugar had become a staple food, and considered an unquestioned necessity. 11 In Ireland, sugar beet was first grown and processed into sugar in the counties of Antrim and Mayo in the 1840s. The first sugar beet processing factory was built at Mountmellick in Co. Laois in 1851 by the Royal Irish Beet-Root Sugar Company. Although it was decommissioned in 1862, the factory “demonstrated the potential for the manufacture of good-quality sugar in the country.’’ 12 These early efforts laid the foundations for the development of the sugar industry following the founding of the Irish Free State in 1922.

Sugar Beet Factory 1958 Carlow Igp Website

Sugar beet factory, Carlow 1958. Image from IGP Carlow.

Carlow, Mallow, Thurles and Tuam: Sugar Beet and Self-sufficiency

These four names are known to multiple generations of Irish schoolchildren, learned by rote to recall the towns where sugar was produced. The rhythmic chant is an invocation of place and industry, ingrained in many experiences of early education. Cumann na nGaedhal were still in power when the first sugar factory was opened in 1926. At first the government were in a support role, offering subsidies to its private Belgian backers. Competition between towns to attract this new industry was fraught but Carlow was chosen. In Dick Warner’s radio documentary, a local man Paddy Bergin describes the town’s reaction to finding out that the factory would locate there. 13]

Eventually got word it had been decided. Word came first to the Royal Arms and from there was sent to the Pipers band. The whole population turned out. There was bonfires and celebrations to no end. The band played continuously throughout the night.

Ad To Set Up Carlow Beet Factory Carlow Igp Website1

The completion of the first factory was achieved very quickly. Former Director of Irish agriculture and food state agency Teagasc Liam Downey notes that, “sugar was produced by the company in just over ten months from the turning of the sod, an achievement facilitated by the involvement of skilled European chemists, engineers, and technologists.” 14 When Fianna Fáil took power in 1932, they brought an ideological commitment to economic and cultural protectionism and began a bitter trade war with Britain. 15 Sugar was seized on by the nascent state as a staple product of primary significance that it could now produce itself as a cornerstone of its industrial strategy. In an era of mass unemployment and subsistence farming, they hoped that an indigenous Irish industry would blossom under conditions of import substitution. 16 The state bought out the private owners of the Carlow factory and in 1933, the first state owned company Cómlucht Siúicre Eireann or the Irish Sugar Company was formed. By this time the Carlow factory was not producing enough sugar to meet the country’s needs. Séan Lemass, then Minister for Industry and Commerce, convinced the government to build three more sugar factories: at Mallow, Thurles and Tuam. Lemass was an iconoclastic character with a visionary yet pragmatic approach to industrial policy, and he is crucial to the story of Irish sugar. His statement in the Dáil in 1933 expresses the mood of post-War social responsibility,17

In no country in the world is sugar an economic proposition, if we regard it from purely an economic point of view. But there are other points of view besides the views of the accountants. And we are going to provide employment, it will be a cash crop for farmers, and it will indirectly create new business.

The new factories opened and each started processing sugar in 1934. As with other national projects at the time, such as the iconic Ardnacrusha dam on the Shannon river to create electricity, and the corresponding establishment of the Electricity Supply Board, political will acted decisively and collectively to improve the lives of citizens and to establish the key stones of a new country. Fianna Fáil’s Charles Haughey, who was later to lead the country explained,18

Fianna Fail wanted to build up the country’s economy and they also wanted to develop the country socially. They could build a modern industry on an agricultural resource, namely sugar. Of course, apart from that their whole philosophy was to produce things for ourselves, goods and services, not to have to import them.

The Campaign: Growing Beet and Producing Sugar

The ‘Campaign’ with its nod towards the language of communist collective action was the term used to describe the period of harvesting the beet and delivering it to the factories. Beet is a lumpy white root vegetable, shaped like a turnip or parsnip, but bigger. It quickly became a familiar feature of Irish rural landscape. For tillage farming, it’s an important rotation crop, suited to inclusion in a yearly-changing cycle of crops, for instance barley, wheat or potatoes. Harvest started in September and went on until December. Beet was a cash crop; the Irish Sugar Company provided seed, harvest assistance and transport and farmers were paid an advance, which was of vital importance to small scale farmers.  The harvesting was a labour-intensive process. Professor of Crop Science at University College Dublin Jimmy Burke told me “the crop was singled and weeds were removed by hand and hoe. The crop was also harvested by hand and manually loaded for transport taking about 350 man-hours to produce one acre.”   Ann Spain of Kilcormac recalls her father growing beet for the Carlow factory, “Me and my siblings would pull beet on our knees, two at a time, shake them together to get the heavy dirt off them, and then line them up. Dad would come behind with the snagger to cut the leaves. The beet would be loaded into trailers, put into a heap at a location suitable for sugar factory lorries to collect.” Heaps of sugar beet along the roadsides in rural Ireland were a common sight.

Men Working On A Sugar Beet Train Carlow Source Carlow Igp Website

Men working a sugar beet train, Carlow. Image from IGP Carlow.

Once the beet got to the factories, the process of preparing and refining began. There were two distinct sides to the factory; a ‘raw’ side and a refinery. In the raw section the raw beet was washed, sliced into ‘cossettes’ and the juice extracted by diffuser. The juice was then clarified and filtered to a clear liquid of about 16% sugar. Then it was sent to be ‘cooked’ in the refinery where the liquid was ‘cooked’ or further evaporated into crystal sugar. The factories made an intense sensory impact on the towns, sending impressive clouds of steam into the sky and a strong smell of sugar into the air.   The Carlow factory, like the others, had a core group of permanent workers but the majority employed were ‘permanent campaign’ meaning seasonally enlisted from September to December but on permanent contracts”. The industry provided a reliable source of income to workers and growers.  Mick Browne of trade union SIPTU comments,

"the influence of the factory was enormous. These were intergenerational jobs. It was a tough industry to work in; with very hot and cold environments. But the money and terms were good”. As well as employment the Irish Sugar Company trained engineers and mechanics to look after the machinery at each processing plant, leaving a legacy of skilled workforces in the four factory towns. As Foy puts it in his study on Irish Sugar, the Irish Sugar Company was a19

major contribution to rural economy, not only in sugar production and food manufacturing, but also in the production of beet pulp and molasses, as well as engaging in a diverse range of other rural enterprises, including housing developments.

After the protectionist 1930s and the war period of the 1940s, the Sugar Company survived by diversifying into ‘ancillary activities’ like making agricultural machinery and limestone quarrying. 20 This was under the Managing Directorship of General Michael Joe Costello, a former Irish rebel and military leader. He was a formidable character with a comprehensive vision for social development through this cooperation of industry and agriculture. The 1950s brought fresh challenges; Ireland’s economic growth record in 1950-58 “was the worst in Western Europe.” 21 The government began to see that the protectionist policies of the 1930s had not delivered an efficient or open manufacturing sector. The Sugar Company was forced to evolve. It began to produce consumer goods in the 1960s for the emerging consumer markets, including processed food subsidiary Erin Foods.  On the agricultural side, modernisation was also afoot.  Techniques became much more labour efficient in the late 1960s and 70s due to investment in Research & Development. Prof Jimmy Burke noted that “by 1976 yield had increased by over 50% and labour input reduced by over 80%.” On both sides, mechanisation and drives for efficiency increased outputs while decreasing manual labour. More broadly, Ireland was modernising. Whitaker’s crisis statement of 1957 was a critical point and precipitated Ireland joined the IMF and the World Bank in 1958. 22 The protectionist approach of the past was opening up to trade with Europe and the rest of the world.

Changes: the European Common Agricultural Policy and the Sugar Regime

In 1973 Ireland made the momentous decision to connect with Europe and joined the European Economic Community. By joining the EEC, Ireland now had to comply with the European Common Agricultural Policy. The policy had been set up in 1962 to regulate internal European food and ensure stability in food production. After its initial success, Europe began to produce too much of certain foods, one of which was sugar. As a result, CAP’s Sugar Regime established the EEC Sugar Quota system. Each country was allocated a sugar beet “quota” in line with its consumption needs and sugar output was restricted. The factories were modernised and made more efficient at the same time the amount of sugar they could produce under CAP was reduced. There was a deep recession in Ireland in the 1980s, making the industrial context difficult and compounding the challenge of the sugar quota system.  A decision was made by management to concentrate production and close the two smaller factories, Tuam in 1986 and Thurles in 1989. The rationalisation was devastating for these communities; the factories had been the traditional industrial base of these towns for decades. The decisions were bitterly opposed by trade unions who argued that the factories were performing efficiently and the decision could have been avoided. At the same time, mechanisation was also leading to increasingly higher farming yields. Prof Burke explained, “by the mid 1980’s some growers were able to produce beet with only 4% of the labour required just thirty years earlier.” This ‘streamlining’ and the sugar quota system fundamentally restructured the Irish sugar beet industry. Further undoing of the original mission of the Irish Sugar Company was to come. In April 1991 the Irish Sugar Company was floated on the stock market under the name Greencore,  reflect the ideology of privatisation that became prevalent in the 1980s. Greencore as the continuation of Irish Sugar was now the holder of Ireland’s sugar quota and therefore the only sugar  producer.

Thurles Protest 1986 Source Rte1

Men protesting closure of Thurle sugar beet factory 1989.

The final death knell to the industry came with the major reforms of the CAP EU Sugar Regime in 2005-2006. These aimed to make European sugar production more efficient and fairer to less economically developed countries. The World Trade Organisation had declared that by disadvantaging poorer countries in the global sugar trade, the “EU's sugar regime, financed by European consumers and taxpayers, hampers global efforts to reduce poverty.” 23  Under the 2005-2006 reforms the EU was to reduce its sugar production by 25%. This loss was to be replaced by sugar imported to Europe from the least developed countries tariff free. To achieve this, protections such as guaranteed prices for sugar and export subsidies were all reduced, impacting on beet and sugar prices. Greencore’s initial response to the changes was to close the Carlow factory and move all production to Mallow. Eventually however, the beet growers collectively made the choice to take compensation rather than work on at a lower value and in 2006 Greencore made the decision to stop sugar production entirely and close Mallow as well. SITPU union representative Mick Browne, who worked on the closure negotiations, explained 

The minister Mary Coughlan surrendered the Irish sugar quota and negotiated compensation at government level for the farmers. There was a sense that it was a ‘fair accompli’ for the factory workers.

I asked him how Carlow has fared since the closure whether the town has recovered?

No, absolutely not. After the closure of the sugar factory we lost every piece of manufacturing in Carlow.

The final Campaigns and the closure of the Mallow and Carlow factories was an emotive end to a key part of Irish industrial history, an industry that in the context of the economic boom of the time and its fascination with the knowledge economy seemed to be an anachronism.  The issue of whether the sugar beet industry could have continued is still contentious. A subsequent report by the European Court of Auditors concluded that the decision to close the industry entirely was not necessary and this was a bitter afternote to the fractious negotiations that saw the end of Irish Sugar.  Former beet grower Allan Navratil, who was involved in campaigning against the decision, feels that the decision to close the industry was ill-judged “It is an easy calculation that if the sugar business had been retained, in the period since closure, Greencore would have made many hundreds of millions of Euros, far more than the compensation money received from Europe.” 24 Professor Burke says of production, “It would be wrong to say that sugar beet ceased in Ireland because our farmers were not able to attain top yields.”  German sugar refiners Nordzucker took over Greencore, but at that point it was too late. Ben McGarry, who works for Nordzucker but has years of experience in the Irish sugar industry, thinks in retrospect Nordzucker could have kept one factory open but they had been decommissioned before the company was  fully on board.  The difficulty was to ensure a sustainable price for growers. Professor Emeritus of European Agricultural Policy at Trinity College Dublin Alan Matthews believes,25

Irish sugar production can’t complete with sugar cane in tropical countries.

It is an issue on which experts differ, and one that is difficult to answer on a speculative basis.

Fingerdoodles Siucra

Illustration by Fingerdoodles Dublin.

After the Reforms: Importing Sugar

With the closure of the Irish sugar industry, Ireland was faced with importing sugar to meet national demand.  After Greencore left the sugar business in 2009, Siúcra, the distinctive brand of the Irish Sugar Company was maintained by Nordzucker.  Irish cookery legend and Ballymaloe Cookery School director Darina Allen maintains that the sweetness of Siúcra changed once it was imported. The perceived difference in sweetness was sufficient enough for the school to reduce sugar in their baking recipes by 30%. There is scientific evidence suggesting a difference in the taste profile between beet and cane sugars. 26 However, Ben McGarry informs me that their brand Siúcra is made with beet sugar produced in Germany. Is it possible that beet from a different growing landscape could have a different sweetness level? Darina is of the opinion that the new sugar is comprised of smaller granules, another factor which could affect the intensity of the sweetness. Ballymaloe now import their sugar directly from the UK. Other individuals in the Irish culinary world have been searching for an Irish solution to sweetness. Jordan Bailey, who opened Aimsir restaurant with his wife Majken in County Kildare is inspired by the Nordic approach to contemporary food philosophy. Seeking to use as much from local landscapes as possible, Jordan and Majken wanted to only use ingredients indigenous to Ireland and the seas around it. Yet sugar is a major stumbling block. They are currently using honey to sweeten dishes, but Jordan says sugar is a particular kind of sweetness, providing a structural component and he is continuing to seek a locally sourced supply.

What Now for Sugar Beet?

“We know one thing for sure. Beet is back. Bringing a Brighter, Sweeter Future”

Since the demise of sugar production in Ireland there have been many rumours of its return. These ambitions hinge on the feasibility of sugar beet as an economic endeavour for growers, and the optimisation of the processing facilities. The most recent attempt was BEET Ireland, who have spent the past eight years researching and canvassing support for the reinstatement of a modernised sugar beet based industry. The BEET Ireland plan required an investment of €400 million for a biorefinery facility which would produce sugar, bio-ethanol and a number of other products from sugar beet, cereals and molasses.  BEET Ireland acquired a site in Kildare where the new facility was to be based. Farmers wishing to become part of a new cooperative were asked to pay €1000 as an “initial subscription which will be used by the Sugar Beet Cooperative to fund an equity stake in a new company in conjunction with BEET Ireland.” Persuading growers that beet is again a viable crop was harder than expected. In June 2019 BEET Ireland announced the postponement of its plans to restart the industry, Prof Jimmy Burke who advised on these plans, said “While many benefits would accrue from such a project; large-scale import substitution, a major boost for employment and the rural economy of the tillage area, a contribution to the achievement of mandatory EU biofuel use targets, and an increased national security of supply for two important commodities, the capital cost involved and market conditions prevailing today make this a formidable challenge.”  So, for the near future at least, sugar beet will not be grown or processed in Ireland.

Sweet Enough? The Politics of Sugar Beet

Sugar beet is pivotal in the history of agriculture and industry in Ireland and has been uniquely politicised throughout the twentieth and early twenty-first century. The new state began with an undeveloped tillage and industrial sector and a mission to create an independent Ireland. The  idealistic adoption of sugar beet as a national priority gives us a flavour of the times. The sugar industry was a particularly Irish form of enterprise; one that integrated agriculture with industry. It made sense in a country with a strongly rural self-conception and an intrinsic distrust of the industrial urbanism of its nearest neighbour that so many Irish people emigrated to.  It was an example of Irish agricultural and industrial cooperation, exploitation of a raw natural resource that changed the economic and social landscape of rural Ireland. It managed the tension between rural and industrial milieus as well is in its early history the tensions between the social functions of enterprise and the need to be competitive and profitable. Its legacy is deep and extensive. Professor Jimmy Burke states that “the Irish sugar beet industry directly employed many hundreds of staff but also provided over 10,000 additional jobs on farms, in agricultural contracting, haulage and in the service industries.  Its closure dealt a serious blow to rural Ireland and to the Irish tillage sector.” The industry fostered technical enterprises to grow around the factories and trained professionals who went on to work in other parts of the state and in private enterprise. Although the towns were very badly impacted by the factory closures, echoes remain. Ben McGarry asks “is it a coincidence that ‘regional’ colleges (now Institutes of Technology) were later established at three of these locations? The sugar industry supported the development of the social fabric and economic prosperity of the country.”

The 1930s in Ireland is not a period many would wish to return to, yet some of its preoccupations persist as we look towards the future. The interest in self-sufficiency, while at odds with globalised free trade, chimes with current calls for local food systems and a sustainable approach to agriculture. Growing as much as possible of our own food is desirable; in terms of sustainability, food sovereignty and indeed food security. The interest in self-reliance of the 1930s and 40s may stem from the trauma of the Famine and fears of reliance on insecure food chains, and a desire to cut ties with Britain. Our impetus now may be environmental. Whether sugar, given its current health status, is a food that should be considered top of the list, is questionable, but the premise of growing our own is important. When I asked Pippa Hackett, farmer, Green Party local councillor and their spokesperson for Agriculture, Food, Forestry, Heritage and Animal Welfare about the intersections of agriculture, economics and public health she commented that “all three are intrinsically linked. Rarely do health and agriculture get mentioned in the same sentence. Human health depends greatly on food, and if government could support the production of more home grown, locally produced foods, including high welfare, grass fed meats, eggs, pesticide free grains, nuts, fruit, vegetables and so on;  as opposed to pursuing a policy of increasing production at any cost, environmental or otherwise, then we may well be able to improve the health if our nation.”  Is it time for the same vision and ambition that gave rise to the Irish sugar industry to be brought to the growth and processing of fruit, vegetables and other cereals that Ireland currently imports on a large scale? Adaptation of our food system towards a more local and sustainable food economy requires a similar resolve. Sugar beet was fuel for social change in Ireland, sustaining and nurturing economic, industrial and social development. Perhaps there is a place for beet in the future agricultural landscape of Ireland, but perhaps even more can be learned by taking its inception as a template, an example of visionary Irish agri-industry that sought to meet social needs.

Sugar Beet Field In Wexford Photo Jimmy Burke

Sugar beet field Wexford, photography by Jimmy Burke

End Notes

Go to footnote reference 1.

Fergus Kelly. A Guide to Early Irish Farming. Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1998. p.109

Go to footnote reference 2.

ibid, p.108.

Go to footnote reference 3.

Susan J Thomson and J Tadlock Cowen. 'Durable Food Consumption in the World Economy' in Philip McMichael (ed.) Food and Agrarian Orders in the World-economy. Praeger, 1995 .
Nini Rodgers. Ireland and the Black Atlantic in the Eighteenth Century. Dublin: Irish Historical Studies, 32(126), 2000. p.176.

Go to footnote reference 4.

Kevin Whelan. 'The modern landscape from plantation to present' in F. H. A. Aalen, Kevin Whelan, Matthew Stout (eds.) Atlas of the Irish Rural Landscape. Cork University Press, 1997.

Go to footnote reference 5.

M. Foy. The Sugar Industry in Ireland. The Irish Sugar Company, 1976.

Go to footnote reference 6.

Dorothy Cashman. 'Sugar Bakers and Confectioners in Georgian Ireland'. Canadian Journal of Irish Studies. 41, The Food Issue, 2008.

Go to footnote reference 7.

Nini Rodgers. Ireland Slavery and Anti-Slavery 1612-1865 .Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2007

Go to footnote reference 8.

Nini Rodgers (2000) p.177.

Go to footnote reference 9.

Bruce Nelson. Irish Nationalists and the Making of the Irish Race. Princeton University Press, 2012. p.77.

Go to footnote reference 10.

Nini Rodgers (2000). p.187.

Go to footnote reference 11.

Blame Napolean for our Addiction to Sugar, 4 December 2012, Smithsonian Magazine. 

Go to footnote reference 12.

Foy (1976).

Go to footnote reference 13.

The Irish Sugar Company (1984) radio documentary for Radio Telifis Eireann. Produced by Dick Warner.

[1] J Peter Neary and Cormac O Grada (1991) Economic war and structural change: the 1930s in Ireland. Irish Historical Studies, Vol 27, 107, p. 250

Go to footnote reference 14.

Muris O’Sullivan and Liam Downey . 'Sugar Refining'. Archaeology Ireland, 31(4), (2017) 49-52.

Go to footnote reference 15.

J Peter Neary and Cormac O Grada. 'Economic war and structural change: the 1930s in Ireland'. Irish Historical Studies, 27(107), (1991). p.250.

Go to footnote reference 16.

Address by Professor Cormac O Gráda, School of Economics UCD to the Central Bank Whitaker Lecture 29 June 2011

Go to footnote reference 17.

The Irish Sugar Company (1984) radio documentary

Go to footnote reference 18.


Go to footnote reference 19.

Foy quoted in O’Sullivan and Downey (2017), p. 52.

Go to footnote reference 20.

Donal Palcic, Eoin Reeves. Privatisation in Ireland: Lessons from a European Economy. London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2001. p.78.

Go to footnote reference 21.

O’Grada (2011)

Go to footnote reference 22.


Go to footnote reference 23.

Dumping on the World: How EU Sugar Policies Hurt Poor Countries. Oxfam briefing Paper 1 March, 2004.

Go to footnote reference 24.

'Beet Lobby Adamant Sugar Industry Can Be Revived'. The Irish Times, 3 Jun 2013.

Go to footnote reference 25.

'Irish Sugar Production is not an Economic Activity'. The Irish Times, 26 January 2005.

Go to footnote reference 26.

Urbanus BL1, Cox GO, Eklund EJ, Ickes CM, Schmidt SJ, Lee SY. 'Sensory differences between beet and cane sugar sources'. Journal of Food Science, 79(9), (2014). S1763-8.

Caitriona Devery

Caitriona Devery is a contributing editor to FEAST. She currently works as a research coordinator at University College Dublin and is the Food and Drink editor for District Magazine's Guide to Dublin.