George Sigerson – Advocating Irish Hemp in 1866

George Sigerson 1836 - 1925
George Sigerson (1836 – 1925)


If you enjoyed the recent historical themed post on Napoleon and Irish grown hemp then you might enjoy this one on George Sigerson and hemp. The research is still underway, so consider this an introduction until I receive the relevant pamphlet.

George Sigerson was born in Co. Tyrone in 1836 and was a doctor who specialised in neurology. He was also a scientist, a zoologist, a botanist, a politician, and a writer. Sigerson also studied alongside Sigmund Freud in Paris.

Supposedly self taught in Irish he went on to become one of the leading figures in the Irish Literary Revival movement. Arguably the movement helped reignite Ireland’s Gaelic heritage, and it aided the growth of Irish nationalism from the middle of the 19th century.

The name Sigerson maybe familiar to some, especially students with an interest in GAA. The Sigerson Cup, which is the Gaelic football competition featuring teams from higher education institutions, gets its name from him. He designed the trophy himself and also donated his salary from UCD in order to purchase it.

Sigerson also served as a Senator in the first Seanad Éireann after the formation of the Irish Free State in 1922, following the Anglo-Irish treaty.

What will be of interest to readers of this blog is that George Sigerson also produced literature regarding the hemp plant in the Irish context. A rarity indeed.

In 1866, Sigerson released a 32 page pamphlet entitled Cannabiculture in Ireland; its profit and possibility. In the pamphlet he called for the mass production of the hemp plant in Ireland in order to shake up the economy.

It will be interesting to read and share the pamphlet, written over half a century before the foundation of the state, to see the available knowledge of the plant at the time.

One wonders if the founders and early leaders of the Irish state had grasped the potential of the hemp plant, how different events might have been.

The lack of raw resources needed for food, clothing, building and more, the economic stagnation and other issues which affected the new state arguably could have been lessened with a domestic hemp industry.

Ireland predominately imported hemp, when arguably it could have been planting and utilising its own, and exporting any excess.

I am in the process of acquiring a copy of Cannabiculture in Ireland; its profit and possibility, from the National Library of Ireland. In a followup post in a couple of weeks I will post some information and pictures from it.

The pamphlet should make for a fascinating read.

This copy of the pamphlet will then likely be put on display in the Hemp Museum in Dublin so others can enjoy this unique document.

Hopefully this introduction has given you an appetite to learn more. So bookmark the page, follow the blog, or give us a like a Facebook to be made aware of the followup article.


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