Giraldus Cambrensis (Gerald of Wales):
The Commerce of Ireland, 1187
Produce and Commerce of Ireland:
The island is rich in pastures and meadows, honey and milk, and also in wine, although
not in vineyards. Bede, indeed, among his other commendations of Ireland, says, "that
it does not lack vineyards"; while Solinus and Isidore affirm, "that there are
no bees." But with all respect for them, they might have written just the contrary,
that vineyards do not exist in the island, but that bees are found there. Vines it never
possessed, nor any cultivators of them. Still, foreign commerce supplies it with wine in
such plenty that the want of the growth of vines, and their natural production, is
scarcely felt. Poitou, out of its superabundance, exports vast quantities of wine to
Ireland, which willingly gives in return its ox-hides and the skins of cattle and wild
beasts. Like other countries, it has bees producing honey, and I think it would flow from
their cells more abundantly, if the increase of the swarms were not checked by the bitter
and poisonous yews with which the woods of the island abound; or rather if the violent
winds, and the moisture of the climate, in Ireland, did not disperse the swarms of so
minute an animal, or cause them to perish.
From: Giraldas Cambrensis, trans. T. Forester, rev. T. Wright, (London; G. Bell
& Sons, 1894), p. 21, reprinted in Roy C. Cave & Herbert H. Coulson, A Source
Book for Medieval Economic History, (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1936;
reprint ed., New York: Biblo & Tannen, 1965), pp. 102-103.
Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by
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© Paul Halsall, September 1998