In Ireland, the rabbit was an important source of meat for hundreds of thousands of Irish families throughout the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries. Catching rabbits supplemented the meagre incomes of urban workers, farm labourers and small farmers alike. It provided a livelihood for the unemployed and thousands of professional trappers, snarers and ferreting men, when jobs were scarce or non-existent. At the same time, they were an unmitigated pest of immense proportions on the farming community, decimating grassland, arable crops and forestry plantations all over the country. Millions of rabbits were exported to Britain each year, especially during the two great wars (WW1 and WW2) when Britain was on the verge of starvation and needed all the unrationed food Ireland could supply. The export of millions of rabbit skins to Britain and elsewhere for the felt hat industry was an important spin-off of the industry.
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