The prosperity of the 18th century translated into a rapid improvement in Ireland’s infrastructure. Financed from Dublin, the transport network radiated from the city, a combination of turnpike roads and canals. The port of Dublin’s dominance was accentuated by the steady elimination of punitive duties originally imposed by England on Irish exports. Duties on beef were removed (1758–59), then glass and woollens (1779). As a result, England’s portion of Irish exports grew from 30 to 76 per cent over the century. This underlined Dublin’s supremacy over the Atlantic ports – Limerick, Cork, Waterford – which dominated the colonial trade. Dublin was also the main manufacturing centre for silk and woollens, and its concentration of banking facilities cemented its position as the conduit of the trade to its main markets in Manchester and Norwich. Towards the end of the century, Belfast grew to rival Dublin in the linen trade, but the capital was now a booming metropolis of 200,000 inhabitants.
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