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The tonnage of shipping entering and leaving Ireland grew rapidly from the late eighteenth century until the mid-1870s, after which there was a distinct slowdown. The mid-nineteenth century was notable for a five-fold increase in shipping per capita, an indicator of the Irish economy’s increasing commercialization. The slowdown after 1870 would have been even greater without the industrial dynamism of Belfast, Ireland’s leading port from the 1880s. The early and rapid introduction of steamships from the 1820s made possible large-scale exports of live animals and fresh eggs, products that would account for 60 per cent of agricultural exports and a quarter of total exports by 1910.