Food shortages and lean months were among the challenges faced by vulnerable cohorts like subsistence farmers and agricultural laborers in the West of Ireland. In this article, we examine contemporary oral testimonies gathered from seasonal migrants, published reminiscences, and average family income and expenditure budgets to show how central child labour was to the survival of households from 1890 to 1935. Testimonies demonstrate that labor markets were carefully organized, and most children experienced an inevitably early entrance into the world of paid work. Our research also shows that such trends were highly regionalized, and in most cases, this paid employment was an important source of income that was used to pay for the rental of smallholdings.