Postcolonial Ireland: Rural Fundamentalism and Industrialization

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The purpose of this essay is to ask, when Ireland began to industrialise in the 1960s and the 1970s why it mainly occurred in the west. This essay will discuss postcolonial Ireland (1920s-1960s). It will define rural fundamentalism and how it informed social and economic policies in Ireland, it will focus on how poverty, emigration and unemployment and how it played a key role in the eclipsing of the communities of rural Ireland This essay will discuss how the opening up of the economy and the shift in ideologies was essential to the survival of the nation. Moving on it will discuss the International Development Authority (IDA) and its role it had in promoting industrialisation in the west. It will give an explanation as to why the multinational firms chose to locate in the west rather than other regions of Ireland. The essay will focus on the social impact industrialisation had on individuals and of the communities, and it will show that when industrialisation happened in rural Ireland it was seen to be beneficial to the whole population.

According to Frankenberg (1994), Arensberg and Kimball’s description of the west of Ireland was a community that was homogenous, it was well integrated, stable and it was a harmonious entity, this was expressed through kinship and cooring, the chosen son inherited the farm thus the farm got passed down from one generation to the next. Through agriculture production rural life could be sustained, the community set the moral tone and the church was highly regarded as “the small farmers of Luogh have allegiances to all these communities” (p.26). What Arensberg and Kimball chose to see was an idyllic Ireland. However they failed to see that between 1930- 1934 the small time farmers where disappearing rapidly, as they were selling off their land to thy neighbours and emigrating to England or America (Gibbon1962).

 

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Brody (1973) discovered that a dramatic change occurred in the family system. The family was under major crisis. He discovered that women where emigrating in an attempt to obtain work in the industrial industry, women where rejecting rural life because they where attracted to urban culture. The concept of reproduction was threatened as the chosen son could not find a wife and the result of this the farmer was becoming socially isolated. Brody’s description of the west of Ireland was “the eclipse of a community, with the isolation of the its inhabitants, the overthrow of the patriachalism and the erosion of the cash economy.” (Brody, citied in Gibbon 1962:484). It is argued that rural fundamentalism plays a central role in keeping the name on the land as Hannon (1992) notes, “that ownership solidified the strong bonds of attachment to the land”(p97). Rural fundamentalism can be a set of beliefs and values by which a positive view was taken of the family owned farm as the basic component of agriculture production, it was also seen as farming as an occupation, it was seen as having a numerous class of landowners and agriculture was to form the basis of national prosperity (Commins cited in Clancy et al 1986). Irish rural fundamentalism shared this belief, which “regarded family farming and rural life as the well spring of political stability, democracy and equality” (Fite 1962, pp. 1203- 1211 cited in Clancy et al 1986). As suggested by Clancy et al (1986) this tradition informed De Valera’s philosophy by supporting the family farm model, the most powerful expression of fundamentalist expression could be in Bishop Lucey’s Minority Report to the commission of emigration in the early 50s, (Commission on Emigration and other population problems, 1948-54 1955 pp. 335-363) he argued that • • •   The ownership of land should be more widely diffused Holding of farms should be small (15-20 acres). The farm always have been and still is the best place to rear a family 2  



• • This expression of rural fundamentalism informed social and economic policy of...
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