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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). 1 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 Ireland right up to the 60s (Mac Laughlin 1994). Control of agricultural education and advisory services should be transferred from central government to farmers organisations The growth of Dublin should be halted. According to Harris (1986), economic protectionism, the policy for creating Irish industry was essential to the survival of the Irish state between 1930s – 1950s, moreover the beliefs and values of the economic state was crucial to the re-definition of the state at that time.

    However the opening up of the economy in 1958 can show a change in social and economic ideologies. As (Commins cited in Clancy et al 1986) notes “rural prosperity was to be sought not only in agriculture but in the comprehensive development of industry, tourism and other enterprises” (p54). This shift in ideologies was fundamental for the survival of the west of Ireland as in [keeping the name on the land] and indeed the survival of the country.

    Industrialisation has being an important factor of social change in rural Ireland in the last forty years (Slater 2011). Prospects in Agriculture were poor and the population of rural areas were declining. In 1940 Sean O Faolain claimed, “ the old patriarchal rural Ireland is slowly beginning to disintegrate”(cited in Daly 2006:52). According to Harris (1984), while other parts of the country where enjoying the time of economic recovery the west of Ireland was still experiencing high levels of poverty, unemployment and emigration.

    Moreover seasonal immigration helped sustain small farming communities however the consequences of this as Brody (1973) illustrates that “young Irish men and women continued to emigrate despite the evident dearth of employment in England and America” (p. 83). By 1950 the rural   3 communities like Inishkillane had decided to look to alternative dwellings away from the parish they knew and with this the population began to experience serious imbalances (ibid, 1973).

    According to Daly (2006), “ Fianna Fail Minister Frank Aiken believed that Agriculture had the potential to create and preserve jobs on small western farms however these schemes proved to be a spectacular failure” (p. 39). Due to social and economic failures the Irish state had a locational policy put in place to promote industrial employment into rural Ireland. (Slater 2011:3) The Industrial Development Authority (IDA) was set up in 1949 and introduced a scheme of grant incentives to encourage firms, primarily foreign firms to establish plants in the under-developed area’s of the west of Ireland (Wickham 1980).

    According to Slater (2011), a major objective of having a locational policy was to try and bring as many jobs into the west of Ireland to help with the displacement of the population. The IDA”s incentives are based on a combination of tax reliefs and grants. Up to recently the corporation for multinational firms was 10% it was increased to 12. 5 % in 2003. Tax can be written off against the cost of machinery, material and plant hire. It also can be written off against buildings. Development, training and research grants are also available however these grants are variable depending what region you are in.

    Designated areas get the maximum capital grants for new industry (60% designated areas and 45% non designates areas), (IDA Ireland 2011). West of Ireland is a designated area it can be argued that this can one of the reasons why multinational firms chose to locate to the west of Ireland to achieve the maximum profit margin from the industry. 4 Wickham (1980) argued, that the new industries where located in rural Ireland because a smaller percentage of the population were in industrial workforce and trade union connections where significantly lower.

    He argues that the trade union connections where predominantly Dublin based industries. The multinational firms located in the west of Ireland because they could employ cheap labour. According to Slater (2011), multinational firms tend to employ younger employees with no experience in industrial work; they tend to recruit small farm owners. As Harris (1986) illustrate that the multinationals had generated 2100 jobs of which 1875 where being preformed by women, when the IDA “publicly stressed that the jobs in the new factories where for males, suggesting that they would be more qualified, full time and well paid. (Corcoran et al 2007:73) in practise this did not happen as Harris (1986) noted they recruited rural women. According to Harris (1984), half of the women came from small farm backgrounds and commuted to work everyday. Women where earning money, they were seen as consumers, this brought economic change to the west, as a result new shops where opening up in rural towns. Women were finding new identities. Industrialisation resulted in female access to power for the first time in history as Harris (1984) suggests “that women no longer experience the world outside the family solely through the roles of their male relatives”(p. 58). Daughters were receiving land of their fathers for the purpose of setting up a home. Through the social process of industrialisation women where becoming more liberated at home, however in the workforce they where seen as being passive, as the men that worked at the multinational firms were in managerial positions and the women were working on the production line with little or no prospects of promotion (Harris 1984). 5

    As a result of rural industrialisation this brought about a change for the communities of the west of Ireland, Harris (1984) noted that part time farmers worked along side the women in the factories. Women got married, they brought home their wages, they were combining the farm and the wages from the multinational firm, this form of pluriactivity makes a positive contribution to the development of a community as “it is widely accepted as the only way to keep farming alive in the area and local people are fully aware that it plays an important part in maintaining the countryside”(Kinsella et al 2000:488).

    The land stays the same, referring back to Brody (1973) the small time farmers feel less isolated, rural life resumes and Ireland keeps it national identity. This essay has discussed industrialisation, and when it began in Ireland in the 1960s and 1970s why it mainly occurred in the rural Ireland. It looked at postcolonial Ireland (1920s- 1960s) it explored rural fundamentalism and showed the eclipsing of a community through poverty, emigration and unemployment. It discussed how the opening up of the economy and a shift in ideologies was essential to the survival of the nation.

    This essay has put forward several reasons as to why the multinational firms chose to locate to the west and how that impacted on the social and cultural milieu of the individuals and communities of that region. Finally industrialisation of the west has to be seen as a success story as the farming households who are involved with pluriactivity are making a positive contribution to the development of a community and keeping the countryside alive.

    6 Bibliography Brody, Hugh. 1973. Inishkillane: Change and Decline in the west of Ireland. London: Allen Lane Clancy, et al. 986. Ireland A Sociological Profile. Dublin: Institute of Public Administration. Commission on Emigration and other population problems 1948-54, 1955. Reports, Dublin: Stationary Office Daly, E. Mary. 2006. The Slow Failure Population Decline and Independent Ireland 1923-1970. University of Wisconsin Press. Frankenberg, Ronald. 1994. ‘Truly Rural: Ireland – The Pioneer Study’, in his Communities in Britain: Social Life in Town and Country. Aldershot: Gregg Revivals. Gibbon, Peter. 1973. ‘Arensberg and Kimball revisited. ’ Economy and Society. :4 -479 Hannon, Damien and Patrick Cummins. 1992. The Significance of Small- Scale Landholders in Ireland’s Socio-economic Transformation. Dublin: Harris, Lorelei. 1984. ‘Class, Community and Sexual Divisions in North Mayo’ Pp. 154- 171 in Culture & Ideology in Ireland, edited by C. Curtin, et al. Galway: Galway University Press. Kinsella, J. et al. 2000. ‘Pluriactivity as a livelihood strategy in Irish farmholds and its role in rural develpoment’ Sociologia Ruralis 40:4-481. Retrieved 23/11/11 Mac Laughlin, Jim. 1994. IRELAND The Emigrant Nursery and the World Economy. Cork: Cork University Press. Share, Tovey and Mary P. Corcoran. 2007 A Sociology of Ireland. 3rd ed. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan. Slater, E. 2011, Restructuring the Rural – Rural Transformation, NUIM, Retrieved 23/11/11 https://moodle. nuim. ie/2012/file. php/3673/The_Restructuring_rural. pdf Wickham, James. 1980. ‘The Politics of Dependent Capitalism: International Capital and the Nation State’ Pp. 53-73 in Ireland Divided Nation Divided Class edited by A. Morgan and B Purdie. London: Ink Links. http://www. idaireland. com/why-ireland/ Retrieved 19/11/11 7

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