The purpose of this essay is to find out is Peasant Fundamentalism the essential core of Irish Post-colonial society. This essay will define the definition of Peasant Fundamentalism. It will discuss what society in Ireland was like from the 1920’s to 1960’s. It will also explain many different factors that contribute to our understanding of Peasant Fundamentalism in Ireland from the 1920’s to 1960’s, such as “Keeping the name on the land”, the pain of the Magdalen Laundries and the power of the Catholic Church. Also, the economic and social aspects of the Post-colonial society. The Ballrooms of Romance contributed to Peasant Fundamentalism because they were used for match-making in society during that time. These are negative factors explaining Peasant Fundamentalism. These factors will be explained throughout the essay and will shape the understanding of the meaning “Peasant Fundamentalism”.
Arensberg and Kimball set out with an American anthropologist W. Lloyd in 1932 to investigate the “significance of custom in County Clare” (Frankenberg 1966:25). Their study was conducted on Gaelic speaking small farms (Frankenberg 1966:25). The study took place in small towns like Ennistymon (Frankenberg 1966:25). The small farmer mainly produces for his own needs and consumptions, whereas the larger farmer tends to sell cattle for money. (Frankenberg 1966:26). The smaller farmer would have family working on the farm and would not employ people outside the family to help. The larger farmer would employ other workers to help with labour on the farm as they had extra work to be done (Frankenberg 1966:29). The small farms were an essential core to the Post-colonial society and it shows that the small farms were self-sufficient.
Between the 1920’s to the 1960’s, women had special roles on the farm. From once the woman got up in the morning, the house wife duties of making the tea and cleaning began (Frankenberg 1966:30). The woman would sweep the ashes from the fire and “hang the kettle” to be boiled for making tea (Frankenberg 1966:30). She would get the kids up and make the breakfast. The men would eat first with the woman waiting to fill their plates up if they need to be filled (Arensberg and Kimball 2001:37). The woman and children ate separately to the men. The men also had to be finished eating before they could start (Arensberg and Kimball 2001:37). She would milk the cows and feed the farm animals like the chickens (Arensberg and Kimball 2001:36). She would do the house chores like cleaning, making the beds and doing the laundry. (Arensberg and Kimball 2001). The roles of the women however were limited to a large point. They weren’t allowed to do any of the turf cutting or anything to do with the use of the “masculine tools” (Frankenberg 1966:33). This is a negative result of Peasant Fundamentalism as women were only good for certain jobs mainly the cooking and cleaning but weren’t seen able to do jobs such as the turf cutting. The males were the stronger sex.
As the children in the household grew up, boys would move away from being with their mothers and begin to work with their fathers on the farm (Frankenberg 1966:32) The girl’s stay with their mothers to learn the work that women do around the home (Frankenberg 2001:32). They will need to know this for when they get married. They had little interaction with their fathers (Frankenberg 1966:33). The boys worked towards doing the work of their father’s from as young as seven years old. “The boy learns work as he learns manhood” (Arensberg 2001:57). Although the boy grows up and does the work of a man, but he socially remains a young boy (Frankenberg 1966:32). A man said that “you can be a boy forever as long as the old fellow is alive” (Frankenberg 1966:32).
“The status of the young boy was ascribed and not achieved” (Frankenberg 1966:32). For the young men, their social status is not changed until they get married. Only marriage would let young men enter fully into the world of adulthood (Frankenberg 1966:32). Marriages were arranged in Ireland. Match-making was a process that the father done when he felt ready to retire and give his farm to his son (Frankenberg 1966:32). The farmer began to look for a “suitable wife” for his son to marry (Frankenberg 1966:33). A friend of the young man’s family, known as the speaker, would sound out to the girl who is a likely person for the young man to marry and see if they would be a compatible couple (Frankenberg 1966:33). If all goes well the father, son and the speaker would meet with the girl’s father in the pub where the young man would buy the first round, the girl’s father would buy the next round and it continued to move back and forth between them both until an arrangement had been met (Frankenberg 1966:33). The young woman’s father would have to hand over a fortune with the woman when she is to go and marry the young man. (Arensberg 2001:74). The arranged marriage was also partly like an economic arrangement. If all went well the father of the potential bride would pay a sum of money to the potential groom’s father. Hannon mentions this when concluding his definition of the peasant system “It is therefore, only a partly monetised economy, relatively isolated from, and not very responsive to, outside market forces” (Hannon 1979). If all goes well the date is set for the wedding. “Geese is killed, a stock of whiskey got in. Occasionally, it is said, the odd extra cow is borrowed to make up numbers” (Frankenberg 1966:34). Match-making was essential for “Keeping the name on the land” so that it wouldn’t lose the family name.
Emigration occurred as families may have had more than one son or daughter. They would have been given money to emigrate to America or England in search of work. They would have still had to have sent money home to provide for their families who were still living at home in Ireland. This was a socially acceptable way of sending away the excess of sons and daughters in a family. (Arensberg and Kimball 2001).
As Arensberg explains the old man and his wife would retire and live in the “west room” of the house where the newlywed couple would now live (Arensberg and Kimball 2001). The son would run the farm and the wife will take up the roles that the son’s mother done before. (Frankenberg 1966:35). There would be pressure for the new couple to have children as soon as possible (Frankenberg 1966:35). The birth of sons is essential for the passing down of the family farm. However, if the woman can’t get pregnant it may result in her being “sent back to her home” and the farm would be given away to another son (Frankenberg 1966:35). Through Arensberg’s, Kimball’s and Frankenberg’s analysis of “Keeping the name on the land”, this is a strong factor at understanding the meaning of Peasant Fundamentalism. We can see that the Post-colonial society of Ireland had strong social views on what should happen regarding marriage, land and the roles of women in society at that time. The father’s in Post-colonial Ireland held a lot of power over their son’s even when they married because of Peasant Fundamentalism. The mother and father of the son who got the land still had power over what their son could and couldn’t do. As explained earlier, the parents got to say that they could keep the “west room” of the house (Arensberg). This shows the power that they still held, even though it technically wasn’t their home anymore. The power of Peasant Fundamentalism is negative here as the son who inherited the farm would never get away from his parents until they eventually died. Although the father wants to retire and give his farm away to his son, one would think he would leave the son to make the decisions of what needs to be done on the farm for the son to decide. However, this is not the case, the father wants to be asked each morning what would need to be done on the farm before the son goes out onto the farm to do the work.
Much of Irish society was sacrificed in maintaining Peasant Fundamentalism (Lecture Notes: Slater 2018). It is questioned, did the peasant farm contribute to the role of the Magdalen Laundries and mother and baby homes in Irish society from the 1920’s to 1960’s (Lecture Notes: Slater 2018: Slide 2). Peasant farms did contribute to the role of the Magdalen Laundries but, it was the power of the Catholic Church, the rulings of the Church and society at that time that mostly caused the setting up of the Magdalen Laundries in Ireland during the 1920’s to the 1960’s.
The Peasant farm had a huge emphasise on the need for children for “Keeping the name on the land” for future generations. Many children were born outside of marriage in Ireland. The parents who had sons who they wanted to inherit the farm had huge pressure on themselves to find a woman who they could marry and have children with. Larger farmers also divided up land between sons, so this gave a rise in more men seeking to find a wife. This put more emphasis on people to have sex and to have children. There was more desire with people to have sex and this caused children to be born outside of marriage. As a result, the Magdalen Laundries were set up for women who ended up having children outside of marriage.
In James M. Smith’s piece about the Magdalen Laundries, he explains how the unmarried mother had no social welfare to fall back on when she became pregnant outside of marriage (Smith 2001:1). The government didn’t help the unmarried mothers by giving them social welfare benefits that would help them to live and bring the child up in society. Mother and baby homes, adoption agencies and private institutions were set up for the containment of women from the 1920’s onwards (Smith 2001:2). These institutions would have never needed to be set up if the Government and the Catholic church allowed women to be educated about sexual reproduction and had access to the use of contraception (Smith 2001:4/6). This had an impact on society in Ireland during the 1920’s o the 1960’s as women were uneducated and more and more women were having children outside of marriage.
The Carrigan Report noted that there was increased amounts of crime and sexual immortality happening throughout the country (Smith 2001:6). There was a narrow version of the facts that they were like the teachings of the Catholic Church (Smith 2001:7). Even though the Government knew what was happening throughout the country they never wanted the findings of the report to be made public because it was a censored Government document (Smith 2001:7).
The Ballrooms of Romance also contributed to Peasant Fundamentalism in the Irish society during the 1920’s to the 1960’s. In the short film by William Trevor’s, we can see how Bridie needs to find a man to help with the running of the farm. However, Bridie cannot ask a man to marry her because socially this would not be the norm.
morandum called into question the Carrigan committee’s judicial experience. The department of justice stated that the witnesses` testimo