Brian Casey Numerous farmers clubs and tenant defense associations emerged in the 1860s and 1870s in provincial Ireland. Such organizations reflected the emergence of a "challenging collectivity" that consisted of "combinations formed by and claiming to represent the interests of tenant farmers [that] became the predominant type of agrarian collective action in the post-Famine period."1 They were keen to effect beneficial change by challenging the existing base of power in the countryside, and their rise coincided with increased literacy and a rising political consciousness among the lower classes in provincial society. It was this "increasingly Anglicized and literate society," K. Theodore Hoppen has written, "which provided a growing audience for newspapers of all kinds and for a new national literature encompassing both the revolutionary and the constitutional traditions."2 Peasants remained hostile to the outside world; quoting the opening lines of Silas Marner that ``to the peasants of old times, the world outside their own direct experience was a region of vagueness and mystery," Liana Vardi has shown that modernization brought them into contact with outside influences and railways were particularly important in this transformation.3 In The Making of the English Working Class (1963) E. P. Thompson makes reference
New Hibernia Review – Center for Irish Studies at the University of St. Thomas
Published: Apr 15, 2016
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