Like most of the world, Ireland has a population problem; unlike most of the world, her problem is one of scarcity rather...

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INISHKILLANE: Change and Decline in the West of Ireland

Like most of the world, Ireland has a population problem; unlike most of the world, her problem is one of scarcity rather than abundance. For centuries, but most especially since the Potato Famine of 1846-51, her leading export has been people. While Dublin has recently been gaining inhabitants, the rural West of Ireland continues its steady decline: young men but especially young girls go elsewhere to marry and earn a living. Increasingly, aging spinsters and bachelors are left to tend the farms; within communities mutual aid, local markets and the celebration of festivals have atrophied. Brody has spent Five years visiting in the bleak, impoverished West, working among the people, meeting them not as an interviewer but as a temporary resident. Here he offers both his statistical observations drawn from parish records and official sources and his personal impressions of Inishkillane in County Clare (pop. 436). The demographic analysis of births, marriages and emigration is stark but not nearly so depressing as the closeup shots of the isolated bachelor farmers, the publicans and their clientele, and the one shopkeeper who represents the new entrepreneurial class. A sociological lament, but a lament nevertheless, for the slow, apparently irreversible erosion of simple peasant society no longer viable.

Pub Date: May 13, 1974

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Schocken

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1974