March 12, 2015

The children of the small farmer inherited the earth

Posted in Irish Independent · 51 comments ·

Is rural Ireland dying today? Or maybe a better question is, when wasn’t rural Ireland dying? It has always been the case that opportunities in cities are more plentiful and that people migrate from the countryside to the cities.

I was brought up in a suburban estate built in the 1960s and the vast amount of my mates had at least one parent, if not both, from the country. It was not usual to have two Dublin parents. Almost everyone had first cousins in England or close relations in Canada or the States.

For years, rural Ireland has been a reservoir of talent and has exported its migrants to cities and other countries. In the 1960s and 1970s if you had a parent from the country, you were as likely to be born in a Manchester suburb as a Dublin suburb.

Since then, this migratory pattern has continued, but it is not as significant as it once was simply because the rural population has fallen and the conveyor belt of people to the cities from rural Ireland is diminishing. By 2030 around 60pc of the population will live within 25 miles of the east coast. These days, Dublin accounts for around 40pc of our national economic activity or GDP. London, whose dominance the British worry about constantly, only accounts for around 20pc of the British economy.

Here I am going to focus on the socio-economic impact of the disappearance of the children of small farmers from the Irish landscape. It is a rarely appreciated sub-sector of the Irish class system that was once the most successful socio-economic animal in the Irish landscape.

A few years ago, two economists – Damian Hannan and Patrick Commins – wrote a paper called the ‘The Significance of Small Scale Landholders in Ireland’s Socio-Economic Transformation’. If anyone wants to understand the economics and the social patchwork that is Ireland today, this paper is invaluable. The writers chart the extraordinary success of the sons of Ireland’s small farmers in the social revolution of the past few decades. The contrast between the fortunes of small farmers and the industrial working class could not be more stark.

The small-scale farming structure emerged as the system in rural Ireland as a result of the great class transformation that followed the end of the landlord oligarchy in the final decades of the 19th century. These small farmers experienced a significant increase in their living standards up to the late 1920s. From 1870 to 1930, the economic system was based on one son getting the farm and the rest emigrating. If they couldn’t emigrate, they stayed, but landless and single. A few found jobs in the towns or in Dublin.

In the 1930s this system broke down. America closed its doors to migrants in the early 1930s, and Éamon De Valera’s self-sufficient economy collapsed, meaning there wasn’t a sniff of a job away from the farm and there was only England left to absorb Irishmen.

Between 1950 and 1960, 500,000 people emigrated to Britain. Their children were the English cousins of my friends on our Dublin estate when I was growing up. The most interesting social development at the time was how small farmers – De Valera’s foot soldiers – adapted to the changing Ireland of the 1960s much better than the urban working class.

Amazingly, in 1950, after 30 years of independence, Ireland was more dependent on agriculture than it had been in 1870. This startling figure is either a damning indictment of De Valera’s dingbat economics or evidence of the success of this rural fundamentalism.

But in the 1950s, the small farmers, or more accurately, their Irish Mammy, saw this dead-end coming. She realised that the game was up and that the only way out for the sons who didn’t get the farm was either emigration or the public service. The rallying cry of Irish mammies went up: “Sure, where would you be without your education?” A new class was born which took full advantage of the free secondary education introduced in the mid-1960s.

Mr. Hannan and Mr. Commins found, amazingly, that the single most important determinant of a county’s educational achievement in the 1960s and 1970s was the number of small farmers. This is quite extraordinary and unique to this country. The more small farmers in a county, the better educated the children were and the better they did in their Leaving Cert. The even found that the single most successful subsection of the Irish population were the children of small farmers in East Galway.

De Valera’s foot soldiers were on the march, sliotar in one hand, ‘Latin for Today’ in the other.

Compared to their urban, working-class counterparts, 30pc more children of small farmers did the Leaving Cert than working-class Dubs and 50pc more went on to third-level education.

They turned into the teacher aristocracy, bringing with them to Dublin a love of the GAA, squeezeboxes and Farah slacks. Their success in education catapulted them into the public service in great numbers. Now they are retiring as the best-paid public servants in Europe and, if they haven’t opted for early retirement already, are earning on average 46pc more than their friends in the private sector.

They engineered this through operations like benchmarking and social partnership which saw them having the same success in wresting cash out of the State as their great-grandfathers had in prizing land from landlords.

But that’s not all. They had an ace up their sleeves. While many thousands left the land, they did not sell it. Today only 6pc of the workforce work on the land, yet a quarter of all Irish households still own some agricultural land.

As Mr Hannon and Mr Commins conclude: “Not only have the smallholders succeeded in retaining their property and relative income position, but they have also succeeded in capturing a significant proportion of local off-farm employment. They have been more effective than working-class families in utilising the education system to gain access to off-farm opportunities for their children.”

So the single most successful class in Ireland – the migrating children of the small farmer – is disappearing. Who will take their place? This is one of the biggest political questions for 21st century Ireland because upward social mobility is the story of the Irish Republic and one of the dynamos of this was the ambition of the small farming class. If the social escalator stops or goes into reverse, we will be dealing with a very different society in a few years’ time.

  1. sravrannies

    Are we underestmating the benefits and grants those children of small farmers received to go to school and college compared to their urban counterparsts?

  2. Excellent article.

    I’m not familiar with this subject matter but you have managed to summarize it very colourfully in just a few short paragraphs.

  3. Deco

    Rural Ireland is about to face a demographic cliff. In fact, it might even be possible to say that regional Ireland is facing into a demographic cliff.

    A good indication of the future is what exists in NW Mayo, and Leitrim. It is essentially a form of voluntary “Easter Island” syndrome. Would the last person out please switch off the lights. Areas of Ireland are returning to wilderness. A slow motion, irreversible wind down and disintegration.

    Ireland is a highly centralized system. And it is high inefficient, at that.

    The greatest failing of the generation who constituted the bulk of the voters in the 1970s and 1980s is that they were too obedient and respectful of authority.

    They simply “went with the flow” most of the time. And flow was often in the wrong direction. Which meant they got shafted. The current leadership assumes that the generations that will follow them will likewise obey authority. If we look at the fallout from the IW protests, we can see that those days are over.

    • I think you are underestimating the amount of dead fish in the country Deco – most of them will STILL go with the flow.

      • Deco

        Well, looking at the election results for IRL-South in last years EP, you have a point.

        I don’t think people can honestly expect an improvement in anything from electing the daughter of a “FG grandee” (Deirdre Clune, daughter of Peter Barry), for the reason that she represents “family inheritance” politics.

        Though in IRL-MW, the Ming vote, plus the Harking vote indicates that many are no longer obedient to FF/FG/plus assorted “doping agents”(to use the semiconductor term) form of representation.


    I live in a Gaeltacht and the population of little brats is exploding, including 2 of my own little “gifts” added to the local population. You have to sign up years in advance for preschool, or naionra. Will these farmers and offspring of ex fisherman, be emigrating? Or will they be a part of the 60% population of 2030 Dublin area? Time will tell.

  5. michaelcoughlan

    Hi David,

    I am fascinated by the article because I am the very person (and most of my mates are) you are talking about having grown up on a small farm in the west of Ireland. I feel I have insights which you haven’t even though about. For example: you didn’t mention the social ideas enshrined in many of them by their Christian brothers education (although I went to a convent school) and how those social values (not socialism) contributed to their prosperity and that of the communities they settled in.

    “Who will take their place? This is one of the biggest political questions for 21st century Ireland because upward social mobility is the story of the Irish Republic and one of the dynamos of this was the ambition of the small farming class. If the social escalator stops or goes into reverse, we will be dealing with a very different society in a few years’ time”

    The answer to the question as to who will take my place and that of all my mates all over the world is very simple so let me fill you in with the anecdotal evidence:

    My daughter started in a coed primary school last September. We were unsure as to where we would be as a family so we put her name down in a number of different schools. One of the schools came back with a list where there were going to be 12 girls and 11 boys. My daughter would be 1 of the 12 where 9 of the 12 eastern European. 2 of my wife’s friends are school teachers. In one school where one of them temps 70% of the kids are foreign nationals. There is a provincial town near where I live which has an Meat Factory for Larry Goodman. The workforce is almost all eastern European. The local national school as a result has over 60% foreign national enrolment.

    Now lets talk about rural Leitrim, Roscommon, and Donegal. You will find there are many English couples who have bought small holdings in those areas because they are cheap, they have installed wells, mobile homes etc to avoid water charges and property taxes and can live very comfortably on our dole which is much higher than Britain. We even have farm assist which is dole available to subsistence farmers.

    The answer to the question you ask “Who will take their place?” is:

    Dirt cheap Eastern European Labour and long term unemployed couples from Britain.

    Of course we here in Poluba will continue to send our finest to Australia the UK and Canada where they will find employers who will pay them properly. We will simultaneously replace them with the new emigrants here who we will continue to exploit with Wanton abandon.

    Michael O’Leary is on one decades long orgasm David because he gets paid to fly in the labour with no cap on numbers which allows him to drive down the pay and conditions to zero hour Min wage contracts allowing him to maximise return on capital AND gets paid to fly all the talent out of the place this talent being where the threat to someone like him would come from,


    • Deco

      The beef industry in Ireland is a bit like the tobacco industry in the US – greed seems to be concept that is promoted as a virtue.

      There is a lot of dirt swept under the rug. Enormous quantities.

      Ireland sold out to moneyed interests when the PDs entered government. Before that Ireland was becoming increasingly corrupt.

  6. Deco

    What the children of small farmers brought to the equation of the Ireland in the last 40 years -

    A belief in education,
    A tendency towards politicking and one-up-man ship which was not healthy,
    An emphasis on the private sphere of one’s existence working right, even if the public achievements were minor,
    [ which incidentally undermined any form of meritocracy that they had drilled into them in the education system ]
    A tendency to believe in ideas circulating in other countries even if they were scams (for example, some people drifted into the PD belief in Reaganomics – relentless borrowing as the source of economic progress),
    A belief in unions and organized forms of getting money out of the system,
    A tendency to “keep the head down and say nothing”,
    Initially a tendency to vote for flawed political movements like FF-FG-LP,
    A belief in RTE (which in retrospect was highly naïve)
    An aversion from being corrupt themselves, but an unwillingness to attack those that were corrupt for fear of incurring the costs,
    An unwillingness to address problems in a systematic manner (for example the drugs problem, the crime problem) until it got late,
    A commitment to be civil in disputes (as indicated by their handling of the NO problem, and rapprochement with GB).
    A tendency towards honest dealing that was greater than average in Irish life.
    Links to enterprises in the US, and an eagerness to do business with the US, that brought Ireland forward considerably.
    Engineering and technicians who were able to bring the country forward.

    The quality of the information flow in the society before 2008, restricted greatly it’s determination to tackle serious problems.

    The centralized authority model predominant in Ireland since before independence, compromised what was undoubtedly a potential “great leap forward” for the Irish people. The obvious correct thing to do was not always done. Lies were told and the children of small farmers were not always sceptical enough to do something about it. They grew up in a society where the destruction of those that spoke out was normal.

    In other words, the institutional state, and unwritten rules of the quasi-oligopolies in the private sector hemmed them in and prevented them from doing much harm.

    They were sometimes allowed to break convention, but never allowed to challenge authority.

    The children of small farmers did not allow CJH to get his lifestyle loans written off. The corruption of the 1970s and 1980s was greatest in Dublin local government, where the children of small farmers were not as powerful as elsewhere.

    Their greatest failing was their inability to challenge authority when sold out on the public interest.

    But otherwise, they achieved much.

    • Deco

      The children of small farmers did not allow CJH to get his lifestyle loans written off. The corruption of the 1970s and 1980s was greatest in Dublin local government, where the children of small farmers were not as powerful as elsewhere. The boarding school boys, and inheritors of privilege ensured that.

      AIB, Anglo, Brussels, and the PDs, destroyed any efforts that the children of small farmers produced to make Ireland a success.

      The gombeen factor destroyed their hard work, and turned Ireland into a debt servicing machine for well connected financial interests.

  7. Deco

    The children of small farmers might have been a powerful demographic force, but they were hemmed in, and controlled by old money, to make sure they never improved Ireland too much.

    In the end, old money won and made sure that the threat was negated.


    Will the parents of these Ryan Air immigrants monitor their children’s online activity unlike the over 50% of moronic Irish parents who do not?

  9. Deco

    JohnDoe – you wanted to know what is going on.

    1. The US T bond market seems to me to be artificially manipulated. Normally, the more debts that a debtor accumulates, the higher interest rates go. This is a consequence of the supplier of the loan needing a risk aligned interest rate. Currently, they are too cheap to make sense. trying to The English language financial press do not know who is doing the buying. Or else they know and the will not tell us. It is not the East Asians. They are trying to get out of it. Tony Brogan is correct in his assessment on this issue.

    2. The entire market is now showing signs of a “crack up boom”. It is the summer of 2005 again. PE valuations are absurd. They might get even more absurd. But ultimately, a correct is to be expected. It is the natural consequence of excess.

    3. Britain’s indebtedness is much worse than Greece. And it’s trade deficits are also much more serious. There will be no mention of this until after the General Election. My recommendation is not to have any savings money beyond 20 K, in a UK headquartered bank, by May 1st. Cameron has indicated that he borrows just as much as Brown. This has massive implications on Ireland. Starting with the food sector, and including NI, which is a low cost supplier of goods and services, to N. Leinster and Connacht.

    4. Ireland’s welfare state is a now a hedge fund with everything bet on the Dublin real estate market. And Dublin’s real estate market is a proxy of the IT boom. This is an cheap borrowing rate investment led boom. It is NOT a cash flow led investment boom. Twitter does not make any money. And the rate of return of much of the sector is small. This is very similar to the shale oil boom. The margins are tight, but the loans are cheap. And there is “momentum”. Nobody has yet figured out where it will end up.

    5. The Irish state is completely un-reform-able. In fact there is even a “public service reform” minister who does nothing, on the basis that there needs to be a pretence that reform is occurring. This is purely to ensure a charade. There is NO reform. In fact the waste and largesse is as bas as ever it was.

    People who work in the public sector tell me that there is a flurry of buzzwords, and some rebranding. But the core inefficiencies remain. The only stuff that gets attention is either superficial, or befitting an agenda. Unaccountability is absent.

    And in the light of last years local election results the junior party in power is already searching for locations to stuff failed/rejected local authority councillors.

    The younger generation are waking up to the fact that they have been shafted by RTE and the political parties.

    6. IBEC will be asking EK to stand down as FG leader in January 2016. Because he cannot guarantee that FG will have enough seats, with FF and the LP to be in control. The next government is highly likely to be a coalition in favour of the creditors.

    7. China is going to go into a prolonged recession. It is completely overbuilt, and malinvested. Beijing is going to make an effort to correct the problems, and clean up the mess. Corrupt businessmen and corrupt officials are buying real estate outside China, so that they son or daughter can be offshore when they get found out by officialdom. I have talked this over with a Chinese Communist in 2012, and he says that Beijing will eventually come after any money sent abroad by corrupt elements. And that means that there will be demands for repatriation of proceeds of siphoning funds. This is a long game, and property markets like Vancouver which hope to rely on this market, will eventually run out of road.

    8. India will probably be the main growth phenomenon in the next decade. This has been a long time coming. India is the destination of a massive cash flow in the form of returned money. Infrastructural development is now starting to happen on an increased scale. And the low oil price will drive up the rate of construction activity. India’s banks are healthy. Tony Brogan would say they have the ultimate financial asset, as well.

    9. Ensure that you are either out of debt, or in control of your debt. With only one mortgage as debt. Car loans are a rip-off. Save in Euros. If it is above a certain level, then it would need to be in Germany. Maybe NL. No extravagance, with respect to autos or vacations or 1500 KM roundtrip pissups in Barcelona.

    If you want to be extravagant, buy health insurance, and stay away from anything wasteful. Probably VHI rather than the other main option, who are slightly “toxic”. Because you will be healthy enough to work in a state system that is inefficient. And you will be able to avoid a HSE that is unfixable, and which will become the next target for cutbacks.

    • Eh any chance you could be a bit more comprehensive there Deco? Don’t think you are telling the full story hehe.

      Excellent analysis, thanks.

      • Thanks for the tip about VHI, I was wondering which one to get.

        I am off on my travels again soon and my mother advised me to get it. I’m not really worried about my travels but rather when I’m 75 in about 30 years.

        I calculated that it will cost me about 15 grand over the next 30 years until then so that’s not bad for care in old age – if a health system exists at that time.

        • Deco

          Adam, I am with the VHI. It is not cheap. And to join after 40 is not cheap either. It costs 1100 Euro or so a year. Twice the price of car insurance. 14 year old car. Working well.

          Of course the great danger is that the VHI will either be sold – or that the state will go bankrupt.

          I am not sure what to make of various promises to fix the system, from political parties. I assume that these promises are the same as the promises they make for everything else. In other words, they are worthless.

          The HSE has an endless capacity to turn money into pensions, pay-offs and underperformance.

          I hope that the HSE and the Irish state get thoroughly reformed. I use insurance because I don’t think that it is realistic to expect to happen.

      • Mike Lucey

        Yes indeed Adam, Deco says it all and a lot of it looks to be the current situation and probable future outcome.

        I’ve recently read a few articles on ‘The Wisdom of the Crowd’. Its quite uncanny how accurate the averaged opinion of even a small crowd can be. The averaged opinion of the crowd of posters here, suggests an outcome that is not pretty. As Deco and many others say, its best to cover your rear as best you can.

      • jaysus

        Good to see you posting again Deco, succinct as always.

    • michaelcoughlan

      Hi Deco.

      Your head must have melted down after that.

      Re the markets:

      I feel that hyperinflation is playing out in the markets. I just think that the people with access to funds know it’s the only game in town to preserve their wealth casino or not.


      • Deco

        Michael- you could be correct.

        If this were true, then a house in the mountains somewhere quiet is the best bet.

        Ireland in such a scenario will NOT be a safe country. Imagine gardai with insufficient or back pay – they would be corrupt very quickly. And the legal profession are already very corrupt in Ireland.

        The social stability that existed in Irish society is not what it used to be. In fact it is on the way out. Forget all the patronizing platitudes. The concept of common decency has been under attack since CJH, at least.

        If you want to make Ireland a better society, then encourage honest appraisal of current conditions. David, and Constantin Gurdgiev do this.

        The government press office, RTE News, and the IT business supplement do not do this.

        And not just in economic terms. How about an honest discussion about substance abuse ?

        Roisin Shortall tried to have an honest discussion on alcohol in Ireland, which was an enormous cost on health care workers, and her party shafted her. They also shafted people who deal with this problem every weekend.

        If you start an honest discussion about a problem in Ireland, and it affects the pockets of some powerful person or entity, then you should expect consequences. It literally is a war of ideas.

        But suffering is worse.

      • Deco

        Michael – you might be correct on hyperinflation.

        I suppose what should be an indictor, is in the policy framework of the states involved. States heading for money printing, tend to have some surprising features.

        An increase in internal repression, an obsession with collecting information on their citizens, the rich controlling the policy making, massive concentration of resources amongst the super-rich, etc….

        In other words, behaviour outside the economic and financial sphere, can be indicative of financial problems.

    • Meanwhile

      Not only government is bankrupt but the corporate world too. The gyrations of currency values as competitive devaluations accelerate make it difficult to plan and now hundreds of millions are caught on the wrong side of a currency bet.

      Despite the jawboning about higher rates it is unlikely to happen from central banking directly. The US cannot afford to have the interest rates rise on the national debt or the interest charges will consume the national budget.

      Interest rates will rise when people run from a currency to seek safety elsewhere. It might be stated that the US dollar is not rising but that all other currencies are falling. At present the US is the receptor of this safety trade but when the dollar fails as well we will see prices of everything accelerate.

      The safe haven will be solid hard assets like land and plant and equipment and gold and silver ultimately as all fiat central bank currencies will fail simultaneously. There will be no place left to hide.

      Some of the winners will be the holder of the land of the small farmer.

    • michaelcoughlan

      Hi Deco.

      It really is a brilliant post. How can I save in Germany from here? Why save in euro alone and not norwegian and swedish krone and swiss francs etc? If I save in germany and the euro goes up in smoke will my savings be converted to a new German currency?

      Thanks in advance,


      • Mike Lucey

        @Michael, I read somewhere that only German residents with German bank accounts will be able to convert the Euro to a New Mark should it come about.

        Then again it might not be a bad idea to have a couple of bob in a German account even if it is not a guarantee of safety.

        Although the handiest ‘safe’ haven looks to possibly be silver. There is a German company, Celtic Gold, that exports to Ireland at 0% rate.

      • Deco

        The assumption here is that German banks will either continue to credit in a crisis, or continue to get state money.

        Of course Greeks are already moving money to Germany. There will be pressure to make it tough for them, specifically.

    • jaysus

      Good to see you posting again Deco, succinct as always.

  10. Colin

    ‘So the single most successful class in Ireland – the migrating children of the small farmer – is disappearing. Who will take their place?’

    Answer – The Knackers.

    Knackers have a great lifestyle now, compared to 30 years ago. They drive brand new white vans and SUVs. They don’t pay any tax of any form, that’s no PAYE, VAT, PRSI, CGT, Property tax. They engage in criminal activity from basic larceny and racketeering to large scale drug dealing.

    They benefit from children’s allowances payments, don’t have any mortgage debt and are probably exempt from water charges due to their ‘lifestyle’.

    The judges in the courts now take a ‘Godhelpiss’ attitude to them, and no longer jail them, like that case last week when a traveller was caught red handed lifting manhole covers from a newly constructed motorway road surface in Co Galway – he wasn’t jailed, and many other cases like this just encourages criminality on their part.

    They have useful idiots and do gooders like the people in Pavee Point who advocate on their behalf and try to divert taxpayers money to the travelling community. Travellers do not have to answer to anyone, they are free as a bird to do what they want, it’s a great country I keep telling ya!

  11. Fascinating article.
    Great comments Deco and others
    The standard of commentary on this blog is the highest of any other I have visited.
    Congrats to all.
    Now what was the solution to life!!
    Kidding aside we need to know as individuals what to do for our own survival and prosperity.

  12. Pat Flannery

    Ireland could experience phenomenal growth if Irish economic planners would recognize the centrality of Internet connectivity in today’s world economy.

    McWilliams is right about Irish life being indelibly shaped by the social revolution when small tenant farmers gradually became land owners as a result of the 19th Century land wars and 20th Century Independence. Unlike most Western countries Ireland’s population is widely dispersed through the island and its people like it that way. The job now is to bring newly available economic jobs to these people.

    There is a strong trend in the U.S. to move to “the foothills” and to work from home. The fastest growing areas in California for example are rural “foothill” communities where people work from their homes. It is encouraged by the state planners because it relieves freeway congestion.

    Next time you speak to a customer service person (with an American accent) ask them where they are located. Chances are they are working for the airline or tech company from their home in Idaho or Montana while enjoying a beautiful view and breathing clear mountain air.

    Ireland already has the infrastructure and population in place all it has to do is provide fast broadband and a whole new economic sector would come on line. Michael O’Leary would have to put on extra flights from Manchester to Knock. The old dreary trend would be reversed.

  13. Agricultural living especially in the small farm environment requires innovation and cooperation. The constant flow of information from the weather, climate, plants and animals needs constant evaluation. The only constant is the flux of continual change. This requires an adaptive and evaluative mind and a steady flow of decisions day after day.

    The activity level develops a sound, fit and strong, exercised body. It is now accepted that a well exercised body avoids many if not nearly all (95% perhaps) the diseases and ailments of modern urban life. This includes adult onset diabetes, heart and stroke, even Alzheimer etc.

    That being so may in part explain the comparative success of the small farmers student stock: Superior fitness and intellect which is not yet dulled after a generation of urban strife and lifestyle.

  14. coldblow

    This is another of David’s regular themes and an interesting one.

    Latin For Today is now Latin For Yesterday. I wish my son could study it. Instead, as part of their English syllabus, the entire first year went to the cinema last week to watch Shaun the Sheep.

    I think of Crotty’s description of Ireland a century ago as an overwhelmingly middle class place (including smallholders within the definition) where landowners, professionals, shop keepers and clergy absolutely dominated and where the working class was very small in comparison with England. He makes the point that some seventy years earlier ‘priest ridden’ Ireland actually had a much lower proportion of clergy than its neighbour, but this then changed.

    It helps me put my finger on what had been niggling me about the water protest in Killarney a couple of weeks ago which is the absence of this small farmer class or its close descendents. I think I said earlier that it reminded me of Conradh na Gaeilge. I don’t think there were that many locals there either and many of those would have been blow-ins, though I did see one or two onlookers who would have been happy to join in in the right circumstances. Like David, I am not talking about the professional classes and our lords and masters.

    I didn’t realize that land ownership was spread so widely. Property owners are not going to be in a hurry to the barricades if they were to risk losing any of it. My wife’s brothers and sisters were all surprised that we went, they couldn’t see the point. They were all born on small farms.

    I can see David’s point of view (I think) on education, and I am not keen myself on any system geared towards dull, reliable state employment where you keep your head down and a watchful eye for promotion. This stunted world view, unencumbered by imagination, is at ease with the ponderous platitudes of the Six One News, policy documents embalmed in ‘in relation to’, ‘the Minister will endeavour’ and ‘substantial progress was made towards achieving these objectives’, and table quizzes where only questions which have already been asked many times before are allowed. What does the W stand for in George W Bush? What is a Rhode Island Red?

    The trouble is, his alternative of ‘relevant’, continuously assessed project work to energize, motivate and (further) affirm the lads having a laugh at the back of the class is worse.

    It’s a good question though. Who, if anyone, will take the place of the upwardly mobile small farmer class?

  15. Deco

    Coldblow – I would very much like to read Crotty. I think that he did everybody a massive favour concerning the Crotty case.

    It seems that there are never enough Raymond Crotty figures.

    There are also never enough Jens Peter Bonde type figures. Research that chap. He has a lot of interesting things to say.

    • coldblow


      I looked up Bonde but his website (in Danish) no longer exists. I remember hearing about him at the time of the Lisbon Treaty, and he was mentioned quite a few times on here (possibly by yourself).

      Crotty’s Ireland in Crisis works on a few different levels: an economic (and political) history of Ireland; an analysis of capitalist (ie European) colonialism and the different ways it impacted on different places around the world; an analysis of what capitalism is and how it originated in the unique conditions of Western Europe, and a concise history of civilization.

    • coldblow

      I should add that Crotty believed he had, as a result of his own study, stumbled upon an explanation for Irish history (and its wider implications) that had eluded everyone else. I agree that he did and I don’t think many people grasp it.

      Most won’t even have tried to grasp it (and I have my own psychological theory in that regard).

      In any event, Crotty’s brave decision to challenge the State over Europe arose directly from this intellectual conviction.

  16. DB4545

    The children of our immigrants will inherit the Country just like our emigrants made their mark on the world. They’ll have seen their parents exploited in mcJobs but putting their nose to the grindstone anyway and getting on with to try and provide a decent life for their kids. Pawel and Marius and Kowalski are doing what Sean and Mick and Murphy did in Kilburn or Queens a generation ago. Which was worse Aer Lingus ripping off emigrants like myself(£200 sterling return fare to London in 1989) or Michael O Leary charging 80 Euros return to Warsaw or Vilnius? They might just be the generation that moves this Country from the small minded provincialism and cute hoorism which passes for social cohesion on this Island.

    • michaelcoughlan

      “Which was worse Aer Lingus ripping off emigrants like myself(£200 sterling return fare to London in 1989) or Michael O Leary charging 80 Euros return to Warsaw or Vilnius?”

      Neither. The only difference was the name of the scumbag fucking you in the ass.

      “They might just be the generation that moves this Country from the small minded provincialism and cute hoorism which passes for social cohesion on this Island”

      Really? If millions of serfs were allowed to starve by the feudalists in charge then when the potato crop failed what makes you think that the feudalists in charge now will treat the new immigrant serfs any different when the world’s financial system fails?

  17. DB4545

    I don’t Michael. But you don’t either. The last two generations have had the best access to education at huge expense to the average taxpayer in our long history and we appear to be going back to a type of corporate feudalism. Brendan Behan said that it doesn’t really matter if it’s a Lion and a Unicorn or a Harp on your eviction notice (that is unless you live on Killiney Hill and went to school with the Judge). I hope someone can change it because the centre will not hold.

  18. jaysus

    Dont forget that farmers children were automatically given grants and free access to third level. I was in college with a prime example of one of these feckers from Carlow. Full grant and living expenses, living in a house with his cousins in Ballsbridge that the family chipped in to buy them. No means test there.
    I got crumbs to live on by comparison and looked on with envy as he went to the pub on fridays while I cycled the 10km home in the rain as usual.
    Doubt if anything has changed since…

  19. DB4545

    The answer to that one is a student loan. If you want a third level education and have the ability you get access to a student loan. It’s what happens in most western countries. When you’ve completed your education you pay it back over several years to the taxpayers who have been kind enough to help fund your education. That way everyone is on a level playing field and farmers and other self employed people don’t get a chance to scam declared income and screw the system for “grants”. It means that doctors don’t get to have a fully funded education and then piss off to Canada/The US/Australia for 10 years to get qualified for consultant positions while third world doctors get to do the donkey work and paye workers on average incomes pick up the bill.

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