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review 2020-09-11 19:56
The end of the Irish old order
The Decline Of The Big House In Ireland: A Study Of Irish Landed Families, 1860 1960 - Terence A.M. Dooley

At the start of the 1870s, the great landed families of Ireland sat prosperous and sovereign in their communities. A half-century later, however, theirs was a class in terminal decline, suffering from the effects of a succession of economic and political blows. In this book Terence Dooley charts the course of the fall of the Irish landed elite, detailing the steps in their collapse and analyzing the factors behind it. As he explains, there was no one circumstance or event behind it but instead a series of developments – some global, others local – which brought an end to the social class which had dominated life in Ireland for centuries.


Dooley begins by detailing “big house” life in high Victorian Ireland. Flourishing amidst the economic prosperity of the period, numerous families flaunted their wealth by refurbishing their homes and loading them with art and other acquisitions purchased from the continent, which they often financed through loans and mortgages. Few anticipated that the good times might come to an end, leaving them unprepared when the agricultural economy went into decline in the late 1870s. With indebtedness growing, many landowners sought to maintain their income by raising the rents they charged to tenant farmers. Unable to pay the higher rents the tenants went on strike instead, further crippling landowner finances and exacerbating their financial woes.


In response to the political pressure imposed by the poorer and more numerous tenant farmers, Parliament passed a series of acts designed to facilitate the transfer of the land from the large landowners to the tenant farmers. This initiated a process of land transference that accelerated in the early twentieth century with further increases in the financial incentives for landowners to sell. By then many landowners desperate for money had already curtailed their expenditures and sold off valuable furnishings in the hope of stabilizing their situation or at least delaying their decline.


Instead, their decline accelerated with the outbreak of war in 1914. Dooley describes the blows suffered by many families with the loss of sons and husbands who fell in battle. These individual setbacks were soon compounded by the newly-empowered independence movement, which by 1920 was waging war against the British state. The big houses were prime targets for the Irish Republican Army, both as sources of firearms and as hated symbols of British occupation. Many of the houses themselves were burned down to drive out the pro-Union landowners and to prevent the buildings from becoming barracks for British forces. By the end of the Irish Civil War in 1923 the landowning class thus found themselves gutted and friendless, without even a semblance of their former status and power in Irish society.


In many respects the story Dooley tells echoes that of David Cannadine’s seminal work The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy. Like Cannadine, Dooley explains the various forces squeezing the Irish aristocracy as a class, to which he adds the unique circumstances facing them because of Irish nationalist politics. While their British counterparts suffered from the same economic crisis, they were spared the political assaults of the Land War and the independence movement that delivered the fatal blows that wiped them out for good. It’s an important aspect of Irish history that Dooley recounts well, making his book an important account of the transformations taking place in Irish society in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

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review 2020-08-31 05:52
From novelty to ubiquity
Cycling in Victorian Ireland - Brian Griffin

Given its ubiquity today, it can be difficult to appreciate how revolutionary the bicycle was when it was developed in the 19th century. In an era when most people were dependent upon walking to get to where they were going, the bicycle gave people greater individual mobility than had even been possible without a horse. Thanks to its low cost and the empowerment it offered, it took less than a generation for bicycles to go from a faddish novelty to a mode of transportation commonplace on the streets of cities throughout the Western world.


The introduction of the bicycle took place at a time when mass media covered new developments in almost obsessive detail. Brian Griffin drew upon this abundant record to delineate the early history of cycling in Ireland from the introduction of the first velocipede to the widespread adoption of the safety bicycle. It's an impressively detailed work that identifies by name the first bicyclists, traces the establishment of clubs and some of their key members, and describes society's evolving reaction to bicycles as their riders carved out a place for themselves on the roads and in daily life. This he sees not just in their employment by the hobbyist and the well-to-do, but their use by constables, civil servants, and priests in the performance of their daily duties. As Griffin makes clear, by the end of the century the bicycle enjoyed a prominent place in both practical activities and in the recreational life of the Irish.


Griffin's meticulous coverage of the bicycle's emergence in Ireland is a great strength of the book, as he captures within these details how people came to terms with the new technology of personal transport. He leavens this with humorous stories and a generous supply of details that capture the sometimes freakish novelty and occasional frustration with which people reacted to the bicycle. Yet Griffin rarely strays beyond the specifics to consider more generally the impact of cycling upon Ireland, such as in how it affected social mores or people's sense of time and space. It's an unfortunate gap in what is otherwise an interesting and even amusing study of the emergence of cycling in 19th century Ireland, one that should be read by anyone with a passing interest in either the subject or the era.

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text 2020-06-18 12:26
TOUR, GUEST POST & #GIVEAWAY - My Irish Dog by Douglas Solvie
My Irish Dog - Douglas Solvie

@GoddessFish, @Archaeolibrary, @DSolvieAuthor, #Suspense, #Psychological


Spencer held on to the faintest of hope, but still he knew the trip to Ireland had almost no prospect of remedying his internal dilemma. Then again, he never imagined that a chance meeting with a lost and dying dog named Shandy would change his life forever.


Step into the small Irish village of Galbally, where the unwitting Spencer stumbles headfirst into a parallel world that will test his will, sanity, and even physical well-being.


Time and promise are running out. Will unnatural forces and events scare Spencer away before he can connect again with the mysterious dog? Will he find his way forward before Shandy meets her inevitable fate? Or will suspicious locals and a nefarious Dublin innkeeper force Spencer from the village before he completes his life-altering mission?


Follow Spencer as he races to save a little Irish dog named Shandy. If he only realized that it is Shandy who is trying to save him...

Source: archaeolibrarian.wixsite.com/website/post/my-irish-dog-by-douglas-solvie
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review 2020-06-08 14:04
An Irish Country Family
An Irish Country Family - Patrick Taylor

Not too much to say. This one was just boring. There's some slight tension because of a new character who just disappears into the ether. Taylor really needs to stay in the present day in his books. Him jumping back a few years to show Barry on rotation was not needed and was boring. I don't know how much longer these books can go. This used to be one of my favorite series because Taylor actually didn't just have happily ever after endings for people all of the time. These books usually surround a big problem in the village that O'Reilly really doesn't need to get involved with and then it's solved in like 5 chapters while we readers get flashback scenes that no one asked for. Here's hoping the next one self corrects.


"An Irish Country Family" deals a bit with the Troubles in Ireland (it's 1969) and with Barry and Sue trying and failing to get pregnant. Taylor also has Doctor O'Reilly dealing with a new arrival to Ballybucklebo who seems focused on preventing the village into making a nearby location into a place for men and women to listen to music and dance. Taylor also has readers following Barry back a few years prior to the start of "An Irish Country Doctor" to watch him during his medical rotation. 


The characters are the same in this one really. We have Barry and Sue both getting frustrated that she can't get pregnant. I liked that Taylor had them discussing adoption, but you know that flamed out quickly.


O'Reilly still wants Kitty to retire but apparently he's not going to? I don't know, that whole plot-line needs to be dropped. It's annoying. Also I wonder why everyone goes to O'Reilly about things they can do without him. We had the whole surprise that took forever to unfold. We had the Marquis asking O'Reilly to accompany him when he honestly didn't need him. 

I loathed the newcomer to the village and once again we have a man that does something horrible to a woman and it's just ignored? I don't know what to say here. It's a weird choice. 


The writing was just okay in this one. I think I just got frustrated because the book seem to be moving at a glacial pace. Seeing the dates in the chapter headings made me feel impatient. 


The flow of the book was off. Why Taylor decided to show Barry 6 years in the past made zero sense. Thankfully his chapters were short, however, they were not necessary. I hope this is the last flashback of his we get. Taylor kept doing this with O'Reilly and it soon wore out its welcome for me as a reader. 



With regards to the setting, I think it's weird that Taylor wants to have Ballybucklebo be this perfect place in Ireland where Catholics and Protestants get together. There are some mentions of the fighting going on, but that's it. It's a weird choice and I don't know if he will ever get into more details or what in the series.


The book ends on a happy note, but also I had some confusion about things since we hear about a character who is moving but it's not mentioned before and I went wait what and then decided to move on because I didn't care a whit.

I still say "An Irish Country Girl" is the best book in this series. Taylor would do better to write more like that instead of the mismash between characters and past and present that isn't really working that well anymore.  

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text 2020-06-07 12:48
Reading progress update: I've read 368 out of 368 pages.
An Irish Country Family - Patrick Taylor

Eh this wasn't great. I skipped over all of Barry's flashback chapters. I really wish Taylor would stop that. It doesn't work or even matter when you are in the present day. And Taylor has another terrible man that assaults a woman but nothing really is done to them. I just felt let down by the time I got to the end of this one.

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