This book offers a fascinating view of many aspects of Irish rural life from the eighteenth to the mid twentieth century. Illustrated with more than 250 images, many of which have not been published before, the book evokes the hardships and celebrations of laborers and farmers, men and women, the old and the young as depicted in oil paintings, watercolors, drawings, prints, postcards, and cartoons. Most of the illustrations show people engaged in indoor activities at home, but schools, shops, pubs, and doctors' surgeries are also included. Claudia Kinmonth draws on extensive knowledge of the material culture of rural life to present a new social history of Irish country people.
Working within a broadly chronological framework, the author addresses such themes and patterns of rural life as the architecture of houses, where people slept, cooking over the open hearth, rural dress, display, childcare, work within the home, the arrangement of marriages, weddings, wakes, and celebrations. The book also explores why Irish and foreign artists depicted rural interiors and sets their work in the context of art history.