The Irish Countryside Readers: Senior Book
This is part of a series of Irish Countryside Readers comprising Junior, Senior and Advanced levels. A stamp in the text indicates that it was published in 1916, but the text clearly reflects the increasingly nationalist tone in education in the immediate pre-independence period. It was intended as a set of readers ‘to promote one very important aspect of a truly Irish education, in accordance with the new spirit of the times… to arouse the children’s interest in the more significant factors, natural and human, that make for the prosperity of a great national industry, the work of the land’ (iii). This response to ‘the cultural ideals now favoured’ in fostering interest in the land reflects the influence of the Irish-Ireland movement on the curriculum in this period. Though recommended especially to country schools, it was hoped that city schools would also use the series. The emphasis is on the factual, informative and applied, with selections such as ‘Modern Business Methods on the Land’, ‘Simple Weather Lore’ and ‘Destructive Insects’. The author that appears most often is George Ryce, described as a former Agricultural Instructor under the Department of Agriculture, who also authored the Advanced Book in this series. His contributions include selections called ‘Preparing Wheat for Market’, ‘How and Why the Land is Tilled’ and ‘The Potato and How to Protect it’. ‘Modern Business Methods on the Land’ praises the co-operative movement, the success of which in Ireland ‘has won the admiration of writers in England, where this progressive movement is not nearly so far advanced as it is amongst ourselves’ (93). Observation is encouraged by the selections, most obviously in ‘Robert and William: or, the value of intelligent observation’. Kindness in the treatment of animals is urged since ‘the lordship over the beasts of the field is one of the greatest gifts, one of the highest privileges, which a kind Providence has conferred upon man’ and because ‘there is the sense of rightness, of manliness, of fair-play, which tells the generous mind that to ill-treat a defenceless creature is cowardly and base’ (25). Morality also invades the text when it is noted in ‘Preparing Wheat for market’ that alcohol is very harmful when consumed to excess and that therefore ‘one cannot look with favour on the large share of attention which is given to the growing of barley mainly for distilling and brewing’. However, in Ireland ‘it is likely that considerations of profit, as well as of patriotism, will convince the farmers that to multiply the yield of the great food-giving grain is the wisest and worthiest policy to which they could devote themselves’ (162). The text contains illustrations including photographs, diagrams, and illustrations of ‘modern farming operations and appliance’ and ‘A perfect type of modern cowhouse’.
Place of Publication:
Browne and Nolan, Limited
Date of Publication:
viii, 199.  pp., ill.
Copy Specific Notes:
Stamp: Browne & Nolan, 41 & 42 Nassau St., Dublin publishing Dept. Record office. First published 1916
Rural Life, Agriculture, Nationalism, Ireland, Practical Education, Reader, Textbook
Schoolbook Collection - SPD