chapter  13
17 Pages

Learning to make Irish agriculture modern

Civil society elites, the state, and coping with the challenges of globalisation in the 1890s
ByTony Varley

This chapter will consider an attempt, in the 1890s, by a group of influential civil society elites to use the threats globalisation was perceived to be posing, and the opportunities it was presenting, as the justification for launching a radical attempt to modernise Irish agriculture. The civil society elites in question took the creation of a new “department of agriculture and industries” as the crucial institutional means of pursuing a vision of modern agriculture built upon the three pillars of radically overhauling agricultural education, turning farmers into a set of well-organised class interests, and providing for their representation within the state sphere. Attention is paid to why these elites took their initiative, how they looked to certain continental European countries for an appropriate model of modern agriculture, and the modernising agenda this continental experience suggested for institution building in the state sphere in Ireland.