When marriage took place, economics was important to all social levels. Strength and ability to work were highly prized among all working people, farmers included; it ensured survival, and cemented partnerships. Such pragmatism could, and can, co-exist with sexual attraction, friendship and joy in one another's company. Our view of country people is relayed to us by city people, through the lens of nineteenth-century urban sentimentality, and if Irish farmers were reputed to lack romance, so were rural people everywhere—French peasants in particular. As late as 1997, Arensberg and Kimball's study of family life on a small farm in west Clare in the 1930s was described as ‘the classic portrait of the post-Famine Irish rural family’ and used as background for a discussion of mental illness in nineteenth-century Ireland.
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