Folk Poetry and Working Class Identity in Ulster: An Analysis of James Orr’s ‘The Penitent.’
Gray, Jane (1993) Folk Poetry and Working Class Identity in Ulster: An Analysis of James Orr’s ‘The Penitent.’. Journal of Historical Sociology, 6 (3). pp. 249-275.
This paper explores changing patterns of collective identity amongst rural industrial producers in the North of Ireland through an extended analysis of a single poem, 'The Penitent,' (see Appendix) written by the weaver-poet James Orr in 1800. The poem was written at the culmination of a time of great social and political upheaval in Ireland, particularly in the north-east. The growth of rural domestic linen production in the eighteenth century had been accompanied by rapid population growth, land subdivision and (by the end of the century) the emergence in some districts of petty entrepreneurs who employed poorer weaving households to manufacture cloth by the piece.
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