Hirsch, Edward. The Imaginary Irish Peasant, in PMLA, 106, 5 (October 1991), pp.1116-33.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the Irish peasant was a figure deeply encoded with social, political and literary meaning,and to speak or write about that central image of Irish identity in the context of the time was to participate in a special kind of cultural discourse. The country people were important to Irish cultural and political nationalists not for their own sake but because of what they signified as a concept and as a language. To speak about the peasant was always to speak about something beyond rural life. (p.1118; quoted in Salome Houston, PG Dip., UUC 2012.)