This is actually a fairly old theme and was much more explored in past times by the likes of Patrick Kavanagh and others. Strangely there is very little discussion of it today even though the phenomenon is as strong as ever. You live in a small town and there are all these social pressures to conform, you must feign interest in the gaa, you must not stand out too much or wear too fancy cloths, you must not talk about stuff thats too intellectual and local issues and gossip trump everything else. Of course thats also the charm of rural ireland and why tourists love to visit the irish pub but at the back of all this charm i think there is the heavy hand of conformity which is still as strong as ever. Its not the conformity of the past, and the church is not responsible now. I think pat shortt captured the ugliness of it well in the film "garage". Even the "village idiot" is not allowed to get notions above his station. This film was in a relatively modern setting , a rural setting in the mid 2000s.