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I was fascinated to see this sign in a rural part of Co. Cavan in Ireland. What kind of children were these? Were they feral perhaps? I’ve since discovered that it’s not uncommon to come across a sign like this in an area where children might be playing ‘and running loose’.
We associate the term ‘free range’ with animal husbandry: we buy free range eggs from chickens that have been allowed to roam outdoors and not be confined 24 hours a day. I never saw the term applied to children before.
I grew up in a small village in Ireland and lived on a road that led down to the sea. It was an idyllic spot, with the ruins of a Norman castle in the field on one side of the house, a meadow on the other side, and the beach across the road. Summer holidays were spent swimming in the sea, climbing up the ancient stony heaps in the field, and jumping around on haystacks in the meadow (not sure the farmer was too happy with us). There wasn’t much through traffic, so we were able to play games out on the road without any danger. I was a ‘free range’ child, I just didn’t know it.