I was born in 1976, so I remember having a "phone line" to the house, and all phones in the house were devices that were there in order to use that one line. This means that if the phone rang, one person of the household answered it, and then routed the call to whoever it was for. The context behind leaving someone alone to talk on the phone to their boyfriend/girlfriend/boss/whatever, not allowing others to use the phone as you wait for an important call, not having call-waiting, or caller-ID, can be totally lost to today's kids of today. 'How we spend time in today's world' has a contextual change to it from generation to generation. This context is embedded into the fabric of the language of the day, and so it's hard to "convert" into a context that is 100 years older or younger.
By that logic people wouldn't understand anything written from 1913. The society of your parents and grandparents (and great great great grandparents) wasn't nearly as alien as you seem to think. Seriously, go read some HP Lovecraft, it's perfectly clear.
However, on the other hand, in Ireland a lot of their history is preserved in songs. Since songs have a way of leaving you with a feeling, they also have a way of preserving some relevant context from the writer of the song, from the time of writing - see how music changes over time.
Again, what? History in Ireland is preserved in books, just like anywhere else. Or do you mean people randomly burst into song to convey the historical context of their comments?