S7 E1 & 2 Riotous: The Playboy of the Western World (1907)

The Playboy Riots were a notoriously rowdy series of audience protests in the Abbey Theatre. The patrons were so offended by The Playboy of the Western World their loud singing and heckling drowned out the actors. This much-studied moment in Irish cultural history deserves a deep-dive into the play itself and the over-reaction to its performance.

With guest, Dr Lloyd (Maedhbh) Houston, I discussed the play and the uproar it caused, paying particular attention to drunken singing and the comedy act of one protestor, Mr Overcoat.

Newspaper coverage of the play and the riots played an important role in generating outrage. (Irish Times excerpt)

S5 E4 Girls, girls: Mead ‘Growing up in Samoa’ (1928)

This short popular anthropology book made Margaret Mead into a prominent public intellectual. It’s full of radical ideas about family formation, gender roles and sexual expression. Written by a woman who believed in polygamy, it’s a wonder it took nearly 20 years for the Irish censors to ban it.

First edition cover art for ‘Coming of Age in Samoa’

S4 BONUS Fecundshite: Joyce ‘Ulysses’ (1922)

James Joyce went way beyond smut when he wrote Ulysses, an epic modernist masterpiece. The censorship history of Ulysses is as mind boggling as the author’s bloody-minded determination to offend. In a bizarre twist, this filthy book was never banned in Ireland.

Cover of the first edition