S6 E1 Dirty Irish Colleens: O’Brien ‘The Country Girls’ (1960)

A novel surrounded by myths and outrage, I waited a long time to read this particular banned book. Part one of an infamous trilogy, its author soon became the focus of official Ireland’s outrage machine. I will explore books 2 and 3 later on in the season but I was joined for book 1 by guest Dr Maureen O’Connor.

There’s an episode in the cover art for this novel alone.

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’

S5 E1 Mollocking: Gibbons, ‘Cold Comfort Farm’ (1932)

A hilarious sketch on the novels of Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy and DH Lawrence seems like an odd target for the censors. But the satire couldn’t cover up the contraceptive advice and sexual deviance.

First edition cover art. Yes, there are anthropomorphic cows in this novel.

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

S4 E10 Unsuitable for Irish: bold books as Gaeilge

The scrutiny of the censor was confined to the English language. But works in Irish, the other language of the state, were also censored by editors, bureaucrats and catholic reactionaries. No language was allowed to explore scandalous ‘sex feelings’.

S4 E9 The McGahern Affair Part 2, the scandal

When The Dark was banned in 1965, John McGahern’s life changed dramatically. A story of vengeful clerics, useless unions and disinterested civil servants that stands as the greatest censorship scandal in modern Ireland.

First edition cover of The Dark (1965)