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.
A bestseller in 1989, nobody took any offense at this slim novel by a prominent politician and solicitor until 2013. A silly, weird and revealing referral of ‘Laura’ the censorship board led to some interesting political gymnastics.
Errol Flynn was extremely hot in his day but you might not see his beautiful face in the same way after reading his memoir. A scandalous take on Golden Age Hollywood, it was too salacious for the Irish market.
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.
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.
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’.
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.
When The Dark was banned in 1965, John McGahern became the focus of a censorship controversy. But what about this coming-of-age novel irked the censors?
Hall’s queer text was at the centre of a moral panic and censorship show trial in England. Why did the Irish censor ban it, when an English prohibition meant Irish booksellers couldn’t source the book?
A censor told Seanad Éireann that this book was ‘unwholesome’ because of one sentence that mentioned ‘sodomy’. But I think he was fibbing. O’Brien questioned the validity of Irish nationalism in this book, a daring move that must have offended the censors.