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)

S6 E5 Dirty Foreigners: O’Brien ‘The Lonely Girl’ (1962)

This novel is the further adventures of Caithleen and her sidekick Baba in the big city, as they search for fun, love and a free meal. A sequel to ‘The Country Girls’ (1960) it was automatically banned by a board who hated its author.

The cover art of O’Brien’s novels often featured her, or women who looked very like her

S6 E3 Wanton: Powys ‘Mr Weston’s Good Wine’ (1927)

I haven’t read many novels like this – it’s a Christian allegory stuffed with Gothic sex. TF Powys was banned a numbers of times by the censors, who objected to his unique combination of sacred and profane.

Designing cover art was a problem for earlier publishers but contemporary imprints are very attractive

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.