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Sexuality, Catholicism and modernisation in Ireland, 1940–65
Michael G. Cronin

of self-cultivation and the achievement of self-fulfilment through marriage, could actually underwrite the objective of a dynamic but stable social order. In short, promoting and cultivating self-realisation replaced the imposition of collective regulation as the ideal route to the same goal. Historically, we can locate this transition within Irish Catholicism at the nexus of two related crises of modernity – one that was taking place within Western capitalism generally, and one that was more specific to Ireland. The seismic dislocations, instability and political

in Impure thoughts
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Michael G. Cronin

change. In this account, Irish Catholicism was an agent of bourgeois development and modernisation in the mid-nineteenth century. However, in the twentieth century almost precisely the same ideological formation effectively acted as a stubborn brake on modernisation. Until the society and the economy were opened up in the 1960s, the effects of a puritanical and repressive attitude to sexuality were not confined to the realm of private and emotional life since these attitudes also informed an Irish Catholic mentalité. This in turn produced a society averse to risk

in Impure thoughts
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Sexuality, Irish moral politics and capitalist crisis,1920–40
Michael G. Cronin

unique to Irish Catholicism since they are each part of the modern ‘power-knowledge’ nexus, as Michel Foucault has termed it.23 The various existing accounts of the Irish postindependence era emphasise that the moral values being incorporated into public policy represented a ‘traditional’ or ‘pre-modern’ formation and were being mobilised to generate a protective shield against the forces of modernisation. However, a distinguishing feature of these sexual discourses being mobilised in 1920s Ireland is their engagement with a key political problem of modernity. That is

in Impure thoughts
Sexuality, trauma and history in Edna O’Brien and John McGahern
Michael G. Cronin

these issues in new ways. Arguably, the novels contributed to the broader cultural reconfiguration of sexuality and social change that was under way in Ireland. Even if Irish sexual values and behaviour did not undergo the kind of transformation that became known as the ‘sexual revolution’ elsewhere in the West, sexuality was nevertheless foregrounded in public discourse in that decade. The Vatican Council (1962–65) initiated significant changes in Irish Catholicism and created an expectation that the Church’s position on the use of artificial birth control within

in Impure thoughts
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McGahern’s personal and detached reflections
Tom Inglis

on Irish morality generally, but particularly on sexual morality. Apart from his fictional writings, one of McGahern’s best attempts to capture the peculiarity of Irish society and the ways in which the repressive regime of Irish Catholicism colonised desire and the pleasure of sex, was in a series of draft paragraphs in Love of the World that were never included in any final text.11 He describes how love, but particularly sexual love, gives beauty and meaning to the arbitrariness of our lives within the universe: it ‘becomes the rich gift of the life and self

in John McGahern
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Writing sex and nation
Emer Nolan

ascribed to her friend (in effect the motor of the plot, as Baba also later instigates the move to England) – although ultimately these attitudes fail to bring her much more happiness than Kate is destined to enjoy. However, what is remarkable in the Trilogy and elsewhere is the 28 Five Irish Women extent to which O’Brien’s representation of a mature sexuality and feminine sensibility are entirely recognisable variations on the structure of feeling associated with certain strains of Irish Catholicism and popular Irish nationalism. She is keenly attentive to the

in Five Irish women
Joyce and the Freudian Bildungsroman
Michael G. Cronin

is not merely a question of chronology. A decade before Joyce’s novel, George Moore’s The Lake (1905) wove an anti-clerical critique of Irish Catholicism into a narrative of self-discovery through the honest acknowledgement of sexual desire. The novel begins with a parish priest in the west of Ireland, Father Gogarty, condemning from the pulpit the local teacher, Rose Leicester, who has become pregnant while unmarried. On hearing this condemnation she immediately leaves and makes her way to England. Through his correspondence with Rose over the subsequent years

in Impure thoughts
Michael G. Cronin

is Catholicism or, more specifically, ‘Roman’ Catholicism. Irish Catholicism, according to Murphy, needed to look outward to European Catholic culture to avoid being co-opted by ‘the Victorians’. The contrast between ‘Irish’ and ‘European’ Catholicism was a characteristic trope used by mid-century Irish intellectuals, especially O’Faoláin, for whom a democratic Catholic European worldview offered a sustaining alternative both to an Irish Catholic nationalism in which the individual is suffocated by the imperatives of collective development and to an Anglo

in Impure thoughts
Anne Enright’s The Gathering (2007)
Gerry Smyth

treachery. For many people, the slow death of Irish Catholicism has been a bitter, harrowing process to observe; for others, the decline of a fundamentally flawed institution’s unwarranted role in modern Irish life was already long overdue by the time it began to come under serious pressure during the 1990s. Whatever the perspective, however, it has been the form 184 The Judas kiss and the detail of the Church’s precipitous downfall that has shaken the nation to its core. Catholicism was embedded in Irish life well before the Treaty of 1922, and with it came that

in The Judas kiss
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Church and state in The Bell
Niall Carson

the de Valera government, the time for waiting for change had passed, and more immediate action was required. To complicate this picture, the Roman Catholic hierarchy had united with the forces of large cattle ranchers and industrialists to keep the truly democratic voice of Irish Catholicism suppressed. These combined forces, he argued in The Bothy Fire, had blocked the potential for change in the de Valera administration and rendered impotent the working poor, on whose support de Valera was elected: ‘The Catholic Fascism of Cardinal McRory [sic] is the deadly

in Rebel by vocation