Michael Cronin opens this chapter by observing that the greatest threat to Irish society has been the dominant discourse of neo-liberalism and the Market, which has come to be the deity to which all must bend. The Irish Church has traditionally been associated with a regime of fear and punishment, which is somewhat paradoxical given that the founding message of Christianity is one of hope, of the end of fear. In Cronin’s view, a more radical move for a Church, which has been brought to its knees by a multiplicity of cultural factors, would be to embrace empathy and a politics of hope, which might consist of no longer saying ‘No’, but ‘Yes’. The affirmation of justice for all, a more equal sharing of wealth, the creation of a climate where difference is embraced, these are the life-affirming and Christian principles on which the future of Irish Catholicism should be based.
This chapter argues that the years since the onset of the recession in Ireland in 2008 have been characterised not by passivity and quietism but by extreme violence. The nature of the violence illustrates the changing nature of political opposition and the role of suicide and self-harm in restructuring the conflict between the victims of recession and between the haves and the have-nots in situations of worsening inequality. David Adams, an Irish Times columnist, claimed that 'while suicide remains a taboo subject we will continue avoiding a much-needed open and honest public discussion on the subject'. Kathleen Lynch, spoke of the 'enormous bearing' of alcohol on suicide and self-harm rates in the Republic of Ireland, but predictably failed to signal either the 'enormous bearing' of austerity on self-harm or of alcohol abuse as a self-destructive survival strategy.
This book studies the twentieth-century Irish Catholic Bildungsroman. This comparative examination of six Irish novelists tracks the historical evolution of a literary genre and its significant role in Irish culture. With chapters on James Joyce and Kate O'Brien, along with studies of Maura Laverty, Patrick Kavanagh, Edna O'Brien and John McGahern, this book offers a fresh new approach to the study of twentieth-century Irish writing and of the twentieth-century novel. Combining the study of literature and of archival material, the book also develops a new interpretive framework for studying the history of sexuality in twentieth-century Ireland. The book addresses itself to a wide set of interdisciplinary questions about Irish sexuality, modernity and post-colonial development, as well as Irish literature.
Sexuality, Catholicism and modernisation in Ireland, 1940–65
Michael G. Cronin
This chapter discusses Angela MacNamara's promotion of purity, chastity and marriage in her works which were aimed at teenage readers for the Catholic Truth Society of Ireland (CTSI). McNamara's work in the 1960s represents an innovative development within the Catholic sexual discourse.
This chapter discusses the literary censorship of Katy O'Brien's novels: Mary Lavelle (1936) and The Land of Spices (1941). O'Brien's novels were banned in Ireland because of their explicit depiction of sex. The chapter emphasizes the political significance of O'Brien's novels, arguing that she offered to Irish society the ideal of liberal individualism.
The rural Bildungsromane of Maura Laverty and Patrick Kavanagh
Michael G. Cronin
This chapter focuses on the works of Maura Laverty and Patrick Kavanagh. It first analyses Kavanagh' two versions of the Bildungsroman: his autobiography The Green Fool (1938) and his novel Tarry Flynn (1948). It then compares his works with Maura Laverty, whose works depict sexuality, rural life and Irish underdevelopment. The chapter argues that Laverty's and Kavanagh's youth narratives and their visions of rural Ireland were important innovations in the history of the Irish Bildungsroman.
This chapter discusses the emergence of psychoanalytic thought in the twentieth century and the historical development of the notion of sexuality. It examines the Freudian libidinal theory model, which re-conceptualised desire and stated that human subjectivity is produced by a struggle between opposing forces of sexual desire and sexual repression.
Sexuality, Irish moral politics and capitalist crisis,1920–40
Michael G. Cronin
This chapter discusses the concept of sexuality as a moral problem in the first decades of the new Irish state. Irish Catholics were involved in social activism directed at issues of public morality. The new independent Irish state had organisations involved in this campaign, which included the Irish Vigilance Association, the Catholic Truth Society of Ireland, St Vincent de Paul Society and the Legion of Mary. These organizations aimed to incorporate the public morality framework into social policy and legislation.
Sexuality, trauma and history in Edna O’Brien and John McGahern
Michael G. Cronin
This chapter focuses on the works of Edna O'Brien and John McGahern. O'Brien's The Country Girls trilogy (1960–64) and McGahern's The Dark (1965) were banned due to their portrayal of sexuality. The chapter also discusses the reform of literary censorship and the contribution of these novels to the cultural reconfiguration of sexuality and social change in Ireland.
This conclusion discusses the legacy of Bildungsroman in contemporary Irish literature. It highlights Nuala O'Faolain's Are You Somebody (1996) which portrays the social changes that transformed Ireland in the late twentieth century. It also discusses the official inquiries into clerical sexual abuse of children by Irish Catholic priests: The Ferns Report (2005), The Report by the Commission of Investigation into the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin (2009), commonly known as the Murphy Report and The Report by the Commission of Investigation into the Catholic Diocese of Cloyne (2011).