True Sons of Erin:Catholic/Nationalist Ideology and the Politics of Adventure in Our Boys 1914-32

Michael Flanagan
Conservative Irish society perceived itself to be under threat from a variety of 'foreign' cultural expressions in the decades around the turn of the twentieth century. The 'sensational' nature of newspapers and periodicals produced for the broader metropolitan market and espousing the values of a more urban and less controlled society were particular sources of concern for Irish Catholics, as was the musical hall and the newly available cinema productions. The Christian Brothers entered the
more » ... sure reading market in September 1914 with their own magazine, Our Boys. The primary focus of this publication was to compete with the imperial and Anglo-centric nature of the British Boys Own genre, a form of popular literature widely available in Ireland. The deeds of Irish heroic figures of the past were emphasised, coloured with a pronounced emphasis on the religious persecution visited on Ireland at the hands of what was described as British 'oppression.' Our Boys engaged in a policy of clearly associating Irish history with the Catholic orientation of the Irish people. Faith and Fatherland were one and the same entity in this mindset, inseparable in terms of Ireland's national experience. The Boy's Own genre, which created the template for this form of popular literature is examined in the initial section of this thesis, leading to an evaluation of the heroic masculinity central to this genre. The Catholic/nationalist nature of Our Boys is then considered from a variety of perspectives -historical and contemporary fiction, cultural and economic material and finally the role played by the magazine in supporting the Church's drive to enshrine conservative values in the legislature of the early Free State. DECLARTION I certify that this thesis which I now submit for the award of Ph.D. , is entirely my own work and has not been take from the work of others, save and to the extent that such work has been cited and acknowledged within the text of my work. This thesis was prepared according to the regulations for postgraduate study by research of the Dublin Institute of Technology and has not be submitted in whole or in part for an award at any other Institute or University. The work reported on in this thesis conforms to the principles and and requirements of the Institute's guidelines for ethics in research. The Institute has permission to keep, to lend or to copy this thesis in whole or in part, on condition that any such use of the material be duly acknowledged. Signature Date Candidate the historical ideology of the Christian Brothers had been supplying, in the education of the young. O'Brien concludes that the Church now required a form of Catholic nationalism, not only in the schools, but in the political arena, especially in cultural politics. 2 The decades of the early twentieth century witnessed a period in which Ireland was faced with many complex questions around issues of national identity and culture. In the Ireland of this period there were competing ideologies across a wide range of issues -the contested ground between Irish nationalism and the place of this country in the British imperial fold, for example, or the dichotomy of traditional values on the one hand and the increasing power of metropolitan culture on the other. Irish society was in the process of defining itself against the background of the new, modern world. The Gaelic language, native games, folklore, local history and traditional music were some of the expressions which were, in effect, mobilized in defense of Irish cultural nationalism. These were all results of a late nineteenth century revival, aspects of the ways in which this society was to respond to the perceived threat of outside, alien influences. Conservative Ireland, led by the Catholic Church sought to define its own values, assert its own social and cultural mores. The Irish Christian Brothers were to the fore in their support of various forms of nationalist assertion that were such an integral part of what O'Brien refers to as the 'cultural politics' of this period. 3 Certain elements of the new, urban culture -the musical hall, early cinema and the output of 'foreign' (in other words, British) publishing houses and newspaper groups were to 7 10 1 Educational Record, 1914, p.48.
doi:10.21427/d7h02m fatcat:7r4qwu777vgwtgtjwabhnl45q4