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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 publications. The Christian Brothers entered the leisure 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 Boys 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.
Flanagan, M. (2006) True sons of Erin : catholic/nationalist ideology and the politics of adventure in Our Boys 1914-32.Doctoral Thesis, Technological University Dublin. doi:10.21427/D7H02M