Kevin Rockett


Within a short time of beginning his seventeen year reign as Ireland's flrst Film Censor In 1924 James Montgomery (1) declared that the greatest danger to Ireland came not from the AngliciZation of Ireland but from the Los Angelesation of Ireland. This was a surprising admission given that Montgomery himself was closely allied With the conseiVative cultural and political leadership of the country which took power In 1922. During the previous four decades, especially since the foundation of the Gaelic Athletic Association In 1884 and the Gaelic League Jn 1893, enormous efforts had been expended in trying to establish a distinctive Irish culture behind the barriers of language. recreation and religion as a bulwark against the perceived threat of the anglicization of Ireland. The various nationalist cultural, sporting, religious and political movements which were finally focused in a united front in 1918 carried into the new state an agenda which sought to introduce through the state apparatus, especially through the school curriculum. the cultural policies of the pre-independence movements. That this approach was crude and stultifying. as well as a faJlure, is not In doubt. What is. perhaps. of grea ter interest is that rather than being a popular movement Irish cultural nationalism had seiVed as an ideological cement In the decades prior to independence In the attempt to unite all social classes behind a noncontradictory Irishness. Thus. the middle class conseiVatives who took power in 1922 were only too well aware that at a popular level Its cultural nationalist project was unlikely to be embraced by large sections of Irish society, especially those in urban areas. For these groups. foreign popular culture. especially the already established popular cinema, was more attractive than the limited and often repressive offerings of the regenerated 'native · Irish culture (2).

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