Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Silver screens

"The great rival of the Catholic Church in Ireland was not Protestantism, or even Communism, but the cinema, in that cinema was competing for the same part of people's inner lives as the confessional and the Church.

When cinema started in the early decades of the century, it wasn't just a church that was in opposition, it was also cutting across the idea of the national revival, and the Los Anglesation of Ireland was feared as much as the Anglicisation. So what might be called the culture of protectionism of the 1920s and 30s militated against media and jazz.

One of the ironies of the Gaeity Cinema in Carrick-on-Shannon was that it established against the backdrop of a movement to ban jazz in Ireland, founded by a parish priest in the adjoining district of Cloon, County Leitrim. And that led to marches of over 5,000 in Moyle against jazz - jazz was Beelzebub’s music. And the dance-halls can be seen as part of that as well, their libidinous energies cutting across the austerity and puritanism of the new state."

-- Unidentified interview subject in the RTE documentary, "Closing the Gaiety in Carrick-on-Shannon," August 2010, remembering the cinema's role in the town during the mid-20th century.
Photo: Still from the 1920 Irish film Come On Over.

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