What We Read - 18th Nov. 1950


What We Read: Text Version

18th November 1950


This year Mass was celebrated at the site of two West Limerick Mass Rocks. No other county in Ireland honoured the Holy Year in such a beautiful and impressive manner, and those whose idea it was must surely feel both pleased and proud. It was a lovely thought to link this present year of jubilee with the years of oppression and persecution, for we truly appreciate things only by contrast. 1950 saw tens of thousands of Irish pilgrims setting out triumphantly, with flags and banners, on the long road to Rome; 1750 saw their forefathers bent in prayer around the hidden Mass Rocks of Penal Ireland.


Besides the ceremonies at the Mass Rocks, Limerick is also to have a Holy year Exhibition, which should prove very interesting. I wonder will the exhibits include the marble altar stone from Croom, a relic of Penal times, now preserved in the National Museum. The inscription on the stone reads:-

"Gloir agus Onoir don

Trionoid ro-namhtha.

An tAthair Leras O hAirtneda,

Sagart Paroiste, Croma,"

How many times was this Irish-inscribed altar stone of Father O hAirtneda's placed on some now forgotten Mass Rock in the Maigue valley, prior to the celebration of the Holy Scrifice?


The Gaelic Nights scheme of Co. Limerick began its third year of activity on last Friday night, 11th November, in Bruree. Irish-speaking groups attended from Ballyorgan, Croom, Newcastle and Feohanagh, most of them coming from Gaelic League Branches and Irish classes. The "Night" followed the usual pattern of lecture, debate, concert items, tea and ceili. An Brathair O Cinneide, Superior, C.B.S., Rathluirc, was the lecturer, and for his subject he chose, very fittingly, Rathluirc's own penal Age poet, Sean Clarach Mac Domhnaill. The lecture, which was completely in Irish, was followed with great interest. At its conclusion a warm vote of thanks was passed to the lecturer and then members of Bruree Irish Class sang two of Sean Clarach's best known songs, "Seal do bhios," and "Bim-se buan," the latter, of course, being sung to the famous Jacobite air, the "White ade." Sean Clarach was an outstanding poet, whose singing voice was truly the voice of the Ireland of his day. An ent Irish literary critic summed him up well when he wrote:

"Above all, he was chief Jacobite poet of Ireland; and his verses, better than those of any other of the eighteenth century singers, bring home to us the passionate hopes, the gallant dreams, the wild loyalty to the White ade, that rose and fell in that age."


Following the lecture and songs came a debate, in which speakers from Ballyorgan, Bruree, Kilfinane and Newcastle took part, with a Br. O Cinneide acting as chairman. The visitors were then entertained to tea. After tea there was a ceili, which was very welcome, for the night was cold and frosty. Gerard Clifford's band supplied the music, and kept the dancing feet busy until going-home time. During the ceili, prizes won at this year's County Feis, were presented to members of Newcastle West Irish Class. Besides, there were songs from Mairead Ni She, An Caislean Nua, and Sighle Mhuillneoir, Brugh Riogh; dances from Siobhan Ahern, Feothanach, and Michael Bairead, Cillmoceallog, and a violin selection from Gearoid O Clumhain, (Cillmoceallog), who gave a broadcast of traditional Irish music on the following evening from Radio Eireann. As well, a little time was found to hold a Fainne examination for two enthusiastic ladies who had come a considerable distance and whom the examiners found were both richly deserving to be enrolled among the ranks of the Fainneoiri.


Let us hope that the session's series of Gaelic Nights will prove as successful as have those of the past two years. In those two years they infused new life into the language movement in a great part of Co. Limerick, and were responsible for bringing together hundreds of young people working for a common ideal. They had a ural as well as a social value. Nine lectures were delivered and 6 debates organised in that period, most of them in small rural halls, where such things were previously unknown. Everywhere, the clergy co-operated in the work, and a Franciscan and a Parish priest were among the Gaelic Night lecturers. It is to be hoped that the good work goes on, that the little bands of Irish speakers continue to come together to draw courage and inspiration from their meetings, and, that, maybe, some day they'll succeed in waking the interest of the great indifferent Irish public.


A subject we see discussed in the papers from time to time is that of the imported Press. But how many of our people know anything about the matter, or take the slightest trouble to find out anything about it? From an invaluable booklet, "The Imported Press – A National Menace," by Rev. R.S. Devane, S.J., I shall now give you a few facts upon which to meditate. In the year 1947 we imported from England 4.571,556 daily newspapers; in 1948 the figure fell somewhat to 4,125,432, but in 1949 it had risen again to 5,335,020. Now we come to the Sunday newspapers. In 1947 we imported no less than 15,704,988 of these; in 1948 the figure had increased to 17,271,072, and in 1949 it had soared to 20,268,360! Appalling is the only word we can apply to this state of affairs. When we come to periodicals the story is even worse. In 1947 our imports of these amounted to 18,531,060; in 1948 it was 19,502,700 and in 1949 it was 22,908,480.


On page 14 of "The Imported Press" Father Devane states:

"In 1933 we imported 756,353 bound novels; in 1934, 914,957; in 1935, 710,037; in 1936, 760,568; in 1937, 653,982; in 1938, 560,901. Then came the war. In the year 1947, the number was 450,800; in 1948, 567,973; in 1949, 742,678. What a mighty concentrated ural attack from the many libraries in city, town and village, even in the most remote places! Add to this the many millions of daily and Sunday newspapers, and of periodicals and magazines appealing to children, to youth, to our women, to all classes, supplying to them the same mental pabulum as is supplied to the 'Great British Public,' now unfortunately so largely dechristianised as to need reconverssion."


On page 24, Father Devane goes on:

"In building up a new State such as ours, it is vitally necessary that our youth should have their minds turned to their own country and to the Irish way of life. Large sums of money are being spent in the schools on the language revival. The children have the language 'crammed down their necks' – so we are told. No sooner do they get free from school than all is largely negatived by the British juvenile journals which have such a large circulation among them. Here are some of the imported journals our children read: 'The Children's Newspaper,' Chick's own,' ' ,' 'Dandy,' 'Welcome,' 'Mickey Mouse,' 'The Schoolgirls' Own Library,' 'Boys' Own Paper,' 'Champion,' 'Girls' Crystal Weekly,' 'Scout,' 'Wizard,' 'Hotspur,' 'Rover,' etc., etc. What hope is there for the formation of a truly Irish youth, when the journals they read hold up English heroes as their s and extol the 'British way of life.'"


"On the other hand," continues Father Devane, "we have only tree juvenile secular journals in English:- 'Our Boys,' 'Junior Digest' and the recently launched 'Teen-Age Times.' The first is published by the Irish Christian Brothers, who, with their schools behind them, can count on a fair circulation. The two others are published by Basil Clancy, who has done a great service to the nation and its youth." And since Father Devane has just mentioned him, perhaps it would not be inappropriate to quote here a few extracts from a letter from Basil Clancy that appeared in the public Press last Sunday. Mr. Clancy, who has just made a six-week tour of the publishing centres of France, Italy, Germany and Holland, says:

"No other European nation is ted, or would allow itself to be ted by a foreign Press to the extent that we are." He goes on:

"The whole country is so saturated with imported publications of all kinds that the home market has been almost completely captured by the foreigner, and our own publications, with few exceptions, have been pushed aside to make way for the display of British publications, backed up by posters, advertisement signs, expensive pro da and circulation representatives, all busily selling us their way of life. Their views and opinions, their ideals of what is good for us, and their version of what is going on in the world.

"We have, in effect, handed over to the publishers of over 50,000,000 British publications the means of moulding our minds, influencing our way of life, our national development, and also our buying habits and our attitude towards Irish goods and the Irish language."


Having commented on the great spirit of the early Gaelic League days, Father Devane writes:

"it is now sad to look back on those halcyon days, and to see the blight of the Civil War and the fratricidal strife that followed in its wake. Gone is the idealism; gone the ism; gone the messianism. They have been replaced by cynicism, ism and pessimism. Native music and song have given way to jazz, crooning, and the dances of African primitives. Notwithstanding the efforts of the various governments to revive the language, the results have been depressingly disappointing. The reason is that the attempt to restore our ancient speech was made while the spirit of the people was being gradually chilled and killed by Anglicisation – a chief factor of which was the Imported Press."

It is high time that our people woke up to what Father Devane has called "the menace of the imported Press." If there is a spark of spirit left in the country, our many organisations, Gaelic League, the G.A.A., Muintir na Tire, Macra na Feirme, Bantracht, na Tuaighe, etc., will make no delay in protesting against this foreign deluge that threatens to drown us and demand of their T.D.'s that something be done at once to control it.


On next Monday night, November 20th, I am told, a meeting will be held in the People's hall, Kilmallock, at 8p.m., for the purpose of forming a Branch of the Gaelic League in that town. I hope it will be well attended.


If any reader has copies of the "Leader" for Sept. 23, Sept. 30 and Oct. 7, which he does not want, I would be very grateful if he would forward them to me.


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