Ireland’s 1950s censor did not recommend 'Popeye' and 'Batman'
In 1954 85 percent of books released were banned in Ireland
In Ireland during the 1950s the censor announced that “Might Mouse”, “Batman” and “Popeye” were “not recommended” while “Bugs Bunny” comic books were “doubtful”.
A unique insight into the mind of the Censor of Publications Board, was found through the personal diaries of Christopher O’Reilly who was censor at the time. His views were revealed at the second Irish-American Human Rights Exchange conference in Galway earlier this week.
O’Reilly had been a lecturer at St. Patrick’s teacher’s training college in Drumcondra, Dublin. He was a supreme knight in the Knights of Columbanus and a member of the five-man board of censors appointed by the minister for justice in 1951.
In 1954 85 percent of the books that O’Reilly and his fellow censors examined were banned.
Speaking at the conference bookseller Des Kenny spoke about how difficult it was for his parents, Des and Maureen, to established their independent bookshop in Galway at that time.
He told how there was a “very angry reaction in Connemara” when one of Walter Macken’s banned books appeared on the shop’s list. Macken and Graham Greene were among the most Catholic writers of that period but they were both banned.
The censorship board in Ireland at that time would always have a representative from the Catholic Church and one Trinity College, always a Protestant but the Protestant vote could be disregarded in voting.