• Imagine Ireland, Culture Ireland’s year of Irish arts in America in 2011, supported the production of over five hundred events in a year-long celebration of Irish creativity and artistic talent. Over 1,000 Irish theatre-makers, musicians,…

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Masters of Tradition

Masters of Tradition

Enjoy this Masters of Tradition performance, introduced by CEO of Culture Ireland, Eugene Downes. Click here to watch.

Colin Farrell invites you to Imagine Ireland

Colin Farrell invites you to Imagine Ireland

Well-known actors from Ireland and the US evoked Ireland through poetry. Watch Colin Farrell’s video here. Visit our YouTube Channel to view all.

Imagine Ireland Trailer

Imagine Ireland Trailer

To watch an Imagine Ireland video tralier, click here.


Ireland. It’s only an ocean away. And the ocean is nothing when you stand on the bedrock that has connected Ireland and the United States for well over a century. That bedrock is cultural; it is comprised of the way we think, the way we imagine, the way we create.
This bedrock is the foundation upon which Imagine Ireland, Culture Ireland’s year-long celebration of Irish arts in the United States in 2011, is built. Working with presenters and producers across the US, and with Irish artists and ensembles across artforms, Imagine Ireland brings to American audiences a wealth of contemporary creators and a calendar of culture which will reshape and reinvigorate notions of Ireland, what it means to be Irish and the potential for Ireland into the future.



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Ahead of an IFI programme that will present her award-winning shorts this weekend, Cathy Brady speaks with IFTN about directing the new TV series ‘Glue’. She also gives advice on how to break into the industry and gives us an insight into what projects she has coming up.

Originally from Newry in Co. Down and only a year after graduating from her Masters at the National Film and Television School (NFTS), London, Brady has a number of achievements to her name, not least being named one of Screen Daily’s UK Stars of Tomorrow in 2013.

She is a two-time IFTA winner, having won Best Short in 2011 for her first film ‘Small Change’, which screened at over 40 international film festivals including Sundance and Palm Springs. In 2013, she won her second IFTA for her short ‘Morning’, which was also selected for the BFI London Film Festival and won the Short Film Nominee prize for the European Film Awards at the Cork Film Festival

athy made her first break into TV directing when she was selected for Channel 4’s ‘Coming Up’, for which she made the BIFA-nominated ‘Rough Skin’. She explains the series and her role in it, saying <i>“Channel 4 put emerging writers and emerging writers together to make a half-hour long stand-alone episode for TV. So that was where I got my initial wave of interest in the industry, and I did it while I was studying for my Masters course at the NFTS. The fact that I had made an episode of TV before helped me get ‘Glue’.”

‘Glue’, which is currently in production, is the highly-anticipated new series for E4, joining ‘My Big Fat Diary’ and ‘Youngers’ on the channel’s slate of brand-new original drama. The crime drama series follows what happens in a village that produces horses after a teenager is found dead under a tractor and the village inhabitants, his friends, are forced to witness their secrets come out during an investigation into his death.

Brady describes the series to IFTN: <i>“I think it’s a really bold, edgy, thriller-drama series for E4. It’s incredibly cinematic in my mind. The script from Jack Thorne and the rest of the writers has just been really bold and honest. It offers something that I don’t think people have seen on E4 before, and I think it’s because of the cinematic scale of it as well as how nuanced the actual dialogue is as well.”

Brady will be directing the sixth episode of the 8×60″ series, which will be written by executive writer Jack Thorne, best-known for ‘This is England’ and ‘Skins’. Brady says, <i>“I think TV’s a really exciting place to be right now in terms of scale, so it can only be a good thing to get as much TV work under my belt as possible.”She is due to commence prep for the episode in two weeks, will shoot for two weeks and then has three weeks to finish post-production: “In terms of schedule and budget, it’s an incredibly tight turnaround for TV. You need to be sharp as a director.”


Origins and legacies of Irish prudery: Sexuality and social control in modern Ireland

Challenges and Resistances Feminism grew steadily from the 1970s. The Irish women’s movement campaigned vigorously for a change in the laws banning artificial contraception (a significant start was made in 1979). The ban on married women working in the civil service was lifted in 1974. The number of married women in the labor force increased dramatically from 7.5 percent in the early 1970s to 41 percent by 1996 (O’Connor, 23 1998:193). [Editorial note: There was a quantum leap in the 1990s. I deleted “steadily.”] But in terms of a striking departure from Victorian ideals, the largest transformation was in the proportion of births outside marriage, which rose from 5 percent in 1980 to as much as 33 percent in 1999 (Inglis 1998b:12). There has been concerted resistance to the forces of sexual liberation, evident in the opposition to the Relationships and Sexuality Education program that the state introduced into schools in the late 1990s (Inglis 1998b). Much of this opposition is founded on a rejection of liberal individualism in general; opponents commonly object to moving children away from being taught basic family values, toward being helped and encouraged instead to develop their own critically reflective positions on moral issues. The conflict over liberal individualism can be seen as emerging from a more general, long-term shift from a culture of self-denial to a culture of selfexpression and self-indulgence. It is this transition after 1950 away from a homogeneous and almost absolute Catholic moral hegemony which has moved Ireland to becoming an unsettled culture (Swidler 1986). From the 1960s onward, sex and sexuality began to be perceived, understood, and embodied in radically different ways. Even so, there are relatively few women who have become famous representatives of the new, sexually liberated Irish woman. Instead, some women have become infamous for having transgressed traditional conventions. The American woman Annie Murphy had an affair with Bishop Eamon Casey of Galway, became pregnant, gave birth to a baby boy, and reared him on her own in the United States. Anne Lovett was a schoolgirl who became pregnant and died after giving birth to a baby at a grotto to Our Lady in her local town. Eileen Flynn lost her job as a schoolteacher because she had an affair and a child with a married man. Notoriously, Joanne Hayes also had an affair with a married man, gave birth to a daughter, and 24 then became the center of a public tribunal of inquiry into what became known as “the case of the Kerry babies.” This investigation focused on how it was that she and members of her family confessed to involvement in the murder and concealment of a newborn baby—a crime that the tribunal concluded they did not commit (Inglis, 2003). The fates of these women stand in stark contrast to the representations of transgressive women found in literature and film, where they are not punished but represented instead as strong characters. Geraldine Meany (1991:7) suggests that the treatment of transgressive women is linked to the obsession of the Catholic church and the Irish state with controlling women’s bodies. She argues that, as in other postcolonial societies, the oppression of women’s sexuality has to be understood within the context of the struggle for national identity. In Ireland this battle essentially became a male-dominated affair. Meany contends that this struggle gave rise to anxieties about male power. These anxieties were assuaged by the assumption of male sexual dominance and the oppression of women. While this theory needs to be explored and tested, there is some convincing evidence that during the unsettled culture of late twentieth-century Ireland, particularly during the economic recession of the 1980s, women like Joanne Hayes may have been easy scapegoats for men who believed that there was a breakdown in the moral order of society. Conclusion If economic activity is a major determinant of what happens in social, political, and cultural life, then we can say with confidence that Ireland experienced rapid social change after 1960 and especially during the 1990s. This led to a fragmentation of the monopoly previously exercised by the Catholic church over 25 morality in general and sexual morality in particular. The development of education, the growth of the media, and the gradual easing of censorship facilitated the emergence of resistant discourses about sex, the fulfilment of desire, and the pursuit of pleasure.  Allowing the first Irish sex toys shop in the republic to open its doors in 1991. These discourses challenged the traditional representation of Irish women as essentially humble, pious, self-sacrificing, “natural-born” mothers. Nevertheless, in spite of a revisionist representation of women in Irish literature and film, the number of living exemplars of female sexual liberation who have resisted and challenged traditional Catholic conceptions of selfhood has been relatively small. While there are numerous groups and organizations campaigning for women’s rights, especially in relation to fertility control, outside of women’s magazines there has been no social movement concentrating on the emancipation of women’s desire and sexuality. This situation stands in contrast to the significant number of women who have suffered public humiliation and occasionally death as a result of their sexual transgressions, actual and perceived. The absence of sexual transgression and of a discourse about sexual pleasure and desire can be traced back to Victorian discourses and practices that became prominent in Britain and America in the nineteenth century. But in contrast to the experience of these countries, Victorian prudery penetrated more deeply into Irish social and personal life and lasted far longer. There was little or no transgression or organized opposition to prudery in Ireland. It is not until the second half of the twentieth century that we can find transgressive representations of sexuality and campaigns for greater sexual freedom—in some cases almost a century later than in Britain and America. The overriding reason why Victorian prudery lasted so long, ran so deep, and encountered so little opposition was that it meshed so closely with the 26 teachings of the Catholic church, which in turn became an essential link in the initial modernization of Irish society. During the last half of the twentieth century Ireland became unsettled culturally, particularly in relation to sexuality, pleasure, and desire. As in Victorian Britain a hundred years previously, women were classified, represented, and constituted either as domestic angels or as exotic, desirable, wanton women. Sexually transgressive women may have been celebrated in film and literature, but in real life public transgressors were shamed and castigated. It may well be that most of the opprobrium is reserved not so much for women who transgress sexually, but for those who violate traditional notions of motherhood. This is because their violation is sacrilegious—an attack on “mother church” and “mother Ireland” (Innes, 1993:26- 42). Perhaps there is a fear among men that unless these women are put down, they will rise up and destroy them (Keane, 1988). Sexual resistance and transgression in the Republic of Ireland has emerged more from popular culture (including both discourse and practice) than it has from interest groups and intellectuals. What was once hidden, silenced, and discouraged is now openly portrayed, discussed, and encouraged (Inglis 1998c). In the numerous sex and erotica shops in Irish cities there are videos, books, clothes, and accessories that encourage and enable people to fulfil their sexual pleasures and desires. The types of adult magazines on sale in the shops of local newsagents throughout the country suggest that sexuality and eroticism have moved out from behind closed doors—from the private, darker, subaltern side of Irish life into the realm of behavior that is increasingly acknowledged, if not accepted. This development can be seen as part of increased sexual openness in Western society generally, where there is greater public acceptance of the notion that indulgence in private sexual pleasures is part of the 27 overall right to the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. What people watch on their televisions, download from the Internet, read in books, and wear in bed are increasingly seen as being within the realm of permissible personal preferences and private pleasures. Throughout Western society there is progressive decontrol of the restrictions placed on sex. An overall process of “informalization” is occurring; strict formal external constraints on sex are being replaced by more informal patterns of self-control (Wouters, 1986, 1998, 1999). In Ireland the rules on sexual morality are being rewritten. What used to be regarded as major transgressions—premarital sex and pregnancy outside of marriage—are now commonplace (Inglis, 1998b:12). It is important to realize that the shift from external to internal constraints in sexual matters does not mean that individuals or society are becoming less ethical. Rather, the process of becoming sexualized involves operating within a new form of discipline; it entails achieving selfhood within a new ethical regime in which pleasures are announced, pursued, and balanced among often competing social demands, expectations, and responsibilities (Foucault, 1987). But just as in the old regime, so too in the new, there are transgressions and transgressors. In the old regime the greatest scorn and punishment was reserved for the single woman who became pregnant outside of marriage and for the unmarried mother who failed to hide her shame. And it was the Catholic church, through its teachings, censures, and prohibitions enacted by priests, nuns, and brothers, that orchestrated this regime. The new regime is orchestrated by the media, and the greatest transgressors are those priests and religious brothers who have molested and abused young children. But the hunting down of such priests is part of a wider process of demonizing those who earlier sought to deny sexual pleasure. In the new regime the demand and the 28 common expectation is to be sexually active, to be able to announce one’s desires and seek one’s pleasures. Irish culture is going through an unsettled period, caught as it is between the Catholic morality on which modern Ireland was founded in the nineteenth century and a sexual/moral revolution that has been taking place throughout Western society. This revolution is centered on greater equality between the sexes, increased personal freedom, and enhanced informality of conduct (Wouters, 1998); in intimate relationships a transition is in progress to what Seidman (1991:4) has termed an “eroticisation of sex and a sexualisation of love.”10 In Ireland the revolution has led to women challenging the traditional Catholic image of themselves—an image which, Meany argues, had rendered them “unable to accept themselves as thinking, choosing, sexual, intellectual, and complex ordinary mortals and instead [had forced them to] cling to a fantasy of women as simple handmaidens of the Lord” (1991:5). But the revolution is far from complete. Sex and sexuality are still seen as problems rather than pleasures. There is little public debate about or advocacy of the importance of fulfilling desire and pursuing sexual pleasure. And there is still a double standard in Ireland. Sexually transgressive women are more likely to be pilloried and demonized than men who violate accepted norms. When it comes to balancing romance and lust, it is still expected that Irish women will be romantic and men lustful (Wouters, 1998). The lack of public debate about these issues may be linked to the absence of interest groups and of transgressive writing about sexuality, especially in academia. Whereas in Britain and America opposition to Victorian prudery emerged as soon as it became dominant, the crucial role of the 29 Catholic church in the modernization of Irish society meant that Victorian morality remained dominant in Ireland until late in the twentieth century. The transition from the old to the new regime has not been easy. Ireland is, in the terms of Ann Swidler (1986), an “unsettled culture” in which there is deep ideological conflict about sex and sexuality. Anything having to do with sex is usually cast as a social problem, hotly debated and discussed in the public sphere. This is readily evident in the struggle between interest groups for and against sex education in the schools (Inglis 1998b). This ideological conflict is partly reflected in the struggle that many people experience in realizing themselves as ethical individuals. Especially for women in rural Ireland, the attempt to fulfil sexual desires and pleasures can still be an awkward, shameful, and embarrassing experience. The Victorian notion that women are not interested in sex or in exploring their sexuality may no longer be accepted, but many women still find it difficult to watch erotic material, to initiate rather than respond to sexual advances, and, most of all, to propose sex to men. On the other hand, it would appear that there is a new generation of highly sexualized young women in Ireland who know what they want and have no difficulty in obtaining it. Footnotes [just ten of them] 1. Roy Foster, for example, makes little or no reference to sexual culture or identity in the twentieth century. Yet in commenting on rural outrages in the years 1879–82, he notes (1988: 408) that “violent nocturnal group behaviour seems linked to machismo and sexual frustration”—a correlation which may well be true of contemporary Irish society. On the other hand, J.J. Lee, who 30 has even fewer references to sex and sexuality, notes that in the twentieth century there was a “preoccupation with sex” which was associated with “the virtual equation of immorality with sexual immorality” (Lee 1989: 645). More recently, Diarmaid Ferriter (2004:518), using a variety of unusual sources, has drawn attention to how Irish sexuality was wrapped in veils of innocence and ignorance up to the 1950s. Since then, while sexual attitudes and practices have become more liberal, conflicts and contradictions still occurred in the way that society dealt with births outside marriage, unsafe sex, contraception, abortion, and child sexual abuse (2004:712-18). Nevertheless, what Ferriter’s history reveals is how little we know about the sexual lives and practices of Irish people in the twentieth century. 2. Michel Foucault (1980:105–06) saw sexuality as a historical construct revolving around “the stimulation of bodies, the intensification of pleasures, the incitement to discourse, the formation of special knowledges, [and] the strengthening of controls and resistances” that become linked to one another through a “few major strategies of knowledge and power.” 3. Dympna McLoughlin (1994:273) adds: “In this sense sexual prudery in nineteenth-century Ireland had little to do with the church and all to do with the economics of the emerging middle class.” But this is to separate two interests—the religious and the economic—which in practice had a very symbiotic relationship. The church became a primary mechanism for problematizing sex, for inculcating prudery, and for supervising behavior, all of which were in the economic interests of the new class. 4. Results from the International Social Survey Programme showed that 51 percent of Irish respondents thought that to have four or more children was 31 ideal; the Irish result on this question contrasted with 3.5 percent in Britain, 4 percent in Hungary, 5 percent in West Germany, and 19 percent in the USA (Harding 1989:149). 5. There is some scant evidence of transgression. Angela Bourke argues that Bridget Cleary broke the traditional mold of rural women in late nineteenthcentury Ireland by accumulating economic and sexual power—the latter owing to a reputation for having had an extramarital affair. She was burned to death by her husband Michael in 1895 perhaps out of jealousy, but he claimed throughout the episode that his wife was a changeling—a look-alike left by fairies who had stolen the original person (Bourke, 1999:85,136). 6. Dympna McLoughlin (1994:269) provides evidence of what was known as a “gentleman’s miss,” which she defines as “a woman of lower socio-economic rank who was prepared to sell her sexual favours to a gentleman on her own terms.” 7. An example of this was the gradual elimination of the Donnybrook fair in the nineteenth century. Seamus O’Maitiú (1995:13) argues that this was a pleasure fair that functioned as a carnival of drink, sex, and mock violence. It was estimated that there were almost 1,300 fairs held annually throughout Ireland. In 1858, in association with pressure from the churches and zealous reformers, the state began to introduce legislation to regulate these fairs (O’Maitiú 1995:51). 8. Michel Peillon (2000:135) points out how things have changed in recent years, and remarks that fiesta, carnival, and “craic” now constitute the celebratory mode of an assertive and confident Ireland. 32 9. Ireland To-day (1937–38) included articles by Seán O’Faoláin which were highly critical of censorship and the power of priests in Irish society. Later, The Bell, edited by O’Faoláin, also contained attacks on censorship (Woodman 1985:68-86). 10. Wouters (1998:201-02) argues that in the 1990s there has been a revival of both lust and romance. He links this development to a more careful, sensitive, and subtle relationship between the sexes. Men have learned to connect sexual gratification with relational gratification, and women have become more open to sex, to having sex more often, and to discussing sex. This change has been associated with a decrease in the balance of power between men and women  and an increase in the varieties of gender relationships.
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