‘If it was just th'oul book …’: a history of the McGahern banning controversy

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This article examines the banning of John McGahern’s novel The Dark in the Irish Republic in 1965 and the subsequent controversy surrounding its author’s dismissal from his teaching position in Dublin. The so-called McGahern Affair is shown to have provoked wide-ranging and vigorous debate about both the censorship legislation and the role of clerical authority in the Irish educational system. Contemporary journalism, reviews, parliamentary records, and letters-to-editors are used to construct the most detailed account available of a central event in the development of McGahern’s reputation, while Bishop John Charles McQuaid’s involvement in McGahern’s dismissal is also revealed and contextualised against the social transformation of 1960s Ireland.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-279
Number of pages17
JournalIrish Studies Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • John McGahern
  • The Dark
  • Irish fiction
  • censorship
  • 1960s Ireland
  • John Charles McQuaid
  • Peter Lennon
  • Owen Sheehy-Skeffington


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