The Curious Case of the Mayo Librarian: Social conflict in 1930s Ireland [NOOK Book]

Overview

The selection of the Mayo county librarian in 1930 should have been uneventful. It was hardly a crucial post and should have been a routine appointment, yet the choice led to a conflict that had national consequences. It set church against state, county council against government department and even members of the same political party against each other. In July 1930, Letitia Dunbar Harrison was chosen by an interview panel for the post of Mayo county librarian. However, Mayo County Council refused to endorse her...

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The Curious Case of the Mayo Librarian: Social conflict in 1930s Ireland

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Overview

The selection of the Mayo county librarian in 1930 should have been uneventful. It was hardly a crucial post and should have been a routine appointment, yet the choice led to a conflict that had national consequences. It set church against state, county council against government department and even members of the same political party against each other. In July 1930, Letitia Dunbar Harrison was chosen by an interview panel for the post of Mayo county librarian. However, Mayo County Council refused to endorse her appointment, defying a specific instruction from the Local Government Department. Such was the heat generated by the dispute that it almost brought down the Cumann na nGaedheal government. Why would such a seemingly minor appointment drive a government to the brink and set church and state against each other so heavily? Letitia was a Protestant and a Trinity graduate, and thus considered unsuitable for a public post in a large Catholic county.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781856358477
  • Publisher: Mercier Press, Limited, The
  • Publication date: 1/14/2009
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 224
  • File size: 288 KB

Meet the Author

Pat Walsh is a Librarian with Dœn Laoghaire-Rathdown County Library Service. Originally from Mayo, he now lives and works in Dœn Laoghaire He was intrigued by the story of the Mayo Librarian when he discovered it was one of the few occasions that libraries made national news in Ireland. The result of his research is this fascinating book.
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Read an Excerpt

The selection of the Mayo county librarian in 1930 should have been uneventful. It was hardly a crucial post and should have been a routine appointment, yet the choice led to a conflict that had national consequences. It set church against state, county council against government department and even members of the same political party against each other. In July 1930, Letitia Dunbar Harrison was chosen by an interview panel for the post of Mayo county librarian. However, Mayo County Council refused to endorse her appointment, defying a specific instruction from the Local Government Department. Such was the heat generated by the dispute that it almost brought down the Cumann na nGaedheal government. Why would such a seemingly minor appointment drive a government to the brink and set church and state against each other so heavily? Letitia was a Protestant and a Trinity graduate, and thus considered unsuitable for a public post in a large Catholic county.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements 8

Introduction: 'A free fight in County Mayo' 9

Chapter 1 'Chuck the library' 13

'We are not appointing a washerwoman or a mechanic' 16

'I stand by the Constitution' 18

'Talk to the vegetables better and make the cows work overtime' 20

Chapter 2 'Toleration would be a weakness, if not a crime' 22

'Chamberlain is a very un-Irish name...' 24

'The conscientious bigot' 26

'The "Castle Cawtholic"' 27

'The Irish Times and the baser kind of Protestants' 27

'Biting on granite' 28

'The hydra-headed monster of intolerance' 29

Chapter 3 'Cesspools of infamy' 31

'Tales of a council chamber' 33

'The rack and the gibbet' 33

'The minister's new move' 34

'The respectable skirts of nationalism' 40

Chapter 4 'The slipper lickers proceed ...' 42

'Mugs and thugs' 43

'From Irish pigs to Irish policemen' 44

'Personal pecuniary responsibilities' 46

Chapter 5 'They will boycott your funeral' 49

'An orgy of jobbery' 53

'The shortest cut from Knockna-Skeherooh to Mowamanahan' 54

Chapter 6 'Lapses into poetry' 56

'The Castlebar way' 58

'Honest mistakes' 60

'A migratory Micawber' 64

'Poison gas to the kindly Celtic people' 66

'Catholic rights and Gaelic culture: for or against?' 67

'Your bludgeoning days' 71

'Shoddy English writers' 72

'Manliness and manhood' 73

Chapter 7 'The recent unpleasantness' 75

'The nabobs at Dublin' 76

Chapter 8 'Low fellowship and bad habits' 80

'Dismissed I was' 83

'Westwards to Mayo' 86

'Crazy...unaisy...lazy' 88

'The counter attractions of Gaelic football and step dancing' 90

'Expediency, efficiency and economy' 91

Chapter 9 'Unwept, unhonoured and unsung' 93

'Inverted Ku KluxKlanism' 97

'The Mayo damp squib' 100

'The conscience of the ninety-nine per cent' 102

Chapter 10 'Flappers who could not cook their father's dinner' 104

'A stench in the nostrils of the people' 106

'The hind legs of a cow' 107

'The cleaning of the courthouse' 109

'Dances and night-walking' 109

Chapter 11 'It was not a sectarian issue because, first of all, the Catholic church is not a sect' 112

'The blunt truth' 114

'Dancing to the tune of The Irish Times' 114

'Charlestown's answer' 115

Chapter 12 'Gore-grimed tomahawks' 119

Chapter 13 'Justified by stirabout and redeemed by porridge' 128

'The point of a crowbar' 132

Chapter 14 'The worst thing since Cromwell' 137

Chapter 15 'I take the Ten Commandments as my code' 144

'The Los Anglicisation of Ireland' 147

'The war of brains' 148

'An inconspicuous librarian' 149

'A bookworm openly' 150

'The starling and the stork' 151

Chapter 16 'The brass-hat boyos' 156

'Vouched expenses of locomotion' 159

'Women who love it more than marriage' 160

'A first-class political crisis' 163

Chapter 17 'A weakling and a wobbler' 166

'I believe he visits Mayo occasionally' 168

'A long way of using a short word' 171

'A little manliness' 171

'Corrupt in twopence-halfpenny matters' 177

'The pangs of intellectual famine' 180

Chapter 18 'The library crux' 182

'The will of the people' 184

Chapter 19 'I like the work and I love the people' 187

Chapter 20 'A rout, not a retreat' 192

'You have a Clareman's job' 193

Chapter 21 'Inner emigration' 198

'Mayo was right' 200

'Violence of language...extreme virulence...scorn and obloquy' 201

Notes 205

Bibliography 217

Index 220

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