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Beautiful Strangers

Ireland and the World of the 1950s


Edited By Gerald Dawe, Darryl Jones and Nora Pelizzari

This groundbreaking collection examines popular and literary culture in the 1950s through the lens of postwar Ireland. The 1950s are at once a site of cultural nostalgia and of vital relevance to twenty-first-century readers. The diverse essays collected here offer insight into the artistic effects of austerity on both creators and consumers of 1950s culture, examining cultural production in Britain and the United States as well as Ireland. The first book of its kind, it blends critical analysis with cultural memory of a unique time in the history of Irish literature and the broader world. From Samuel Beckett to Elvis Presley and Movement poetry to bestselling science fiction, this volume highlights the crucial role Ireland played in the growth of literary and popular culture throughout this fascinating decade and beyond.


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Thomas Kilroy A Memoir of the 1950s


This is, naturally, a selective memory piece about the 1950s, what it was like to be at University College Dublin, then what it was like to start a lifetime involvement in Dublin theatre. But to do this I need to go back further. One of the crucial facts about people of my generation is that we are the last generation to have experienced the War of Independence and Civil War, not as history, but as memory, through the memories of our parents, like my father’s story of his part in the burning down of Galway Gaol, as an IRA of ficer in 1921. My mother was a member of Cumann na mBan. Their stories were part of my childhood and this legacy, too, has coloured the experience of many others who grew up in the 1950s. I was a child of the Hitler War. When the Second World War started in September 1939, I was just a few weeks short of my fifth birthday. But where I came from, Callan, in County Kilkenny, the real news that month was not the outbreak of war but the All-Ireland Hurling Final in Croke Park on 3 September between the teams of Kilkenny and Cork. On that dark Sunday in 1939, a few days after the declaration of war, Kilkenny beat Cork by a single point. In keeping with the apocalyptic mood of the times, a severe thunderstorm broke over Croke Park in the second half of the match. It was said that...

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