Gael Linn’s «Amharc Éireann» Film Series, 1956–1964
This book, the first full-length investigation of the Amharc Éireann series as a historical artefact, makes an original and important contribution to our understanding of the complexities of twentieth-century Irish history.
The politicians and civil servants of the Lemass era were more than willing to throw out the baby with the bathwater, so hard as Ó Laoghaire might have tried to unite Irish and modernization in the official mind, his plea fell on deaf ears – the language was cast aside and left to fend for itself, as an uncomfortable reminder of the failures of poor, backward Ireland. A corner was turned during this period in the definition of government priorities, away from the traditional policy of promoting and protecting the language as a marker of Irish national identity, and toward free market commercial and economic success.
The next thirty-odd years saw a decline in stature of the Irish language in the Republic, which was also reflected in the decline in Irish-language television, as RTÉ quickly decided that commercial needs overrode cultural and Irish programming continued to fall as a percentage of the total from the 1960s onwards.1 The Language Freedom movement of 1964, which was really a freedom from Irish movement, was a prelude to the election campaign of Fine Gael in 1972, which promised to end the compulsory status of Irish in the school syllabus. In the early 1970s, this was partly a result of the fact that nationalism of any stripe, including linguistic, fell out of favour thanks to the violence in Northern Ireland. Thanks to this unwillingness on the part of the state to protect the language within the new context of political and economic...
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