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Anti-communism in Mid-Twentieth-Century Ireland

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)878-903
Number of pages26
JournalEnglish Historical Review
Issue number521
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011


This article investigates anticommunism in Ireland during the late 1940s and early 1950s. It focuses in particular on the campaigns waged by the right-wing Catholic organisations, Maria Duce and the Catholic Cinema and Theatre Patrons’ Association, opposing the influence of American cinema, which it was alleged was dominated by Communists. The central argument is that Ireland's ‘red scare’ was an ephemeral phenomenon, fuelled by American anticommunism, which was then at its height, and the cultural Cold War in Europe. Combined with these broader fears it reveal how anticommunism was shaped by domestic political and cultural contexts, especially concerns about the impact of external influences on Irish minds, in the omnipresent form of American cinema. Hollywood films offered visions of modernity that undermined traditional Irish nationalist values of simple living, an innate distaste of materialism, and an unflinching moral code, informed by Catholic teachings. In independent Ireland, far from the front line of confrontation with the red menace, the ideological dimensions made themselves felt, but were not perceived to be a sufficient threat as to dominate public life, as was the case in the United States.

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