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"Limerick: Leading the Charge Against Moral Erosion in Ireland" |

“Limerick: Leading the Charge Against Moral Erosion in Ireland”

As the new year dawns, one of the most noteworthy and commendable endeavours in Ireland remains the war against printed filth that gained momentum in the latter part of the previous year. The year 1911 marked the commencement of this battle, and as we enter 1912, the call for a concerted, determined, and organized effort against immoral publications resounds more than ever. In this first issue of the year, we are pleased to introduce a 36-page booklet by Father Thomas A. Murphy, C.SS. P., of Limerick, titled “The Literature Crusade in Ireland.” Published at the Munster Printing Works in Limerick, the booklet is a crucial addition to the ongoing fight, providing insights and encouragement for a widespread readership.

Father Murphy, well-suited for the task at hand, is not only a dedicated clergyman but also an enthusiastic advocate for Irish ideals and a fervent student of the language. The prevalence of the dirty Press, pandering to moral decay on stage and in print, is a global concern, but its impact is especially pronounced in Ireland. The fight against what was colloquially known as the “penny dirties” faced initial scepticism, with some dismissing it as a fleeting trend. However, the success and permanence of this battle now lie in the hands of the readers, as the Dublin Leader stands as a prominent all-Ireland paper championing the cause.

Father Murphy’s booklet sheds light on the gravity of the issue, providing essential information to enlighten and stimulate public awareness. Even for those not advanced in age, understanding the threat posed by the dirty and foreign press requires a concerted effort. In days gone by, during the Land League era, the current proliferation of cheap English periodicals was unheard of. The literature of that time, including the “Forty-Eight” movement and publications like “Young Ireland” and “United Ireland,” shaped a generation’s perspective, fostering a militant anti-English nationalism.

Today, however, the landscape has shifted, and the youth of Ireland are surrounded by inexpensive English periodicals. The only compensating force is the Irish language movement, but its impact is limited due to the relatively small number of Irish speakers. Consequently, Ireland remains vulnerable to the influence of English newspapers. Over the last twenty-five years, English periodical journalism has thrived, while journalistic enterprise in Ireland has regrettably waned. Economic causes alone do not explain this phenomenon; there is a palpable lack of journalistic vigor in Ireland today.

In the past, Ireland was viewed by many of its inhabitants as a lost cause, a place of purgatory before immigrating to America. This sentiment led to a lack of genuine interest in the country’s fate. While well-intentioned individuals focused on economic activities, they failed to grasp the fundamental issues facing Ireland. The Irish-Ireland movement, which emerged in the last decade, engaged in salvage work to rekindle a sense of national identity. However, a genuine, living faith in Ireland’s potential is yet to be ignited.

The war against dirty periodicals presents a significant opportunity to advance the cause of Irish nationalism. The Dublin Leader readership, dispersed throughout the country, possesses the critical mass needed to make a substantial impact. While public meetings have drawn attention to the cause, the work for 1912 will require a more sustained, behind-the-scenes effort through committees and diligent work.

As the campaign shifts from grand public events to quieter, more grassroots efforts, the press, including the Dublin Leader, will play a pivotal role. Establishing local Vigilance Committees is an immediate necessity, paving the way for the eventual creation of a National Council to address the issue comprehensively. The fight against printed filth is not only about safeguarding morality but also about upholding the essence of Irish identity and culture. As the war continues into the new year, the Dublin Leader pledges to remain steadfast in its commitment to the cause.

Dublin Leader – Saturday 06 January 1912

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