A controversial figure in his time, and perhaps even more so today, Richard Devane SJ (1876–1951) was a thorn in the side of the governments of W T Cosgrave and Eamon de Valera. He is remembered equally as a defender of the conscience of the new Irish republic and as a sometimes over-zealous gatekeeper of Irish culture and morals. In Richard Devane SJ: Social Commentator and Advocate Martin Walsh takes on the task of placing Devane in context: not only the context of his time, that of the birth of the Irish Republic, but of our time – a time of widespread change in Irish culture that can make the Ireland of Devane’s day look like another island. For better or worse, Walsh argues, Devane’s fierce commitment to nurturing a new Ireland made him a major force in creating the country we know today. If we want to understand the Ireland that passed referenda on gay marriage and abortion in 2015 and 2018 respectively, we need to understand – and not forget or dismiss – the world the Irish people were responding to: Devane’s world and Devane’s Ireland. An advocate of censorship, a committed anti-communist, founder of the Irish Film Institute and sparring partner of Brian O’Nolan (Flann O’Brien, Myles na gCopaleen) in Richard Devane SJ: Social Commentator and Advocate, Martin Walsh brings this controversial figure to life ensuring he will be the subject of discussion in Irish circles for years to come.
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