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The Curious Case of The Mayo Librarian

The Curious Case of The Mayo Librarian

Pat Walsh

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Politics, the Church and social conflict in 1930s Ireland.

The office of Mayo County Librarian was hardly a crucial post. It was little more than a routine appointment, yet it escalated into a conflict that had national consequences. It set Church against State, County Council against Government Department and even members of the same political party against each other. In July 1930 Miss Letitia Dunbar Harrison, a graduate of Trinity College, was appointed to the post of Mayo County Librarian. Her appointment set in motion a chain of events that resulted in a full scale political crisis.

Mayo priests and politicians attempted to have her removed, and organised an effective boycott of the Library Service. 'The Mayo library row' as it was commonly known became news far outside the confines of the county. Not only had it made headlines in Ireland, it had caught the attention of newspapers in places as far away as Boston and London. Why would such a seemingly unassuming appointment drive a government to the brink and clash church and state against each other so heavily? Letitia was a Protestant.

Looking at the background to the dispute uncovers many of the fault-lines of the newly formed Free State. Examining the anatomy of the crisis lays bare the tensions of society in 1930s Ireland as it moved away from colonial rule.

Additional Information

Author Pat Walsh
Publisher Mercier Press
Publication date 22 Sep 2009
Format Paperback
ISBN/EAN 9781856356152

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