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Origins and legacies of Irish prudery: Sexuality and social control in modern Ireland

2005-05, Inglis, Tom

The history of Irish sexuality remains a relatively hidden, secretive area. In recent years some light has been cast into the abyss (Inglis 1998b; McAvoy 1999; McLoughlin 1994; Meany 1991; Walshe 1997; O’Carroll and Collins 1995). Most of the recent grand histories, however, have avoided dealing with sex and sexuality directly and have focused instead on such issues as censorship, the multi-faceted role of the Catholic church, fertility control, and, more recently, the sex-abuse scandals involving the Catholic church.1 It is as if the old Catholic-church strategy of not referring directly to sex and sexuality—for fear that it might offend or undermine the innocent—still guides what historians research and write about.