Gaelic League bans ‘Jazz’ - 6 November 1929

Gaelic League bans ‘Jazz’ 6 November 1929

Gaelic League bans Jazz
Readers of the Irish Newspaper Archive might find some of the reports from Ireland ninety years ago this month somewhat peculiar, especially those regarding a ban implemented by the Gaelic League, a cultural organisation which promoted the Irish language, against all forms of ‘Jazz’ music. Taken by the executive of the Gaelic League, it was an issue, which had festered for many months prior to this and indeed would for some time afterwards.

Jazz music it was claimed had taken hold in Ireland in the wake of the First World War and had spread from Dublin to the music halls which sprung up in towns and villages across the country. Detractors claimed that jazz music and dancing was just a ‘passing phase’ and that it was the ‘natural reaction’ to the post-war phase that Ireland found itself in.
All branches of the Gaelic League were sent a warning as to their conduct going forward with particular regard to attending or promoting jazz. The idea was to follow the GAA’s bans on the playing of foreign games, something which had proved popular across the country. While the debate had begun earlier in 1929 in Wexford and other centres, it was in Leitrim that the most vocal opponents of jazz were to found. Here the parish priest of Cloone, Fr Conferey openly criticised jazz from the pulpit and told the people that they should sing Irish songs only. In nearby Mohill it was reported that 3,000 people demanded that jazz be banned and they carried banners with slogans such as ‘Down with Jazz’ and ‘Out with paganism’.

Ultimately, the ban sparked outrage across the country but it spoke volumes about post-independent Ireland and attitudes towards culture and pastimes, which were not Irish.

Source newspaper: Sunday Independent, 10 November 1929

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