Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
Condon, Denis
“The Wonder-Seeking Mind of the Peasant”: Cinema’s Emergence in Rural Ireland
Rural History
Oral Presentation
Optional Fields
In October 1913, the Irish correspondent of the cinema trade journal Bioscope attributed the demand for high-class films in provincial picture houses to the “wonder-seeking mind of the peasant.” However, research in regional newspapers and other local sources indicates that the establishment and integration of the first picture houses into Ireland’s smaller towns and villages in the early 1910s was a complex and often fraught process that frequently had little to do with what appeared on screen. Cinema certainly offered something that had never existed in smaller towns before: continually available, professionally produced entertainment; but until the Catholic Church initiated a national campaign for film censorship in 1915-16, the films themselves were rarely controversial. Nevertheless, as shown by the cases of Cavan – where a long-running picture house was successfully established in the town hall – and Skibbereen – where a local entrepreneur ultimately failed to use the gift of a picture house as a way into nationalist politics, cinema’s piecemeal emergence in rural Ireland represents not the inevitable diffusion of a modern technology but the necessity to negotiate local conditions.