Tuesday 18 November, 8 pm
In September 1914 the Christian Brothers launched their version of the Boys Own genre, “Our Boys”. The purpose of this initiative was to compete with the perceived imperialist propaganda of British boys’ papers. “Our Boys” was a highly successful publishing enterprise which at one stage of its long existence (ceasing publication in the 1990’s) outsold all other magazines combined in this country, becoming in the process a veritable institution in the process of Irish boyhood. The influence of this magazine was to extend beyond the boundaries of Ireland as it was made available to the Irish communities of England, Australia and the U.S.A., and even as far afield as India where it was distributed through the Christian Brothers’ schools. The mission of “Our Boys” in its early years was to provide ‘acceptable’ role models for Irish boyhood to counterbalance the influence of its metropolitan rivals with titles such as “Boys of the Empire”, “Boys of England” and “Pluck” whose glamorisation of the empire, through stirring tales of derring-do from the ‘with one bound he was free’ school of popular literature, was much resented in Irish nationalist circles. Thus many of the historical action stories in “Our Boys” drew on such episodes in Irish history as the Penal Laws, the Cromwellian era and 1798. This presentation examines the Christian Brothers’ boys’ paper and addresses the manner in which this publication set out to mould Irish youth at a crucial period of Irish history, and goes on to place the magazine in the broader context of boyhood, popular culture and national identity.
Dr. Michael Flanagan is a former primary school teacher. He works now in the field of education in St. Nicholas Montessori College, in Waterford Institute of Technology and in Hibernia College. He also lectures in the areas of Media Culture, Film Studies and History in All Hallows College, Dublin (DCU).