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Irish Film Censors' Records

Under the Censorship of Films Act, 1923, no film can be shown in public without having been passed by the Official Film Censor. A film is to be denied a censorship certificate if it is deemed to be indecent, obscene or blasphenous, or is contrary to public morality. Under this regime, more than 2,500 films were banned and over 11,000 films were cut by film censors between the 1920s and the 1980s.

In 1998, over 100 volumes of the hand-written records of Irish film censors from 1923 to the 1980s were deposited at the National Archives of Ireland. These records provide a unique insight into Irish social and cultural attitudes in the twentieth century. For example, imported films were routinely banned or cut if they represented themes seen as contrary to Irish secular and Catholic laws, such as divorce or extra marital affairs.

Under an Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences small research projects grant, 2008-10, it has been possible to transcribe over 6,000 of these records covering the period 1923-38. All the records from the censors’ ledgers for the period 1923-January 1930 are included here, while details of all films registered from 1930 to 1938 are also on the website. The data collected covers most of the period in office of the first film censor, James Montgomery.

These records can be contextualised by consulting Kevin Rockett, Irish film censorship: a cultural journey from silent cinema to internet pornography (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2004.)

Principal Investigator/ Website Editor: Professor Kevin Rockett, School of Drama, Film and Music, Trinity College Dublin.
Researcher: Ms. Kathrina Shine.
Sponsor: Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Contact: irishfilm@tcd.ie | Last updated: May 21 2010.