When Fr. Conefrey led his parishioners down Mohill's main street on New Year's Day in 1934, it was a spontaneous response to events that were happening on the national political stage. Conefrey himself was a particularly zealotic member of The Gaelic League, and was spurred to action by the public spat between League President Seán T. O'Kelly T. O'Kelly and then Minister for Finance Seán MacEntee, both iconic figures in the struggle for independence two decades earlier, and both destined for many years of high political office in Ireland.
MacEntee's brief included sponsored programmes on Radio Eireann, which had then been on the air for eight years. The use of jazz on these shows provoked the ire of The League, and transcripts of exchanges between the two tell us much about the political, social and cultural climate of the fledgling Irish state in the 1930s. Nationalism was the order of the day, and the anti-jazz episode was part of a wider, and often heated debate, as well as politically motivated moves to shut down independent dances that would culminate in De Valera's infamous 1935 Public Dance Halls Act.
These are fascinating historical events of the depression era, and they tell us much about the 1930's, a turbulent time not just in Ireland, but throughout Europe where the dark clouds of national socialism were already gathering. The marches themselves have been documented over the years, and we've gathered links to some of the most interesting material for you.
Read more about this fascinating part of Irish cultural history here.