A review of the Peter Lennon Film - Rocky Road to Dublin
Urbanized Peasant's trip in a time machine
'The Rocky Road to Dublin' was released in 1968 but because of its content never got significant release in Ireland. It has been restored and is showing at the IFI (an 'art cinema' in Dublin. This is a personal opinion of how shocking the picture of 1960's Dublin society it portrays is.
Review of the Film 'The Rocky Road to Dublin'.
As with some many things here, the origins of this film appear to lie in a argument, probably drunken, and most likely in a bar in Dublin. Peter Lennon, the Irish man who happened to be the Guardian Correspondent for Paris, had returned to Dublin and was shocked to see how strong the churches influence was on his native land. The year was 1966. He expressed his opinions in the format of a few articles and immediately became a form of traitor. His friends still living in Dublin adopted a very traditional position for those who have to live here, 'ah sure it's not that bad at all'. Lennon returned with a world renowned French camera man and filmed Irish society as it was in 1967. His film was the last one shown in the 1968 Cannes Film festival before it fell to the most pretentious strike of that year, the cultural stike lead by the directors Godard and Truffaut.
All together now.....
One, two, three, four five,
Hunt the hare and turn her
Down the rocky road
And all the ways to Dublin,
A film of Dublin in the mid sixties, a society of failed dreams where mere survival was enough to be happy about. A land of 'urbanized peasants' in the grip of the oppressive Church. In the words of one of the old boys on the Censorship board, the Faith was everything, and without it we were lost. Therefore fight was between the Church and 'modern thought, science, philosophy,' and anything that would question their authority. This mad institution run by the Iron fisted Archbishop Mc Quaid tried to have a blanket ban on sin ergo fun.
Mad charismatic cleric – Father Michael Cleary – makes an appearance in the film saying that they are not against sex, they simply raise it to a higher plain. Clearly Cleary comes across as a rampant egoist who thinks of himself as some sort of Elvis in a collar. It would turn out that this very priest had more direct experience of sex than we initially thought, fathering a son.
The Catholic Church was telling everyone that sex could only happen in wedlock, and that the act itself could only be partaken for procreation. The preachers of this message were raping children in schools and state run homes up and down the country. Something that still goes on possibly to this day. Last week it was revealed that ten girls (eldest was 13) were raped on an altar by one priest back in 1988 and despite it being reported to the authorities, nothing happened. The church was the iron hand wrapped in the glove of the state.
In the RRTD, Sean O'Faolain bemoans the fact that fifty years after the rising, the poets and socialists who gave their lives so that we could grasp a kind of freedom, would be disillusioned with theocracy dressed in the clothes of a republic we got in it's stead. The Urbanized peasants were still all leaning down to kiss the bishops ring. This snapshot of time shows us the origins of our forefathers, who dealt with the reality of so many heroes and so little to celebrate. The life is being squeezed out of society thanks to the grip of the church. You could see why the boat was a tempting option for many.
In 2005 – almost 90 years after the much lionized rising, we are as far away from that romantic dream as ever. The latest bridge to span the Liffey is named after Sean O'Casey. Despite being a champion of the working class and involved in that battle known as the lock out, on the blurb beside this bridge it makes no mention of the s word [socialism]. That word is no longer acceptable in 'saor stat' speak. If the bastards in power pay for a bridge there will be no mention made of this socialism.
Instead O'Casey is described as a 'humanist'. What is left of humanity when you take away the ideas of equality and justice? You cut the soul out and all that remains is a lump of meat. Humanist my arse, I hope he is haunting the author of that plaque.
Written for Anarkismo.net