jump to navigation

The Anti-Jazz Campaign July 11, 2011

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Ireland.

A great article in The Irish Story on The Anti Jazz Campaign of the 1930s in Ireland.

Cathal Brennan looks at why Jazz music was once thought to be ‘the greatest danger to Irish civilisation.’

Some snippets…

On New Year’s Day 1934 over three thousand people from South Leitrim and surrounding areas marched through Mohill to begin the Anti – Jazz campaign. The procession was accompanied by five bands and the demonstrators carried banners inscribed with slogans such as ‘Down with Jazz’ and ‘Out with Paganism.’

Fr. Conefrey was asked to chair the February meeting of the South Leitrim Executive of the Gaelic League held in Ballinamore. He thanked all the people who had sent messages of support to the campaign, particularly the Irish National Teachers Organisation, ‘who are willing to do everything possible both for Church and State.’ Conefrey responded to those who asked ‘what is jazz’ by stating that, ‘the Anti – Jazz Campaign excludes no dance that is in keeping with public Christian decency.’ He described jazz as, ‘something that should not as much be mentioned among us and is borrowed from the language of the savages of Africa and its object is to destroy virtue in the human soul.’[34]

Conefrey declared that some of the worst offenders were the Gardaí, who were regularly holding all night jazz dances, ‘even since the Anti – Jazz campaign started,’ and, in most cases, bars were open and the, ‘people attending them are blinded with drink.’ He called this a disgrace and de Valera should, ‘be ashamed of his face to stand by and allow this conduct to be carried on.’ Conefrey called on the Minister of Justice to take action and introduce céilís in every barracks in the country.

enjoy …

There is also a Radio Documentary on RTE about The Anti Jazz Campaign (thanks ejennin)


1. Starkadder - July 12, 2011

Given the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and
Falangist Spain all condemned or banned jazz music at some point,
it’s not surprising our home-grown authoritarians got in on
the act.


Budapestkick - July 12, 2011

I can just imagine people subtly scat-singing under their breath as they passed the parish priest as an act of understated protest. Hell, I do that now.


2. Gerryboy - July 12, 2011

Rock ‘n roll was condemned by ‘concerned parents’ and other groups in the USA when first it hit the radio stations and dance halls in the mid-1950s. The pelvic dimensions of this dancing (remember Elvis the pelvis and Hippy hippy shake?) alerted worried adults to the chemical reactions that gyrating pelvises might cause in the body, sending dangerous subconscious messages to the brain. And d’you know, the alarmists were right, extreme right. Testosterene, libidinal urges, yeah-yeah-yeah and all that subverted the bodily self discipline of American, British and finally freckle-faced Irish youth. This subversion was more potent than Protest Songs of the Donovan and Bob Dylan variety because it was subliminal. No wonder they banned it or tried to sanitise it in East Germany and the Soviet Union.


3. Jim Monaghan - July 12, 2011

Funny how the Eastern bloc countries were, also, worried about Jazz. In Czechoslovakia this occurred just before the fall.


4. anarchaeologist - July 12, 2011

The DDR had its own battle with jazz and beat music, inventing a State-dance known as the Lipsi. From the virtual library of Cold War kitsch comes this:


5. ejennin - July 16, 2011

This was also a documentary on one: http://www.rte.ie/radio1/doconone/jazz.html


6. prettyinpink - July 18, 2011

Luke Gibbons also has an essay about this in his “Transformations in Irish Culture” published in 1996.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: