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Irish Left Archive: Focalín, 1980s from supporters of Peoples Democracy, London September 15, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Focalín magazine from supporters of Peoples Democracy (1970s/1980s), Irish Left Online Document Archive.


Many thanks to NollaigO for the following: Focalin GO

To go to the Left Archive please click on this link.

Seamus, a friend , recently discovered five editions of Focalín in his attic and has loaned them for copying to the CLR Archive.

Focalín (“A wee word” for the odd reader of CLR who does not understand the First Language) was an Irish political satirical magazine produced in London in the late 1970s /early 1980s. The founders of the magazine were former supporters of the early Peoples Democracy and included an outstanding cartoonist.

Given the nature of the material in the magazine, it had a “sub rosa” flavour about it. Main targets for the magazine were Conor Cruise O’Brien, Charlie Haughey, Irish journalist Mary Kenny who was working in London at the time and legendary Gery (sic) Lawless [and his mythical(!) first lieutenant, Paddy of Cricklewood] to name but a few. One of the magazine’s exposés was the Kincora Boys Home scandal for which they got an informal tribute from Glenn Barr.

Specially recommended in this issue are the articles on the Inflatable Bodhran Kit (p3), Letters to the Editor (p4 &10), cartoon SUPERMICK and the Taxman, in fact every page (including the cover)!

The Cedar Lounge Revolution hopes to publish these five editions over the next few months [Libel laws considered!].

We estimate that at least twenty issues of the magazine were published.
Any of our readers got any further copies in their attics?


1. Phil - September 15, 2014

Any idea exactly when this was from? I like the story about the fine indigenous musical tradition of the island (Country & Western) being driven out by a scruffy middle-class interloper (Irish Traditional Music) – it’d be interesting to date it. A friend of mine talks about how in Miltown Malbay he can hear traditional folksong any night of the week (which you’d struggle to do in Manchester or London); I guess that wasn’t always the case.


AonRud - September 15, 2014

The letters and press cuttings are dated 1978.


Joe - September 16, 2014

I think I get Liberius’ point about Irish trad music now. He was trying to tell us he’s a Country and Western fan. That’s ok, pal. We are not sectarian here. 🙂


2. Starkadder - September 15, 2014

Was the “Supermick” cartoon a homage to the infamous
“SuperTrot” cartoon which ran in the British “Rebel” magazine?


Marius Paul O'Shea - October 19, 2015

No, it wasn’t. I’m the cartoonist (still alive and well and living (?) in the Middle East before returning to Australia in December 2015. A group of us who’d all known each other in Belfast and were then living in London (safety not guaranteed in N.I.) felt we still had a lot to say about what was going on so we set up Focalin as our platform. Apart from the first issue I drew Supermick, the front cover, single cartoons and a visual history of Ireland (sadly unfinished) before we decided to finish as we felt we were getting too far away from direct involvement in the political action. We even got a mention (disparaging) in Julia O’Faolain’s novel, No Country For Young Men (1987), who thought we were an organ of the British secret service. We thanked her by publishing a ribald article involving her and pineapples (read the book).

Liked by 2 people

Victor Marsillo - March 14, 2018

Hi, Marius. I’ve tried sending you a message on Facebook, though I don’t think you’ve seen it, thanks to the way messages from non-friends are handled by the system.

The reason I’m reaching out is because I’m working on a reference guide to Irish alternative and underground comix and was wondering if you’d done any other comics outside of Focalin, or know of any others being done in that same vein (I’m well aware of Belfast Peoples Comic and Resistance Comics). On a related note, have you ever seen a comic entitled “Rosc Dubh”? It was supposedly published in Belfast in the mid ’70s and was entirely in Gaelic.

Liked by 1 person

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