Banned Books from The River-side: The Tailor and Ansty
- Elaine Harrington
- September 19, 2022
Welcome to the first post in a new series of blog posts: … from The River-side. This series will tie into the themed displays on Q floor of UCC Library and will focus on one or two items from Special Collections & Archives. These items won’t be borrowable but all are welcome to request them for use in Special Collections & Archives. To tie into ‘Banned Books’ I have selected the 1942 work The Tailor and Ansty by Eric Cross.
Timothy & Anastasia Buckley
Timothy Buckley (1862-1945) and his wife Ansty (?-1947) lived in Gougane Barra in Co. Cork. Timothy was born near Kilgarvan in Co. Kerry and trained as a tailor. In 1903 he married Anastasia ‘Ansty’ McCarthy and they moved to Gougane Barra where they had two sons. Buckley was a well-known storyteller and both he and Ansty were fluent Irish speakers.
Buckley used a crutch because as a child he’d had a bout of infantile paralysis which permanently afflicted his lower right leg. Therefore rather than him visiting other places the visitors came to him to hear his stories, phrases and knowledge of folklore. Visitors included writers Frank O’Connor, Seán Ó Faoláin and Eric Cross. In 1942 Eric Cross gathered Buckley’s stories and published them as The Tailor and Ansty.
Banned Book: The Tailor and Antsy
However, following the publication of The Tailor and Antsy there was a series of heated debates in the Seanad as part of the Censorship of Publications. The ‘earthy tone’ and its frank handling of sexuality provoked censure, both political and clerical censure. The book was banned for alleged indecency. Sir John Keane (1873-1956)) tabled a Senate motion opposing this prohibition, and a four-day debate ensued with Prof. William Magennis (1867-1946) as his antagonist. The sections of the text quoted in the Senate were struck from the official record. Three priests forced Timothy Buckley to burn his own copy of the book. Timothy remained positive about the censorship but Ansty was quite distressed. Timothy died in 1945 and Ansty in 1947; both are buried in Gougane Barra.
1964: New Hardback Edition
In 1963 the Censorship Appeals Board reviewed The Tailor & Ansty and decided that it was not obscene. Following this a new edition was published with a dust-jacket designed by Lacey Everett.
The new edition included woodcuts by Robert Gibbings.
Copies of the book in both the Frank O’Connor Collection and Nancy McCarthy Allitt library have annotations by Eric Cross.
1970: Paperback Edition
In 1970 the Cork publishing firm Mercier Press issued a paperback edition of The Tailor and Ansty. This cover design is by Inge Nieuwstraten.
The Irish language poet Seán Ó Ríordáin annotated many of the books in his collection and his copy of The Tailor and Ansty is no different.
In 1968 PJ O’Connor adapted the book for the stage in the Abbey Theatre. In 2004 Cónal Creedon wrote a radio adaptation which was broadcast on RTE.
- Cross, Eric. Original typescript to The Tailor and Ansty. U.380, Special Collections, UCC Library.
- Cross, Eric. The Tailor and Ansty.
- London: Chapman & Hall ltd., . Frank O’Connor Bibliographic Collection.
- London: Chapman & Hall, 1964. Frank O’Connor Collection.
- Cork; Dublin: Mercier Press, 1970. Ó Ríordáin Collection and Nancy McCarthy Allitt Library.
- Programme. Adapted for the stage by P. J. O’Connor. Munster Printing Collection.
- Ó Drisceoil, Donal. “A Dark Chapter: Censorship and the Irish Writer.” in Clare Hutton (ed.), The Oxford History of the Irish Book, Volume V: The Irish Book in English, 1891-2000. History of the Irish Book. Oxford, 2011; online edn, Oxford Academic, 3 Mar. 2015.
- Seanad Éireann debate – Wednesday, 18 Nov 1942 – Censorship of Publications – Motion (Resumed).
- Seanad Éireann debate – Wednesday, 2 Dec 1942 – Censorship of Publications – Motion (Resumed).
- Seanad Éireann debate – Thursday, 3 Dec 1942 – Censorship of Publications – Motion (Resumed).
- Seanad Éireann debate – Wednesday, 9 Dec 1942 – Censorship of Publications – Motion (Resumed).