Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Banned Books Week 23 - 29 September 2018

Banned Books Week was first initiated by the American Library Association in 1982 in response to an increasing number of challenges in the US to books in schools, bookstores and libraries.  In the United States books are regularly banned and challenged within school districts. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling is regularly challenged and banned, with reasons cited including anti-family, occult/Satanism, religious viewpoint and violence. The Harry Potter series was also banned in St. Mary's Island Church of England school in Chatham, Kent. 

In the United States banning is usually limited to libraries and schools, Irish censorship laws prevent the import, sale or distribution of prohibited publications. The Censorship of Publications Act, 1929, was enacted to prohibit the sale and distribution of “unwholesome literature”. Violations to the terms of this act could result in a fine of £50 or a prison sentence of up to 6 months.

Source: American Library Association

In 1946 the Minister for Justice introduced an appeals board, this allowed for some banned books to become available. As a result over 130 books were appealed however this was a largely symbolic victory as most of the books were out of print when the ban was lifted. Despite the introduction of the appeals process the 1950s saw a resurgence of books being banned, with a staggering 1,034 books banned in 1954 alone.

Some of the books that were banned in Ireland include:

I am alone by Walter Macken 

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Borstal Boy by Brendan Behan

Most of these books were banned as soon as they were published. The Censorship Board was not required to explain why a book had been banned. However most were probably banned due to one or a combination of the following reasons; critique of Irish republicanism, critique of the Catholic Church, offensive language, or depiction of sexuality. 

Luckily these books are no longer banned in Ireland and are available in your library! Check out a banned book today ...

Bibliography and further reading:

American Library Association Banned Books page

Censorhip, Notre Dame University Available at:

Censorship of Publications Act, 1929

Censorship of Publications Act, 1946

Diaz, Eleanor and James LaRue 2017, "50 Years of Intellectual Freedom
The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom celebrates its history" available at

Donal Ó, D 2005, ''The best banned in the land': Censorship and Irish Writing since 1950', The Yearbook Of English Studies, p. 146, JSTOR Journals, EBSCOhost, viewed 13 September 2018.,sso&db=edsjsr&AN=edsjsr.3509330&site=eds-live&custid=ns122646

Ross, Samuel, Harry Potter Banned? Why do some parents want to ban the world's favorite wizard?available at:

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