Peter Lennon's Rocky Road to Dublin


Active member
Jan 19, 2005
I've just got the DVD of the 1968 documentary by Irish journalist Peter Lennon. The major theme of the film is the Irish answer to the question, "What do you do with your revolution when you win it?"

The answer the film gives, far too provocative for mainstream Irish society in the late 1960s, was that we gave the country back to the bourgeoise and the clergy.

Its fascinating stuff. The writer Sean O Faolain makes one of the most thought provoking comments I have ever heard:

"Did those patriots (of 1916), when the bullets crashed through their heads and the noose tighten around their necks, if they saw the society that their successors had created, would they have thought their sacrifice worth it?"

Peter Lennon comments in the extra feature "The Making of Rocky Road" that his Irish friends in 1965 thought that the clergy had lost all their power and that nobody took any notice of censorship. The film is a sustained argument against a tiny comfortable middle class fooling itself that the Republic was a grand place altogether.

"He's ruined the Cause" was the judgement of Lennon's friends when they saw the film.

The past is a different country. The dead hand of the Catholic Church and those who wanted Ireland to exist in cultural isolation from the rest of the world have been sidelined.

This film holds a mirror up to the tail end of the "Good Old Days" and proves that the sort of Ireland it reflected must never be permitted to rise again.

You want the "Cause" to be successful? That sort of obscurantist Ireland was never going to be the way to make it happen.


Active member
May 9, 2004
I got the DVD about a week ago myself. Incredibly impressive stuff, especially in hindsight. The interview with the pious but trendy Michael Cleary is particularly interesting to watch, knowing what we do now. I'd urge everyone to watch it.

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