In the early years of the Irish Free State the small Protestant minority experienced a considerable degree of goodwill but some prejudice against them remained as expressed by the infamous case of the Mayo librarian.
The Cumann na nGaedheal Government set up a Local Appointments Commission to oversee recruitment to senior posts in local authorities with the aim of preventing nepotism or corruption. In July 1930, Letitia Elizabeth Aileen Dunbar-Harrison, a twenty five year old from Dublin, was selected by a LAC panel for the post of Mayo county librarian but Mayo County Council refused to sanction the appointment. Her lack of Irish was initially cited as the reason but the real issue was that Letitia was an honours graduate of Trinity College and a Protestant. As far as the Roman Catholic clergy who controlled the council’s library committee were concerned such a person was not suitable for ‘Catholic Mayo’.
The matter was debated in the Dail and…
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