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The Land of Sex and Sinners

Director: Jimmy Duggan

2004| Colour| 104 mins| Ireland


‘The female orgasm was unknown and after ejaculation the man fell asleep. Men felt that intercourse was debilitating and male sexual strivings were thought to be a result of eating massive amounts of potatoes.’ Midway through the 20th century the American anthropologist responsible for this quote regarded certain regions of Ireland as harbouring some of the most sexually repressed communities in the world. But the puritanical Irish society of the time was riddled with institutionalised sexual abuse. The true heritage
of this grim period is only now being fully exposed. However this era of 20th century repression forms only one atypical chapter of the island’s often lurid sexual story. For most of its past Ireland was notorious for possessing the most carefree moral outlook in Christendom. While current permissiveness is viewed as a completely modern phenomena in fact several millennia of unique and often shockingly broadminded attitudes form the core of Irish sexual history. The Land of’Sex and Sinners traces the complete timeline of Irish
sexual and gender development from the mysterious sexio-religious rites of pre-history to the all too blatant teenage coming-of-age rituals of contemporary life.
Dramatic reconstructions reveal such unexpected aspects of Irish history as the bisexual orientation of the macho Celtic warrior elite. Interviewees tell of an island which once had the right of a woman to experience orgasm enshrined in its legal framework. Documentary footage explores the visual heritage of the erotic from the Neolithic landscape of ‘detached sexual objects’. The Land of Sex and Sinners pauses in its timeline to subject particularly interesting shifts in sexual paradigms to the scrutiny of historical analysis…and some dryly humorous comment.
The Land of Sex & Sinners – Public Discussion
Following the screening of The Land of Sex & Sinners on Saturday, October 2nd, there will be a public discussion on ‘History, Sex and Small Screen Prejudice’, with director Jimmy Duggan, Micheal O Meallaigh, Senior Commissioning Editor of TG4, Professor Kevin Whelan, Notre Dame University and Mary Condron, lecturer at Trinity College Dublin. The discussion wi l l be chaired by Ruth Barton.

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