Angela Macnamara

Published in 20th-century / Contemporary History, Features, Issue 2(March/April 2012), Volume 20

Angela Macnamara—the letters to her problem-page in the Sunday Press provide a valuable insight into the intimate lives of her readership. (Pat Langan/Irish Times)

Angela Macnamara—the letters to her problem-page in the Sunday Press provide a valuable insight into the intimate lives of her readership. (Pat Langan/Irish Times)

Angela Macnamara was born in Dublin in 1931 to upper middle-class parents. Her desire to be a journalist and her life as a married mother of four children combined to see her publish a range of articles on the challenges of child-rearing. Macnamara published articles in magazines as diverse as the Irish Messenger and the Farmers’ Journal, but it was her column in the Sunday Press newspaper from 1963 that prompted a series of question-and-answer features to be published, which subsequently developed into a traditional problem-page column that ran until 1980. Macnamara, a devout Catholic, became an arbitrator for those of the faithful who were confused by a society in transition. Caught between a religion that preached self-denial and modesty and a newly emerging society that promised self-fulfilment and sexual exploration, the faithful wrote in their thousands every year, distressed at the moral standards of the dancehall, the revealing nature of 1960s fashion, and the declining role of religion and respect for parental authority in the family home. Although her more sexually explicit letters were initially censored by her editor, the letters provide a valuable insight into the intimate lives of her readership.

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