Border stories

The Impartial Reporter carries an appeal for stories of smuggling and border life in general. And not necessarily controversial contemporary stories, but ones which chart an important part of border life from 1921 up to the present day.

The stories that have evolved through the decades could now be the subject of some fascinating reading. In fact it is being taken so seriously that the University of Ulster at Coleraine is carrying out a project to create an archive account for future generations. If anyone has spent any time living or working along the Border between Northern Ireland and the Republic or know anyone who has, then Dr. Bryonie Reid, a Research Associate at the School of Environment Sciences, wants to hear from them.

Dr. Reid, who has moved to North Leitrim from her native North Down, has already spoken to a few community groups and individuals in Fermanagh. One woman in the county who is in her 90s was growing up during the time of partition. For the years since partition the Border has been a constant struggle for people through the years of the Troubles as roads were blown up and checkpoints erected. However in more recent times, the Border is being exploited as there are currency differences with sterling and the Euro and to established business and social networks.

Dr. Reid wants to hear accounts of any stories of smuggling or memories of how people had to make a circuitous journey to cross the Border to visit family and friends, get to work, tend livestock or even to try and maintain personal and business relationships.

There are three interrelated themes to the research:

– To analyse representations of the Border in film, visual art and literature;
– To record the material geography of the border (physical evidence of its presence) historically and up to the present day;
– To collect people’s stories, memories and experiences of the border as it affected or continues to affect their everyday lives.

For the purposes of the research the border area is considered to be ten miles either side of the boundary itself. Anyone interested in being involved in the Border/land Lives project should get in touch with Dr Reid at the School of Environmental Sciences, University of Ulster Cromore Road Coleraine BT52 1SA, Tel: 028 70 323019 (office) or 0790 4305482 (mobile).