The poppy. Not a celebration of war but as an expression of sympathy for those who were wounded or who lost their lives in a tragic and unnecessary conflict…

red flowers in tilt shift lens

Arnold Carton is a retired schoolteacher from Belfast. The controversy over the wearing of the Poppy in Ireland, with vandals throwing paint at the door of the Royal British Legion office in Dublin, got me thinking about my community’s reasons for wearing the poppy. Approximately 50 years ago, I was a Year 10 (Form 3) pupil in a North Antrim school. Like most of my peer group, I was wearing a poppy, and my school had made an effort to …

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Review of Triangle: Three Novellas of Ireland by Pól Ó Muirí

What happens in a society when previously dominant traditions of religion, spirituality, and morality crumble and then proceed to disintegrate at break-neck speed? The island of Ireland could be considered something of a sociological case study in this regard. The ‘holy Catholic Ireland’ of the Republic has been discredited and denigrated. The often oppositional Christian traditions of Northern Ireland also seem destined for inexorable decline. Analysis of the rise of those who claim they have ‘no religion’ can only be …

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“One of the most disturbing features of contemporary Ireland is the almost universal ignorance among the younger generation of the Northern Troubles…”

Una Mullally is a high profile Irish Times columnist: a gay left-wing feminist (although I have never seen or heard her describe herself as a socialist) who is particularly popular among the young. This is not surprising given that one of her recurrent themes is that young Irish people (idealistic, open-minded, liberal in gender and identity politics, probably Sinn Fein inclined) are mobilising to take over the running of this country from old Irish people (reactionary, narrow-minded, Catholic Church-influenced, probably …

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Missile Crises: Belfast, Havana and Kyiv…

person watching through hole

‘The October drills of ‘62 were crazy,’ Elena said. ‘As if tables or desks would have saved us.’ As we walked, I’d already told her that one morning in my Primary school, our teacher told us in that Keep Calm and Carry On manner that World War 111 might break out any day. And that if the sirens went off, we must all get down quickly on our knees and hunch under our desks. Then she warned us to expect …

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Social cohesion: can there be a united Ireland without a united Northern Ireland?

green grass and trees near river

Despite the current turmoil at Westminster or even the more mundane matter of the not unrelated cost-of-living crisis, the constitutional question is never far from being the main concern of many in Northern Ireland. But for at least the immediate future, would it not be better to reflect more on social cohesion than on geographic unity? Geopolitical regions are of course social constructs. They reflect certain perspectives and judgments in making particular groupings and, like every modern region, the social …

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The Steel Shutter Revisited 50th Anniversary Conference…

In 1972 at the height of the violent Troubles in Northern Ireland a group of people believed that they could make a difference by simply getting people to listen to one another. Taking great risks for all involved they flew nine stakeholders (5 Protestants and 4 Catholics) from Ireland to Pittsburgh and filmed a three-day encounter group. The famous psychologist Carl Rogers, and colleagues, attempted something radical. For the majority, it was the first time they had any real interaction with …

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Who Killed Patricia Curran?

Kieran Fagan is an ex-journalist living in Dublin My new book Who Killed Patricia Curran? identifies her mother Lady Doris Curran, wife of Northern Ireland high court judge, Lance Curran, as the murderer.  Patricia was. 19 years old, in her first year at Queen’s University in Belfast, in November 1952.  Seventy years ago around midnight on 12 November  12, 1952, her parents reported that she had failed to return to the family home at Whiteabbey on the northern shore of Belfast …

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Peace Heroines: Spotlight on Stormont

The Herstory project, established in 2016 to elevate the stories of women in national histories, launched an art exhibition at the Long Gallery in Parliament Buildings, Belfast. “Peace Heroines” features nine vibrant, largescale individual portrait paintings by artist FRIZ — women who have made an indelible mark on the Northern Ireland peace process, including Monica McWilliams, Pearl Sagar, Linda Ervine, Pat Hume, May Blood, Ann Carr, and Saidie Patterson. Several took part in an event discussion with Herstory creative director, Melanie Lynch. After …

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Book Review: ‘Unholy Catholic Ireland’ by Hugh Turpin

Unholy Catholic Ireland: Religious Hypocrisy, Secular Morality, and Irish Irreligion by Hugh Turpin (published this week by Stanford University Press) is a must-read book for anyone interested in the changing role of religion in Ireland. Unholy Catholic Ireland responds to longstanding gaps in our knowledge about the ‘irreligious’ in Ireland, to echo the term from the book’s subtitle. In scholarly literature, this rather disparate group is often referred to as those with ‘no religion’ or the ‘nones’. (In the text, …

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Six young activists reflect … Years of Hope: 2022 and 2072

The final event as part of the recent Linen Hall Library exhibition on 1922 and 1972 looked forward rather than back. Six young activists joined Bronagh Hinds to discuss the contemporary issues of 2022, and their hopes for life in 2072. You can hear the thoughts of Beth Elder, Joel Keys, Dara McAnulty, Dara McLaughlin, Inez Murray and Cohen Taylor. The Years of Chaos & Hope Exhibition finishes today at the Linen Hall Library. Alan Meban (Alan in Belfast)Alan Meban. …

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Arrests and Internment in the 1970s

Back on Wednesday 17 August, Seamus McKee chaired a lunchtime panel on Arrests and Internment in the 1970s as part of the Linen Hall Library’s Years of Chaos & Hope Exhibition. Seamus was joined by Harry Donaghy, Eibhlín Glenholmes, William Mitchell and Jim Wilson. The exhibition continues in the city centre library until 31 August. Alan Meban (Alan in Belfast)Alan Meban. Tweets as @alaninbelfast. Blogs about cinema and theatre over at Alan in Belfast. A freelancer who writes about, reports …

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Years of Chaos & Hope: The Troubled Twenties

As part of the Linen Hall Library’s Years of Chaos & Hope exhibition – which runs in the library until 31 August – Anne-Marie McInerney, Edward Burke, and Jim McDermott took at look at some of the issues which contributed to the chaos of 1922: civil unrest, reprisals, internment, and the border. The Troubled Twenties was chaired by Melissa Baird and recorded by me on Monday 8 August 2022. Alan Meban (Alan in Belfast)Alan Meban. Tweets as @alaninbelfast. Blogs about …

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1922 & 1972: Years of Turmoil, Loss and Hope Deferred

1922 and 1972 were troubled years. A century and 50 years on, a Linen Hall Library exhibition running this month has shone a light on what was happening and what can be learned. Years of Chaos and Hope has been reflecting on the conflicting identities, protests, backlash, arrests, evictions, expulsions, shootings, and bombs which contributed to the chaos of 1922 and 1972. Using material from the library’s archive, the exhibition (which is open until 31 August) explores the troubled times …

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Why I think The IRA War was a failure…

Various posts by Mick Fealty and many others, most recently by Brian Walker in “Leave futile arguments about equivalence aside. We all need to come clean about why the Troubles lasted so unforgivably long” have asked us to re-examine culpability for the Troubles and the need to let the healing process proceed through a truth recovery process. Despite their best efforts, the ensuing conversations have always descended into a welter of “whataboutery” and the sins of the other side. The …

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The trouble with teaching ‘the Troubles’…

teacher, learning, school

The final episode of Derry Girls (spoiler alert) covered the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement (GFA) with wit and plenty of pathos. After its broadcast, social media was full of older viewers reporting that they had quite forgotten the challenges that many people across the island of Ireland faced when deciding to support unpalatable aspects of the agreement, such as the release of prisoners. The younger adults were open about being entirely unaware of the context of this peace settlement which ended …

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‘Just drawing support’ — Bill Rolston’s latest catch of mural hunting

Bill Rolston published the first volume of Drawing Support in 1992, which contained images of 100 murals from the previous decade. Thirty years later, the fifth volume has just been published, and at a Feile an Phobail event Rolston spoke about his never-ending “mural hunting”, accompanied by recollections of muralist Danny Devenny. Claire Hackett welcomed and informed the audience that in addition to the latest and previous volumes of Drawing Support available for sale here, Rolson, with Robbie McVeigh, are …

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1798, a cross-community rebellion…

The return of inflation, a fuel crisis, strikes and recession, together with Russia’s invasion of a neighbouring state, all to the soundtrack of a resurgent Swedish pop group, has prompted many to ask if this is the 1970s all over again. However, some striking parallels with today’s problems can be found almost 200 years earlier, in the 1790s, with a cost-of-living crisis, climate change, unpopular wars and, to add a particularly local flavour, constitutional upheaval and sectarian strife. So, in …

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Something Unresolved – The 50th Anniversary of Bloody Friday…

The room was spartan. Two chairs, a few books on a table and a filing cabinet. Where she kept notes, no doubt – on other stragglers who’d dragged their excess baggage up the stairs. I told of the house purchase gone wrong, how stupid I felt, and the sense of being trapped. She wrote something down. ‘If only I could get an unbroken night’s sleep, I might be able to cope.’ She asked when that problem started. I weighed up …

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Embedding the protocol within a constitutional/identity gridlock undermines our shared future

hd wallpaper, nature wallpaper, red meerkat

Unionism cannot be boxed into one definition, however broad opinion, within the pro-Union and the middle ground Unionist constituency, beyond loyalism, the Orange Order, bonfire groups and attendees at pre-election rallies, is hardening towards the ‘Protocol’. It is now firmly rooted within constitutional and identity issues; not viewed as a destination but as a process shaped by EU rigidity that will take Unionism to a divergent and politically homeless place where it does not wish to reside. Talk of protecting …

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