At Play in Belfast: Children's Folklore and Identities in Northern Ireland

By Donna M. Lanclos | Go to book overview

Introduction

Children are many things in Northern Ireland—as they are throughout the world—but their most public role appears to be that of symbol. In particular, children symbolize the future. They embody all that is at stake if the fragile structures erected by the peace process fail. Their deaths galvanize people to action and outrage in a way that the death of an adult has for the most part ceased to do. Children provide the motivation for adults to work in social and political arenas for peace, to continue to engage in the armed struggle (on either side), or to leave the scene altogether: to flee Belfast for the countryside, to flee Northern Ireland for the South, for Scotland, for England, and for America. Images of Protestant and Catholic children playing together were used during the election campaign of 1997, for example, in a television spot that juxtaposed scenes of frolicking children with the Van Morrison tune “Days Like This,” to suggest a vision of a better future. The advertisement ended with the voice of Morrison himself asking, “Wouldn't it be great if all days were like this?” Children are symbols for what is at stake in the Troubles. They are present in newspaper and television reports, in commemorative murals, at bomb scenes, on Bloody Sunday, and as victims of plastic bullets, paramilitary and security forces, and petrol bombings. They stand in for the loss of life and innocence of all involved ( “From Forward March to Retreat” 1998; Helsinki Watch 1992; Keane 1998; MacDonald 1986; McCarney 1995; Whitman 1992).

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At Play in Belfast: Children's Folklore and Identities in Northern Ireland
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Rutgers Series in Childhood Studies *
  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • At Play in Belfast *
  • Introduction 1
  • One - A Day in the Life 21
  • Two - Rudeness and Defining the Line Between Child and Adult 48
  • Three - Masculinity and Femininity on the Playground 84
  • Four - Exploring the Protestant/ Catholic Divide 124
  • Conclusion 149
  • Appendix - Methodology and Description of Schools 159
  • Notes 169
  • References 183
  • Index 201
  • About the Author 209
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