Culture and Politics in Northern Ireland, 1960-1990

Culture and Politics in Northern Ireland, 1960-1990

Culture and Politics in Northern Ireland, 1960-1990

Culture and Politics in Northern Ireland, 1960-1990

Synopsis

Seeks to correct some of the distortions propagated about Northern Ireland by the media's emphasis on violence and division within the province. The book examines various aspects of life in Northern Ireland, and especially the role of the arts in transcending sectarian barriers.

Excerpt

Eamonn Hughes

In the late 1960s it seemed as if Northern Ireland was merely the seat of what Seamus Heaney called 'anachronistic passions'. The most prevalent perception of Northern Ireland was that it was a tightly-enclosed province bounded by outworn loyalties and obscure allegiances. The passions understanding those loyalties and allegiances were fierce, impenetrable and embarrassing in equal measures. Even in the South of Ireland, the most common perception of the North was that it belonged to a category of one. In Glenn Patterson's novel Burning Your Own this image is expressed through the central figure, the 10-year old Mai Martin, watching the Apollo moon landing at about the time that others were watching the British Army marching onto a territory seemingly even more distinct from, and alien to, the 'modern world'.

This image of Northern Ireland as a recalcitrantly regressive place somehow separate from the modern progressive world, has always been partially balanced by a weaker, and more often internally-generated, sense of it as a place in which the border being disputed is precisely that between modernising forces and ancient passions. In this view the Civil Rights marches were associated with the Black American civil-rights marches, were of a piece with 'les événements' of 1968, the Grosvenor Square riots and so on. This weaker image has been challenged on the grounds that hindsight, and our knowledge of the developments arising from the late 1960s, shows that a somewhat different agenda was being constructed in Northern Ireland. However, a consideration of the North in the 1960s and since must acknowledge that there was an awareness of broader social, cultural and . . .

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