#Ulster Border One

Town Hall

I was born under Knockavoe in #Strabane, in a “pocket of mountains” in the words of poet, #Maureen Boyle whose father was from Donegal but settled in Strabane as my parents did. I now live near the #Donegal #Tyrone #Fermanagh border and Ireland is present in my novels even though Bone and Blood is set in Berlin and Michel-Michelle is set in Lille.

Strabane was the most bombed town in Northern Ireland and the Town Hall was a target in 1972. The Town Hall was the site of many cultural occasions including one organised spontaneously by the Town Clerk when US President Kennedy was assassinated. In 1966 we rejected the binary either-or choices forced on us by a history colonisation and exploitation. We organised for civil rights in Northern Ireland in defiance of the political parties with their Nationalist versus Unionist politic. But our demands were hijacked by toxic traditions of violent sectarianism.

The Strabane where I grew up has been wiped out by bombs and demolition for development including the old convent school, many shops, the pub where my father chatted to #Flann O’Brien on his visits to his grandparents. I have collected a series of images of the border to help me face the impact of tensions resulting from #Brexit. 21 Border writers flow to and fro across the binary border heralding hope.

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