7 Best Books About Northern Ireland Update 05/2022

There have been a lot of changes in the history of Ireland and Northern Ireland. There have been revolutions, colonialism, and fights between different groups. Though there have been disagreements and fights over the British colonization of Ireland for a long time, the most recent period of violence (called The Troubles) was from the 1960s to the 1990s and was officially closed when the Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998. Even though there was a formal truce, there were still a lot of deep-seated differences. Rioter Aisling Twomey has written before about books that deal with this time in history, as well as how Brexit has changed this. It’s been a rough few months for Northern Ireland, where violence has been on the rise again as the UK completes its move out of the European Union in the background.

The Northern Ireland Protocol, which is part of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, is a big deal. It would keep Ireland and Northern Ireland from having a hard border. Despite this promise, Brexit has led to more checks at both land and sea borders, as well as more tensions in Northern Ireland over access to goods and services. Because Northern Ireland has always been a place where religious and ethnic tensions haven’t fully gone away, some think there is going to be more fighting for a long time to come. If you want to learn more about how this conflict started and how it changed over time, there are a few books below. They’re both fiction and nonfiction. Even though it’s a small start, having some knowledge of the history of the area will help you understand what’s going on now. A lot of these books don’t have a lot of different voices in them, so be careful. People have been affected by the sectarian conflict in Ireland and Northern Ireland. There aren’t many books written by women and people of color, especially in nonfiction, about the conflict.

Nonfiction

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe

Keefe is a great writer of narrative nonfiction, and his book about the Troubles and Northern Ireland is no exception to that rule. At first glance, this is the story of Jean McConville, who was taken from her home in Belfast in 1972 and was thought to have been killed by the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Her body was found 30 years later on a beach. Besides that, it’s also a bigger story about what happened in Northern Ireland and Ireland in the late 20th century. It’s both an overarching account of a time in history as well as a personal, firsthand account of the decisions made by the young leaders of the IRA in this book. Keefe weaves the story of what happened to McConville with the personal stories and political actions of many top I.R.A. members, like Marian and Dolours Price and Bobby Sands.

Lost Lives: The Stories of the Men, Women, and Children who Died as a Result of the Northern Ireland Troubles by David McKittrick, Brian Feeney, Chris Thornton, David McVea, Seamus Kelters

Many books talk about Ireland’s politics, economics, and legal issues, as well as the fight for independence from the United Kingdom. But Lost Lives, on the other hand, looks at the Northern Ireland Troubles from a much more personal point of view than the other two films. Every death that happened during the Troubles in Northern Ireland is listed and looked at by the authors in this book. It doesn’t matter what age or politics the person was when the death happened. In this book, the lives of people who were killed by the IRA to British soldiers to young children are shown one by one through the use of investigative research.

War and an Irish Town by Eamonn McCann

If you look at this list, most of the books were written after the Good Friday Agreement, but McCann’s book came out in 1974, when the conflict was still going on. It was McCann’s job to cover the events of the Troubles as well as his own personal stories. He made a connection between what he saw on the news and how it affected him and how he thought about Irish nationalism. He is an activist in Derry, and his first-person accounts of his time as a community organizer there give a glimpse into the beliefs and struggles of people who want a united Ireland.

The Troubles: Ireland’s Ordeal 1966-1996 and the Search for Peace by Tim Pat Coogan

People who want a detailed history of the Troubles will want to pick up this book, because it’s so detailed. From the civil rights protests of the 1960s to the collapse of a ceasefire agreement in 1994, this book is almost 500 pages long and was written in 1997. People who are interested in this 30-year period can use this history as a foundation for more recent books. It’s broad enough to give people who aren’t very familiar with the subject the facts they need, but it’s also easy enough for people who aren’t very familiar with the subject.

Making Sense of the Troubles: The Story of the Conflict in Northern Ireland by David McKittrick, David McVea

This is another book that tries to give a full picture of the conflict between Ireland and Northern Ireland. People who write this book start with an introduction that talks about how things were in the 1920s and then moves on to talk about how things have changed over time up until the Good Friday Agreement. Besides a simple story, the book also includes a chronology and charts of data about the violence that happened in these years to help you understand the 20th century’s events and the fight for Irish independence in the same way.

Fiction

There are times when reading a book can help us connect to a certain time and place, even though some of the facts have been made up. You can read about how The Troubles and living in Northern Ireland took a toll on people’s minds in these two books.

Milkman by Anna Burns

To learn about a conflict, it can be hard to figure out how it affected the minds of people who lived in the same place. For people who lived through the Troubles, the sectarian and very local violence meant that there was no way to escape or stay neutral. In Milkman, we see a city that looks a lot like Belfast in the 1970s through the eyes of people who haven’t been named. The main character, the Middle Sister, is thought to be having an affair with the Milkman, a person who doesn’t like the government. In fact, he is stalking her. Middle Sister is different from the rest of the people in her town. The way her every move is reported and the consequences of being linked to the Milkman give a sense of the paranoia that surrounded people in Belfast and other places during the Troubles.

Tassea lives in modern-day Belfast, where the IRA has gone underground but not completely disappeared, and where she works as a producer for the BBC’s local station 

Northern Spy by Flynn Berry

there. On a TV show about a gas station robbery, Tessa saw her sister Marian pull a black mask over her face as part of a group of IRA fighters who said they were behind the robbery. She was shocked. While the police are sure that Marian has joined the IRA, Tessa thinks that her sister was forced into it and still doesn’t like the group’s violence. A dangerous road is taken in order to find out the truth. It takes her to Northern Ireland, where tensions are still very high.

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