‘Keeping your head down’: Border Protestant experiences during the Troubles

The Northern Irish ‘Troubles’, which claimed almost 4,000 lives, was the longest-running ethnic conflict in post-War Europe. Histories of the Troubles tend to focus on political elites or political groupings – in particular, nationalist and loyalist paramilitaries. One under-researched and under-appreciated dimension of the conflict has been the experiences of the border Protestant community.   Whilst infamous incidents, such as the murder of Senator Billy Fox in 1973 or the Remembrance Day bombing of 1987, remain well-known (in parts of the public consciousness at least), other experiences have perhaps been less considered. For many border Protestants in geographically isolated areas, daily life remained one of threat, vigilance, and ‘keeping your head down’.

In this talk, Dr. Cillian McGrattan will draw primarily on interview and newspaper material, and shall posit that the case study of border Protestants is not only worthy of greater attention in its own right as an under-studied dimension of the Troubles, but also that it acts as a lens through which to view the changing collective memory of the conflict as living memory passes to received wisdoms.

Dr Cillian McGrattan lectures in politics at Ulster University. Among other books, he is the author of Northern Ireland, 1968-2008: The Politics of Entrenchment (Palgrave Macmillan: 2010); The Northern Ireland Conflict (with Aaron Edwards, Oneworld: 2012) and Peacebuilding and the Politics of Trauma: Lessons from Northern Ireland (Routledge: 2017). He is currently completing a book on Anti-sectarianism in Northern Ireland (Palgrave: 2024) and one on Border Protestant Memory During the Northern Ireland Conflict (with Ken Funston, Berghahn: 2024).

Date: Monday 15 January 2024

Venue: Harbour Hotel, Galway
Time: 20:00/8pm