A Writer in Ireland: Part Four

In Crossmaglen the fire burns true The patriotic flame will never die And when you hear the battle cry It will be the fighting men of Crossmaglen. -“The Fighting Men of Crossmaglen”, IRA ballad, 1970s Armagh and Crossmaglen After a wildly comfortable night in a country B & B just outside Armagh (I had it […]

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A Writer in Ireland: Part Three

Newry Nestled between the Ring of Gullion and the spectacular Mourne Mountains, Newry doesn’t make many headlines these days. I drove into the city with a load of wet washing drying on the back seat and vague memories of grey stone and dullness and necessity. Over the next two days, however, I was to become […]

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A Writer in Ireland: Part Two

Castles are never how you imagine they’re going to be. You picture yourself wafting from medieval great hall to windswept rampart, the imagined accompanying strains of Enya or Clannad making you feel ever so slightly weepy, when in reality you find yourself in rubbish-strewn, freezing ruins with Sam and Betty from Wisconsin, their shell-suited thighs […]

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A Writer in Ireland: Part One

Born in this island, maimed by history and creed-infected, by my father taught the stubborn habit of unfettered thought I dreamed, like him, all people should be free. -John Hewitt, “The Dilemma” There was a surreal, joyful melancholy to this homecoming. As we punched through the haze above a sweltering London and soared left, easing to […]

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An Irish family history

It’s now just over two weeks until I get on a plane to Ireland. In preparation for my trip back to my birthplace, I’ve been talking at length to my father about our life in County Armagh, Northern Ireland. Around two weeks ago I asked him to give me directions to our old house, my old […]

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Beginnings

I’m going home next June. I was born in Northern Ireland, and lived with my Protestant minister father and my mother and two siblings in County Armagh, just by the border. In the seventies (yes I am that old) South Armagh was known as “bandit country” because it was such a dangerous place to be during […]

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The Milford Chronicles: Chapter Four

This is the last instalment in my account of walking the Milford Track last month. If you’ve just joined me, you may want to read Chapters One – Three before this one. Chapter Four: Day 4: Dumpling Hut to Sandfly Point Breakfast was followed by goodbyes. We were all departing at different times for Sandfly […]

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The Milford Chronicles: Chapter Three

Chapter Three: Day 3: Mintaro Hut to Dumpling Hut A cheeky committee of keas woke us early on Day Three. They perched on the outdoor tables, eying us as we emerged to go to the toilet. We had been warned to hang up our boots and take all our belongings inside or these mischievous birds could […]

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The Milford Chronicles: Chapter Two

Chapter Two: Day 2: Clinton Hut to Mintaro Hut If there’s one thing worse than a snorer, it’s a snorer on the Milford Track. It was the subdued talk of the hut on the morning of Day Two. Some were convinced it was the Israeli. Others swore it was the father and son from Boston. […]

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The Milford Chronicles: Chapter One

I walked the world-famous Milford Track last week. It was one of the best adventures I have ever had. Maybe it was because the last year has been one of tremendous personal upheaval, and this trip felt like a significant “marker” on a difficult emotional journey. You’ll be pleased (I hope) to know that every […]

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