My “political awakening” came when I read about the Unionists in History class leading up to my Leaving Cert.
Having moved to Ireland from the USA in 1977 and spent about 10 years in Dublin, my only knowledge of what was happening in the North came from reports on the Troubles and casual gossip among “grownups” which invariably was of a “Catholic/Southern” slant.
Somehow I knew that wasn’t the whole story and when the other side of the story was presented to me in school I was fascinated…it was in fact my topic of choice in the Leaving Cert History exam. I went to the hall with the express intention of belting out my well-rehearsed Unionism essay to get me settled…thankfully the question was there for me.
But that was all very well for me living in Dublin…what could it have been like for someone of a similar age actually growing up on the “protestant side” of the North during those times?
In today’s Irish Times I got my answer in a piece by Newton Emerson titled “I do not feel Irish in the slightest“.
…if you were a respectable person, as the “head-down” mentality of the Troubles encouraged most of us to be, you looked to the mainland for anything more important than collecting the bins.
Do give it a read.