niallon – North And South

First things first, I’ve missed a few posts. The original idea behind these companion blog posts was that I would talk a bit about the song being covered but I pretty quickly ran out of superlatives for all the songs and artists I was covering. I shifted over instead to using each given cover as an opportunity for me to discuss a related topic I’d had floating around my mind. In order to not diminish that concept, I held off on a few write ups like “Beautiful Day” and “Human” because I simply couldn’t naturally think up of a topic to write on. Ideally I would have weekly posts in conjunction with the YouTube uploads but to be honest I’d rather post when I’ve something decent to say rather then just for the hell of it. Like this week.

Christy Moore is an ever-present in my family. My father is a massive fan and both myself and my brother followed suit. What I have always loved most about the songs he records (and writes) is that he tends to seek out the greatest stories. Songs like “Viva La Quinta Brigada” and “The Middle Of The Island” introduced me to stories that pre-dated my existence and that I may otherwise have never come across were it not for him recording them. “North And South” doesn’t quite fit that mould, as a child raised and educated in Ireland I was well aware of the atrocities that occurred over several decades in Northern Ireland. From an early age here you learn a lot about the conflict and many of us as children grew up thinking it was ok to somewhat romanticise the cause of the IRA (Irish Republican Army, the homegrown resistance movement against British occupation).

Within my family anyway, it was always made clear to us that no violence was to ever be condoned but we were well aware of the history between Ireland and England. It was also taught to us quite clearly in school. Then, a week before my 10th birthday, the Good Friday Agreement was signed. A peace, albeit a fragile one, was agreed upon between both sides of the conflict and I have now spent the majority of my life with that peace being the norm. There have been some incidents since of course, brought about by loyalist groups and some splinter groups from the IRA who opposed the ceasefire, but ultimately there have been 4 notable bombing incidents since 1998 for example as opposed to the 10,000 or so carried out during the conflict between 1969 and 1998. What I’m trying to say here is that my generation is one that for the most part has been able to exist beyond those days of constant harm and brutality in Northern Ireland. There are 21 year olds alive today who have only ever lived in a time of agreed peace in that part of the country, besides isolated incidents from separatists. Whatever your desires for a united Ireland may be, violence is not the way to obtain it.

Amidst all the chaos of Brexit, and for all the fun many people might be having laughing at the utter nonsense it has produced at times, it can be easy to forget what a real threat it could be to a very new time of relative peace. Hell, quite a lot of Breixteers seem to have never even considered it. Ireland as an island could have taken some much worse turns had it not been for the intervention of the Good Friday Agreement. I dread to think what Ireland in 2019 would look like had this conflict continued in earnest. It simply cannot happen that these three years of utter nonsense ultimately wind up returning Irish shores to bloodshed. Songs like “North And South” should be songs about the past and that alone.

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Bachelors Degree in Arts from NUI Maynooth. Double Honours English & Philosophy.

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