Martin Doyle, Books Editor of The Irish Times, offers a personal, intimate history of the Troubles seen through the microcosm of a single rural parish, his own, part of both the Linen Triangle –heartland of the North’s defining industry – and the Murder Triangle – the Badlands roamed by the Glenanne gang of security forces colluding with loyalist paramilitaries. He lifts the veil of silence drawn over the horrors of the past, recording in heartrending detail the terrible toll the conflict took – more than 20 violent deaths in a few square miles – and the long tail of trauma it has left behind. He also conveys the texture of the times, the high streets where cars could not be left unattended, the newsflashes, the constant background buzz of threat and fear.
Neighbours and classmates who lost loved ones in the conflict, survivors maimed in bomb attacks and victims of sectarianism, both Catholic and Protestant, entrust him with their stories. Doyle marries his local knowledge with a literary sensibility and skilfully shows how the once dominant local linen industry serves as a metaphor for both communal division but also the solidarity that transcended the sectarian divide.
To those who might ask why you would want to reopen old wounds, the answer might be that some wounds have never been allowed to heal. It is by sharing our stories that we build a ridge of common ground from which good things can grow.