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Abstract

Most of the news about Northern Ireland for the past year has been about what effect Brexit will have on the North’s relationship with the Republic of Ireland. The discussion of eliminating the “soft-border,” and replacing it with a “hard- border,” which would see the reinstitution of checkpoints along the 500-kilometer border, continues to dominate international headlines. The EU has been attempting to allay concerns, and in March, President of the European Council Donald Tusk, traveled to Dublin and reaffirmed the EU’s commitment to avoiding a hard border and maintaining the peace process in the region (Stone, 2018). At the surface level, this hard border issue would appear to just be an economic problem that threatens the current trade arrangement between Northern Ireland and its Southern neighbor, but it is also an Irish identity issue which some fear would threaten the longstanding freedom of movement, employment and residency between Britain and the Republic, which predates both Irish independence and EU membership. A hard border would fundamentally divide the population in a matter that has not been seen in decades.

Tony Blair recently commented on the border issue, stating that, "I find it not just disappointing but sickening that people should really be prepared to sacrifice peace in Northern Ireland on the altar of Brexit" (Allegretti, 2018). Though this quote may sound melodramatic, it is a real fear for some that the current peace and harmony enjoyed in Northern Ireland could revert back to how relations were during “the Troubles,” a multi-decade streak of sectarian violence that afflicted the region from the late 1960’s through the 1990’s, and pitted Catholic and Protestant neighbors against each other. This paper attempts to examine the effects that the Troubles had on the ever-changing Irish national identity during this time period, specifically in the field of poetry, by analyzing the works of several prominent Irish and Northern Irish poets, including Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley, and Ciaran Carson.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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