chapter  6
4 Pages

Afterword

On one level this book had a relatively simple aim. It was to provide a record of a set of ordinary experiences of living along and with a border, which have largely been overlooked, poorly understood or misrepresented. But the deeply political nature of the Irish border – the violently contested and contrasting political stances on its existence and the charged significance of narratives of the border in the politics of history, memory and commemoration in Northern Ireland – has meant that our work was consciously conceived from the start as a contribution to the ongoing process of engaging with the past in the post-conflict context and subject to all the sensitivities that entails. For, as we have already discussed, although many dimensions of borderland life have been unappreciated by outsiders, at the same time accounts of the Troubles along the border, which narrate the experiences of border Protestants, have come to symbolize Republican violence directed at Protestants in Northern Ireland and their steadfast loyalty in the face of this threat. Any attempt to represent the history of the border from the perspective of borderlanders is inescapably read through the way in which this category is deeply fractured by the overriding significance of the ethno-nationalist divide and, in terms of these social histories, may lend support to Irish nationalist and Republican or alternatively, to Ulster Unionist and loyalist accounts of the border, the Troubles and ultimately, the past in Ireland. The history of the border, especially of the period of the Troubles, is caught up in the ongoing struggle of each ‘community’ to assert the legitimacy and strength of its claims to grievance and demands for redress. The history of the Troubles in the border counties, as in the rest of Northern Ireland, remains a bitter and contested subject whose commemoration is deeply politicized.