Susan McKay is a writer, journalist and commentator, specialising in Irish and Northern Irish politics and current affairs, social issues and the arts. She also chairs events and is an accomplished speaker. Read More…
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Bear in Mind These Dead 2007, “An exemplary undertaking…a necessary book.” Independent
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Northern Protestants – An Unsettled People, 2000,
“Susan McKay is one of Ireland’s finest journalists.”
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The Contested Identities of Ulster Protestants review: grief and grievances
Wed, Feb 3, 2016, 15:02
The Contested Identities of Ulster Protestants
Eds. Thomas Paul Burgess & Gareth Mulvenna Publisher:Guideline Price:£68
“The problem I had with this book was….” These were the words with which the late , then leader of the began his contribution to a discussion on BBC television of my book, Northern Protestants – An Unsettled People, shortly after it was published in 2000. My heart sank. Ervine was a force for positive change in a community that urgently needed it. I wanted him to like the book. Then, however, he continued: “…that it was true and frightening and painful”. He went on to urge “every Protestant and every unionist” to read it. The problem I had with this book was that on page 2 I read my book described as “a deeply self flagellating tome” and a “personal exorcism of Protestant self-loathing”.
The putdown, while aggressive, is conventional. Though they are relatively young men, the chips that weigh heavily on the shoulders of Mulvenna and Burgess are ancient ones. The negativity that dismisses the questioning or critical insider as a Lundy is, in fact, explored in a compelling essay in this collection by James Greer. Lundy was the Governor of Derry who contemplated surrender during the 1689 siege, and his name is now used to denote treachery. Continue reading
Last Updated: Friday, January 15, 2016, 01:00
When Sarah Reavey was in her first year at Our Lady’s Grammar School in Newry, Co Down, in 1999, her English teacher asked her class to write a poem.
“Everyone else wrote about their pets and going on holiday and silly, fun stuff,” she says.
“I wrote this big, long serious thing called Questions about how nobody tells you anything. The teacher read it out to the class and cried. I remember being really embarrassed.”
Reavey grew up with questions, which all traced back to a winter night in early January 1976 before she was born when death came to the door of her family’s house in Greyhillian, Whitecross, in south Armagh. Continue reading
Alan Black, the sole survivor
Last Updated: Wednesday, January 6, 2016, 01:00
The rain fell relentlessly and the sky was dark as relatives and friends of the 10 Protestant workmen murdered at Kingsmill, Co Armagh, stood on Tuesday morning under a huddle of umbrellas and wept.
Forty years ago, their relatives, driving home in a minibus from work at Glennane Mill, were flagged down by a man waving a red torch – the same type then used by the British Army at checkpoints. Continue reading
Kelly and Rachel O’Toole
Fran O’Toole was murdered in the Miami Showband Massacre in 1975. Rachel and Kelly search for their connection to the charismatic and beautiful young man who was their father, allowing themselves to imagine what might have been.
Listen to the documentary here.
Last Updated: Saturday, December 19, 2015, 13:30
Fran O’Toole would have been 70 next February. In photographs of the Miami Showband in the 1970s he is a slim and beautiful young man in blue denim , bright-eyed and brimming with fun and music and confidence in himself and in the future.
Fran O’Toole and his fellow band members were shot by a loyalist gang on July 31st, 1975. Fran and two other members died in the attack, which became known as the Miami Showband massacre and is one of the most notorious incidents of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Continue reading