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Dual citizen: Ciarán McMenamin on growing up in a world divided by more than a Border

Fermanagh novelist Ciarán McMenamin reflects on a childhood spent criss-crossing the line on a map between his two Irelands, neither of which he felt he fully belonged to - and on the surprising benefits those divisions brought to him

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Author Ciarán McMenamin. Photo: Michael Shelford

Author Ciarán McMenamin. Photo: Michael Shelford

A garda stops vehicles at a checkpoint on the Irish border between Emyvale and Aughnacloy earlier this month. Photo: Liam McBurney

A garda stops vehicles at a checkpoint on the Irish border between Emyvale and Aughnacloy earlier this month. Photo: Liam McBurney

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Author Ciarán McMenamin. Photo: Michael Shelford

It was always here. Well, actually it wasn't, it was put here in 1921, but I only showed up in 1975 so that's a mere detail. It was always here. Here was 'Northern Ireland', technically in the United Kingdom, and there was 'The Republic of Ireland,' a mystical, free place were Gay Byrne was the President and you didn't need a licence to drive. 'It' is the Border and it has been running like a scar between the two Irelands my entire life, reminding me that I am not really from either one.

At first, it was just a physical entity. Something that must be crossed in order to get to the beach. Sweating in the back seat while British soldiers with impressive guns enraged your father with unnecessary questions.


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