Wednesday 19 September 2018

Eoghan Harris: The healing rivers beneath the fourth green field

FOR the past week, I have been reading and reflecting on Liam Carson's memoir of his parents, Call Mother a Lonely Field (Hag's Head Press). Although this memoir works on many levels, at first sight it seems to be just another Irish family chronicle, albeit that of a happy family.

But even at the first level it lifts the bar. Sparely written, Call Mother a Lonely Field will sit on the small shelf of classic Northern memoirs alongside Maurice Hayes's Black Puddings and Slim, Denis Kennedy's Climbing Slemish and Malachi O'Doherty's serial memoirs, the latest of which is Under His Roof.

Liam Carson looks back at his Belfast childhood through both boyish and adult eyes. We are seduced into seeing nothing strange in growing up in an Irish-speaking Belfast Catholic family during the darkest days of the Northern conflict. Indeed, the Carson family, living their lives through Irish, could have claimed to be culturally more Irish than most of their Falls Road neighbours.

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