Saturday 16 December 2017

Kevin McAleer has made us all think through laughter

Eoghan Harris

Eoghan Harris

KEVIN McAleer's three-part series Our Friends in the North finished on RTE last Monday. The films followed the personal journey of the famous Tyrone stand-up comic, who comes from a Catholic nationalist background, to find out more about the culture and traditions of his near neighbours, the Ulster-Scots Presbyterians. It was one of the best things I have seen on television for some time.

Some people down here professed surprise that the two northern communities knew so little about each other. Really? Thirty years ago, many southern Irish people from the majority tradition had visited a synagogue, mosque or Hindu shrine when on holidays. But how many had been inside their local Protestant church?

Think about that. Thirty years ago in the towns and villages of rural Ireland, when the black flags of the H Blocks flew and the windows of some Protestant churches were broken, the people we were least likely to worship with, mix with or marry were those closest to us in religion.

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