Katrin publishes book of songs on the North

THE North has come a long way since the early days of the Troubles with three decades of conflict eventually yielding to The Good Friday Agreement. For many looking on it remains a complex place but one Killarney resident has taken a somewhat different approach to understanding the six counties.

Author Katrin Pietzonka, Knockasartnett, has just published her second book, entitled 'And the Healing Has Begun...' and it's a musical journey towards peace. In what could be described as a reference book that uses music to document Northern Ireland's social history, Katrin analyses the role of folk music in the Troubles.

Katrin believes songs, like poems, should be recognised as historical documents in their own right and she has merged her interest in music and culture in writing the book.

Katrin, who is from Schlotheim in the former East Germany, studied English and Music at Leipzig University before studying at UCD. She works as a tour guide with Kingdom Coaches, having moved to Killarney in 2003, where she now lives with partner Denis Greene and six-year-old daughter Sinead.

"I first became interested in Ireland after the Sands family played a concert soon after the [Berlin] Wall came down and I travelled over in 1994 before the ceasefire and fell in love with the country," she says.

"I'm an outdoors person and there's no more beautiful place than Killarney, so I've settled here," she adds.

It was during her trip North that Katrin researched her PhD under the guidance of the late Belfast-born broadcaster and musician, Tony McAuley, and that work forms the foundation of the book.

From Mickey MacConnells 'Only Our Rivers Run Free' and Phil Coulter's 'The Town I Loved So Well', to Tommy Sands' 'There Were Roses', Katrin has delved into the political and social developments that inspired Northern Irish poets and songwriters.

Of course there's a vast bank of songs written from an outsider's perspective too, and Katrin discusses songs such as Paul McCartney's 'Give Ireland Back To The Irish', John Lennon's 'Sunday Bloody Sunday', James Taylor's 'Belfast to Boston' and Katie Melua's 'Belfast'.

Meanwhile, the book has plenty of Killarney connections: 'Independence Day', a song about the Troubles written by Killarney's Ronny Moore is featured, as is 'Northern Girl' by singer-songwriter Ciaran Wynne who previously lived in Killarney. Local artist Joanne Purser designed the book's cover and has several drawings inside too.

Katrin has also organised trips for young Killarney dancers to perform at her old secondary school via Killarney based Scoil Rince Ui hEigeartaigh, with the students staying with host families whilst in Germany.

Katrin will be on Weeshie Fogarty's radio programme on April 16 and further details can be found on www.katrinpietzonka.com.


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