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OUR TROUBLES
– Stories of Catholic Belfast during the Troubles of 1968-1998

'OUR TROUBLES' by Anthony Canavan

by Anthony Canavan
— who grew up in North Belfast during the Troubles, in which he lost family members and friends through violence. He attended St Malachy's College before going on to Queen's University Belfast, where he studied history and politics. After graduating from QUB, he began his career as the Curator of Newry Museum in County Down. While there, he wrote Frontier Town, an illustrated history of Newry, which was shortlisted for an Irish Book Award in 1990. On his marriage in 1996, he moved to Dublin, where he began work as a freelance editor and reviewer before joining Books Ireland magazine as its Editor. He is currently Consultant Editor with Books Ireland, and is a regular contributor to History Ireland magazine, and over the years he has written articles for academic books and other publications on history, culture, film, and literature.

Our Troubles
Gripping, eye-opening stories of ordinary, quiet nationalists trying (without success) to live a normal life in North Belfast during the Troubles, when normality was thin on the ground and power was regularly abused. Even for the non-involved, a knock on the door could be followed by a group of soldiers entering the house.
“I have always felt that the lives of ordinary Catholics during those years have largely been left out of the narrative of the Troubles.” —Anthony Canavan

The area was an uneasy spot in those years, accounting for one in six of the Troubles’ fatalities, and is where the author, Anthony Canavan, like his principal character Finn, was born and bred.  Like Finn, the author went to St. Malachy’s College and then to Queen’s University, and his intimate knowledge of his character’s time and place is a great strength of the stories. Of his own life there, he writes in his introduction:
“Most people just tried to get on with their lives. Those that had jobs went out to them each day, not knowing if they would come home in one piece… Funerals were a common feature of our existence as people were killed – usually shot, but sometimes the victim of bombs.
“I was personally affected by the loss of two uncles, murdered by Loyalists, and more indirectly when three of my aunts and their families were forced out of their homes in Annalee Street by a Loyalist mob while the British Army looked on. Also, two of my cousins spent time in Long Kesh for their involvement with the IRA.  In my wider circle, friends that I had been to school with were killed in the Troubles or spent time in prison. Some people just went away and were never heard of again.”

What made these losses harder to bear was what the author – and the author’s character – perceived as the official indifference to victims of violence who were nationalists. His character, Finn, sadly sums up this indifference in the story “A Wee Hard Man”:
“Automatically, Finn added Kevin Myler to the mental list of people he knew who had died in the troubles: Uncle Christy, Uncle Jimmy, Terry Morgan, other neighbours from home. Kevin’s death didn’t seem exceptional…
“As they filled in the blanks – Paddy and Colm were much better at keeping track of people than Finn was – it became clear that of the forty-two boys in their year, only about half had ordinary lives. Some had just dropped off the radar, the rest were in prison, on the run, or dead. So there was nothing special about Kevin…”

Reviews:

“…Our Troubles is poignant, funny, and sad. It brought me back to my child-hood, a time I look back on with fondness but to which I never want to return.” — Tim McGarry, writer of the BBC television comedy series Give My Head Peace.

Our Troubles — in Paperback and in Hardback editions, on 158 demy-octavo-size pages —
ISBN (pbk): 978-1-908420-336, r.r.p.: £20 /€23 /$25
ISBN (hbk): 978-1-908420-343, r.r.p.: £30 /€35 /$38

Exceptional Books and Exceptional Authors !