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QIR Q2 2019: Say Nothing... > QIR Q2 2019: Say Nothing

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Bookworm with Kids | 566 comments Mod
This is the discussion thread for our Quarterly Irish Read - Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe. our discussion will be lead by Susan as she nominated the winning book.
Happy Reading!
Also, if anyone wants me to open the spoiler thread at any stage, please just let me know.


message 2: by Susan (new)

Susan | 4707 comments I am doing a crummy job as discussion leader. I forgot I was supposed to do that. I loved this book as it gave me great insights into "The Troubles" in a clear, concise manner. I felt sorry for those 10 kids that lost their mother in such a terrible manner. I can't believe they left them just to manage on their own.


Bookworm with Kids | 566 comments Mod
I am looking forward to reading this - I have it ordered through the
library. We have quite a while to read this so you aren't doing a bad job at all!
I hope the library gets it soon foor me - it really sounds interesting.


message 4: by Diana (new)

Diana | 12 comments I'm looking forward to reading this as well. I didn't vote as I wasn't sure how quickly I could get it from the library, but this is the book I would have voted for. Just came back from the library to check - I've moved up the request list and expect it see it soon. Can't wait to join the discussion!


message 5: by Susan (new)

Susan | 4707 comments I am so glad others are reading this. It's such an important and interesting book. I know Donna read it and liked it.


message 6: by Donald (new)

Donald Leitch I am a third of the way through the book. I am enjoying it. I had little understanding of the Troubles before, mostly vague childhood memories of news reports. Understanding the pressures on people to conform because of their religion and what it is like to live in a society with hate and distrust makes for an insightful read.

I did read Bernard MacLaverty's novel, Cal, last year. Set in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, Cal illustrates how people can become trapped within a group that they cannot escape.


message 7: by Susan (new)

Susan | 4707 comments Thanks, Donald, for the recommendation. I have added it to my TBR pile.


message 8: by Diana (new)

Diana | 12 comments Like Donald (although he may be further along now!), I am about a third of the way through the book and am having similar thoughts - I vaguely remember the events during that time (I was in elementary school, but as my grandparents were from Ireland, I was aware of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. At the start, one branch of the IRA was meant to be non-violent (this, I was not aware of), but that changed early on in the book in their march to Derry when they were ambushed. It is difficult to read - to use Donald’s words - about a society so filled with hate and distrust.

I am not familiar enough with the history (how Ireland split), so I’m jumping in mid-stream reading this book, but it’s hard for me to put my head around why did the Troubles start? Keefe discusses the Protestants fear of being overwhelmed by Catholics (they have larger families), were they afraid that Great Britain would eventually lose Northern Ireland? Or a majority Catholic involvement in the government of Northern Ireland?

Dolours and her friends refer to both Catholics and Protestants having financial issues (which is why they originally professed nonviolence). They have the same concerns; so no need for violence. Was the Troubles a result of socioeconomic issues as well? Or exacerbated by them?

As I read, I can see how it spiraled out of control - actions, reactions, mistrust, etc.

Terrorism is defined as the “unlawful use of violence and intimidation…in the pursuit of political aims”. And, the IRA has been labeled as terrorists, but reading this book, I see violence and intimidation on both sides. It’s just not clear to me what the goal of the IRA was. Again, I don’t know the history, so this question may be naive.

If anything, this book is inspiring me to read more Irish history (just bought another book on Irish history).

Thanks for letting me toss out a whole lot of thoughts, questions…


message 9: by Susan (new)

Susan | 4707 comments These are great questions. I hope my friend, Barbara, weighs in as she knows so much more than I do.


message 10: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (bdegar) | 4626 comments Susan wrote: "These are great questions. I hope my friend, Barbara, weighs in as she knows so much more than I do."

Seeing Diane's questions, it is helpful to realize that more background to the history of Northern Ireland is needed than I had considered. Basically, there was tremendous economic injustice and discrimination against against Catholics in jobs and housing. One of the main employers in Belfast for working class jobs was Harland and Wolfe shipyards. There were few Catholics employed there. Many Catholic men were unemployed and families providers were often the women who worked for subpar wages in the Linen factories. Housing discrimination meant that many Catholic families lived in tiny row houses - 2 rooms up, 2 down with an outhouse in the back. For baths they used public bathhouses - open to women only 1 day a week. Public housing was not readily allocated to Catholics. Jean McConville's family was considered lucky to get a flat in Divis Flats, and the book describes it as inferior. Housing and jobs were the main issues in the Northern Irish Civil rights movement.
https://cain.ulster.ac.uk/ni/housing.htm
The ins and outs of the paramilitary organizations is complex. The IRA split in the early 1970's around the issue of armed conflict. I could go on but it's late.


message 11: by Susan (new)

Susan | 4707 comments Thank you, Barbara. That was really informative. It's awful to think of one bath a week and in a public bathhouse although that was not the worse of it. The idea of not being able to get a job because of your religion is horrific. So much damage done in the name of religion. I am reading a book about the Huguenots in the 1500's in France. The torture is beyond words including beating people with straps with nails in them.


message 12: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (bdegar) | 4626 comments Susan wrote: "Thank you, Barbara. That was really informative. It's awful to think of one bath a week and in a public bathhouse although that was not the worse of it. The idea of not being able to get a job beca..."

There is a Huguenot cemetery in Dublin in the center of the city. But I don't know how they ended up in Dublin.


message 13: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (bdegar) | 4626 comments Barbara wrote: "Susan wrote: "These are great questions. I hope my friend, Barbara, weighs in as she knows so much more than I do."

Seeing Diane's questions, it is helpful to realize that more background to the h..."


I will add that I went to Belfast in the mid and late 70's and early 80's. I saw first hand these living situations, and my first visit I went a week without a bath or shower. But that's when sinks come in handy :) (this was also the situation when hosteling in the 70's in Ireland so it didn't seem that bad when it was only temporary). I spent a day in a neighborhood advice (help) center and one woman I talked to worked in a linen factory though that work was dying out in the late 70's. Another visit I stayed with a family in a housing project in West Belfast for a week. I also realized reading the book that I saw the Brian Friel play with Stephen Rea in it when I was in Belfast. It was over 30 years ago so I don't remember a lot.


message 14: by Diana (new)

Diana | 12 comments Barbara wrote: "Barbara wrote: "Susan wrote: "These are great questions. I hope my friend, Barbara, weighs in as she knows so much more than I do."

Seeing Diane's questions, it is helpful to realize that more bac..."


Thanks Barbara for your insights. Even though my knowledge of the history of Northern Ireland is limited it doesn't take away from the book (aside from some confusion). I'll be reading more history when I finish reading it!


message 15: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (bdegar) | 4626 comments Diana wrote: "Barbara wrote: "Barbara wrote: "Susan wrote: "These are great questions. I hope my friend, Barbara, weighs in as she knows so much more than I do."

Seeing Diane's questions, it is helpful to reali..."


You are reminding me I have a lot of history and non-fiction on my shelves I should read.
I found this list and in addition to these - some of which I've yet to read, the man who led the discussion on Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland recommended Biting at the Grave: The Irish Hunger Strikes and the Politics of Despair by Padraig O'Malley. I worked with Padraig in the 1970's which was one of my connections to Northern Ireland. Padraig is a Dubliner who has been doing peace and reconciliation work globally for over 40 years.


message 16: by Diana (new)

Diana | 12 comments Barbara wrote: "Diana wrote: "Barbara wrote: "Barbara wrote: "Susan wrote: "These are great questions. I hope my friend, Barbara, weighs in as she knows so much more than I do."

Seeing Diane's questions, it is he..."

Thanks for the recommendation - I will read Biting at the Grave. I remember when the hunger strikes were occurring but as I was still in school, I/it was far enough removed that I didn't know/understand why it was happening. I'm a bit more than halfway through Say Nothing, where he describes the time of the hunger strikes (different rounds of strikes and Thatchers reactions), so I'm very interested in reading Biting at the Grave.


message 17: by Susan (new)

Susan | 4707 comments Barbara, your wealth of experience is wonderful. You are such a great asset.


message 18: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (bdegar) | 4626 comments Thanks Susan and Diana. Now that I am finally retired, my reading plans have expanded and include many books on my shelves.


Bookworm with Kids | 566 comments Mod
I have to say that I thought this was an excellent book and probably the best I will read this year. I don't remember the Dolours Price hunger strike but I do remember Bobby Sands and many other incidents in the book.
Just a question - can I put spoilers in this thread?


message 20: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (bdegar) | 4626 comments Bookworm with Kids wrote: "I have to say that I thought this was an excellent book and probably the best I will read this year. I don't remember the Dolours Price hunger strike but I do remember Bobby Sands and many other in..."

I'd say the only real spoiler is the information shared at the end about the Jean McConville case and that shouldn't be shared. Everything else is pretty much known history.


message 21: by Susan (new)

Susan | 4707 comments I agree Bookworm. I am so pleased that you enjoyed it.


message 22: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (bdegar) | 4626 comments Bookworm with Kids wrote: "I have to say that I thought this was an excellent book and probably the best I will read this year. I don't remember the Dolours Price hunger strike but I do remember Bobby Sands and many other in..."

I also didn't know about the Price sisters' hunger strike. I imagine this is another example of neglected women's history. I do have a copy of Nell McCafferty's The Armagh Women to see what is in there about the Price sisters. The book is about the Armagh Gaol.


message 23: by Donald (new)

Donald Leitch Bookworm with Kids wrote: "I have to say that I thought this was an excellent book and probably the best I will read this year. I don't remember the Dolours Price hunger strike but I do remember Bobby Sands and many other in..."

I agree. This book was excellent. Informative. Although non fiction, it often read like a novel. I have recommended it to several friends interested in Irish history.


message 24: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (bdegar) | 4626 comments The author is coming back to DC next week so I will see him on the 20th. I was able to buy a copy of I, Dolours on Amazon Prime for $5.99. It's not a physical copy but in my digital library.


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