Naming The Names
By Anne Devlin
From the collection The Way-Paver. A story which reads first like a gentle and intriguing romance and expands into a vision of how the Troubles move people to almost incomprehensible extremes.
Osman, Serbia, Sultan, Raglan, Bosnia, Belgrade, Rumania, Sebastopol.
The names roll off my tongue like a litany.
‘Has that something to do with Gladstone’s foreign policy?’ he used to laugh and ask.
‘No. Those are the streets of West Belfast.’
Alma, Omar, Conway and Dunlewey, Dunville, Lady and McDonnell.
Pray for us. (I used to say, just to please my grandmother.)
Now and at the hour.
Extract courtesy Anne Devlin
A young Catholic woman who has been traumatised by the burnings in Belfast in August 1969 lures a Protestant man into an IRA trap. But can she explain her motives?
The story draws on close experience of the riots and burnings in 1969 and the arrival of British troops in Belfast. It also gives a close and colourful description of street life in west Belfast in the 1970s.
“The web in Anne Devlin’s ‘Naming the Names’, similarly, is made up of interlinking threads of fictional and real life experiences; symbolic episodes such as Finnula’s recurring nightmare about an old woman - Cathleen ni Houlihan, one presumes - who ‘grasped my hand and.., would not let me go’, merge with actual historical events such as the burning out of Conway Street and other Catholic streets in Belfast and the arrival of British troops in 1969, and the disastrous introduction of internment in August 1971.”
Michael Parker, ‘The Hurt World’
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