How It’s New York: This reading was part of the 1st Irish Theatre Festival.
How It’s Irish: Tony Macaualay;s book is about The Troubles in Northern Ireland.
With this blog post we welcome “Mrs. Crotty,” aka Jane Kelton, an artist who plays the flute in the local scene. Tony Macaulay’s memoir of being a Protestant boy delivering papers in Belfast would make a good film, she thinks:
“If John Ford were alive, he’d probably option it: How Green/Orange Was My City”
That said, here’s a synopsis for ye all:
The larger conflicts which inform his world are revealed at first as semi-conscious background details: burning buildings, sounds of gunfire; it is not until much later in the book, as his travel route enlarges that he experiences violence more personally, and even then, it is downplayed, given the context. More subtly, he traces the divisions of class, politics, ethnicity and religion onto his own mental map of the city. He develops an urbanite’s instant register for those telling differences in accent, gait, and dress; these gradations enable him to distinguish between safe and unsafe situations, insiders and outsiders. Parents and neighbors model and embody a fierce work ethic and he strives to meet their expectations. His own parents are forever working overtime to pay for clothes, musical instruments and furniture bought through in installments. Likewise, young Tony rises to the top of the paperboy hierarchy, never missing a delivery. He set goals and saves for a guitar; he is praised by older neighbors as a ‘good livin’ boy.’
“…it was very confusing. People who lived in caravans all year round were baddies, but people who lived in caravans for the Twelfth Fortnight were goodies. Men with long hair and beards who played drums in heavy-metal bands were baddies, because they worshipped the Devil—but men with short hair and moustaches who played drums in the flute band on the Twelfth were goodies, because they worshipped Ulster…”
I could understand why the IRA wanted the Brits out and all, but I couldn’t understand how they decided who they were going to kill to get their way. It was dead scary, so it was. Loyalists were easy to understand because they just wanted to kill Catholics full stop, but the IRA had an ever-growing list of what they called ‘legitimate targets’.
Copyright 2012 New York Irish Arts