His name became a synonym for a traitor to the Protestant cause, and he may be an ancestor of the author of this book. In an effective recurring irony, Derek Lundy is constantly asked if he is a relation, and his reply varies with the circumstances of the inquiry. In the hardline Protestant pubs around his grandmother's house in Cadogan Street, he learned that the name still carried resonance. Sadly, the same cannot be said for the next ancestor he traces - the New Light Presbyterian minister William Steel Dickson, a political radical who was lucky to survive the rising, and who kept his United Irishman beliefs to the end.
The third family member whose life is delineated here is Billy Lundy, born in , Derek's grandfather - a tough Protestant worker in the shipyards, who ran guns for the Ulster Volunteer Force before the first world war and epitomised the entrenched bigotries from which Derek's father and uncle escaped by emigrating to the New World. But did they escape? One of the strengths of this book is the author's ability to face unpleasant continuities, and his constant, needling presentation of alternative views. Thus the variant possibilities for Robert Lundy's action are given their full due, and Dickson's political analysis is seen as far less simplistic than the traditional view of as a Protestant-Catholic proto-nationalist love-fest.
In this, as in his analysis of the historical use of the Siege of Derry, Derek Lundy is much indebted to Ian McBride's pioneering books McBride's recent study of radical Presbyterian culture actually took for its title one of Dickson's sermons, "Scripture Politics".
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Lundy likes to find sources and interpretations that query received wisdom. But some entrenched opinions remain as obdurate as ever, and his explorations end in contemporary resegregated Northern Ireland, where Derry is a Catholic city, Cadogan Street has been unofficially reassigned to Catholic students at Queen's University, and prejudice is something that always belongs to the other side.
Down branch of the United Irishmen, replacing the ex-soldier, librarian and revolutionary leader Thomas Russell, who was captured by the government in and held without trial for five years. Interned without trial for more than four years, he was eventually released in and became minister of a new congregation in the small market town of Keady, in Co.
Once again, as in the historical paradigms surrounding the Siege of Derry, the denial of complexity and the resort to a simplicity which augments the sectarian design is starkly evident. Billy was also a member of the ill-fated 36 th Ulster Division, whose ranks were decimated at the Battle of the Somme, although somewhat fortuitously, he had been invalidated out of the regiment prior to it shipping for France.
In his attentiveness to the interaction between the private and collective spheres and his sensitivity to the manner in which his own personal story reflects aspects of the Ulster Protestant experience, Lundy seeks to achieve a renegotiation of selfhood and a more definitive sense of individual identity. Through engaging with the processes and experiences that have shaped him as a member of an Ulster Protestant family, he positions himself in a metaphorical space where personal memory, cultural allegiances and concepts of the self merge.
This admission lays bare the conditional nature of his personal affinity with both Ulster Protestants and indeed, the Northern Ireland state.
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He reveals how, when he is seven years of age and living in Cheltham in the English West County, his father informs him that his grandfather Lundy has died in Belfast: Billy was an old man, remote in Belfast. He contrasts the harsh, belligerent tension in the Memorial Hall, where the atmosphere of imminent violence is barely contained, to the sensation of freedom and relief he feels when walking through a Catholic enclave in the same city. When examining a portrait of his ancestor William Steel Dickson which hangs in a small Presbyterian Church in the village of Keady, Co.
Lundy also recounts being involved in a revealing episode which took place in a Protestant pub situated in the area where his family had previously been domiciled during the Troubles era. Perhaps the most revealing example of how Lundy experiences the tug of ethnic self-reference occurs when he visits his old family home close to the Holy Land district in South Belfast, in a street lying in immediate proximity to the pub where he had been received in a manner closely approximating a scene from a Wild West film.
Who betrayed the Lundys?
He is shown around the — substantially renovated — house by Leona, a Catholic University student originally from Belleek in County Fermanagh. While admitting that partition was an inevitable result of the dramatic distinctiveness of Ulster from the rest of the island, he is unsparing in his criticism of the six-county statelet, arguing: Finally, in a passage which would doubtless induce palpitations in the heart of an unreconstructed Loyalist, and identify Lundy as a true descendant of the traitor Robert Lundy, he writes:. Deep inside their fearful hearts, the Protestants of Northern Ireland know, although they will not, or cannot yet, acknowledge it, that the Lundys have been right all along.
They will surrender, with caution and with unavoidable fear, to the idea that Ireland has contained them for four hundred years and that they belong there and nowhere else.
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They must compromise and agree to terms. He then adds, for good measure: In reference to his examination of the conflict in the six counties, it could be argued that, by failing to engage with the historical myths and traditions of both sides, he ultimately fails to engage with the issue of Northern Ireland per se.
His constant presentation of an alternative view, together with his inquisitive and skeptical values serve as a reminder that identity is not simply something that one is born into, but what one does. This is particularly relevant in terms of post-agreement Northern Ireland, as there is increasing evidence that some Northern Irish Protestants, far from attempting to create innovative forms of Loyalism relevant for the new age, are rather attempting to restate Loyalism in its most fundamental form.
Das Buch meiner Erinnerungen Berlin: A Family History , London, Granta, , p. Stewart, The Narrow Ground: Aspects of Ulster, , London, Faber and Faber, , p. Teachers College Press, This ambivalence concerning Ulster Protestant identity has a long history.
History, Language and Identity , eds. William Kelly and John R. Young, Dublin, Four Courts Press, , p. Many commentators have noted the deep-seated antipathy many Ulster Protestants feel for the English despite their reverence for the Crown. In this remarkable book, Belfast-born Derek Lundy uses the lives of three of his ancestors as a prism through which to examine what memory and the selective plundering of history has made of the truth in Northern Ireland.
In Ulster the name 'Lundy' is synonymous with 'traitor'. Robert Lundy ordered the city's capitulation. Crying 'No Surrender', hardline Protestants prevented it and drove him away in disgrace. William Steel Dickson's legacy is a little different. A Presbyterian minister born in the mid-eighteenth century, he preached with famous eloquence in favour of using whatever means necessary to resist the tyranny of the English.
Finally there is 'Billy' Lundy, born in , the embodiment of what the Ulster Protestants had become by the beginning of World War I - a tribe united in their hostility to Catholics and to the concept of a united Ireland. In telling their stories, Derek Lundy lays bare the harsh and murderous mythologies of Northern Ireland and gives us a revision of its history that seems particularly relevant in today's world. Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
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