The Border Campaign

for Nadine Gordimer Heaney alludes specifically to a guerrilla warfare campaign carried out between 1956 and 1962 by the Irish Republican Army against targets in Northern Ireland. Local knowledge confirms a direct link between the poem’s opening scene and an IRA attack on Magherafelt Court House on December 12th 1956, the day after the campaign was launched, at a time when Heaney was a teenage boarder at St Columb’s College in Derry. The poem contributes to a time-line of Irish politics and, via an Anglo-Saxon epic, the emotional response of a teenage boarder to unfolding events in the area where he lives and the city where he is schooled. The visual aftermath of explosion: the shell of a public building […]