Ivy Turner, Periods 2-4
World History and English 10
The wars between religions have always been known to escalate to violence. Northern Ireland was no exception. Northern Ireland has a long history of violence between the Catholics and Protestants. It started over 300 hundred years ago, and violence still haunts the streets today. Protestant and Catholic views and beliefs have put a wall of distaste and frustration between the two religious groups, causing social divides. Protestants and Catholics have always been in disagreement. When the reformation in the Christian church caused England to become a Protestant nation, Ireland remained primarily Catholic. Tensions were strained from the start, when English settlers started claiming land on Irish soil. Protestants started pushing Irish natives out of their homes and taking their resources. When Irish natives started retaliating, Protestant settlers wrote to England asking for help, claiming that the natives were Savages, who had no structured society or living style. A social divide started to grow between the two religious groups, and was “…cruelly exposed by the Great Hunger of 1846-1850, caused by potato blight, a disease of the crop on which most pour Irish people depended for survival, this famine killed almost a million people and forced another 1.5 million (out of a total of 8 million) to emigrate.”(Quoted from The Troubles In Northern Ireland by Tony Allan). Ireland wasn’t always a Catholic nation. Before Christian influence, Ireland was mainly composed of Celts, who didn’t write their beliefs, but passed them on orally. Christianity arrived in Ireland sometime around the early 400’s.
The novel I am writing about is called “A Fine Soft Day” by James D. Forman. This book is about Brian O’Brien, a teen-age boy living in Belfast, Northern Ireland around the mid 60’s to early 70’s. Throughout the book, he tells of his struggles with part of his family being in the IRA and the violence going on between the Catholics and the Protestants.
Brian O’Brien is around 13 years old, and he lives with his Mother, Mary, his two brothers, the youngest, Kevin, being around the age of 8 years, and the oldest, Conor, who is around 14 years, his Sister, Grania, who is around 20-24 years, his Grandfather, Old Seamus, and his Father, Young Seamus. Conor became deeply active in the Provos, a more violent and active version of the IRA (Irish Republic Army), and is influenced by their Uncle Rory, who was sentenced 15 years in prison for associating with the IRA. Kevin is also influenced by Conor to partake in the violence that is going on around them. The main character Brian O’Brien, however, takes his sister Grania’s side in trying to maintain peace in their hometown.
Brian and Conor accompany their sister Grania on the march to Derry, and that’s when Conor finds his love of violence and destruction. Young Seamus moves out of the country in search of a better job and life. Conor and Kevin join in a local IRA branch, and Rory O’Brien is released from jail and moves in with the rest of the O’Brien family. Kathleen, the daughter of a friend of the O’Brien’s, also moves in with the O’Brien family when her mother goes crazy and became incapable of caring for her. Brian O’Brien and Kathleen start to gain feelings for each other. Grania proposes to take the family out of town for a bit to get away from all the violence and to relax, but only Brian, Kathleen, and Kevin join Grania on the trip. When they comeback, Rory has disappeared, and Conor is more violent and has become deeply involved with the Provos. Kathleen was captured by the Provos and shaved bald because she consorted with a soldier, so Brian gets her a wig. British Patrols had been called in to stop the fighting, but it only became worse because they caused more problems. Rory and Conor are captured, questioned and beaten, and while Conor was released to go back home, Rory escaped his captivity and went into