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The other side

Having spent 30 years of my academic life studying and writing on Ireland, I couldn’t disagree more with the articles by Liam Farrell and Robert Schmuhl that characterized the struggle in northeast Ireland’s six counties as being based largely on sectarian strife between Catholics and Protestants.

The working class people of Ireland’s “north” continue to live with the vestiges of centuries-old divide-and-conquer colonialism. The nationalist struggle was all about human rights distilled in both the March to Derry (1969) and Derry’s Bloody Sunday (1972), where 14 unarmed civilians were murdered in cold blood by government forces.

It was from the ashes of that nonviolent civil rights movement that the Irish Republican Army rose to fight in yet another chapter of Ireland’s history. As Cork’s Ciaran de Baroid has written, promoting Ireland’s fight as one based on religion is as ludicrous as calling the Vietnam War a battle between Christians and Buddhists. Its economic roots go much deeper than that. Yet that knee-jerk image remains, thanks to antinationalist revisionism promulgated by the British government, the media and politically naïve academics.

Violence, massive unemployment, poverty and daily repression have characterized life on the streets of nationalist communities. Like it or not, the Irish Republican movement pursued an anti-imperialist war with British crown forces and institutions (economic and military) as its targets along with various loyalist paramilitaries. Ordinary loyalist civilians who were seen as victims of the same system were not targeted. Underscoring that fact, the British army referred to its conflict with the nationalist guerrillas as a “war” in its secret internal reports. Loyalist death squads did, however, routinely kill random citizens within nationalist communities; never mind that those neighborhoods were saturated with police and army via foot patrols, armored cars, cameras, spotter planes and helicopters, begging the question of collusion. Likewise, innocent civilians were also targeted — maimed and killed — by forces of the crown, some of them children who fell to rubber, plastic and “real” bullets. Guerrilla violence often proves to be more selective than that of the state. Tragically, without the pressure of the IRA military forces, there would be no Good Friday Agreement.

Seamus Metress ’55, Toledo, Ohio

John Bellairs

As a member in good standing of John Bellairs’ inner circle of friends at both Notre Dame and the University of Chicago, I was delighted to read the story about him and can attest to its accuracy. I can also attest to his love of books, which should be obvious by the attached photo taken in Howard Hall by Jerry Trautschold ’59.

Al Myers ’59

Deepest thanks for the delightful article on John Bellairs. Sharing with John Frank O’Malley’s Rhetoric and Composition course our freshman year is among my happiest Notre Dame memories. Patrick Dunne’s generosity in recounting his experiences with John is a fitting tribute to one of the unforgettable characters of the Class of ’59. His early death deprived the reading public and the Notre Dame family of a truly gifted and endlessly entertaining writer.

John F. Hayward ’59, Toledo, Ohio
Longboat Key, Florida

While reading the article on John Bellairs, I asked my wife if she was familiar with his work and she quickly produced The House with a Clock in its Walls, also shown in the magazine. I noticed the book was illustrated by the celebrated artist Edward Gorey. My wife’s father, who sold books for more than 50 years and who passed away this summer, was a friend of Mr. Gorey. His store, Parnassus Book Service, was a stone’s throw away from Gorey’s home in Yarmouthport, Massachusetts.

Kevin Coughlin, M.D., ’79
Elmira, New York

John Bellairs lived across the hall from me freshman year. What a delightfully smart, witty and eccentric guy he was. I (and my grandchildren) can still recite from memory the longest name for a lake in the United States: Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaugungagungamaugg — thanks to John Bellairs.

Joe Maier ’59
Glen Ellyn, Illinois

What a pleasant surprise it was to see myself in the magazine, right in front of John Bellairs, and what an instant trip back to Wranglers’ meetings, the Bookmen and quarterly publication of The Juggler. I climbed up to the top row of my bookcases and there, way in the back, were still all my copies of The Juggler from fall 1957 to spring 1961. I didn’t see Bellairs’ name there, but Banchoff is there and many others. It made me think: Bellairs has his books, my book is fresh out (Our Experience, Ourselves) and surely others in that photo have books in print. We were certainly an enthusiastic bunch, and the magazine turned out to be a special amalgam of Chicago, New York City and Los Angeles tastes.

Lyn Relph ’61
Douglas City, California_

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