Troubled tales: short stories about the Irish in 1970s London

Murray, Tony (2012) Troubled tales: short stories about the Irish in 1970s London. In: Irish Writing London. Bloomsbury, London, pp. 113-124. ISBN 9781441172488


Political violence and its effects on Irish society has been a perennial theme in the country’s literature. The Troubles, in both their early and their late twentieth- century manifestations, provided writers with a dramatic backdrop against which to depict and interrogate issues of Irish history and politics. In response to their work, a substantial body of criticism has emerged, prompting one author to recently note that ‘no issue has been treated so extensively and so probingly in the modern Irish story as the Troubles’ (Storey, 2004: 1). A number of ‘Troubles thrillers’ set in London, like their parent genre, have tended to sensationalize and stereotype the role of the IRA in the city.1 They have also tended to obscure the effects of the conflict on the Irish community there. The purpose of this chapter is to examine how six short stories depict the ways in which London Irish people, most of whom have no connections to the paramilitaries, are seriously affected by the conflict. Three of the stories are written by William Trevor and three by the Green Ink Writers Group, and all of them providea rare insight into the personal dilemmas and crises that London Irish people faced at the time, especially in relation to their sense of national allegiance.

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