Last weekend, as part of the launch for the Belfast Battalion book, I gave a talk in St Joseph’s Church in Sailortown in Belfast. The talk looked at the experience of residents during the violent, summer of 1935 (rather than at the broader politics of what happened). A couple of themes that emerge from it are, particularly when viewing the press coverage, is the number of children who were eye witnesses (if not actual participants). I think they provided a physical link to the later violence in 1969 which has strong parallels with that of 1935.
While putting the talk together, I also came across a couple of fatalities not usually included in the death toll of 1935, including two year old boy called Joseph Walsh. Among the darkness, though, there was one positive. In 1935, residents recognised that erecting ‘peace walls’ did more harm than good as it actually heightened a sense of siege and perpetuated division.
I re-recorded the audio for the talk over the same slides and you can watch it below or on YouTube.
Thanks to everyone who came to the talk and launch in St Josephs on the Saturday morning and the launch in the evening in the Felons Club.
I mentioned Ronnie Monck and Bill Rolstons 1987 book on Belfast in the 1930s (Belfast in the Thirties: An Oral History), but here’s some more reading: