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Dirty Linen : The Troubles in My Home Place

Martin Doyle
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Merrion Press
Published: October 19, 2023
ISBN: 9781785374609
368 pages
Country of publication: Ireland


Martin Doyle, Books Editor of The Irish Times, offers a personal, intimate history of the Troubles seen through the microcosm of a single rural parish, his own, part of both the Linen Triangle – heartland of the North’s defining industry – and the Murder Triangle – the Badlands devastated by paramilitary violence. He lifts the veil of silence drawn over the horrors of the past, recording in heartrending detail the terrible toll the conflict took – more than twenty violent deaths in a few square miles – and the long tail of trauma it has left behind.

Neighbours and classmates who lost loved ones in the conflict, survivors maimed in bomb attacks and victims of sectarianism, both Catholic and Protestant, entrust Doyle with their stories. Writing with a literary sensibility, he skillfully shows how the once dominant local linen industry serves as a metaphor for communal division but also for the solidarity that transcended the sectarian divide. To those who might ask why you would want to reopen old wounds, the answer might be that some wounds have never been allowed to heal.

“I thought nothing about the Troubles could shock me but this book has me floored. Doyle evokes the sinister machinations of state collusion, the grim predictability of tit for tat killings and the everyday anxiety of the inhabitants of his small community with humanity and compassion. Essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the way we lived then.” Louise Kennedy I read Dirty Linen over two days and would have read it straight through except it was so moving in places, I had to take time out. It is a masterpiece, the very best book on the Troubles…it is a seminal work, beautifully and sensitively written” Conor O’Cleary

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