22 September 2017

An Teorainn

There is some striking aerial footage of Ireland's border in this trailer for An Teorainn, a RTÉ documentary that follows the borderline from end-to-end, a bit like I did.

I was interviewed for this programme and talked about many border subjects, I'm not sure what parts they are going to use but there is a snippet of me discussing the life of Sean Quinn in this trailer. An Teorainn will be broadcast in October.

30 August 2017

Border Carrots

I brought a Swedish film crew for a tour of the border recently and in the rolling farmland on the border near Caledon we meet a farmer called Henry. He presented both the producer and I with large bunches of carrots and consented to be interviewed for a few minutes.

He discussed mainly how his working life had been improved by the 'soft' border and expressed the wish that it remained so. He was charming, so charming in fact I was concerned the editor would cut me out of the documentary and just use the footage of him. However, I see I made it into the final version.

Thanks to Henry and the crew from SVT's literary arts programme Babel.

20 July 2017

Edinburgh Festival

Julian Sayerer has written a wonderful book about using this thumb to get across the United States, Interstate: Hitch Hiking Through the State of a Nation. I am really looking forward to appearing with him in the Edinburgh Festival next month.

That photo of me is ten years old and, it seems, cannot be escaped.

8 June 2017

Brexit and the Border

The New York Times invited me to write a short piece about Ireland's border in the light of Brexit. It is over on their website. It includes some great photos by Rob Stothard, like this one from Armagh.

22 May 2017

Patrick McCabe and Fictional Ulster

I was delighted to be part of the International Literature Festival Dublin lately, an event with Patrick McCabe. We had a good conversation and I hope the audience enjoyed it as much as I did.

In the course of a dozen books McCabe has made the Irish midlands, and the border region, his own. He has often used fictional towns as settings, and so several sites on my map Fictional Ulster come from his novels. Carn, Cullymore and Tyreelin, to name a few examples. Patrick McCabe and Sam Hanna Belle are probably the writers that have contributed most locations to Ulster's fictional landscape.

As the map owes a lot to Patrick McCabe, and because I thought he might like it, I brought a print of Fictional Ulster with me to Dublin and presented it to him during the event.

I have a few more festival appearances this summer, such as the Belfast Book Festival, The Borris House Festival of Ideas and the Edinburgh Book Festival.

12 April 2017

The Rule of the Land on the Radio

The Rule of the Land: Walking Ireland's Border was BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week during last month. It can still be heard online, but only for a few more days. Click here.

I gave an half hour interview on WNPR (USA) lately, it can be heard online here.

I was also part of a panel discussion on BBC Radio 4 Start the Week.

28 February 2017

Message in a Map

The picture book artist Oliver Jeffers has sent this cartographic message to his homeland. I don't think I've seen Northern Ireland used as an O before, but it works. Jeffers says; "Perhaps one of the more important votes in Europe this year will happen in Northern Ireland in a few days. We have a choice of moving forwards, or moving backwards toward old familiar battle lines. The result will affect everyone in the Province and beyond. So either get out and vote, or as my Grandma used to say, 'forever hold your peace'".

Northern Ireland gets a chance to change its government on 2 March.

Jeffers' original post is on Facebook