cover image Belfast Diary: War as a Way of Life

Belfast Diary: War as a Way of Life

John Conroy, Author Beacon Press (MA) $18.95 (218p) ISBN 978-0-8070-0204-9

Perhaps more than any book in the recent spate of writing about the conflict in Northern Ireland, Conroy's account conveys a street-level atmosphere and provides a context in which ordinary people are seen and heard. A Chicago journalist, the author lived in West Belfast in 1980 and returned in later years to gather material. He lived in the small, working-class Catholic district of Clonard where he found his neighbors haunted by myths, legends and history, their lives defined by civil war and the lot of being Irish. In Conroy's view there is ""encroaching similarity'' between Protestant and Catholic communities in the North. Unemployment, once largely a Catholic experience, is today an issue for others as well. Conroy's experience, as well as the North's history, give credence to the popular notion that violence has been effective in achieving progress in Ireland. This is an informative, powerful, sensitive evocation of people who ``don't need any practice'' in suffering. (October)