29 Main Street: Living with Partition, by Dermot McMonagle
29 Main Street: Living With Partition
Using the pub at 29 Main Street in Ballyconnell as a focal point for his narrative, McMonagle relates the history of Co Cavan and its environs in the periods before and after Partition. The rise of Sinn Féin is well described, as is the “sack of Ballyconnell”, in 1923, when the town was raided by a gang opposed to the Treaty. The book’s greatest strength is its tracing of the growth of sectarianism. Emphasising how cordial and co-operative relations were between Catholics and Protestants in Ulster before the idea of Partition gained currency, McMonagle shows how the difference of creed was politicised and used to wedge open a gap between nationalists and unionists by English lords and bishops opposed to Home Rule. Once Home Rule became a religious issue, bellicosity broke communities into enemy factions, turning a political debate into a highly emotive turf war and setting the scene for Partition. In terms of readability, the book suffers a little from the lengthy quotations of source material, but it is well researched and impressively illustrates the beginnings of the strife that beleaguered Ulster in the 20th century.