‘Partition now embedded in daily lives’

Political and geographical aspects of the Border

Sir, – I have a few observations on Pat Leahy’s presentation of your poll on the relationships between “North” and “South” on this island (“Partition has become embedded in daily lives”, Weekend, January 28th). First, it highlights the political element of the Border at the expense of the geographical aspect. As a result, the depressing features of separation that it purports to present between the two political entities are probably far worse if you figure that a substantial proportion of interaction between Northern Ireland and the Republic is actually between Northern Ireland and Donegal, in other words between Northern Ireland and the north of Ireland. But, and it is a big but, what the poll actually reveals is that people in the northern part of a country quite frequently have little contact with people in the south of that country regardless of political boundaries. A similar poll taken in Britain would demonstrate that North Walians have little contact with South Walians, Lowland Scots have little contact with Highland Scots and Cockneys have little contact with Scousers. In fact, in the latter three instances, the most likely coming together would be in places such as Ibiza or the Costa del Sol. As to the conclusion that partition has somehow caused a diminution of contact between the various parts of Ireland, it ignores the fact that pre-partition people either didn’t travel much beyond their nearest town or, alternatively, travelled to the US, Britain or Australia and were rarely seen again in their homeland. Even within the Republic the odds of my late parents (from Kerry and Donegal respectively) meeting within the 26 counties were evidently far less likely than their meeting (as they did) in a dance-hall in Kilburn. As someone astutely pointed out on the TV recently, prior to the coming of radio to Ireland (which was roughly at the same time as partition) someone from Cork wouldn’t have known what kind of accent someone from Cavan would have had. Should you wish to conduct a further poll on the cultural relationships between Northern Ireland and the Republic, I suggest you focus on themes such as TV soaps, Love Island, Premier League football teams and the activities of the British royal family. If I were a gambler I would forecast that such a poll would demonstrate far greater community of interest between north and south (and for that matter between east and west) than the findings of your current poll. – Yours, etc,



Co Donegal.


Sir, – I cannot understand how the results of research that show that people living in the South have little interaction with people living in the North is of any significance whatsoever. I live in Dublin and I have no interaction with people living in Clare, Kerry, Leitrim, Longford, Roscommon, Waterford, Wexford, Westmeath, Donegal, Cavan and Sligo. What does that say about me or anybody living in those counties? Absolutely nothing. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 14.