In CHILDREN IN THE HOLOCAUST AND WORLD WAR II: THEIR SECRET DIARIES, Laurel Holliday told the story of that almost incomprehensible event through the eyes of children. CHILDREN OF “THE TROUBLES,” this second volume in her “Children of Conflict” series, does the same for the children growing up during the seemingly eternal Irish “troubles,” spanning from the late 1960’s to the mid-1990’s.
Subtitled “Our Lives in the Crossfire of Northern Ireland,” the volume includes the recollections of over fifty children and adults who relate what it was like growing up during those twenty-five years of violence which consumed over three thousand lives. A cross-section of viewpoints are represented: Catholics and Protestants, Irish Nationalists and British Unionists, those of strong political and religious commitments to their communities and those in the middle who feel that living together in peace can be the only solution. Some of the accounts are contemporary, some written in retrospect long after the events portrayed. Some of the contributions are poetry, others are short prose pieces.
One cannot help being deeply affected by their stories. Many experienced violence first hand, but all were formed in the cloud of sectarian and cultural rivalries which have troubled Ireland for centuries. This is not history from the center or at the top—Sinn Fein notables such as Gerry Adams are barely mentioned, nor are major British or Irish Republic political figures. These views by the innocents add a necessary dimension to the tragedy which is Northern Ireland. Holliday’s CHILDREN OF “THE TROUBLES” is a valuable work for both young people and adults.