‘‘Naming the Names’’ appears in Irish writer Anne Devlin’s collection of short stories, The Way-Paver. Like much of Devlin’s work, the story is set during the recent conflict in Northern Ireland. In 1969, a civil rights campaign by Catholics, who are in the minority in Northern Ireland, led to riots in Derry and Belfast. The British Army was sent to both cities to keep the peace between Catholics and Protestants (who form the majority). The Irish Republican Army (IRA) began a terrorist campaign to force the British out of the province and unite the north of Ireland with the Republic of Ireland in the south. Nearly three decades of violence has ensued.
In ‘‘Naming the Names,’’ the protagonist is Finn, a young Catholic woman in Belfast who gets caught up in the sectarian conflict. When she forms a friendship with a young Englishman who is studying the history of Ireland, her romance tragically intersects with her commitment to the republican cause. ‘‘Naming the Names’’ is a story about love and betrayal and the complex web of history that draws so many people into murderous conflict. Ultimately, Finn is forced by her own conscience to face up to her own guilt and take responsibility for the death she caused.