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Book Reviews & Features


Irish PagesIrish Times review 1st April 2019

Two quotations – possibly (maybe even probably) the two best-known poetic references to the Troubles and peace process – are cited a number of times in the current edition of the biannual literary journal Irish Pages, which is about the Belfast Agreement.

The lines are from Seamus Heaney’s The Cure At Troy – “once in a lifetime the longed-for tidal wave of justice can rise up and hope and history rhyme” – and from Michael Longley’s poem Ceasefire: “I get down on my knees and do what must be done/ And kiss Achilles’ hand, the killer of my son.”

Both quotes have become synonymous with the Belfast Agreement, though they were written some years before.

They caught the charge of hope that invigorated Ireland after the powersharing agreement was struck on Good Friday 1998. They also spoke to the idea of generosity, of reconciliation, of forgiveness, of redemption and renewal. It’s clear from this Irish Pages that much of that positive energy has evaporated.