My father was a creature of the archaic world, really. He would have been entirely at home in a Gaelic hill-fort. His side of the family, and the houses I associate with his side of the family, belonged to a traditional rural Ireland.
Anyone born and bred in Northern Ireland can’t be too optimistic.
What I’ve said before, only half in joke, is that everybody in Ireland is famous. Or, maybe better, say everybody is familiar.
There is not a single injustice in Northern Ireland that is worth the loss of a single British soldier or a single Irish citizen either.
I would say that something important for me and for my generation in Northern Ireland was the 1947 Education Act, which allowed students who won scholarships to go on to secondary schools and thence to university.
You that would judge me, do not judge alone this book or that, come to this hallowed place where my friends’ portraits hang and look thereon; Ireland’s history in their lineaments trace; think where man’s glory most begins and ends and say my glory was I had such friends.
Floral emblems have been often adopted. The houses of York and Lancaster had their roses, the Bourbons of France, the fleur-de-lis, Scotland her thistle, and Ireland her shamrock.
I do think culture is an argument, and that was part of the way I was brought up. People at a social occasion in Ireland will start shouting and arguing. When the Yeats family lived in Bedford Park, they had to go round to the neighbours to say, ‘You might think we are fighting, but this is the way we talk to each other.’
They won’t break me because the desire for freedom, and the freedom of the Irish people, is in my heart. The day will dawn when all the people of Ireland will have the desire for freedom to show. It is then that we will see the rising of the moon.
My parents were Northern Ireland Labour party people. We read the ‘Guardian’ and the ‘New Statesman,’ listened to the BBC. The house was full of books. We didn’t get a television until ‘That Was The Week That Was’ started. There was nothing to do but read.