Ireland’s Border Culture: Literature, Arts and Policy

Group having a discussion around small table at Long Room Hub

Ireland’s Border Culture: Literature, Arts, and Policy (IRBORDCUL) is a two-year collaboration between Professor Eve Patten, TCD, and Dr Garrett Carr of the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University, Belfast. Funded under Strand 1 of the North-South Research programme, it will bring literary and visual resources from Irish border culture and identity to life to illuminate Ireland’s ‘cultural borderscape’.

The project will archive and research these resources for what will become a sustainable and innovative open access digital archive, and include material ranging across creative literature, literary journalism, cinema, travel writing, photography and theatre production.

This will feature an interactive map and timeline displaying a variety of materials spanning the border’s history. The anticipated end-users will be researchers, people who live around the border, the wider public and students (both 2nd level school groups and 3rd level).

The project aims to enrich the visitors’ idea of the border, to understand it as an imaginative space – and a creatively productive one – rather than just a political issue.

Commenting on the project’s aims, Principal Investigator Professor Eve Patten said:

“With the marking of the centenary of Irish partition in 2021, it might be assumed that the cultural and literary history of the Irish border is a well-researched entity. In fact, despite some pioneering studies, there is still a major knowledge gap on this subject. Through this project we hope to capture the impact, over the past century, of cultural policies on the creation of an Irish border culture and identity.”

Second Principal Investigator Dr Garrett Carr said:

“A key part of my work has been to give a platform to border voices, and this project will create a resource doing just that. Furthermore, it will make accessible a whole range of expression from the entire 100 year history of the border, creating an important bank of knowledge.”

Professor Eve Patten is the Director of the Trinity Long Room Hub and a Professor in the School of English at Trinity College Dublin. A scholar in nineteenth and twentieth-century British and Irish literature, she has lectured and written widely in this field: she is editor of Irish Literature in Transition, 1940-1980 (Cambridge UP, 2020), and author of Ireland, Revolution, and the English Modernist Imagination ( Oxford UP, 2022). Eve has been a frequent contributor to the Irish Times, RTÉ and the BBC, and is series editor for Liverpool University Press’s Studies in Irish Literature. She has also served on various boards for the Irish Arts Council, the Irish Research Council and the Royal Irish Academy, and was a member of the inaugural committee of the Trinity Long Room Hub.

Dr Garrett Carr of the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University, Belfast, is the author of The Rule of the Land: Walking Ireland’s Border (Faber & Faber, 2017). Garrett’s research has a prominent place in international media discussions around Brexit, nationalism and landscape, bringing those discussions to the past and lived present of Ireland’s border. His curatorial practice also relates to those themes. His exhibition of cartography ‘Mapping Alternative Ulster’ has toured to four venues in the region and Garrett continues to work extensively with visual artists concerned with the border. The Border People’s Parliament (2018) saw 150 people from the border area meet in Belfast’s parliament buildings to discuss the future of their region and resulted in many outputs, including a Border Manifesto that has been exhibited across Europe.

Dr Orla Fitzpatrick commenced in the role of Ireland’s Border Cultures Research Fellow in January 2023. Her background is in librarianship and her main research interests are Irish photographic and design history. Her book Lost Ireland was published by Rizzoli and Pavilion in 2021. She curated Imaging Conflict: photographs from revolutionary era Ireland, a major exhibition at the National Museum of Ireland which opened in October 2022. This looked at the production and consumption of photographic images in conflict situations. Recent papers include an examination of surveillance photography during the War of Independence which was published in the Journal of the History of Photography (Volume 45, 3-4, 2021). She is a regular contributor to source photographic review; the literary journal gorse and Breifne the journal of Cumann Seanchais Bhreifne.