My third research trip for my novel started and ended with snow. My flight from Cardiff to Belfast was delayed by 23 inches of it near the airport and by another fall on the return but I encountered nothing other than warmth from the people I met in Northern Ireland.
It was a pleasure to spend time with teachers, schoolchildren, community workers, experts in Irish and Ulster Scots, journalists, farmers and agricultural experts. I also enjoyed two great reading gigs and came home with a prize certificate.
The motto of Belfast on the carpeted floor of the City Hall: For so much received what return can we make? I’m looking forward to returning to Northern Ireland for my third research trip for my novel from 3rd to 19th March.
I hope to be mainly outside the capital this time but here are two of my favourite Belfast buildings: the Art-Deco former Bank of Ireland…
Research Trip 2 for my novel, from 21st January to 2nd February in Northern Ireland, gave me access to generously shared experience and expertise from writers, sociologists, historians, academics, journalists, teachers and an educationalist, former civil servants, librarians, language activists, clergy, lawyers, a farmer, a statistician, a youth worker and many who shared from the cutting edge of their painfully gained experience.
I was struck too by the kindness with which I was treated.
I cannot do justice to the events and individuals who gave me their time. I will, however, single out, among the public events I attended, the conference organised by the Ulster University Faculty of Health and Life Sciences: Addressing the Transgenerational Transmission of Trauma and Mental Illness in Northern Ireland.
I had noticed something of a narrative about Northern Ireland along the lines of: the effect of the Troubles is exaggerated; it’s all behind us now and I wanted to get beyond personal opinion to some facts about ‘legacy’ and ‘impact’.
The BBC’s Review of its Religion and Ethics output and programme-making practice has important immediate and long-term implications. I want to focus not so much on what programmes will get made as a result of its findings but on the change to media culture that I believe will follow from the implementation of its decisions.
This change will be seen in:
*the training of journalists of the future;
*the rising prominence of religious literacy as a concept, as a skill worth cultivating and an essential tool of self-understanding and of any claim to be an interpreter of the times;
*the development of a type of ‘belief literacy’, beyond religious literacy and well beyond the BBC.
The Review has launched a set of new norms, along with a raft of new means of consolidating and progressing them.