Today, leaving Ireland, for the first time I feel like I am leaving home and as I was looking back over the waves and the rises of Carrickfergus I found myself longing to turn back. In a few more years I will have lived in Ireland for as long as I have ever lived in Scotland, and I can’t see me returning home before that Rubicon has been crossed.
In the gap years of the Cold War the European Union has developed apace to become another land of the free on this side of the Atlantic, and by and large we were meant to buy into the whole story of Europe being a stronghold of the Free World.
Now I catch myself wondering about our little rituals of hope; those routine things that we do to invest in the future and safeguard us from the past or our nightmares.
We must know, and not only know but inwardly be nourished by the knowledge, that a more just world can become a reality. Then knowing this, we must choose to live as though we are pregnant with that new world.
Everywhere I have travelled on this island people have been keen to welcome me as a fellow Celt and assure me of how similar our two countries are. They’re not that similar. At bottom the Scots and the Irish think differently.
From between the crosses, row on row, John McCrae’s blood-spattered blossom has come down to us from on high that we might remember. Remember what? The Fallen! What Fallen? All the Fallen!
Better Together’s command of the airwaves was for the unionists their second Battle of Britain, and, not having quite reached that point in history where everyone is online, the entire Yes Movement found itself on the back foot. At the most crucial stage of the campaign, when a Yes win was looking likely or possible, the whole machinery of the unionist media went into overdrive.
It was the eighties. We loved the place and we feared the time. At school we were fed a diet of free milk and warnings of when the Russians attacked. At nine years old I had already seen images of what their bombs would do to us.