Ulster loyalism, memory and commemoration

James W. McAuley, Neil Ferguson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter considers the construction of loyalist narratives and the use of memory within the political mobilisation of that section of society. In particular, it will consider how collective memories are shared and displayed by those identifying as loyalists, and particularly among loyalist paramilitary groupings and their immediate constituency. Further, it will explore the place of memory in the development of a conflict culture, and the understandings of those who still set their beliefs within the framework of conflict. It places these views within the collective memories utilised within their communities of origin to present a particular worldview and suggests those who affiliate with paramilitary organisations drew upon a specific view of the past for their motivation. The Troubles in Northern Ireland produced huge social turmoil and political division that still structures and provides guidelines for that society. Much of its legacy is encapsulated in, and presented through, expressions and representations of collective memory. The memories projected through various acts of commemoration retain a political intensity and relevance to everyday life, that it is almost impossible to overstate, and the consequences for contemporary social and political relationships and formations remain with us. Such deposits of memory rest on a series of exclusive community myths and understandings; memories which add to long-standing adversarial readings and understandings of the past; and those narratives which different groupings draw on to reinforce their sense of self-identity and Self.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTroubles of the past?
Subtitle of host publicationHistory, identity and collective memory in Northern Ireland
EditorsJames W. McAuley, Máire Braniff, Graham Spencer
PublisherManchester University Press
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781526154217
ISBN (Print)9781526154194
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2023

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