Borderland is a historical memoir. The borderland region is in the north-west of Ireland and shown on the map above. There are childhood stories that includes the history of Ireland and the towns of Derry, Strabane, and Lifford; the towns of my childhood. The Troubles were not too far away and the history of the region is recounted. The Borderland towns are very interconnected with family bonds. Indeed many from Donegal settled in the counties of Tyrone and Derry. My mother came out of Lifford, Donegal to marry my father in 1946, who was born in Derry, lived in Strabane, but his father lived in Donegal and was born in Tyrone to a RIC member. They owned a pub in Castlefinn, Co Donegal. 

The Derry Journal has also written about those bonds since the centenary of the partition of Northern Ireland, in 1922: “For the past 100 years people have lived under different laws, operated under different education, health and social welfare systems. Generally speaking, the Troubles became a daily reality for those living north of the border, but the Troubles were not a remote and alien feature of life for people in Donegal, and despite all the differences, partition and the border has never managed to completely take root in the mindsets of people in the north-west the way it has done elsewhere.” Thousands cross the border every day.

Throughout the book, the author explores the concept of memory from playing in the street, living with his family and using his imagination to  carry the reader on an emotional jaunt. A trip for eggs in Donegal on a Friday night is such anecdote. The powerful memory of Christmas in winter is retold. Of course, there were the long summer holidays roaming from dawn to dusk, only returning for dinner. The reader is taken on a gamut of emotions in this rich and amusing journey, reflecting an observant child in Ireland.Television dominated his indoor recreation time. School and church feature in between. The excitement of an armed robbery close by. 

The move to the city of Derry and attending the Christian Brothers School with the ever present Troubles, intertwined with his life. One routine day at school, the school is caught in the crossfire, as told in the story, “Did you see the soccer last night?” My book, Cillefoyle Park: Secret Negotiations for a Ceasefire is about a social activist, torn between the possibility of politics and the violence exploding on the streets of Derry at the height of The Troubles in the mid 1970’s. Cillefoyle Park (the church by the Foyle) is based on Brendan Duddy’s peace-making attempts and my fictional book was the result of my research into this process.  The BBC reporter, Peter Taylor, revealed Brendan Duddy as the back-channel intermediary between Martin McGuinness and the British Government.

There are reminisces of teenage music and gallivanting, as the boy ventures into dance halls and pubs with his mates. but at 18 Hugh  moved to Manchester to study and during holidays had a holiday job at the famous Savoy hotel. When he returns to Derry after his studies, facets of Irish and the city's history are recounted. Again, the Troubles were still disrupting life, when he and his wife narrowly escaped the IRA as they collected census forms. Another collector was killed. Hugh’s story, as Eamon Friel, a Derry songwriter, put it: is a “psychophysiologically unique” one. A fitting end to the Borderland book. 

This book is an updated version of A Bump on the Road, rewritten and including emigration, the history of the borderland region and indeed, Ireland itself. Click below on the links to read some extracts and see photos of the period: 

View  a video introduction here. Read some extracts: my childhood, Christmas and teenage music years and of course, the Northern Irish Troubles. Read a sample story Run, Have a look my book, Cillefoyle Park, based on the Brendan Duddy papers, and Martin McGuinness. Have a look at some photos: childhood, Strabane,  teenage years, the Troubles during my youth. Read some reviews. Buy the books here

Click here for all links to all the pages.                                                                                            

© Hugh Vaughan 2023

Strabane Bridge

Below is a photo of Borderland dance hall, across the Derry border in the village of Muff.

Click here for all links to all the pages.