Northern Ireland news

New book charts the soundtrack of the Troubles

Troubles Songs author Stuart Bailie

A NEW book by broadcaster and former NME writer Stuart Bailie charts the history of the north's rock and pop culture over the three decades of the conflict.

Trouble Songs – Music and Conflict in Northern Ireland features interviews with Christy Moore, the Undertones, Stiff Little Fingers and a number of international acts who visited the region when only a few bands would.

The book also focuses on songs inspired by the Troubles, including Paul McCartney's Give Ireland Back to the Irish and Zombie by the Cranberries.

Among other highlights is an exclusive contribution by U2 frontman Bono, who writes about the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, the lyrics to Sunday Bloody Sunday, the Enniskillen bomb, and his work with Christy Moore.

There's also pieces telling how the British army's killing of Belfast-born roadie Thomas ‘Kidso’ Reilly in 1983 prompted Spandau Ballet's Gary Kemp to pen ‘Through The Barricades’ and led to Bananarama’s ‘Rough Justice’.

Elsewhere, the book uncovers details of the death threat sent to The Clash ahead of scheduled gig at a Derry festival in 1979 and first hand recollections of ‘Yes’ campaign concert in May 1998, when Bono managed the first public handshake between SDLP leader John Hume and his Ulster Unionist counterpart David Trimble.

"I absolutely believe that music made a difference,” said author Stuart Bailie. "Music has been a persuader, an agitator and a peacemaker in Northern Ireland – it changed the direction of my life in 70s Belfast and I’ve seen it happen to hundreds of other people."

He said that while there were many factors that led to the Good Friday Agreement, in his account, music helped to get people "over the line".

Trouble Songs will be previewed at the British Council’s Peace and Beyond conference at Belfast City Hall on Tuesday April 10.

It will also form part of the conference's fringe event, where a small selection of works from the past 20 years by artists, writers and theatre makers will be featured at an exhibition in the Riddels Warehouse building on Belfast's Ann Street, which runs from next Tuesday through to Friday.

:: Trouble Songs – Music and Conflict in Northern Ireland will be published on May 11 and costs £14.99.

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