‘A Funeral Cry at Noon’: Louis MacNeice’s Carrickfergus Revisited

‘A Funeral Cry at Noon’: Louis MacNeice’s Carrickfergus Revisited

A few family mementos in the municipal museum are almost the extent of Louis MacNeice’s legacy here. No streets, pubs, or parks are named after the town’s best-known literary figure. Like many of the poorer regions of Northern Ireland, Carrickfergus today is in social and economic decline. Opportunities are so sparse that over the last two decades more than a quarter of the population has moved away. In the absence of meaningful jobs, mental health referrals and suicides have spiked. “The tragic irony of life in Northern Ireland today,” the journalist Lyra McKee, recently killed by Republican militants, wrote in 2016, “is that peace seems to have claimed more lives than war ever did.” The words with which MacNeice began his testament “Landscape of Childhood and Youth” seem to capture the mood: “In the beginning was the Irish rain.”

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