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Enabling Protestant working-class engagement with literary culture and creating new space for reconciliation in Northern Ireland

Researchers: Dr Connal Parr

Monolithic portrayals of working-class Protestant/Unionist/Loyalist culture in Northern Ireland underpin claims that it is limited to annual Orange Order rituals and averse to participation in the literary arts. Research undertaken at Northumbria University by Dr Connal Parr has overturned this view, revealing an overlooked and complex history of literary pursuits at the heart of Protestant working-class life. Working with a difficult-to-reach beneficiary group, recognised for its reticence when dealing with members from outside of the community, Parr’s research has enabled new creative forms of reflective expression by working-class Protestants from Northern Ireland (including some from paramilitary backgrounds) and the formation of grassroots organisations such as the Thomas Carnduff Society. Consequent work with Northern Irish and cross-border communities, the International Fund for Ireland, and the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs has helped to foster improved understanding and the discussion of Protestant working-class culture, enabling new public conversations and broader reconciliation efforts.

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