Goodbye Ballyhightown: oral history and time [Video Essay Presentation] Symposium

Research output: Non-Textual OutputDigital or Visual Media


In this presentation, I will explore some key issues involved in oral history and time. In 1997, I self-published a community history project which included oral history recollections from inhabitants and people associated with a non-Irish Nationalist area of North Belfast based on previous academic studies by Sociologist Richard Jenkins. The project was titled ‘Goodbye Ballyhightown’ which offered a personal and community critique of the original academic findings as an ‘insider’ rather than ‘outsider’ perspective.

One of the key questions I want to examine is ‘how do oral histories of the sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland at the time of ‘peace process negotiations’ contribute to or challenge the ‘post peace process’ narrative for working class residents of a predominately non-Irish Nationalist community?’

Secondly, how are media artifacts and publications of that particular period received by an academic audience as ‘authentic’ oral voices over a time period of twenty years and what potential do these artifacts offer as contributions to a greater understanding of the real and perceived histories of inhabitants from a non-Irish Nationalist community.

This presentation draws upon previously self-generated audio, video, photographic and written accounts of individual and collective histories, of a specific geographical area, mainly during a specific historical period (1982-1997) and offers a critical reflection in the present (2017) on the temporal and spatial concepts associated with oral history and time as an exploration of spaces haunted by violent events.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBelfast
PublisherBreen Centre
Media of outputOnline
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jun 2017
EventAfterlives of Violence: Contested Geographies of Past, Present and Future - University of Brighton
Duration: 29 Jun 2017 → …

Bibliographical note

This is a copy of the original 'naïve' documentary work which attempts to document the dire social conditions in Rathcoole estate 1995. This was a first attempt to 'document' using video and to produce a campaign video which highlighted the plight of the local population. It was produced without any funding, support or resources as a DIY documentary intervention by a group of concerned residents and youth from the estate. The viewer should take the work in 'context' as part of a community groups response to alienation, deprivation and systematic poverty since 1970's - 1995 when the work was recorded.


  • Rathcoole
  • Belfast
  • Oral History
  • Community Action
  • community based initiatives
  • community dialogue
  • Community cohesion
  • community justice
  • Community regeneration
  • Documentary
  • non-Irish Nationalist
  • PUL


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