Re-Assessing Rural Conflict: Rituals, Symbols and Commemorations in the Moyle District, Northern Ireland


  • Katherine Side Dept of Gender Studies, Memorial University of Newfoundland


This article is a case study analysis of local manifestations of sectarianism and conflict in the Moyle District, a rural district in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. I argue that, with the exception of rural areas located along the border with the Republic of Ireland, rural areas are often depicted, in scholarly analyzes, as relatively unaffected by the political conflict. I offer some demographically-based data that support this assumption and, I draw on textual and visual analyzes of material and symbolic artefacts, including rituals, symbols and commemorations in the Moyle District, that demonstrate the presence of local sectarianism and conflict in Moyle. I argue that assertions about the absence of sectarianism and local conflict are problematic because they exclude rural areas from key policy documents related to community relations and, because they permit the construction of surface appearances of peaceful co-existence and policy adherence, while at the same time, permitting the continuation of local sectarianism and conflict. I suggest that recently enacted administrative changes may exacerbate these local tensions further and, that the presence of local tensions and divisions must be acknowledged before they can be addressed. Keywords: rurality; conflict; rituals; symbols; commemorations

Author Biography

Katherine Side, Dept of Gender Studies, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Katherine Side is Associate Professor, Department of Gender Studies, Memorial University. Her research examines the post-Agreement period in Northern Ireland, with emphases on rurality and equality issues.