Introduction: Taoibh Amuigh agus Faoi Ghlas: The Counter-aesthetics of Republican Prison Writing

  • Lachlan Whalen
Part of the New Directions in Irish and Irish American Literature book series (NDIIAL)


Gerry Adams’s short story “The Fire” begins with several Long Kesh internees discussing their memories of the conflagration that destroyed a fair portion of the prison compound. When two characters disagree about some of the particulars, another Republican POW named Cedric announces that he possesses a text whose contents might settle the argument. That text is a diary he kept in the days prior to the fire, one he continued writing even during the subsequent battles between the Security Forces and the prisoners. Cedric was forced to conceal his clandestine account when the British Army finally overran the POWs; though he secretly passed a copy of his diary to his comrades on the outside, he kept the original inside the Cages with him. If his fellow POWs would like, he offers, he will get it for them. Cedric’s comrades enthusiastically request that he do so; however, their excitement at the prospect of viewing such a text turns to horror when the diary is retrieved from its hiding place. Adams describes the scene that unfolds:

[Cedric] returned a few minutes later with a small packet wrapped in polythene. He unfolded his bundle carefully and passed a handful of soiled and creased pages to Egbert.

“They’re stinking!” Egbert protested, “I thought you said it was a diary!”

“I hid them in a sewer. That’s why I still have them. They were too smelly to send out. And they are a diary …”1 (emphasis mine)


Historical Moment Political Incarceration Prison Experience Irish Language Prison Regime 
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Chapter One Introduction: Taoibh Amuigh agus Faoi Ghlas: The Counter-aesthetics of Republican Prison Writing

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© Lachlan Whalen 2007

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  • Lachlan Whalen

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