I’ve mentioned Blood & Thunder on this site before, it was one of the commissions I made at mercier Press. Well it got a full review this weekend from The Irish Times. And a favourable one at that!
Loyalists tend to be cautious about opening up to journalists, but the former Castlederg bandmaster and former Ulster Unionist assembly member Derek Hussey paved the way for MacDonald to get to know the band and its workings. But he said pointedly to MacDonald, “Pity it’s a Taig who’ll be [writing the book]”, a warning against any stitch-up – again a long-standing fear among many loyalists when dealing with the fourth estate.
But it’s the generous and different-footed perspective that makes this book. With objectivity, perception and a strong degree of empathy MacDonald tells the story of the band, interweaving through the narrative the political, religious, cultural and social impulses that drive its members and in a broader sense drive unionism, loyalism and Protestantism.
via January, February, March, March, March – The Irish Times – Sat, Sep 18, 2010.
Blood & Thunder: Inside An Ulster Protestant Band was one of the books I commissioned towards the end of my time at Mercier Press. It sounded like it was going to be a cracker and the author Darrach MacDonald was great.
Since release, the book has attracted a lot of attention which I’m really pleased to see. It deserves it.
The allusion to blood and thunder, by the way, refers to the decibel levels and to the zeal of drummers playing until their wrists bleed and their drumsticks are stumps.
MacDonald concludes that marching bands are a vibrant manifestation of 21st Century loyalist culture. The Orange Order’s membership is dwindling in an increasingly secular society (it has fewer than 36,000 members in Ireland compared with more than 93,000 in 1968), but these bands offer an outlet to loyalist youths to celebrate their heritage.
If full reconciliation within the North’s divided society is to happen, MacDonald suggests that respect for loyalist traditions must be part of it. “Choosing to be entertained. . . rather than offended is the secret to a shared future,” he says.
via Martina Devlin: Drumming up enthusiasm for the Glorious Twelfth – Martina Devlin, Columnists – Independent.ie.