Adventures in Belfast by Caroline Oceana Ryan

Rating: 5 stars
Genre: Memoir
Pages: 276
File Size: 1413 KB

“Adventures in Belfast: Northern Irish Life After the Peace Agreement” by Caroline Oceana Ryan was originally published with the title “An Old Castle Standing on a Ford: One Yank’s Life in an Almost Peaceful Belfast.” The current title (published as an ebook only) is more descriptive of the content which I found compelling and informative, especially the latter two-thirds of the book. The first third is focused on the author’s life in Belfast and Northern Ireland while the remainder of the book describes life in Ireland after the Good Friday Peace Agreement. Ms. Ryan interviews both Catholics and Protestants and tries to maintain impartiality, though she states that “an unslanted one [description] didn’t seem possible.” She does not fall into the “terrible pitfall of being ‘more righteous than thou’ when things are always complicated.” I found the interviews well-balanced, presenting both side’s outlook on the “Troubles” and life after the peace agreement. As a result, I have a better understanding of the strife in Northern Ireland and the current prevailing desire for peace.

Ms Ryan’s love for Northern Ireland is apparent by her frequent and prolonged visits to Belfast, starting in September 2000, two years after the peace agreement was signed on Good Friday, 1998 until the last visit mentioned in 2009. During this time Ms. Ryan and her friends witnessed many changes; I found her comments on this evolution positive and hopeful.

I highly recommend this well-written, hard-to-put-down book for those interested in understanding Northern Ireland’s history, the “Troubles” and the post-peace agreement life.