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A border journey

All political borders are the products of histories of struggle over territory. They sometimes reflect conflict between rival groups before the development of modern states. Sometimes they are the product of much recent political change. Borders demarcate the territory of different political jurisdictions but they vary in the degree to which they follow or cut across natural features in the landscape. The border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland sometimes follows the line of natural features, especially rivers and streams, as in its course along the River Foyle. But in other places the border crosses the topography, as when it rises up and over the Cuilcagh Mountains to mark a boundary between Co Fermanagh in Northern Ireland and Co. Cavan in the Republic. It can also divide sections of landscape that are otherwise indistinguishable as in the lake strewn landscape north of Belturbet in Co. Cavan and the lowlands south-east of Clones in Co. Monaghan.

In 1986 the author Colm Tóibín walked the length of the Irish border from west to east. His account evokes the lives and experiences of those who lived along the border in the mid 1980s. Here we also follow this direction to describe and depict the relationship between this official line and the natural features of the landscape and the border’s different regional geographies. (Colm Tóibín, Bad Blood: A Walk Along the Irish Border, London: Vintage, 1994, First published 1987)

From Muff and Lough Foyle to Lifford and Strabane
From Lifford and Strabane to Belleck
From Belleek to Blacklion, Belcoo, Ballyconnell and Clones
From Clones to Crossmaglen. Jonesborough and Carlingford Lough