Fionnuala Fagan

Thankfully, I Have Been Unaffected By This

Fionnuala Fagan

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I was born in 1981, the year of the hunger strikes
The news reports poured into my living room
Before I myself could talk or walk away from the horrific words which filled my mind
But, protected by the fact that innocence is bliss
Thankfully, I have been unaffected by this

A house of cream and orange and brown, my Granny’s house in Andersonstown,
Red roses climbed and sweet pea grew outside the window of her living-room
Yet beyond the flowers soldiers with big guns stood in muddy green with hefty boots
But, protected by the fact that innocence is bliss
Thankfully, I have been unaffected by this

Angry political debates with my friends at the age of 12
I said “Sinn Fein is the political wing of the IRA,”
UVF, BRITS, TAIGS AND HUNS,
This vocabulary rolled off our childhood tongues
But, protected by the fact that innocence is bliss
Thankfully, I have been unaffected by this 

East Belfast, age 16, getting into a taxi a friend called my name
“What kind of a name is that?” asked the taxi man suspicious
I know, I hate it, I replied, betrayed my own name in the name of being cautious
And as we drove off he began to boast about his good friend, King Rat
“And what’s your mothers name?” he asked.
Eh, ‘Sharon’ don’t know why she called me that...
But, protected by the fact that innocence is bliss
Thankfully I have been unaffected by this

Age 22, I held my baby daughter in my arms
Gave to her a neutral name with the idea that this might protect her from any harm
But last year flag protests on Woodstock
Masked men blocked the road in all their glory
An overwhelming sense of danger filled me and she saw me panic...
Now, some day I’m sure she’ll tell this story
But, protected by the fact that innocence is bliss
Thankfully, we have been unaffected by this


Fionnuala Fagan


Fionnuala Fagan is a Belfast-based sound installation artist and folk musician. Her work includes Dreaming Protected Me, Homebird and Sailortown. She is interviewed for the current issue of The Honest Ulsterman by Claire Savage.