I have run the gauntlet of many borders in my time, but the border I grew up with at home was far and away the most trying," writes Seamas OCathain (Professor Emeritus at University College Dublin, and former Director of the National Folklore Collection) of the Irish border - "a border policed by little corporals that was the bane of our lives."
"I have run the gauntlet of many borders in my time, but the border I grew up with at home was far and away the most trying," writes Seamas OCathain, Professor Emeritus at University College Dublin and former Director of the National Folklore Collection. Born in Drumquin, County Tyrone, to a family of Catholic business people and farmers, he grew up "a stone's throw" from the border that separates Donegal in the Republic from the six counties of Northern Ireland - "a border policed by little corporals that was the bane of our lives." JUMPING THE BORDER is an engaging account of his experience - as a child and as a young man - in three distinctive cultures, now radically changed. He describes the Tyrone of the 1940s and 1950s where Protestant and Catholic neighbours shared their lives at a personal level, but where institutions were divisive. His father's prosperous business was ruined because of a political event he supported. The schools and the curriculum were dividers of the two communities. The border was a nuisance to everyone. As a post-graduate student in the 1960s, he took up residence in the Donegal Gaeltacht of "Na Cruacha", where "real old Irish" was still spoken. He did a study of the area's place names, and recorded the distinctive music and speech of "Na Cruacha". Shortly afterwards his research took him to the far north of Europe, to Sapmi (known as Lapland), a cultural rather than a political territory which spreads over four countries, and where he immersed himself in the culture and language of the Sami people at a time when their native language and customs were under threat and belittled. Seamas's ma