In 2021 The Irish Times books editor Martin Doyle wrote the first of two articles about his experiences growing up during The Troubles, which formed the basis for Dirty Linen. Doyle’s family come from the parish of Tullylish, in rural County Down – a place plagued with contradictions and known as both the Linen Triangle and the Murder Triangle. Since the early 18th century, County Down was the centre of the thriving linen industry that sustained the area while in more recent years it gained notoriety for the 20 sectarian murders that took place in a few square miles.
In Dirty Linen Doyle examines the history of his parish as far back as the 1641 Rebellion, exploring how the expulsion of linen workers as part of partition in the 18th century shaped the community and paved the way for the years of violence that followed. He speaks to families and friends of those who lost loved ones during the atrocities, shares the testimonies of survivors maimed in bomb attacks and tells the stories of victims of sectarianism, both Catholic and Protestant. Doyle shines a light on the impact generational trauma can have and paints a vivid picture of the past when families lived on streets where cars could not be left unattended, against a background buzz of threat and fear.
Martin Doyle was a former editor of The Irish Post. He has worked in journalism for over three decades and is a regular contributor to the media and arts programmes.