This blog is primarily for me to remind myself of interesting things that I come across throughout my academic research. I am currently co-editing and contributing to two volumes of academic essays: one on Northern Ireland’s Protestant working class community and the peace process and the other one Ulster Protestant culture more generally. I am also writing a social, cultural and political reappraisal of Belfast’s Protestant working class from ‘Pre-Troubles’ to ‘Post-Conflict’.

In 2009 I completed a Ph.D. in Contemporary Irish Political History at Queen’s University Belfast School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy. The researched focused on the Protestant, Unionist and Loyalist community in Belfast and was entitled ‘The Protestant Working Class in Northern Ireland – Political Allegiance and Social and Cultural Challenges Since the 1960s’. The research sought to raise awareness of Protestant working class experience in Belfast from pre-Troubles to post-conflict.

From 2009 until 2012 I worked as a Parliamentary Researcher for the Northern Ireland Assembly Research and Information Service at Parliament Buildings, Stormont.

In 2012 I was appointed as a Visiting Research fellow in QUB School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy. This fellowship entails undertaking research into devolution, the ‘West Lothian’ question and the history of Northern Ireland’s representation at Westminster. Some of the research carried out for this has been submitted to the McKay Commission and published on the Commission’s website.

I am also currently researching Irish League football and the effect of the Troubles in the early 1970s on the game. Having accessed previously closed Irish Football Association files at PRONI the finished work will provide an in-depth study of how population change and the security situation in Belfast and Derry in particular affected the fortunes of the game.

In December 2012, a research article of mine entitled ‘The Protestant working class in Belfast: Education and Civic Erosion – An Alternative Analysis’ was published in the journal Irish Studies Review. This is the first in a series of articles which are intended to highlight the ‘secret history’ of the Protestant working class and Loyalist community in Belfast through the Northern Ireland conflict’s most turbulent era, notably 1971-1975.



  1. Desmond Bell’s (1990) book, Acts of Union: Youth Culture and Sectarianism in Northern Ireland, describes how Tartan gangs in Londonderry, under pressure from both police and paramilitaries, transformed into Blood & Thunder flute bands in the late 70s. He also noted the existence of a nationalist Green Tartan gang on Derry’s cityside.

    The Sons of Kai Flute Band, one of most long-lived bands from Rathcoole also started as a Tartan gang. My own book, Music, Emotion and Identity in Ulster Marching Bands: Flutes, Drums & Loyal Sons is based on ethnography primarily with Ballymena bands in recent years.

    1. Absolutely fascinating stuff Gordon. I think the Tartans are a phenomenon worth more serious exploration. I will also have to purchase your book at some stage!

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