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The Boys of St Columb's

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The Boys of St Columb's

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...They would banish the conditional forever, this generation ...'


From the 1947 Education Act to the 1968 Civil Rights Movement in Northern Ireland.

The Boys of St. Columb's tells the story of the first generation of children to receive free secondary education as a result of the ground-breaking 1947 Education Act in Northern Ireland. This book shows how the political and historical conditions of Northern Ireland altered as a result of the mass education of its population, culminating in the Civil Rights Movement of the late 1960s which drew its inspiration from the USA. The book profiles St. Columb's school in Derry, an excellent example of a school that underwent the shift from the dark post-war years into the more liberal 1960s, as a lens to understand the effect of the 1947 legislation.

The Boys of St. Columb's consists of interviews with Nobel Prize winners, writers, diplomats, musicians and a socialist campaigner. The eight figures who make up this oral history are Bishop Daly, John Hume, Seamus Heaney, Seamus Deane, Phil Coulter, Eamonn McCann, Paul Brady and James Sharkey. These interviewees, as well as being world figures, are also sharply insightful. They form as fine an example as exists of the watershed in Irish history brought about by educational overhaul.

These eight remarkable men first learned to survive in the unionist state, and then to thrive. The considerable momentum that gathered from their endeavours, along with those of others, paved the way for future generations. As Seamus Heaney put it, "they broke some silences" and opened avenues that had been unimaginable to their parents. Their achievement is still being felt today.

NB: This book is a tie-in with a documentary film of the same name that aired on RTE and BBC in 2010.


"The idea is an excellent one, offering a detailed and sometimes intimate view into the education of a group of extraordinary figures...The book is full of telling detail... Full of energetic and concise formulations... This is an indispensable document"

Irish Times

About the Author

Maurice Fitzpatrick, a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, has been a university lecturer in English in Tokyo since 2007. In 2008 he wrote and co-produced The Boys of St. Columb's, an RTE/BBC documentary film which premiered in Galway Film Fleadh in July 2009, was subsequently screened at the LA Irish Film Festival, and is scheduled to appear on RTE and BBC in 2010. In autumn of 2010 he will conduct a lecture circuit of the USA and Canada under the auspices of Boston College.

Additional Information

Additional Information

Author Fitzpatrick, Maurice
Editor No
Print Format Paperback
ISBN-10 978-1-905785-77-3
ISBN-13 978-1905785773
Illustrations Illustrated
Date of Publication April 2010
Number of Pages 228

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