Visual Voices of Norn Irony: Cartoons and the Conflict in Northern Ireland

Posted on: 3rd October 2018

What function does humour play in Northern Ireland’s conflict and divisions?

Does it reinforce prejudice and stereotype or expose the underlying realities?

These questions set the backdrop to an exhibition of cartoons, most of which were created over the period of the conflict here in Northern Ireland.

‘Visual Voices of Norn Irony: Cartoons and the Conflict in Northern Ireland’ will be launched at The Playhouse Derry. Londonderry on Friday 5 October at 1pm and will run over the following week, during which there will be a series of discussions and workshops.

In times of trouble, humour plays its part. It can provide a coping mechanism and can form a natural response to difficult and traumatic events. Laughter, therefore, has often been seen as a healing balm to the grim reality of life during the Troubles. Cartoons provided a vehicle for that humour. 

Some of the humour in the exhibition is dark such as the late Rowel Friers cartoon which depicts a parent with two children looking on at a scene of social deprivation with the remark, “Someday children all this will be yours.” Then there are examples of light humour with a sarcastic twist such another Rowel Friers cartoon depicting two men standing outside a bombed out public toilet remarking, “Where do we go from here?”

The cartoons provide food for thought. Some are from established cartoonists such as Rowel Friers, Martyn Turner and Ian Knox. Others are from Republican and Loyalist sources as well as the British army. Whether people are old enough to remember the Troubles, or young enough to have only come across it second hand or as an historical fact, this exhibition will stimulate viewers' thoughts on what was involved and how things were dealt with at the time. Northern Ireland may have moved beyond 'the Troubles' - but not that far.

The exhibition was compiled by Rob Fairmichael and commissioned by Community Dialogue who received funding from the National Lottery (Awards for All). It is intended to be both stimulating and promote critical reflective thinking on where we have come from and where we are going. 

A series of questions accompany the exhibition and these are intended as an aid for reflection and dialogue. 

Community Dialogue is an organisation that uses to dialogue to transform understanding and build trust amongst people who hold opposing political, social and religious views.

For more information please contact Jim O’Neill or Liam Campbell


Rowel Friers cartoon 




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