Kylie Noble is 21. She was the editor of the Gown at Queen's for 2014-2015 -and established herself as a confident and dissenting, and often fascinating, voice with origins in the unionist community in Fermanagh. She grew up on a farm near Ederney, Fermanagh, attending Lack Primary School, then later Enniskillen Collegiate Grammar School, followed by Queen's University Belfast.
She is currently studying for a masters in print journalism at the University of Sheffield. Here are her thoughts on the seismic and seminal year, 1916.
"I first learnt about the 1916 Easter Rising in history class in secondary school. Q: Do the men, the act or the stated ideals in the proclamation mean anything to you?
This has changed over time. When I first learnt about the Easter Rising, I was interested in it but felt no connection to it. I grew up in an unionist community and for a long period of time the Republic of Ireland seemed more of a foreign country than the rest of the United Kingdom. It wasn't until reading W.B Yeats poem Easter 1916 via a module on Irish literature in my second year at QUB that I was moved at all by those events, that I realised the depth of the colonial relationship between Britain and Ireland I suppose, that these men had been executed by Britain for seeking independence.
The proclamation is noble in many ways, in mentions women's involvement and seeks to 'cherish all the children of the nation equally.' The recent marriage referendum victory seems to live up to these ideals. However it is also a stark reminder of how unequal Ireland is. In Northern Ireland we at least have the NHS, a stronger welfare state and our corner of island is far less neoliberal."
BJS: "When did you first learn about the Battle of the Somme?" KN:
"I recall learning about both world wars from a very young age in primary school, about age 7 perhaps? Then much more education on the world wars throughout secondary school, and more of a focus on the Battle of the Somme."
BJS: "Does this act, the men and their determination to show their loyalty to Britain mean anything to you?" KN:
"It is important because many people from across Ireland, North and South fought in the Battle of the Somme and many lost their lives. Growing up unionist in Fermanagh, there was a very strong attachment to Remembrance Sunday because of the Enniskillen bomb and that ties into it too I guess. I think it is completely possible to have many issues with wars and with the reasons soldiers go to war, with at that time, the British Empire but still and actually because of all these issues, feel deep sorrow for the loss of these soldiers lives and indeed opposing armies soldiers, and of course civilians too."
BJS: "As a (British/Irish/Northern Irish*) person, is the 1916 Rising and the Somme offensive important to you and your sense of identity and sense of belonging on this island?" KN:
"I am Irish and Northern Irish and whilst I no longer identify with being British, I am of course a British citizen and my formative years were deeply influenced by Great Britain.
Both the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme are of importance to the forming of my identity, because I am a fusion of Ulster Irish and Ulster British. I suppose I feel a more immediate connection now to the Easter Rising; I see myself as Irish not British but most of my life I seen myself as passionately British and I hold a lot of respect for those who lost their lives in the Battle of the Somme."
BJS: "Will you be commemorating or celebrating either of these two events in April and July of this year respectively?" KN:
"I will be seeking to learn and discover more about both events. I am most interested in the stories that disrupt the black and white, us and them narrative. There was a book released recently about Fermaangh men involved in the Easter Rising, and several of them were Protestants. In regards to the Battle of the Somme, there were many men from the Republic of Ireland who fought, many of them Catholic of course. Q: Are you happy with the series of commemorative events put on by the Irish State? And what do you think of Arlene Foster's take on the events of Easter 1916 (she has refused to attend any commemorations)?
I don't think I know enough about what is being organised by the government for the Easter Rising, I need to look into that. I think it's a bit saddening that Ms Foster wishes not to attend any commemorations as she is First Minister and for many citizens of Northern Ireland, the Easter Rising is of deep importance. It would be a real sign of outreach. Q: As a person on (or from) the island are you happy with the where we are now at in terms of culture, cosmopolitanism and broad-mindedness?
I suppose having grown up very unionist and having becoming quite alienated from the unionist culture I was raised in- attending the 12th July and a great love for the Monarchy, I have reached more towards Irish culture. The language, the music. the literature, the gaelic games...the language especially, it angers me how divided it is in NI. Just because I was born Protestant I was never given an opportunity to lean the native language of the island I as born into, it's absurd. When many planters came from the Scots/English border, they spoke Scots Gaelic. Linda Irvine is especially inspiring in her work with the Irish language in East Belfast."
BJS: "What are your hopes for the future of this divided province and island?" KN:
"More integration in Northern Ireland's education system. The Good Friday Agreement will be 'fully grown up' this year-18 years old. Progress on integration has been incredibly slow. A more just and fair island, especially on abortion rights which are horrific and oppressive in both jurisdictions."