In my family the blame for the troubles in Northern Ireland has always been pinned squarely on Great Aunt Mary. She was a dreadful, interfering woman who, having driven her husband into an early grave, set about disrupting the domestic tranquility of her relations. Wherever she went she would act as a catalyst for long repressed resentments. Father would be turned against son, brother against sister. Finally, there was a gathering of a chieftains at Carlisle and it was determined that no one would again have her in the house. In I969 she went into exile in Belfast.
Ever since, on reading of some bombing or shooting, irrespective of which side of the sectarian divide the perpetrators had come from, my father would lay down his newspaper on the breakfast table and declare ‘that bloody woman is up to her old tricks again.’