How will these resources help you? 

The emotional finale to the television series Derry Girls (C4) showed the importance of the Good Friday Peace Agreement for a hopeful future for Northern Ireland. These resources focus on initiatives that help foster peace in communities, particularly between Protestant and Catholic Christians. The list has many examples of initiatives from and with young people, many of whom were born after the peace agreement was signed but aware of the Troubles and committed to a peaceful future together. Teachers can use this in several ways: to look at Christian ecumenical practices; to explore this important part of Christian history in the UK and Republic of Ireland; to show the importance of young people in driving change in their communities; or as part of a unit on peace and conflict more generally. 

Patrick Kielty’s story

My Dad, The Peace Deal and Me

by Patrick Kielty, published by BBC, (2018)

In this documentary, Keilty gives a thorough, accessible and engaging account of the significance of the Good Friday Peace Agreement, through his own personal story of the loss of his father due to sectarian violence during The Troubles. It can be used to help students understand the history of the Agreement and the efforts for peace and reconciliation in the area since. Case studies could also be used to show intra-faith relations following the Agreement. Examples include a young comedy duo – a Catholic and a Protestant performing together – and students at an integrated college, who articulate that while there is still tension in their local areas, they are optimistic that peace will prevail due to their ability to sit down and talk to one another despite their differences.

A community of reconciliation

Between the Bells: Stories of reconciliation from Corrymeela

by Paul Hutchinson, published by Canterbury Press Norwich, (2019), 9781786220769

Established during the Troubles as a community for peace and reconciliation for Catholic and Protestant Christians, Christian community Corrymeela continues today in its work for intra-faith dialogue and fostering acceptance across divides following conflict. With 160 permanent members around the world and over 6000 people visiting the site each year, it also partakes in research around issues of sectarianism in Northern Ireland and has achieved peace prizes for its work. Corrymeela shows practical peacemaking at work. This book explores stories of reconciliation from those who have spent time there, which illustrates how Protestants and Catholics can meet peacefully and what these meetings have to offer the world for reconciliation work in a global setting. (The college can be explored through their website here).

Making music together

Cross Border Orchestra of Ireland: A fusion of Irish and Ulster Scots culture

by Eimear Flanagan, published by BBC News NI, (2023)

The Cross Border Orchestra of Ireland brings young people together across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and over 100 talented musicians perform in the Orchestra together. It also hosts The Peace Proms, which involves tens of thousands children and young people in performing together. The orchestra celebrates the heritage and cultural backgrounds of the members and through this the young people can learn more about one another and build an understanding of each other. This article highlights some of the key aspects of this initiative and the emotional story of how and why teacher Sharon Treacey-Dunne started it. This example not only shows how celebration of diversity can help foster peace but also can be used to explore the role of music in communities and identities. More can be explored about the community here.

R-City Youth Group and Café

How a coffee shop is bridging the gap between Ardoyne and the Shankill

by Ryan Smith, published by BelfastLive, (2018)

About 15,000 people were displaced during The Troubles as residential areas of both Protestants and Catholics were targeted, and over 179 houses destroyed. Communities erected barricades to protect their streets from attack, some of which still stand today. There are 100 'Peace Walls across Northern Ireland, with 48 in Belfast. For many these are a reassurance against future violence, but for others they are a sign that communities are still divided. A group from Belfast youth programme R City decided to join their two communities through the simple act of opening a café that has two doors, one on each side of this divide. Students could use this case study to discuss how the café helps reconciliation efforts and also as an example of young people taking initiative in their local area as active citizens. The R City youth initiative can be explored more here.

Audiovisual clip

Reverse Missionaries - Plans for a peace mural

published by BBC Two, (2012)

Christian researcher, Kshama, visits Belfast and seeks to bring together children of Protestant and Catholic backgrounds to paint a mural intended to unite communities.

Further materials

Across the Barricades by Joan Lingard, published by Penguin, (2016), 9780141368917 Find this book
100 Years After Ireland's Divide, Church Cooperation Is Better Than Ever by Ger Fitzgerald, published by Christianity Today, (2021) Read this article
Education: Schooling in the mix in Northern Ireland by Tim Wyatt,, published by Church Times, (2019) Read this article
Derry Girls Ending by Lisa McGee, (2022) Watch this clip
Ruth Marx teaches Religion and Worldviews, is a Consultant for Religious Studies and PSHE, a Farmington Fellowship Scholar and a published blogger on Re:Online.

Text © Ruth Marx, 2023.