The Irish Sea: Both Barrier and Gateway

From Planet 242

by Jonathan Evershed

Anthropologist Jonathan Evershed describes how his life has been defined by Irish Sea crossings. He draws on the deep history of connections between Wales and Ireland to detail what’s at stake with post-Brexit border changes, and how a renewed, progressive Pan-Celticism could benefit both nations.

I grew up just north of Aberystwyth at Wallog where the Irish Sea meets Sarn Gynfelyn: the long stone spit just north of Aberystwyth that gestures westward, whispering stories about ancient kings and sunken cities. On warm Summer evenings, after days spent playing in the waves, we would watch the dying rays of the dipping sun and listen to the sea gently lapping the stones of the causeway. There is nowhere else that the sun sets quite like it does at Wallog. On wild Winter nights, I would listen as the wind howled at my teenage bedroom window and the sea threw itself raging at the old sea wall. I was miles away the night that it finally triumphed in its 200-year battle with the stones and mortar.

My life has been entirely defined by the Irish Sea. It has been marked by a series of crossings: to Belfast (forever a second home), back and on to London, and finally back again to Cork. Three journeys worrying whether Dad’s Ford Focus – on each trip a little more groaningly laden with the contents of first one and then two lives – would be able to make the climb up the ferry’s steep ramp.

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