The Londonderry Air - Testament of an Ulster Gunman
“The Londonderry Air” is one of the very few novels devoted to the Protestant view of what became known as the “Irish Troubles,” but it does so without the purpose of a political statement, but rather describing the life of an angry Protestant civilian through the testament of an Ulster gunman. More
It all changed for Charles Cunningham, a Physics teacher at the local College of Technology in the County Derry town of Maddenstown, on a June afternoon in 1973 when a bomb exploded in his neighborhood. Up to that day, he had kept himself aloof from the troubles in Ulster, but his feelings would change within the next few hours after the blast. He was angry and sickened at the wanton murder of his great-aunt and of the other victims, and he was ashamed of his ignorance of first-aid techniques and of his revulsion at the smell of blood and roasted flesh. Here he was, an able-bodied man in his mid-twenties, selfishly following his own desires while a war was going on around him, and he was relying on others to defend him.
Consequently, he answers an advertisement by the UDR, the Ulster Defence Regiment, where he receives military training, and serving part-time absorbs a great deal of his leisure activities. However, he can’t help feeling that the UDR’s mission of protecting the Protestant population might not be enough for him in the long run. Charles wants to become more pro-active, not only to bring the Republican perpetrators to justice, but to invalidate them and, if necessary, to kill them.
In the time to come, he will experience the consequences of his decisions, and how his involvement complicates matters with family and friends, Protestants and Catholics alike, to an unexpected degree.
With “The Londonderry Air – Testament of an Ulster Gunman” Garrad Gawler describes in minute detail and with an astonishing level of authenticity not only the inner workings of the Ulster Defence Regiment, but also the activities of underground paramilitary groups of regular citizens who planned and carried out the assassination of suspected Republican terrorists in their neighborhood.
“The Londonderry Air” is one of the very few novels devoted to the Protestant view of what became known as the “Irish Troubles,” but it does so without the purpose of a political statement, but rather describing the life of an angry Protestant civilian through the testament of an Ulster gunman.