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Goldsmiths - University of London

When a 1981 Diary Meets Twitter: Reclaiming a teenage girl’s ordinary experience of the Northern Irish Troubles

Murphy, Oonagh and Aguiar, Laura. 2019. When a 1981 Diary Meets Twitter: Reclaiming a teenage girl’s ordinary experience of the Northern Irish Troubles. British Journal for Military History, 5(1), pp. 49-70. ISSN 2057-0422 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

The Northern Irish Troubles (1969-1998) have been the focus of many cross-disciplinary literature and official and unofficial storytelling projects. When reviewing the accounts produced by these studies and initiatives it is visible that less focus has been paid to everyday experiences of the Troubles, particularly to a young girl’s perspective of it.

In this paper we take an unusual object of study: a twitter account set up by Bronagh McAtasney who recently rediscovered her 1981 teenage diary and has been tweeting entries from it since. By carrying out a textual analysis of her tweets and complementing it with an analysis of the original diary and one structured interview with McAtasney, our aim is twofold: firstly, we seek to re-claim an often marginalised experience of the conflict, that of a teenage girl; secondly, we explore and suggest the different roles personal forms of writing can play in Northern Ireland’s current transition to peace.

The findings show that the very banality of her experiences can function as a counter-narrative to the overheard (male) heroic accounts of the conflict, adding a female and young perspective. Furthermore, despite its reliance on memory, the diary/tweets offer a welcome addition to historical accounts of the conflict, which have lacked plurality. As a result, the diary plays the important role of archival material and contributes to past and current official and unofficial storytelling initiatives. This potential can be maximised through the use of popular digital tools, such as twitter, which provide a new framework from which recollection and memory can be channelled.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


Troubles, Northern Ireland, Diary, Twitter, Memory, Archives, War, History

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

?? ICCE ??


7 August 2018Accepted
10 July 2019Published

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Date Deposited:

09 Aug 2018 15:06

Last Modified:

07 Aug 2019 16:28

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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