Martin Doyle has worked for three decades as a journalist in Ireland and Britain. He was editor of the Irish Post in London before spending five years with the Times in London. He joined the Irish Times in 2007 and has been books editor there since 2018.
Martin grew up in Laurencetown, in the parish of Tullylish, County Down, at the centre of what had once been the linen industry. A Catholic from a working-class family, he saw at first-hand how the constant stress and anguish of the Troubles tore a hole in his community. In the space of just a few short years, more than 20 people were to die in his area, a tragic litany of lives cut short, families left without loved ones and often the only wage earner in the house.
In 2022 Martin’s memoir Dirty Linen was acquired in four-way auction by the Merrion Press.
Dirty Linen builds on two long essays published in the Irish Times in 2021, developing the accounts into a moving and detailed portrait of one community. Martin chronicles the lives lost and the long tail of trauma endured by those people, speaking to friends and relatives who lost their loved ones, from the family of a lorry driver blown up by an IRA bomb at a Border customs post in 1972 to two young brothers murdered by Loyalists in front of their sister in 1993, just one hour after her 11th birthday party. He also looks at the impact of the Troubles in his own life and that of his close family as they struggled to live ordinary lives in the midst of chaos.
He also makes it clear that the act of forgetting, the ‘moving on’, which so many are urged to do, isn’t possible when the scars of the Troubles have not healed, and some truths have not been told. When people have not been allowed to remember their dead and when a code of silence about the past is allowed to fester. As the author says, ‘It is by sharing our stories that we build a ridge of common ground from which good things can grow. The Troubles were a blight on all our lives and while things are so much better now, the spores are sadly still in the air.’ At once memoir, social history and cultural study, Dirty Linen examines the physical and psychological impact of a long war of attrition on a people, pays tribute to those who lost their lives and shows the lessons that can be learned for future generations.
Dirty Linen will be published in October 2023