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Sep 7, 2022

Dirty Linen, a searing personal history of the Troubles through the lens of one parish, acquired in auction by Merrion Press

Martin Doyle’s

A memoir of the Troubles by The Irish Times books editor, Martin Doyle’s has been sold in a four-way auction.

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Merrion Press secured Martin’s “beautifully written” memoir detailing the impact of the Troubles on one parish.

Conor Graham, of Merrion Press secured UK and commonwealth rights for the book from agent Marianne Gunn-O’Connor, for publication in October 2023.

Building on two acclaimed essays published in the Irish Times, Doyle talks to friends and relatives of Troubles victims, as well as survivors of bomb attacks, to create a moving, intimate portrait of a community. He also reflects on the impact of the Troubles on his own life and that of his community, as they struggled to live normal lives.

Martin Doyle grew up by the river Bann in rural County Down, in the heartland of the once-dominant linen industry. But what was once the Linen Triangle became notorious during the Troubles as the Murder Triangle.

Pulling on that linen thread, Doyle links the modern Troubles, which claimed more than 20 lives in his immediate neighbourhood, to the violence and sectarianism that surrounded Partition locally, all the way back via the expulsion of linen workers in the late 18th century to a disputed atrocity in the parish during the 1641 Rebellion.

At once memoir, social history, reportage and cultural study, Dirty Linen examines the physical and psychological impact of conflict, chronicling the lives lost and the long tail of trauma.

Marianne Gunn-O’Connor said: “From the moment I started reading Martin’s searing account of the impact of the Troubles on this one parish I knew I wanted to represent him. Martin’s presence throughout this beautifully written memoir is really commanding and heartfelt. His affection for the people and place make it a compelling and emotional read as he witnessed at first hand how the constant stress and anguish of the Troubles tore a hole in his community. We are very excited to embark on this journey to publication with this formidable and passionate team.”

Conor Graham, of Merrion Press commented: “When I first spoke with Martin about his vision and scope for his story and the extraordinary events in his home parish of Tullylish and the broader neighbourhood, I knew I had to work with him.It wasn’t really an option not to. I have lived through what Martin lived through, and while we shouldered coffins in different ways, the profound connection of that shared experience presents an opportunity for a very positive collaboration between our Press and an Irish literary professional at the very top of his game.”

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.

He said: “The Troubles were a blight on all our lives and the spores are sadly still in the air. Memories of lost loved ones can be both precious and painful, like walking barefoot on diamonds. But it is by sharing our stories that we build a ridge of common ground from which good things can grow.”

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