New Island Books - 25 Years a-Growing

Hard Border

Hard Border
  • Hard Border


Hard Border goes to the very root s of the Irish boundary where, after decades of division and conflict, a fragile peace has prevailed since the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. Post-Brexit, it will re-emerge as the only land frontier between the United Kingdom and the European Union.

In his travelogue of the abandoned 50-mile route along the Ulster Canal, Darach MacDonald presents a close-up narrative history of Ireland. On his journey through five of Ulster’s nine counties, he looks at the confounding realities and identities brought to the boil by history, geography, politics and faith.

He traces the region’s pivotal role in the story of Ireland; the facts and anomalies of an arbitrary partition, the impact on local communities, especially among minorities marooned on the ‘wrong side’, as well as uplifting efforts to forge new links and aid the recovery from trauma.Through travelogues, journals, tales and poetry, he examines how the border and its communities have  been portrayed through the decades.

Above all, these are the stories of tightly knit communities straddling an historically contested line while struggling for survival and recognition in its liminal shadows.

Read an extract.

About the Author

Darach MacDonald has been a professional journalist since 1976, working throughout Ireland, Europe and in Canada and closing his full-time newspaper career as editor of the award-winning Ulster Herald. In 2015, he was conferred with a PhD by Ulster University (Magee) for research on a frontier Ulster loyalist marching band, having completed his MA thesis on the Irish Boundary Commission almost forty years previously at University College Dublin. He is the author of four previous books: The Sons of Levi (1998); The Chosen Fews: Exploding Myths in South Armagh (2000); Blood & Thunder: Inside an Ulster Protestant Band (2010); and Tóchar: Walking Ireland’s Ancient Pilgrim Paths (2013). A native of Clones, a proud father and very soon-to-be grandfather, he now lives in the border city of Derry.



Darach MacDonald


Trade Paperback, Illustrated





Release Date

March 2018



Additional Information

Weight .530 g
Dimensions .234 × .158 × .20 mm


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