The people of Crossmaglen in south Armagh talk about life in their town and how it has been affected by the conflict in Northern Ireland.
At the end of summer of 1976, the programme ‘Next Stop’ went to Northern Ireland to make two documentaries one about the Shankill and another about South Armagh where the majority of the population are Nationalist and pro-Republican.
South Armagh is primarily a rural community, with farming the principal industry. However, since what became known as 'The Troubles' began, Crossmaglen has gained a reputation as a gunslinging border town.
The British Army has a major presence in the area and Catholics object strenuously to their presence and feel they are being harassed.
They’ve no time for the Irish and we’ve no time for them.
More members of the British Army have been killed in the square in Crossmaglen than in any other urban thoroughfare in the North since the violence started.
A visit to a pub in Crossmaglen shows people listening to a céilí band. One man says while they may not have the Irish language, they have the culture.
We are like the people of the Republic in many ways, we are more like, I would say, the people of the West of Ireland, than perhaps the more industrialised parts of the Republic of Ireland.
As the Catholic population of South Armagh see it, they should really be a part of the Irish Republic. They tend to look south rather than north for their daily needs. Rather than do their shopping in Newry they prefer to go to Dundalk in County Louth and Castleblayney in County Monaghan. They feel they stand out in Newry but can mingle more freely in the towns south of the border.
Most of them also prefer to socialise across the border and almost 300 people from South Armagh work in factories in the Republic. South Armagh is part of Dundalk’s natural hinterland and buses bring workers to and from work across the border.
Crossmaglen has no nightlife suitable for young people, but as Dundalk is only seven miles away, it is often the destination of choice for young people wanting to socialise without the fear of violence.
‘Next Stop’ was a weekly programme from and about the provinces highlighting items of general interest of concern. Programmes included a viewers’ service with an exchange of ideas as a way of comment and reaction.
This episode of ‘Next Stop’ was broadcast on 13 April 1977. The reporter is Nicholas Coffey.