Appropriated from a Belfast School Year book circa 1965-66, these portraits depict youths on the cusp of adulthood during a time of great upheaval in the province.

The Civil Rights movement was very active in the 1960s. Protests had taken place about the unfair of voting practices, the allocation of public housing and discriminatory employment practices. There was bigoted resistance to this peaceful campaign for equality. Resistance that fanned the embers of old sectarian narratives and twisted them into a violent response. Halfway through 1966 there were sectarian murders. 
No Country for young men has been titled after William Butler Yeats' poem Sailing to Byzantium, 1928.  Yeats, the poems narrator, laments his leaving of Ireland because he feels out of place there The young In one another’s arms, birds in the trees​​​​​​​ and other signs of youth are not the dominion of the old. The poem is layered with many meanings, one which is the destination of Byzantium. Known now as Istanbul, the city has been considered the meeting point of eastern and western cultures, identities and religions. A place historically enriched by an infusion of differences that was, because of that, the centre of European civilisation. In contrast Northern Ireland is a place historically divided by difference. Difference was infused into the regions creation, its politics and systems of order and control, were designed to inculate it.  
While making this work I have drawn on some of the meanings and themes in the poem :  ageing, an escape to a spiritual paradise, looking back upon a more youthful time in life and the formative experiences that develop the young into adults. 
I am trying to write about the state of my soul, for it is right for an old man to make his soul, and some of my thoughts about that subject I have put into a poem called ‘Sailing to Byzantium’. When Irishmen were illuminating the Book of Kells, and making the jeweled croziers in the National Museum, Byzantium was the centre of European civilization and the source of its spiritual philosophy, so I symbolize the search for the spiritual life by a journey to that city.​​​​​​​
W.B. Yeats, from a draft text for a BBC radio broadcast 1931.

A portrait of the artist as a young man, Belfast, Northern Ireland.

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