What of the future for the town I love so well

Published: 8 Nov 2012 09:300 comments

When you are writing a column like this, it can often be difficult to choose a subject; or even find a subject in the first place.

This week, though, I am drawn inexorably to one. Enniskillen, my home town.

I was born in Riverside, Cornagrade -- obviously at a time when the estate was relatively new! Apart from a couple of brief spells living elsewhere to study etc., I've lived here most of my years so far.

So I think I can safely say this really is the town I love so well.

I often quote the REM song, "Stand" which urges us to "Stand in the place where you live" and says:

"Think about the place where you live,

Wonder why you haven't before."

I often think about this place, and feel proud when I'm somewhere else and tell them where I'm from.

If you look at the magnificent aerial photographs on pages 44 and 45 of this week's newspaper, taken by Pat Lunny, you will see a beautiful town in a spectacularly scenic setting. Sometimes, you don't appreciate what is on our your own doorstep, but with the backdrop of the Erne, the Castle at one end, Forthill Park at the other, Portora, Castle Coole being other landmarks around the edge of town you cannot wish for a better looking town.

The centre itself, with its winding streets forming a continuous thoroughfare, dotted with vista stops and a rich mixture of local business and historic sites is a real joy.

We don't sing the praises of Enniskillen enough, and I have to say the series of articles written for this newspaper a couple of years ago by Catherine Scott brought much of our history to life.

As beautiful as Enniskillen looks, however, the real jewel for me as a "townie" is the people.

I've been reading through the third book in the series "Enniskillen In the Rare Ould Times" produced by The Millennium Babes. The people writing stories about the Enniskillen of the past certainly evoked memories of a town years ago for me.

But looking through the photos of great people that I knew and are no longer with us, was real nostalgia.

Great place, great people.

It seems, therefore, particularly incongruous that the events that took place on this day 25 years ago were visited on Enniskillen.

Nobody anywhere deserves to have such an evil act perpetrated on them. Wrecklessly planting a bomb which was designed to go off when ordinary decent townspeople were solemnly remembering and honouring their war dead can surely serve no cause.

Least of all a place such as Enniskillen, where even in the darkest days of the Troubles, people on both sides continued to have a friendly rapprochement.

But happen it did and many lives were taken and many more wrecked and changed forever.

This week has been a time of great reflection for many of us.

Of course, many young people of a new generation barely remember it, or indeed remember any of the Troubles in the rest of Northern Ireland.

Perhaps even for those of us from older generations, the passage and distance of time has softened the horror of what it was really like. Anniversaries such as this, and the stories of people still suffering should bring a sharp reminder, however.

Violence still continues, as we have seen even within the last week.

It is futile to try to appeal to the people still killing; but as a society, we don't have to look back too far to see that if people continue on the path of violence that it can get worse and worse and end up with terrible, horrible atrocities such as committed in Enniskillen on November 8,1987.

Our politicians are much-maligned. Of course they are because we're often unhappy with the way they perform. They could do more for places like Fermanagh, in terms of the economy, jobs and infrastructure. We need a by-pass for goodness sake!

But when it comes to making an accommodation which excludes the men of violence, our political parties stood up to be counted and are working together.

The peace isn't perfect. Neither is the political process. But it is an awful lot better than it was in 1987.

As regards Enniskillen itself, it has changed dramatically in appearance in the last 25 years.

It is a thriving town, fighting hard to overcome the harsh economic situation.

But our spirit has survived. We responded with dignity in 1987, and today is a reminder that a positive attitude and the indomitable human spirit can continue to take us forward to a better future for all our children.

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