Mapping the (in)-between-(in) the Borderlands of North West Ulster: Brian McGilloway as Literary Detective of the Now & Then.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Set in the borderlands between Letterkenny and Derry-Londonderry, a landscape scarred by glacier, river and cartographer’s pen, the Ulster crime novelist, Brian McGilloway chronicles the challenges and fears of contemporary society. Following in the footsteps of Nordic and Tartan Noir, McGilloway recognises the importance of the past in trying to reach an understanding of the present. His critique however goes beyond criminal behaviour motivated primarily by politics or religion, allowing a deeper and more meaningful diagnosis of the ‘state of the nation’. Place, name and event become especially important in contextualising the liminal in McGilloway’s rural borderland settings. In doing so, McGilloway continues in the rich tradition of the medieval Gaelic filid and the contemporary Ulster poet in trying to both chronicle and rationalise the man-made amidst the elemental in this land of both Planter & Gael. Ritual, language, and the sacral are all instruments for investigation in helping McGilloway reveal an acute pathology of our times to his readers. Through his choice of chief protagonist, An Garda Síochána officer Benedict Devlin, McGilloway turns detective to critically investigate both the seemingly straightforward and the unseen lurking in the rural Ulster landscape; temporally and spatially, a place of displacement, loss and complicated histories, redolent and entwined with the ghosts of the past.Turning literary investigators, the authors contend that there is much to learn from this physiography, not just for the borderlands of North West Ulster, but for the wider countryside and society beyond.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 14 Sep 2016
EventCrime Fiction: 3rd International Conference: Here & There:Time & Space - University of Gdansk, Gdansk, Poland
Duration: 13 Sep 201615 Sep 2016


ConferenceCrime Fiction: 3rd International Conference


  • Cultural Atlas
  • Crime Fiction
  • Place
  • Poetry
  • Rural

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