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Bog Child WRITTEN BY SIOBHAN DOWD

Campbell, Tori, Kahlea, Nora


Table of Contents Introduction ……………………………………………………………….…………………………………………………….Page 3-4 Exploring Themes……………………………………………………………………………………………………………. Page 5

Characters of Bog Child …………………….………………………………………………………………………………Page 6 The Troubles ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. Page 7-11 What are The Troubles………………………………………………………………………………………. Page 8 Map of Ireland in the 1980s ………………………………………………………………………………. Page 9 Important Locations in the book …………………………………………………………………….. Page 10 More on the Hunger Strikes of Long Kesh ………………………………………………………. Page 11 The Author……………………………………………………………………..…………………………………………… Page 12 Works Cited………………………………………………………………..…...………………………………………….. Page 13


What does the reader gain from reading Bog Child? Bog Child is a book that teaches values of strength, sacrifice, love, commitment, and loyalty. This novel, written by Siobhan

Dowd, truly has the power to deeply influence or change lives. It is a story of hardships an struggles. But also a story of rising above and falling in love. It teaches how to say goodbye and to realize that the world isn’t always pretty. It teaches us how to overcome. It teaches us how to fight for what we believe in. So much is to be gained from this exquisite piece of writing and everyone receives varying messages that resound with them each personally. Bog Child truly is a book that should be read by all who come across it. And of you are lucky enough to have read it don’t ever let go of the lessons it taught you.


Introduction to Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd When the cover of Bog Child is opened the reader is immediately thrust into 1980’s Ireland during “The Troubles”. And the journey of Fergus McCann, a young 18 yearold Irish boy begins to unfold. Fergus McCann wakes up one ordinary morning to illegally collect peat with his Uncle Tally. While digging up peat he discovers a body hundreds of years old preserved by the bog. This discovery sets him on a path of historical conquest, danger, and romance. Fergus is focused on his studies because he is hoping to go to medical school and leave the Troubles behind him. Fergus is distracted from his studies by the daughter of a scientist researching the body. Meanwhile, Fergus’ older brother Joe, who is locked up in Long Kesh prison, has just joined the hunger strike. Fergus must learn how to balance all of these aspects of his family, love, and future life and the reader gets to experience all the joy, sufferings and hardships along the way. This Magazine will delve deeper into some of Bog Child’s reoccurring themes:

Self-Sacrifice How far would you go to fight for your beliefs? Is it worth hurting the ones you love?

Pride in Identity Are you willing to show pride in your homeland? Or Are you trying to flee?

Taking a Stand Are you brave enough to profess your beliefs, even if it may harm yourself or someone you care about?

Showing how you feel Will you tell someone what they mean to you, or will you let them slip from your grasp forever?


Exploring Themes of Bog Child PRIDE IN IDENTITY

Discovery

Pride in identity means to be proud of who you are and where you come from.

Discovery is another common theme of Bog Child. Many different types of discoveries are made throughout Fergus’ Journey.

This theme of pride in one’s identity is featured throughout the novel. Many characters express this pride in different ways throughout the novel: ¤

Joe is proud of Ireland so he joins the fight against British control

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Uncle Tally is proud of his home nad begins making bombs to assist the IRA to get rid of the UK’s grasp on Ireland.

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Mel, although her family is poor, stands by her family through thick and thin.

SELF SACRIFICE Dictionary Definition: “the giving up of one's own interests or wishes in order to help others or to advance a cause.”

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Fergus discovers himself through love, sacrifice, and heartbreak. Discovered the true meaning of what it means to stand up for what you believe in. Fergus discovered a new meaning of death, and how to live without regrets.

There are many actions that portray the theme of selfsacrifice. Almost every character displays this common theme at one point in the novel. ¤

Fergus is willing to sacrifice his freedom and safety in the hopes of getting Joe off of the strike.

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Joe is willing to sacrifice his life in order to make a stand for what he believes in.

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Uncle Tally sacrifices his life by being proud of his support for his country

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Cora is sacrificing herself for the sake of her body figure. She is suffering from an eating disorder.

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Mel sacrifices her life for the sake of her brother. Although Mel is innocent she takes the blame for the crime and is killed.

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The nation if Ireland sacrificed so many of its people and cities due to The Troubles.

Are we proud of who we are?

How far are we each willing to go for what we believe in? Are we open to growth and change within ourselves?


Who’s Who in Bog Child? : Young, 18 year old Irish boy who discovers a body while digging for peat with his uncle. The story revolves around Fergus’ life and the readers watch how he balances family issues, medical school exams, a relationship, and his historical discovery while living on the verge of war and unrest. Throughout the novel Fergus begins to feel weighed down by all of his increasing responsibility and the reader begins to watch as he loses faith in himself, his family, and in God.

: Joe is the oldest McCann child. He is imprisoned in Long Kesh, where the hunger strike is taking place. While Joe does not immediately join in with the strikers eventually he does much to the dismay of the McCann family. While Joe begins the novel as a charismatic and light hearted guy as the novel and his hunger strike progress the reader is able to see Joe fade away.

: Scientist who is brought in to examine the bog body from Dublin. She kindly allows Fergus to help her figure out more information about the body and what life may have been like during the bog bodies lifetime.

: Cora is Felicity’s daughter, she is a strong spirit and almost immediately catches Fergus’ attention. The two begin to date-unbeknownst to Felicity. Cora also assists with discovering more about the body along with Felicity and Fergus. At the end of the novel it is revealed that Cora is struggling with an eating disorder. Felicity tells Fergus that Cora has been through many boyfriends within the past year and she has begun to spiral into a pattern of self destruction. Felicity is attempting to break this cycle by sending Cora to Michigan to live with her father. This means that Fergus and Cora must learn how to say goodbye to each other.

: Uncle Tally is a laid back man who works/lives in Finicule’s bar often partaking in a pint or two. Uncle Tally is with Fergus when the bog body is discovered. Throughout the story Uncle Tally is often featured giving Fergus driving lessons. He seems to have no opinions about “The Troubles” or at least he doesn’t share them but later it is revealed he has been the one building bombs for the republic (the IRA). He is shot and killed towards the end of the book while resisting arrest.

: Owain is a United Kingdom soldier who is about Fergus’ age. While Fergus is on a run near the Northern/Republic border he meets Owain and they become pals. The kindness of Owain makes Fergus begin to question why many of the Irish are so opposed to the united kingdom and acting unwelcome towards them. Tragically at the end of the novel Owain is killed in an explosive made be Uncle Tally.

: “Mel” is the name Fergus “christens” the bog body with.. While throughout the novel the reader is led to believe she was a child due to her size it is later discovered, by the presence of her wisdom teeth, that she was actually a dwarf. Through the dreams of Fergus the reader is allowed a glimpse of what life may have been like for Mel. Mel's family is struggling with poverty due to the severe weather hindering their crop production. Mel, because of her dwarfism, is getting blamed for this weather and for the murder of Boss Shaughn (the man who was unjustly taxing her family). The town sentences Mel to be hung. The murder was actually committed by Mel's younger brother but Mel decides to take the blame for it so that he might live. Before she is about to be hung the boy Mel is in love with comes in to say goodbye to her and per Mel's request he stabs her and kills her before she is hung.


The Troubles


The 1980s Troubles in Ireland Why did The Troubles occur? The conflict in Ireland during the 1980s was labeled The Troubles. The main cause of this conflict had to do with British control over Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland conflict was a thirty year bout of political violence, low intensity armed conflict and political deadlock within the six north-eastern counties of Ireland that formed part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The British considered the War terrorism as Ireland fought for a republic instead of a Nationalist Party. This civil unrest resulted in bombings, protest, and strikes that simply made the impending feeling of war and doom seep closer into the everyday lives of Irish citizens.

The IRA (Irish Republican Army: The Provisional Irish Republican Army split from the official IRA in 1969. their goal was to create a unified independent Ireland. The Provisional IRA wanted to get rid of the British presence in Northern Ireland through a war of attrition (a war in which the opposing sides attempt to weaken each other through prolonged, small attacks/riots opposed to large scale battles). They were fighting for Irish culture and heritage. The Provisionals were gaining support, resources, and power snd were able to become more aggressive towards British soldiers and loyalists. This pushed the official IRA members to disband and form the Irish National Liberation Army or INLA. These two parties were constantly fighting over territory and ideas.

Catholics and Protestants: During this time the Catholic and the Protestants were also at ends with each other. They lived speparated and did not mix together. Ireland has always been a primarily Catholic country and so Protestants were not welcomed very kindly into the country.


The Location of Bog Child

This is a map of Ireland in the 1980’s . It clearly shows the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. There was an increasing amount of tension between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. This unrest was due to the impending British command over Northern Ireland. To clarify, Northern Ireland was under British control and the Republic of Ireland was attempting to unify an Independent Ireland free from Britains grasp. The vast majority of the story takes place right along the border of Northern Ireland and the Republic. Fergus lives in the Republic of Ireland, and the bog body is discovered on the border. Throughout the story Fergus is often crossing over the border in secret to deliver packages for the IRA. The tension between the two nation-states is expertly portrayed in the novel.


Key Locations of Bog Child Finucle’s Bar: Uncle Tally works and lives here. Fergus visits to enjoy a pint or two to relax and unwind. It is important in the novel because the reader is able to observe Fergus at his most relaxed and comfortable. Allows for a more personal relationship between the reader and character.

The McCann Home: The home of Fergus is featured often in the novel. It allows the reader for a taste of what Fergus’ family life is like. The inclusion of their home solidifies the “bond” between reader and character. This brings the reader closer to Fergus and makes him seem more attainable and relatable.

Long Kesh Prison: This is where the Hunger Strikes are taking place. It gives valuable information on the true ugliness of The Troubles. It also shows how it affected so many people and their families in harmful and painful ways. Fergus’ brother joins the strike. This allows for the reader to witness first hand these often overlooked affects on the families being affected.

The Bog: The Bog’s role in the story is what sparks the rest of the novel. The Republic vs. the Loyalist debate is first thrown into the light and the reader begins to

understand The Troubles.


HUNGER STRIKES CONTINUE IN LONG KESH PRISON WHAT IS A HUNGER STRIKE?

COPY CATS?

A hunger strike is when one abstains from all food. It is a type of protest that demands action. The self sacrificing act of these strikers causes an increased feeling of Irish nationalism and a loathing towards he United Kingdom’s continued grasp on Northern Ireland.

This is the second wave of this type of strike. Bobby Sands decided to revamp the strike on the 5 year anniversary of the removal of special category status. Bobby Sands carefully staggered the new members so that one person would die each week.

INSIDE LOOK ON THE MOTIVES OF THE STRIKERS

THE DEMANDS OF THE STRIKERS

Many of the prisoners in The Maze Prison, also known as Long Kesh, have joined a hunger strike. These young men are imprisoned for supporting the Irish Republic in its’ attempt to rid Ireland of British control entirely. The hopes of this Hunger Strike is to receive the title prisoner of war rather than to be labeled as common criminals. New recruits are joining every week to make their stance known.

The first seven strikers have made their demands known to the public. Their first demand is the right not to wear prison uniforms. Second, the right not to do prison work. They wanted to associate freely with other prisoners. Their fourth demand was to be allowed a weekly visit. Their fifth and final demand was the right to institute educational recreational pursuits.

Bobby Sands: Britains Hostage


The Author of Bog Child Siobhan Dowd was born in February of 1960 to Irish parents. She attended a Catholic grammar school in London, which is where she discovered her love for writing. As mentioned in The Siobhan Dowd Trust, Siobhan received a Bachelors of Arts in classics from Oxford University and a Masters in Arts with distinction in gender and ethnic studies from Greenwich University. In 1984 she joined a writers internal organization called PEN. She eventually became the program director in New York City. Dowd was a prominent human rights activist and was often seen speaking out against discrimination. Those who knew Dowd describe her as an optimist who was always ready for whatever life threw at her. A quote from Bog Child perfectly exhibits Dowd’s outlook on life, “The studying, the books, exams, arguments, theories. The jokes and pints, laughter, kisses and songs. Life was like running, ninety percent sweat and toil, ten percent joy” (Dowd 223). Siobhan Dowd was named “top 100 IrishAmerican” by Irish-American Magazine. In 2004 she began her work as a Deputy Commissioner for Children’s Rights in Oxfordshire. Dowd died in August 2007 due to breast cancer. In 2009 she received the Carnegie Medal for her last completed book, Bog Child. It was recognized as the year’s best book for children or young adults in the United Kingdom.

“Has it ever occurred to you that where there is no anger, there is also no love?”


Works Cited "About Siobhan." Siobhan Dowd Trust, siobhandowdtrust.com/about-siobhan/. Accessed 5 May 2018. "Background: 'The Troubles.'" The Christian Chronicle, edited by Erik Tryggestad, 1 Sept. 2013, christianchronicle.org/background-the-troubles/. Accessed 11 May 2018. "Bogs, Fens, and Pocosins." NatureW orks, New Hampshire PBS, www.nhptv.org/natureworks/

nwep7f.htm. Accessed 4 May 2018. "Chemistry & Corpses: The Science of Bog Bodies." Y ouTube, uploaded by SciShow, 13 May 2014, www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ySRAJY92wE. Accessed 8 May 2018. Donnelly, James S. "A Church in Crisis." History Ireland, vol. 8, no. 3, www.historyireland.com/20thcentury-contemporary-history/a-church-in-crisis/. Accessed 6 May 2018. Dowd, Siobhan. "pg. 175." Random House, 2015, www.azquotes.com/quote/473572. Accessed 12 May 2018. "Flag of Northern Ireland." W ikipedia, 13 Apr. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Northern_Ireland. Accessed 4 May 2018. Hopper, Tristin. "Is Brexit Going to Restart the Troubles in Northern Ireland?" National Post, 30 Nov. 2017, nationalpost.com/news/world/is-brexit-going-to-restart-the-troubles-in-northern-ireland. Accessed 6 May 2018. "Map of Ireland." Lonely Planet, www.lonelyplanet.com/maps/europe/ireland/. Accessed 13 May 2018. McCaffery, Steven. "Interviews with Paramilitaries: Histories of the IRA and UVF." The Irish Times, 12 Aug. 2017, www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/interviews-with-paramilitaries-histories-ofthe-ira-and-uvf-1.3174613. Accessed 4 May 2018. Murray, Denis. "Everyday Life in the Troubles." History, BBC, www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/warof-attrition. Accessed 6 May 2018. "The Northern Ireland Conflict 1968-1998 – An Overview." The Irish Story, edited by John Dorney, 9 Feb. 2015, www.theirishstory.com/2015/02/09/the-northern-ireland-conflict-1968-1998-an-

overview/#.WvDAa4gvw2w. Accessed 5 May 2018.

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