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Remembering Lyra

Lost, Found, Remembered, by Lyra McKee, Faber and Faber, 122 pp, £12.99, ISBN: 978-0571351442 It is difficult to comprehend that we lost Lyra McKee just over one year ago. The young journalist was a dynamic member of the vibrant “ceasefire generation” of writers in Northern Ireland. In the foreword to last year’s Angels with Blue Faces, McKee contends that despite the North being a “tiny” region, which “many on the mainland UK seem to forget exists”, “we disproportionately contribute talent to the rest of the world”. She was one such outstanding talent, and she is survived by an impressive body of work that demonstrates the international significance of Northern Irish literature. The memorial anthology Lost, Found, Remembered, published by Faber and Faber this April to commemorate the anniversary of McKee’s death, showcases the range and depth of her ability. It features well-known pieces such as her “Letter to My Fourteen-Year-Old Self,” about growing up queer in Belfast, alongside her career-defining reportage, as well as poetry and excerpts of unpublished work. lyra2 In the opening section, “In My Own Words”, she observes, “I know very well how the Troubles masked other crimes; how women and children and vulnerable people were harmed.” As an investigative journalist, McKee was particularly interested in covering marginalised groups whose suffering while “there [was] a war on” remains subsumed by the grand narrative of armed struggle. She was also dedicated to elucidating the “post-conflict” paradox of transgenerational trauma that permeates contemporary Northern society. Her incredibly moving piece “Suicide of the Ceasefire Babies”, which examines the alarming suicide rates in Northern Ireland since 1998, is a standout entry. McKee laments: The Ceasefire Babies was what they called us. Those too young to remember the worst of the terror because we were either in nappies or just out of them when the Provisional IRA ceasefire was called. I was four, Jonny was three. We were the Good Friday Agreement generation, destined to never witness the horrors of war but to reap the spoils of peace. The spoils just never seemed to reach us. The “Editor’s Note” to Lost, Found, Remembered points out that “Lyra was drawn to subjects that are usually met with silence”, and her work illuminating these unspoken and unresolved histories of violence represents an invaluable contribution to journalism. This book is a potent reminder of lost potential. Her assertion that “my own take matters” captures the assuredness of…

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