Where The Streets Have No Name

The Centenary of Ireland’s 1916 Rising

In many of the still occupied 6 counties of Northern Ireland, the name of the street that you live on announces your religion, your politics, and your socio-economic status. U2 frontrunner, Bono, wrote a song about a world that isn’t like that, high on a desert plain, where the streets have no name.

I was born in Newry, County Down, Northern Ireland, at the height of the Irish TROUBLES. Only in Ireland could a decades-long, violent, civil conflict be described as “troubles.” I’ve always found the understated moniker to be quiet strange, I think “troubles” more appropriately describes the difficulty I have in getting my 3-year-old and my 5-year-old to share, not the loss of 3,500 lives.

I’ve always found the understated moniker to be quiet strange, I think “troubles” more appropriately describes the difficulty I have in getting my 3-year-old and my 5-year-old to share, not the loss of 3,500 lives.

Growing up in the middle of such conflict made it seem normal. My dad being pulled from a car and searched for absolutely no good reason, other than the fact that he was a Catholic, now seems outrageous in a world where racial profiling is on everyone’s mind.

My siblings and I in Cork

The TROUBLES were yet another installment in the history of grass-roots violence in my beautiful country, which has been plagued by Anglican dominance for centuries.

On April 24th 2016, we will celebrate the centenary of the 1916 Rising. Now, we are a romantic nation, and 1916 has indeed been romanticized and is surrounded by myth and legend. My Father told tall tales of that fateful day in Dublin and how my great grandmother was a part of it. But anyone who has studied or read about The Rising, will know that it was a disorganized (and initially unsuccessful) affair, led by brave men and women who would sacrifice their lives for a free Ireland. The execution of its leaders days later by the British Government is what actually led to a later victory and in 1922, the Irish Free State. A hundred years on we will commemorate the day the battle began and I for one, will feel deep gratitude for those who give up their lives so that I could be Irish in Ireland.

While the initial Easter Monday conflict eventually led to 26 of our 32 counties being unified as a Republic. The act of war does not unify us. It divides us. Music unifies us, and as a nation of storytellers we’ve often best told our story in song

The act of war does not unify us. It divides us. Music unifies us, and as a nation of storytellers we’ve often best told our story in song.

Synonymous with the words “Irish” and “music” is our beloved U2. The 4 boys from Dublin have never shied away from a hot, political topic, but they have always sung about peace, freedom and unity.

Over the past few years I’ve begun to study the U2 songbook the way I’ve studied the Great American Songbook, and I’ve had the privilege of interpreting the unique music of the world’s most famous rock band in my own style. As a singer, what is most important to me is a deep, personal connection with the lyrics and I guess you could say, within the music of U2, I have found what I’m looking for.

Maxine Linehan is proud to be a part of the Welcoming Ireland celebration, performing on 4/24 at Wagner Park in Battery Park City.

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