In 1921, the island of Ireland was divided in two. Intended as in internal border, within what was then the Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, it became the backdrop to a violent and bloody period in the region’s history. This 499km long border follows the same course to this day, meandering its way awkwardly along ancient county boundaries. It separates the 6 counties of ‘Northern Ireland’ from the remaining 26 counties of the republic of ‘Ireland’.
Customs checks dissapeared in 1993, when the E.C. Customs Union was formed, and the peace process, culminating in the 1998 Good Friday agreement, paved the way for the disbandment of Identity checks and military checkpoints. Hundreds of rural border crossings have been reopened, bridges have been rebuilt, and villages have literally been reunited. For almost 20 years there has been an open, almost invisible border. The only sign that you have crossed the border these days is an occasional sign indicating a change from metric to imperial speed limits, or vice versa.
But the result of the 2016 referendum on EU membership in the U,K, has left a dark cloud looming over that situation. All of a sudden, this unusual and contentious border is set to form the frontier of the Europen Union. The return of customs checks, the introduction of passport checks and immigration control are now a distinct possibility.
"the border" is a documentary Film, documenting a journey along the Irish border. This is not a history lesson, or political lecture, but rather a look at this unique area, and even more unique situation, as told by the people who live and work in the area.
Don't expect interviews with historians or political figures... the emphasis instead will be on meeting every day people who live on or near the border, and on the soft, almost non existent nature of the border in its current state. Farmers whose farm crosses the border, or who sell their produce on the other side, commuters who cross the border every day to go to work, small business owners who rely on the thriving tourist industry to survive... 'every day' people with 'every day' stories, that people can relate to.
A trailer of the Film can be found below on this page, and the 23 minute short can be found on youtube and vimeo.
To support our kickstarter campaign to make a feature length version visit: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/68217944/the-border-0
Subscribe to our social media accounts to keep up to date with the latest updates and news. In the meantime, read about some of the amazing people I met on my short journey along the border below...
Paul is the MD and founder of Frazer Ferries Group, who operate the Scenic Carlingford ferry, the easternmost border crossing on the Island.
After 10 years of development, the Ferry started operating in the Summer of 2017, by which time of course, the UK had voted to leave the EU. Despite the uncertainty this poses for a cross border ferry service, Paul is confident that they can adapt to the post brexit era, even if that means undertaking customs checks. He adds that he beleives a lot of people would rather undergo customs checks in the peace and tranquility of carlingford lough than on an M1 motorway.
The benefits that the ferry has brought to the local community is obvious. Paul told me about local schoolteachers, farmers and tradesmen that all use the ferry, even in these early stages of it's operation.
Tom runs the Clogher variety market, which although in Co. Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, lies in a unique position surrounded by the border on three sides, meaning almost all ways in or out go through the Republic of Ireland. Tom explains how the two routes from the market to the nearby town of Clones cross the border 5 or 7 times respectively.
Tom shares stories about the customs posts of the past and how many of the roads in the area were cratered or blocked and labelled "unapproved roads".
This proximity to the border has made Tom very concerned about the future, not only because of the effect it will have on local businesses and agriculture, but also because, as he puts it, re-instating a border will bring back the difference between north and south.
Valerie is from Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal, and describes herself as a political activist, who is involved with community development.
She recounts the difficulties and fear that came with crossing the border during the time of military checkpoints. Although Valerie is very clear that she doesn't want a return to the violence and fear of the past, or the difficulties that a hard border would bring to both transport and everyday people's lives, she is hopeful that in the long run it will have a positive outcome.
She hopes that even if there is a hard border, that it will push people to ask more questions, challenge the current situation, and in the long run change things for the better.
She passionately believes that Ireland would be better off outside of the EU, and hopes that current developments will lead people to question Ireland's membership. She also hopes to one day see a united Ireland, and points out that people have now been reminded that, despite the softening of the border in recent years, the border never went away.
Also from Ballyshannon, Molly has known Valerie since childhood.
The border has been an influence on Molly's life ever since her first job, which involved importing textiles from Asia. She believes that the very design of the border itself has led to a huge decline in the town over the years, as it effectively cut Ballyshannon off from it's natural hinterland, sandwiching it in a narrow corridor between the border and the sea.
Molly gives a unique insight into the border of the past, and the 'troubles' that accompanied it, including a heartfelt recounting of seeing footage of the omagh bombing on TV.
Unlike Valerie, however, she struggles to see a positive side to current developments. In fact, having her future tumbled back into uncertainty, when the border communities were just starting to get their heads above water is the final straw, as she puts it.
this is a trailer to give you an idea of what you can expect in the finished Film... feel free to share this clip across social media and with your friends in general!