TO celebrate World Book Day acclaimed journalist, political commentator and author Brian Rowan will be in conversation with Jake MacSiacais discussing the West Belfast man's autobiography ‘Surfing into Life on a Bathboard – A Gaeilgeoir Republican’s Journey to an Imperfect Peace’.
The memoir tells the story of an Irish language activist and former IRA prisoner who was intimately involved in the peace process. Jake MacSiacais joined the republican movement at a very early age but resigned in 1997, shortly before the Good Friday Agreement. As a prominent republican, he was often at the centre of debates on strategy and tactics, as he reveals in this frank account of his political activity and family life.
Jake was imprisoned on two occasions. When he began his second sentence in the H-Blocks in 1977, he was a fluent Irish speaker. He immediately joined the ‘blanket protest’ and then the ‘no-wash protest.’ Jake was on the Blocks during the trauma of the hunger strikes before his release from prison in April 1982. Upon release, he began teaching Irish and threw himself into republican politics. He was northern editor of An Phoblacht and was at the heart of debates about electoral programmes, abstentionism and the peace process. Jake was later Deputy Editor of the Andersonstown News.
Today, Jake works for Forbairt Feirste, the Irish language development agency, which secured funding for the key projects behind the Gaeltacht Quarter. At the height of this success, Jake was overwhelmed by depression and suffered a breakdown. He began writing this autobiography from 2018 as part of his recovery.
Danny Morrison, author of Then The Walls Came Down and All The Dead Voices said: “Jake Jackson’s memoir can make for uncomfortable reading because of its honesty and intimacy – the laying bare of a life lived during one of the longest-running conflicts of the late twentieth century in which he played an important part as a republican activist, a blanket man, and latterly a republican spokesperson grappling with the compromises involved in ceasefires and peace-building.
"But that is its very strength – that and the humour of an acute observer with a very sharp mind, who has no time for cant and does not balk at candour.”
The event will take place tonight, Thursday 2 March at 7pm Cultúrlann Mac Adam Ó Fiaich. The event is free and booking is optional at firstname.lastname@example.org.