Say Nothing | Patrick Radden Keefe

Summary of: Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland
By: Patrick Radden Keefe


In ‘Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland’, Patrick Radden Keefe dives into the gripping and complex tale of Jean McConville, an ordinary Northern Irish woman who disappeared without a trace in December 1972. Readers will be taken on a journey through the deeply harrowing conflict known as the Troubles, which began in the late 1960s as Catholic and Protestant neighbors fought for political power and control over Northern Ireland. By sharing stories of key players such as Gerry Adams, Dolours, and Marian Price, Keefe highlights the violence and desperation that led to the kidnapping and eventual murder of McConville. Follow along as the story of McConville’s disappearance finally comes to light, revealing a tangled web of culpability and a shocking cover-up.

The Troubles and the Disappearance of Jean McConville

In Northern Ireland’s Troubles, widespread discrimination against Catholics pushed many, including young ones, to violence. Jean McConville was one of the countless victims of this conflict. Having lost her husband and struggling to raise her ten children on her own, Jean was taken from her home by a group of people and made to disappear without a trace. Politics and violence impacted the lives of people like Jean and her family, leaving deep scars in Northern Irish history.

The Origins of the IRA

In the Troubles of the late 1960s, Gerry Adams and sisters Dolours and Marian Price joined the revolutionary organization known as the IRA, which aimed to unite Ireland by compelling the British Government to give up Northern Ireland. Despite the proud tradition of republican violence in Northern Ireland, Adams stood out for his strategic and intellectual approach, ultimately becoming one of the most important decision-makers in the group. The Price sisters were part of an infamous bombing campaign, inspired by their family’s history of self-sacrifice for the republican cause. The IRA’s use of car bombs became their signature in the fight to force the British out of Ireland.

Bloody Friday and the Price Sisters’ Revenge

During the Troubles, the IRA used car bombs to devastating effect. On Bloody Friday, nearly 20 bombs were detonated around Belfast, killing nine people and injuring 130 others. While the IRA claimed they only intended to target infrastructure, the attack drew international condemnation. Seeking to take the fight to the British mainland, Dolours and Marian Price drove car bombs to prominent British institutions, injuring 250 people. Though caught, the Price sisters would become embroiled in a high-profile battle of wills with the British Government. This book highlights the lethal impact of car bombs during the Troubles and the lengths to which individuals were willing to go in the name of their cause.

Fighting for Justice

After being arrested for the London bombing campaign, Marian and Dolours Price demanded to be transferred back to a prison in Northern Ireland. When their request was ignored, they resorted to going on a hunger strike, which resulted in the controversial practice of force-feeding by the British Government. The sisters resisted this for months until the doctors recommended stopping it due to the harm it was causing them. This practice had also been used against female suffragettes in English prisons many decades before, causing outrage among British feminists. Eventually, the British Government sent the sisters back to Northern Ireland to finish out their sentences.

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