C.S. Lewis' Ulster Roots

Posted on October 24, 2005

As the release date for the film version of C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe grows ever closer, we admit we've been somewhat surprised at all the controversy the film seems to be inspiring. First we had British author Phillip Pullman blasting C.S. Lewis' works as racist, misogynistic drivel. Now, a group in Northern Ireland has decided that they can use C.S. Lewis as a role model to stop young boys from becoming terrorists.

C.S. Lewis was born in Holywood in 1898 and lived there until he was nine when his family packed him off to boarding school in England. Despite his long absences from home, Lewis continued to return to his native Ulster up until his death. East Belfast multilingual academic and Ulster Unionist Dr. Ian Adamson even points to East Belfast's rural hinterland as the inspiration for Lewis's Narnia.

"On maps he drew of Narnia there is an uncanny similarity between the topography and that between the Holywood hills and the Mountains of Mourne in the distance. This is an area he was always fond of, which he remembered from his Ulster childhood." Adamson is chairperson of the Somme Association which was established to record the impact of the First World War on Ulster, particularly the loss of tens of thousands of local men in the Battle of the Somme. "The other major connection aside from his childhood in Ulster is the fact that Lewis like his friend at Oxford JRR Tolkien fought in the First World War. This is another important Ulster link that people here can relate to."

It's an interesting program: get the children to read rather than join paramilitary groups. Somehow, we don't think they'll be inviting Phillip Pullman to any Lewis-related literary events in northern Ireland.

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