At our first Motley staff meeting of volume XVI our talented features editor Édith de Faoite sputtered across me: ‘She’s dead. She’s gone!’. This was the 8th of September, 2022. The Queen was dead. There was a collective exhale of ‘ah’ and everyone made an effort to read the room to see if a Ra joke would be considered unprofessional. I brightly chirped ‘Guys we could change the theme to Queen. Like it could be monarchy-themed, Queen the band themed or drag queen/yaas queen themed. You would have to write an article on one of these three things.’ There was a horrified silence and a vigorous head shake from our brilliant current affairs editor Ronan Keohane. With the ‘Queen’ theme a no-go, we agreed to stick to the original theme: ‘Borders’. It is for this, and many other reasons, that I am grateful for our talented team.
Sticking to the borders theme is most definitely for the best. It encompasses far more relevant issues than royalists, rock bands and Rupaul’s drag race. Since the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, borders have always been a contentious issue. Are they delineated by geographical barriers, ethnic ones or economic ones? Why is the lottery of life so hugely impacted by whether you were born on one side of the equator or the other?
You would think that since 1648 we have made great strides in the philosophy of borders and how to keep peace. It would appear not. With the death of Queen Elizabeth II, we have examined the legacy of colonialism. With the war in Ukraine, we realise the fragility of the global supply chain. With the energy crisis, we have had to confront the reality of globalisation and the price gouging of monopolies. Borders are nebulous and ever-changing and their problems are too. This said, these problems occur in a cyclical nature. Colonialism, war in Europe and hyperinflation are all issues we have seen before. Dare I even say, we live in extremely precedented times? This year these themes have all re-emerged as prescient issues but they are not new ones. They are part of the bread and butter of international relations and the basic question of ‘how do we get along?’.
For Motley’s part, we’ve taken on the big and small. Topics such as the partition of Ireland in paint, the partition of India and Pakistan in the Marvel Cinematic Universe or the potential partition of Ukraine as a means of ending the war. We have also written about how to draw borders in our personal lives, the poetry of borders, and the power of anti-authoritarian art. As with any important theme, there’s the big stuff, with implications on the lives of billions of people- but there’s also the small stuff, and how these issues affect the bits and pieces of our personal day-to-day.
University College Cork, was originally called Queen’s College Cork. How strange it is that 177 years ago, at the height of the famine, an academic institution should be built in a gravely suffering country. The college opened with a staff of 23 professors and 181 students. The founding colleges were medicine, arts and law. Needless to say, there was no Irish language degree offered. To think that 177 years later, the same University would publish a magazine which has an article written in a language that was almost decimated by the crown talking about the crown itself.
As a new semester at UCC begins, I want to wish the best of luck to all our students, from whatever corner of the earth they come from. Regardless, I would like to think we all consider Cork our home. Whether you have never left the country, are first-generation Irish, an Erasmus Student or heaven forbid, from Kerry- UCC is enriched from all of our life experiences and inputs. And hey, be grateful that neither the magazine nor the college is Queen-themed.