Source: (2011) Cultural geographies 19(2) 237-258

Drawing on the theoretical insights of Paul Ricoeur this paper investigates the geographies of public remembrance in a post-conflict society. In Northern Ireland, where political divisions have found expression through acts of extreme violence over the past 30 years, questions of memory and an amnesty for forgetting have particular resonance both at the individual and societal level, and render Ricoeur’s framework particularly prescient. Since the signing of the Belfast Agreement in 1998, initiating the Peace Process through consociational structures, discovering a nomenclature and set of practices which would aid in the rapprochement of a deeply divided society has presented a complex array of issues. In this paper I examine the various practices of public remembrance of the 1998 bombing of Omagh as a means of understanding how memory-spaces evolve in a post-conflict context. In Omagh there were a variety of commemorative practices instituted and each, in turn, adopted a different contour towards achieving reconciliation with the violence and grief of the bombing. In particular the Garden of Light project is analysed as a collective monument which, with light as its metaphysical centre, invited the populace to reflect backward on the pain of the bombing while at the same time enabling the society to look forward toward a peaceful future where a politics of hope might eclipse a politics of despair.