Honors College Theses

Publication Date



History (B.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Alan C. Downs


The Troubles were a period of crisis and violence in Ireland in the latter half of the twentieth century. Loyalists, Unionists, Republicans, and Nationalists brutally fought against each other over the issue of whether or not Northern Ireland should remain in the United Kingdom or join the Republic of Ireland to form one united country. The conflict also resulted in ethnic and religious tensions for many Protestants and Catholics who were compelled to choose sides over this issue, owing to their ties to the deep-rooted history of animosity between the two Christian populations. As a result, the Troubles, which lasted from the late 1960s to the late 1990s, were a violent time that witnessed hate crimes and religious clashes in both Northern Ireland and the Republic. At roughly the same time as passions escalated into violence in the 1960s, a new genre of music was gaining popularity in Ireland. Rock and Roll became an outlet for bands to break barriers, defy norms, and express opinions in a creative and non-violent way. Two bands in particular are illustrative of this point: Thin Lizzy and U2. This thesis seeks to illuminate how these two bands used their platforms as popular Irish rock bands to defy norms, cross geographical and religious borders, and address the political, religious, social, and economic strife in Ireland spawned by the Troubles.

Thesis Summary

This thesis briefly examines how two Irish rock bands, Thin Lizzy and U2, used their platform to address the political, religious, geographical, and racial divisions in Ireland that stemmed from the Troubles in Northern Ireland from the late 1960s to the late 1990s.