"The Open Championship at Portrush may be the only thing Northern Ireland can agree on"

Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch helps the rest of us better understand Ireland, Nortrhern Ireland and The Troubles as we approach the first Open here since 1951.

Even in the darkest of days — and there were many, still etched on the faces of older spectators at Royal Portrush this week — the perception distorted the reality. For much of my childhood, the annual death toll from the conflict hovered around 100, a figure described with callous indifference by one British government official as “an acceptable level of violence.”

One hundred souls. That’s about two days worth of murders in the United States. The threat of violence was more pervasive than the violence itself, metastasizing into every aspect of everyday life. Even today, two decades after the Good Friday Agreement, Northern Ireland retains a slightly sinister air, its people still able to decipher clues about the beliefs of strangers from language or utterances that seem meaningless to the untrained ear.