Experience Living. Abroad.
Pictures I took from around the world and my experiences.
After traveling around the world to over 70 countries that took ten years and while I was in South America Northern Ireland was in the news all the time. between the the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and I was constantly been ask what are the Irish fighting about.
I first left Ireland in January 1965 and used London as my European base until September 1967 and from then on I was on the road traveling east going right around the world until I arrived back in Europe in November 1971. Because I was traveling from country to country I didn’t know what was going on in the world .The first question I was always asked was why are the Catholics and Protestants fighting in Ireland so I did my best and told them the history of Ireland the best I could and after I had finished telling them they would tell me why can’t they live in peace with each other. The Irish are good people, we don’t understand. So on my return visit to Ireland to visit my family I decided to go and visit Northern Ireland and see for myself what all this fuss is about and it would give me some idea what to tell people I would meet on my future travels and besides my family originally came from Northern Ireland. That is easier said then done from what I experience from my trip to Northern Ireland.
I went by train from Dublin to Belfast on Saturday the 11th December 1971.
Checked out the Falls Road which was the Catholic section of Belfast and then crossed over to the Shankill Road the Protestant section passing through a military check point and I came upon the Balmoral Furniture Company furniture store that just got bombed a couple of minuets just before and obviously I began to help with others to clear rubble away with our hands to find bodies. It was a good job that I stoped at a pub for a pint on the the Falls before I ventured over to the Shankill Road. With all the calamity going on and shouting some one caught my accent and wanted to know where I was from so I told him. He must have told some one else and then suddenly a group of people mistakenly took another guy for me and started shouting “He’s Catholic!” and starting beating and kicking him until he was unconscious and then realize they got the wrong guy because he was a Protestant and then they turned on me shouting “Fenian Bastard” was it my accent or the multicolored neck tie(cravat) I wore with some green that made them angry. Immediately the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and British troops came to my rescue and told those who began to harass and threatening me to back off and the RUC told me that I should leave before I get lynched. I agreed so they escorted me through the large crowd that had gathered and I started heading back to the Falls Road when a suddenly a unmarked car pulled up along side me with two guys jumping out and telling me that they were Special Branch and told me to get into the car. They got me into the back of the car and speed away wondering where they were taking me. They drove me a short distance to a fortified old garrison/police station that had sandbags covering the whole front of the building as if it was like a war zone. They held me for about two hours and they got the same answers from me no matter how many guys came into the room to question me so in the end they gave up and they told me they would drive me back to my area. I told them I don’t belong to any particular area so they dropped me off at the military check point that divides the Catholic area from the Protestant area. The last words from them were don’t hang about, go down to the railway station and go back to your Dublin. I took their advice and left Belfast with memories of a bombed out Balmoral Furniture Store known as “Moffat’s” where four people were killed two of them babies and nineteen people injured including the mother of one of the babies who were on the pavement outside the store at the time. Two employees working inside the store were killed: Hugh Bruce (70 Protestant) and Harold King (29 Catholic).