Memory Fragments

Below are memories contributed to the project through the website, social media and in one-to-one and group interviews.

Was taken to a Hunger Strike march, aged 5, 1981.

RUC Jeeps with big heavy metal grills on the windows moved in on the crowds and mayhem ensued. Got lost from my father and experienced violence, noise and panic for the first time ever.
I am now 46, but PSNI jeeps today still have those heavy grills and seeing them travel towards me still transports me right back into that 5 year old’s fear, just for a moment in much the same way that smells do in other circumstances. Ciaran, uploaded to website.

I worked in the industrial development board, in the early—well, the Eighties. And we had been out in bomb scares quite a lot, but one day the bomb did go off. And you know, a loud noise and everything. But what I remember afterwards is… all the paperwork. It was like ticker tape coming down in, in New York. You know, that’s the only way I can describe it. It was just, everything went up, and everything just floated down… I can remember phoning home… I phoned home and said, you know, I was all right. And I was crying, and my dad said, “Don’t cry over a building.” You know. But it… it really got me. I don’t know whether it was shock because I could have been in there, or it could have been worse, or whatever. But I think that was the closest I had ever, in the whole time of the Troubles, that somewhere where I had been had been blown up. And it was just, the devastation. And what for? People’s lives ruined, and… you know. And it could have been so much worse. But I’ll always remember that. It was like ticker tape. It just, like—you know, celebration, but it wasn’t. It was the complete opposite. And just being in floods of tears over a building. Contribution from a group discussion at Baron Hall Community Centre.

We lived behind an army base: the noise of helicopters rattling our roof tiles and shaking our windows. A knock at the door in the middle of the night to say there was a bomb scare and we would have to leave our house.

The troubles didn’t just happen in Belfast we lived in a small town but we were still very much affected. Our road had a barricade at one end and at the other the army were stopping cars at checkpoints. They were there for years. G., Cookstown (website).

There was an underlying sense of tension you held in the body that you only realised as it eased when you left NI, still exists to some extent. Rick Cook (Twitter, 9 April 2022).

Never even realised how much I was effected by the troubles until lockdown. freaked out by masks..turned out I seen one2many balaclavas were not normal! neither was collecting bullets or seeing neighbours covered in blood not normal..thanks be to god for our good friday! Rachel K. (Twitter, 9 April 2022).

Laying in bed at night then boom whole house shook just one of many sounds. Sharon Laverty (Twitter, 9 April 2022).

During the worst of the troubles I lived in the lower Springfield Road area. I worked in the city centre, each morning I would take a deep breath, and say a silent prayer before leaving the house for the walk to work. Many of these walks were extremely challenging. Rupert Perkins (Twitter, 10 April 2022).

Mine are usually sight/smell combos. The smell of McErleans bakery and the blood & sawdust smell of the butcher as I walked down Springfield Rd and a soldier casually pointed a rifle at my 7 year old self.

And the smell of the freshly printed Belfast Telegraph, with the pic of the man in the balaclava and the confidential phone number to report terrorism in the front page (I think it was beside the tally of how many days Brian Keenan had been held hostage in Libya). Louise Kennedy (Twitter, 9 April 2022).