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.
• 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).