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    « Getting My Irish Up | Main | Oh, the People You Meet ... »

    March 07, 2006



    The Troubles, such an understatement. So sad when there's so much bloodshed. I know there are longstanding and deepseated problems there but why did there have to be so much killing? Thanks for the insight.

    Montana Anna

    Wow. How devastating. How strange and heartbreaking that this was/is happening in a "modern" country. What an experience for you!


    Does the "H" have anything to do with Bobby Sands and his hunger strike?
    I read about this a LONG time ago, so my memory is rather vague at this point. But I do remember that he had been a prisoner of war, and during his incarceration, his fellow inmates refused to wear anything, save a towel or underwear, in protest because their rights had been stripped and their living conditions in prison were deplorable. Does the H have something to do with that?

    I had to cringe while reading through some of this post, Nils. How vivid these memories must be for your friends and those who live there. It must have been an eye opening experience for you to absorb it all firsthand through their stories.

    All I could think of when I finished reading this was, "wow".

    Such an inner strength they must have!


    Laura wins the prize. The H does indeed refer to the hunger strikers - the cells they were held in while in prison were in the form of an H, so the IRA supporters adopted the H as a symbol of the protest.

    And yes, the hunger strikers refused to wear prison clothing because they insisted they were prisoners of war and therefore entitled to wear their own clothing. When that demand was refused, they chose to wear only underwear - hence the depictions of hunger strikers in underwear.

    It IS a time that is fresh in my friends' memories - as members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, they would wake up each morning and before starting their car they would grab a long handled mirror from the garage wall and check to see if anyone had tampered with their undercarriage or planted a bomb during the night. We in North America have no sense of that kind of life - living in fear of stray cars parked on the streets or suspicious bags left unattended. We're learning, now - but it's a long way from part of our everyday lives.

    Now, I have to think of what kind of prize Laura wins ...


    Oh, will she win Rice-A-Roni and a picture of you in assless chaps???

    Bucky Four-Eyes

    Nilbo, you're gonna have to get your own chaps this time. I'm presently using mine.

    You know, for inspiration.


    hmmm, i'm still thinking. this could be a long list.

    (for some reason, I kept thinking of Bobby Sherman when I first read this post. Odd, how the mind works.
    well my mind, anyway). ;)

    yeah, I know, bobby sherman! I am so dating myself!!!

    I'm trying to picture Nils in chaps. oh lawd...


    I *had* this pithy, warm & fuzzy comment all ready, and damn it all if Squirl didn't drive it right out of my brain.


    "Just your average hometown tour" reminded me of this: I have a friend whose father lives in the county where all the sniper shootings occured a few years ago. (I'm assuming news of that made it to Canada - it was certainly a big deal here, anyway.) He takes visiting friends on the "sniper tour" - basically drives them past all the places where innocent people were shot. Which is sick but also fascinating to folks, I suppose?

    Belfast is obviously different in that it's part of significant history and there are valuable lessons to be learned from that history.

    Sounds like you're making the most of your trip - it's awesome when a local can share his/her perspective of the place.

    Amanda B.

    I am envious of your travels.


    I hope you don't mind me highjacking your blog, Nils, but I had to tell the Internet as a Whole how much you rock. :)

    I'm just back from seeing Nils' show "The Truth About Daughters" which he performed near Oxford and it was the funniest evening I've had in ages. It was one of those 'be careful when you choose to take a drink 'cos it might shoot out of your nose when you laugh' evenings.

    Internet, if you get a chance to go and see Nils, even if you have to travel a bit I promise you won't be disappointed. If you're lucky you might also get to meet the lovely Joyce - the woman who obviously keeps her man going in the right direction.

    As the man who introduced me to Susie and her 'Booty Flies' (which incidentally nearly got me sacked when I could hardly stay upright in my chair at work through laughing so hard) Bucky, Torrie et al and who always comes up with something witty and/inciteful on all your blogs, Nils and his show made me laugh so much I nearly peed myself.

    Go on Nilbo, put that as a review on one of your flyers - dare ya! ;)


    Wow, this is my kind of history lesson. I don't/didn't do well with reading about history, but I do love to hear the stories told.
    Hi, Nils! Been missing you :)


    Wow. I have always wanted to go to Ireland, since that is where my ancestors originally came to Canada from. This was fascinating and very sad.

    Read this when you posted and have been waiting for more! Hope all is well:)


    What a great verbal tour! Thanks, Nils.


    I grew up in West Belfast from 1974-2002 and i can honestly say your friend glenn, is as much a murderer and part of the problem, as any terrorist. I am not a crackpot but simply a middle class, republican, school teacher living in london (all be it from much more humble background ie 93% unemployment 'catholics need not apply'). During those years the police were a very, very bad lot. Killed many innocent people. My friends. If they picked you up all you could do was pray thet they took you to a police station. Many weren't that lucky.
    Don't believe everything your told. It's not true. It's not reality; simply someones representation of reality.


    James I am so glad you took the time to 'educate' people. I too am from West Belfast and still live there. It shocks me, the ignorance people have, and how one version of reality can be misplaced for the actual 'reality'. Growing up in Belfast, I have had to accept many versions, many peoples devastating stories from many sides. There was hurt and misery on all sides, the police included, but likewise teh police were also a huge part of the problem, and they themselves inflicted huge amounts of pain.


    Gosh, I keep looking for the parts where I gave a narrow view of what happened - or where Glenn was biased in his commentary. Sorry, I can't find it. In fact, the only real anecdote I recounted was a police officer acting in a way I'd call "improper, if not understandable under the circumstances".

    Glenn - and his wife Joy - acknowledge that there were bad things done by all four sides - Catholics, Protestants, police, and British Army.

    As for Glenn and Joy ... I am deeply offended and angered by James' characterization of them as "as much a murderer and part of the problem as any terrorist " simply because they were members of the police force. Pretty broad brush to paint with there, James ... it's like saying all Protestants were loyalist thugs or all Catholics were IRA bombers. There were bad people on all sides but, as always in a horrendous conflict, there were people who were on the side of the angels.

    I'm sorry if your friends were hurt by the police, but our friend Jackie ... and another young friend, Joanne, and dozens upon dozens of other kids, Catholics and Protestants alike, were shepherded over to Canada safely by two volunteer chaperones - Glenn and Joy, and were treated with love, respect, and kindness.

    They are among the good guys, and they despise the bad police officers the way good people in Northern Ireland hate the thugs on either side.

    I appreciate your comments, James, and you're welcome here any time. But if you can make sweeping, vicious statements about my friends - people you don't know in any way -based on the fact that they served on a police force, I can only hope that over in England you are not teaching semantics, philosophy, logic ... or history.


    im from north belfast and glenn is talking crap what about the shankill butchers?they were nice people lol my fuck they cut my uncle's eyey out and cut his penis off dont here much about that glen lies all of it>


    ...and we see why the Troubles never really go away. My point, Adrian, is that the tour was utterly evenhanded, in the sense that Glenn felt disdain for the thugs on both sides. And there were thugs on both sides - thugs who did that to your uncle, and no doubt thugs who avenged what was done.

    He wasn't talking crap and he wasn't lying. The lies come from those who say "It was only one side doing all this."

    Glenn hated the Shankill butchers. He hated the cowards who planted bombs that killed children. He hated the kneecappers, the snipers, the rock-throwers, and the hate-mongers FROM BOTH SIDES.

    You have a particular point of view, and I understand it comes from your experience. But when you try to convince thinking people - people who can see what's been done by both sides - that the fault lies with one group or another, you embarrass yourself. We see that it is either a stupid lie on your part ... or that you have been so brainwashed you can no longer think for yourself.

    I'm sorry about your uncle. I'm sure he was an innocent bystander, and not a willing participant in the cycle of hate that thugs perpetuated for so many years.

    But not everybody was innocent. And on BOTH sides, there were those who the world is better off without.


    I understand the points of view and also hated what happened in Belfast but please make your statements accurate.

    The two boys did not "happen" to find themselves in the middle of an IRA funeral, they were in fact plain clothed, armed soldiers who had been in Belfast for a number of years and the funeral was very high profile, no reason was given for them being there.
    Just previous to this another funeral had been attacked with bullets and grenades so the mourners were on edge, the corporals car reversed at high speed into the crowd.
    The crowd did remove the soldiers from the car but they were shot with their own guns by the IRA.
    So as I said atrocities have been carried out by all sides but please be accurate.


    You make valid points, Mike. I have changed some of the text to reflect the story more accurately (even though this is not an historical record and I really DON'T have a "responsibility" per se to be accurate or fair to anyone. Hell, I can say The Troubles were a Scottish glam rock band who opened for the Bay City Rollers, if I want to!).

    In the interests of my own crisp storytelling, I had taken liberties with a story told to me by Glenn. He was clear at the time that the corporals had no business being where they were. Naive as I am - and let's be clear, part of the point of this entire entry is that we in this part of the world ARE naive - I believed that wrenching the soldiers out of their car, beating them, stripping them down, and then stabbing and shooting them was a somewhat disproportionate response to the provocation, and so focussed on that part of the story.

    In the broader sense, my point - simply that the tour showed me parts of Belfast you don't read about in the Visitor's Guide - stands.


    accurate, are you thick or something, i gerw up in that nice wee spot, i went to sleep to the sound of helecopters, got woke up with my bedroom windows ratteling by yet another ira bomb, a friend of mine was kicked and betten then had concreet blocks droped on him untill he passed out, it took him 3 weeks to die, for the crime of walking down a street when the other side were looking for a victom, got a crap edcuation because so long as swe were not out throwing petrol bombs the school thought they were doing a good job, and all the while north ameracains who still do not know there arse from there elbow sent cash over here to keep it going, there are about 5 thousand storeys over here, and each one is a body, they are all "accurate" and "justafied" they "should not have been there" well u know what mike, i have seen protastant and catholic bodys blown to bits, and you cant tell one type from the other, and there is always a excuse for murder, he only did this becouse he did that, wise yourself up and could anyobdy that sent money "home for the cause" have a real good go at washing your hands, cus blood is a bugger to get off, and thanks for fucking up my life, i hope you feel it was worth it

    belfast child


    anybody wants to get a hold of belfast child

    and when you have a spair 3 secconds you can tell me all about it

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