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Category: Ireland

A Stranger in a Strange Land

A Stranger in a Strange Land

I was having a great time hitchhiking around Europe in 1971, interacting with locals and other backpackers in Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Oslo and various places in Scotland. Virtually everyone I met was friendly and every place I visited was interesting. One fellow traveller I got to know in Inverness advised me, “If you like Scotland, you’re going to love Ireland.” I hadn’t thought much about Ireland but since almost all my ancestors came from there I thought it would be fun…

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Aye, there goes Bobby Sands

Aye, there goes Bobby Sands

The body of Bobby Sands was moved to his family home in the Catholic Twinbrook neighbourhood of West Belfast on the day the 27-year-old hunger striker finally died of starvation. Thousands of friends, relatives and fellow paramilitary volunteers came to the wake to pay their respects, and two days later Sands was given a hero’s funeral by the Provisional IRA. It began with a mass at his local church, St. Luke’s Chapel, followed by a nearly three-hour-long, five-mile procession, led…

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Take Me to the Worst of It

Take Me to the Worst of It

When I arrived in Belfast on April 30, 1981, to cover the imminent death of 27-year-old Bobby Sands and the climax of the IRA hunger strikes in Long Kesh (or Maze) Prison, I had to really scramble to find accommodation of any kind. Every major British, Irish and American newspaper and every big English language television network seemed to have descended on Belfast and grabbed virtually all the available hotel rooms in the fractured city. I got one of the…

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The Boys of Belfast’s Ghettos

The Boys of Belfast’s Ghettos

Sometimes, just when an event you have been looking forward to for a very long time is near, a totally different and very enticing opportunity comes knocking at your door. You can simply ignore it, or offer to radically change your plans. About ten days before I was to fly to Shannon Airport, in the west of Ireland, in early May, 1981, and begin a bicycling trip around the country, I realized that a major political event in Northern Ireland…

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