Author Topic: Where Else Would This Happen?  (Read 444 times)

Chalkie

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Where Else Would This Happen?
« on: September 29, 2019, 09:21:02 PM »
IT COULD ONLY HAPPEN HERE![/size]

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When I was growing up in the Short Strand area of east Belfast during The Troubles, there were two streets in my area which stretched into the neighbouring Protestant Templemore Avenue area - Beechfield Street and Madrid Street.  These two streets must have seen more fighting and rioting than any other streets in the history of The Troubles because it was practically a nightly occurrence.  Just one street separated the Catholic houses in Beechfield Street and Madrid Street from the Protestant houses, and that street was Bryson Street.  Bryson Street ran the entire length of one side of the Short Strand from Madrid Street all the way down to the Newtownards Road with Saint Matthew’s Church on the corner.  One side of Bryson Street had Catholic homes and the opposite side of the street were all Protestant homes.  Honestly, you could not make this up. And if you lived in Bryson Street thenyou lived on the edge.  I never had any friends who lived in Bryson Street or was friendly with any girls from the street because it was a street you hardly ever saw any kids playing in.  All the houses in Bryson Street had protective metal cages fixed to the windows to prevent petrol bombs from being thrown into the homes and none of them had a letter box for similar reasons.   The residents of Bryson Street must have lay in their beds at night waiting for their doors to be smashed down by one side of the community or the other.  [/size]
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The Catholics who lived in Bryson Street very rarely used the front door to get into the house, opting instead for the safety of entering via the back door in the entry which backed on to Edgar Street at the top of my street.   [/size]
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Where Madrid Street met Bryson Street there were two empty houses which separated the adjoining neighbourhoods.  The families in these two homes, one Catholic and one Protestant, had been burned out, which left a small buffer between the two rival areas.  About 100 yards up Madrid Street, Templemore Avenue Secondary School stood on the corner of Madrid Street and Templemore Avenue.  It was a 100% Protestant school.  On one corner where Bryson Street intersected Beechfield Street stood Beechfield Street Primary School which again was a 100% Protestant school.  Believe it or not, on the opposite corner stood an off licence which had two entrances: one in Bryson Street for the Catholics and one in Beechfield Street for the Protestants.  I never used this off licence, and I think it was shut by the time I was of a legal age to purchase alcohol, but I cannot remember any incidents whereby Catholics or Protestants were harmed going into it.  [/size]
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Opposite Beechfield Street Primary School was Arthur’s Shop which was on the corner of Kilmood Street where my good mate Hugh McGrattan (nicknamed “Scrat”) lived.  And if you think an off licence with two doors sounds strange, at the bottom of Bryson Street stood our Doctor’s Surgery.  It was located in the Protestant part of the street as it stood on the corner of the Newtownards Road directly opposite Saint Matthew’s Church.  As odd as this may sound we had two entrances to the surgery, one in Bryson Street for the Catholics and one on the Newtownards Road for Protestants.  I hated it when I had to go to the Doctor’s because to be honest I was frightened.  As soon as I walked into that surgery it was like an alarm bell sounding to announce the arrival of a Catholic.  It didn’t matter if I was not wearing my school uniform because the very door I entered by singled me out instantly as a Catholic.  Mind you, as with the off licence, I cannot recall any bother ever happening there.       [/size]

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Did you ever experience anything similar in your area when you were growing up?[/size]

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Wonderful memories from a great childhood.[/size]

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Just one of the memories I have written about in “Kicking Through The Troubles- How eManchester United Helped To Heal A Divided Community.”[/size]

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http://empire-uk.com/kicking[/size]

GandT

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Re: Where Else Would This Happen?
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2019, 11:06:05 AM »

Great account and many, many references to areas I knew very well. In the late 50s and early 60s things were very different. If I told this to people outside the area and certainly outside NI, they would find some of it difficult to believe but - happy days with some childhood friends in and around Central Street beside the Oval; watching football with other kids from both sides in a house in Parker Street; later, playing folk tunes with friends [some rebel and a few Orange tunes] in Clonduff and Tullyard Way at Castlereagh; a party or two on Eleventh night in a house in Thompson Street or Methuen Street; a few right ould nights in the Bridge Bar with shipyard men. I could go on and on to describe how different some things were before the era you outline - very accurately, sadly.

Where else would it happen? Alas, too many places - ask people in Slovenia, Montenegro, Bosnia and so on. Murder and mayhem amongst formerly close neighbours. Rawandra? Slaughter among tight little villages. Before and during WWII as people betrayed and killed or surrendered Jewish, communist neighbours and so on.

The best and the worst of humankind is all over the globe. We are not that special for good or bad and we are just as capable of the best and worst as others!

Will take a wee look at the book - looks interesting - well done!

GandT

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Re: Where Else Would This Happen?
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2019, 11:16:28 AM »
Just occurred to me about places and street names in that area - a man [probably youngish but appeared old to us at the time] telling how he had been told off by a policeman for trying to take the p*ss when he had told the officer that his name was John Black from White Street. Many years later, a friend and I were taken by some stupid soldiers at Kennedy Way to Andytown police station simply because, during an ID check, one of us said we were headed home to Andersonstown and the other said he was heading to the Shankill. They too though we were taking the proverbial Thankfully, an RUC sergeant told the soldiers 'It does happen you know' and let us go immediately!

Chalkie

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Re: Where Else Would This Happen?
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2019, 12:14:16 PM »

I wanted to live in White Street in the Short Strand when I was a kid so I could be John White from White Street!


JohnKelly

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Re: Where Else Would This Happen?
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2019, 02:20:58 AM »
Great account and many, many references to areas I knew very well. In the late 50s and early 60s things were very different. If I told this to people outside the area and certainly outside NI, they would find some of it difficult to believe but - happy days with some childhood friends in and around Central Street beside the Oval; watching football with other kids from both sides in a house in Parker Street; later, playing folk tunes with friends [some rebel and a few Orange tunes] in Clonduff and Tullyard Way at Castlereagh; a party or two on Eleventh night in a house in Thompson Street or Methuen Street; a few right ould nights in the Bridge Bar with shipyard men. I could go on and on to describe how different some things were before the era you outline - very accurately, sadly.

Where else would it happen? Alas, too many places - ask people in Slovenia, Montenegro, Bosnia and so on. Murder and mayhem amongst formerly close neighbours. Rawandra? Slaughter among tight little villages. Before and during WWII as people betrayed and killed or surrendered Jewish, communist neighbours and so on.

The best and the worst of humankind is all over the globe. We are not that special for good or bad and we are just as capable of the best and worst as others!

Will take a wee look at the book - looks interesting - well done!

Yes indeed it happened in the hell holes you mentioned plus the other hell holes of Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria but what I find hard to comprehend is that the same savagery that occurred in those hell holes also occurred in a part of the United Kingdom over a period of thirty years!

Chalkie

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Re: Where Else Would This Happen?
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2019, 10:16:14 AM »
Thank you.

Alber55

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Re: Where Else Would This Happen?
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2019, 09:34:12 PM »
I went to St.Malachys College (Antrim Road) in the late 60s and regularly walked to the McCallum Hall on the Woodvale Road after school, in full uniform. My kit bag was blue, green & orange and had Celtic and Linfield written all over it. Got stopped once by a couple of older lads and asked what was I doing here. I told them that my dad couldn't drive me today as he was having his Her Majesty emblem on his Customs car repainted.....not true....he'd had it removed months earlier because of 'The Troubles'. Never had any problems.

Chalkie

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Re: Where Else Would This Happen?
« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2019, 10:00:40 AM »
Good story.