3 Jan 1972: The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded a bomb in Callender Street, Belfast, which injured over 60 people.
30 January 1972: Bloody Sunday refers to the shooting dead by the British Army of 13 civilians (and the wounding of another 14 people, one of whom later died) during a Civil Rights march in Derry.
I trust and hope I will never have to live through another year like 1972. It was the worst year of the troubles with a death toll of almost 500 people, half of which were innocent citizens going about their every day business. Belfast was a no go area as far we were concerned and we only ventured in from Comber to the city if it was absolutely necessary.
We were well settled in our chalet bungalow and the only thing missing was a washing machine and central heating. I still had to trudge to the launderette to do the weekly wash and our only heating was a coal fire. Coming home on a cold winters day the coat stayed on until the fire was lit. Eventually my dad came up trumps as he knew a central heating installer who did the job for a reasonable price. The day we returned home, opened the front door and were greeted with a lovely warm house was a day to savour. Had to wait a bit longer for the twin tub however.
Rathgael House in Bangor was now the home of the Dept of Education. As the year went on it became a fortress with sellotape stuck on the windows in case a bomb exploded. This was to protect us from flying glass. There were searches at the front door. Telephoned bomb scares where commonplace and would result in us being evacuated from the building, just in case. There were designated employees who searched the premises every morning on arrival and every evening before leaving to make sure nothing untoward had been left in the building.
Our move from Dundonald House to Bangor meant a change in staff and I became friendly with a girl who worked in the same office. I found myself agreeing to myself and G. going on holiday to Ibiza with her and her hubby. So from Christmas on it was save, save, save. In April,Joe Walsh tours ( remember them), were paid in full and we couldn’t wait to get away.
Saturday 5 February 1972: Two IRA members were killed when a bomb they were planting exploded prematurely. A man died from injuries received in an explosion six days earlier.
Thursday 10 February 1972: Two British soldiers were killed in a land mine attack near Cullyhanna, County Armagh.
An IRA member was shot dead during an exchange of gunfire with RUC officers.
We were busy cultivating our little vegetable garden in Comber. Encouraged by G’s dad we sowed out lettuce, cabbage and potatoes. We looked at them with pride every morning. This was our version of the Good Life. All went well and the little plants punched their way though the soil. Not long now and we’ll be eating our own produce, we thought. But the rabbits had other ideas and we came out one Spring morning to find that apart from the potatoes there was nothing left. The Good Life worked for Tom and Barbara but not for us.
4 March 1972:The Abercorn Restaurant in Belfast was bombed without warning. Two Catholic civilians were killed and over 130 people injured. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) did not claim responsibility for the bomb but were universally considered to have been involved.
We flew into Ibiza around 7 July 1972. The heat smacked us on the face as soon as we stepped off the plane. A bus was waiting to take us to San Antonio abad. We discovered our fellow travelling companions and those staying at Hostel Mallorca were a motley crew from, at that time, a deeply divided city. Some from the Shankill some from the Falls and ourselves from Comber and Bangor respectively. Did we disagree ? Hell no! We all got on like a house on fire ending up most nights in the bar singing Irish songs including the Sash and other rebel songs.
When I say we all got on there was one fly in the ointment. My friend unbeknownst to be was a fussy eater. At meal times she turned her nose up at everything and ended up living on mainly water melon for the whole two weeks. She also didn’t like water very much so the glass bottomed boat didn’t go down well. Secretly, although I didn’t admit it, I wasn’t too happy with it either. A trip to the old city of Ibiza to viisit the hippy stalls caused her nose bleeds as she stumbled on a host of tiny lizards swarming around the cliffs.
We did the touristy thing and went to a medieval banquet at Barbacoa Cova Santa. But she wouldn’t eat anything in case it wasn’t properly cooked. It was delicious. She did however like lying in the sun and so we took a boat trip out to Calla Bassa where I fried and spent a miserable afternoon lying on the beach.
26 May 1972: The Irish Republican Army (IRA) planted a bomb in Oxford Street, Belfast which killed a 64 year old woman.
Warning: don’t go on holidays with someone you don’t know very well. Two weeks can be a long time on holiday. I checked Google and the hostel is still there although the uninterrupted view we had of the sea seems to have disappeared since 1972. The area looks tacky and not as I remember it. Back in the seventies the Bee Gees had a home on Ibiza and we were entertained in the evenings in the local pub by the youngest brother Andy who, like his other two brothers died an early death in 1985. Andy played at night in a local night club and although I’ve heard his brothers sometimes sang with him we didn’t see them. The record being played in most night clubs in Ibiza was Seaside Shuffle. I danced with one of the group when they made an appearance at one of the clubs. Didn’t go down well with the hubby, especially as he asked if he could leave me back to my hotel.
Heading home, we arrived in Dublin airport in a thick fog ( second landing in fog). We took a couple of attempts to get down the Captain informing us that he was going to ‘attempt‘ a landing. I had the paper bag out and was praying he would just go back to Ibiza. We almost took the old airport building with us and as a result I have only ever flown once since and that was in a snow storm where we circled Gatwick for 40 mins.
Newspapers took a few days to reach Ibiza in 1972. No TV. No internet. No mobile phones. No news from home for two weeks, so it was heartbreaking to arrive home to hear what had happened on what is now known as Bloody Friday. After a fortnight where we had all mixed together irrespective of religion and political alliance we were back to the reality of what life was like in NI in 1972.
In this blog I have purposely mixed the two lives that people lived in the 70″s, the ‘life must go on attitude’ with the horror of ‘living through the troubles.’
Friday 21 July 1972: ‘ Bloody Friday’ is the name given to the events that occurred in Belfast on Friday 21 July 1972. During the afternoon of ‘Bloody Friday’ the Irish Republican Army (IRA) planted and exploded 22 bombs which, in the space of 75 minutes, killed 9 people and seriously injured approximately 130 others. In addition to the bombs there were numerous hoax warnings about other explosive devices which added to the chaos in the streets that afternoon.
http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/othelem/chron/ch72.htm A chronicle of the troubles 1972