All posts by belfastchildis

James Craig UDA – Life & Death

James Pratt Craig

Life and Death

James Pratt Craig (17 November 1941 – 15 October 1988) was an Ulster loyalist paramilitary during The Troubles in Northern Ireland in the latter half of the 20th Century, who was a member of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), and was a command member of its Inner Council.

 He also ran a criminal large-scale protection racket from the West Belfast Shankill Road area, where he resided. Described by journalist David McKittrick as:

“Belfast’s foremost paramilitary extortionist”,

Craig allegedly colluded at times with the enemies of the UDA, Irish Republican groups such as the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) and Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), providing them with information on key loyalists which led to their subsequent murders.  Aside from controlling rackets and extorting protection money from a variety of businesses, it was claimed that Craig also participated in paramilitary murders.

— Disclaimer –

The views and opinions expressed in this post/documentaries  are soley intended to educate and provide background information to those interested in the Troubles of Northern Ireland. They in no way reflect my own opinions and I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or factual errors.

He was accused by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) of setting up the assassinations of some of their key members by IRA hit squads, such as Shankill Butcher Lenny MurphyJohn Bingham, and William “Frenchie” Marchant in the 1980s. Craig was murdered by the UDA, using their cover name of the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), for alleged “treason” as it was believed he had passed information to the IRA regarding South Belfast UDA commander John McMichael, who was killed by an IRA booby-trap car bomb in December 1987. Craig was shot dead in The Castle Inn, a pub in Beersbridge Road, East Belfast.

See: John McMichael

James Craig
James Craig
BornJames Pratt Craig
17 November 1941
BelfastNorthern Ireland
Died15 October 1988 (aged 46)
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Cause of deathMultiple gunshot wounds
NationalityBritish
Other namesJim Craig
Known forUlster Defence Association (UDA) fund-raiser and Inner Council member
racketeer

Ulster Defence Association

See: UDA Page

Beginnings

The Shankill Road area, early 1970s

James Pratt Craig, known as Jim, was born in Belfast in 1941 and grew up in an Ulster Protestant family on the Shankill Road.  In the early 1970s, Craig, a former boxer, was sent to the Maze Prison for a criminal offence unrelated to paramilitary activities. While serving his sentence at the Maze he joined the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), and he was asked by the organisation’s commander at the time, Charles Harding Smith to take control of the UDA prisoners inside, on account of his reputation as a “hard man”.

Criminal activities

After his release in 1976,  he set up a large protection racket and became the UDA’s chief fundraiser; by 1985 he had managed to blackmail and extort money from a number of construction firms, building sites, as well as pubs, clubs, and shops in Belfast and elsewhere in Northern Ireland, whose intimidated owners paid protection money out of fear of Craig and his associates.

It was alleged that the UDA received hundreds of thousands of pounds some of which also found their way inside Craig’s pockets as part of his “commission”. He was acquitted on a firearm charge and Ulster Freedom Fighters (a cover name for the UDA) membership on 18 March 1982.  In 1985, Craig was brought to court after a number of businessmen decided to testify against him, with the condition that their identities remained hidden. The case fell apart when Craig’s defence argued that his client’s rights were violated by the concealment of the witnesses’ identities.

Craig was alleged to have been involved in the double killing of a Catholic man and a Protestant man on the Shankill Road in 1977. The men, both work colleagues, had entered a loyalist club and were later stabbed, shot and put into a car which was set on fire. By this time the West Belfast UDA no longer wanted him in their ranks, as they claimed they could no longer “afford him”.

Craig, who was ordered to leave the Shankill Road, went on to join forces with John McMichael‘s South Belfast Brigade. In addition to being the principal fundraiser, Craig also sat on the UDA’s Inner Council. Craig usually travelled in the company of his bodyguard Artie Fee, a UDA member from the Shankill Road.

The rival Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) carried out an investigation after it was rumoured Craig had been involved in the death of UVF major William Marchant, who was gunned down by Provisional IRA gunmen from a passing car on the Shankill Road on 28 April 1987. Marchant was the third high-ranking UVF man to be killed by the IRA during the 1980s. Although their inquiries revealed that Craig had quarrelled with Marchant as well as Lenny Murphy and John Bingham prior to their killings, the UVF felt that there was not enough evidence to warrant an attack on such a powerful UDA figure as Craig.

See : Lenny Murphy

In December 1987, when South Belfast UDA brigadier John McMichael was blown up by an IRA booby-trap car bomb outside his home in Lisburn‘s Hilden estate, it was believed that Craig had organised his death with the IRA.

Allegedly Craig had feared McMichael was about to expose his racketeering business, thus putting an end to his lucrative operation. McMichael had reportedly set up an inquiry and discovered that Craig was spending money on a lavish scale, going on holidays at least twice a year and indulging in a:

“champagne lifestyle”.

 At the same time it was suggested that Craig had made certain deals with Irish republican paramilitary groups, dividing up the rackets in west Belfast, and he would have been doing the IRA a favour by helping them to eliminate a high-profile loyalist such as McMichael.  Craig had established links with republicans during his time in prison, and the profitable deals and exchanges of information between them ensured he would most likely not be a target for IRA assassination.

Craig was named as an extortionist in Central Television’s 1987 programme The Cook Report. Craig planned to sue the programme’s producers for libel; in January 1988, Jack Kielty (father of future television presenter Patrick Kielty), a building contractor from County Down who had promised to testify as a key witness against Craig, was murdered by the UDA. This killing was attributed to Craig, although it was never proven.

Death

“Bunch of Grapes” pub in Beersbridge Road, east Belfast where Craig was shot dead. At the time it was called “The Castle Inn”

Craig was shot dead by two gunmen from the UDA in “The Castle Inn” (later called “The Bunch of Grapes”), a pub in Beersbridge Road, east Belfast on 15 October 1988, to where he had been lured in the belief that there was to have been a UDA meeting.

He was playing pool in the pub at the time of his fatal shooting by the two men, both of whom were wearing boiler suits and ski masks and carrying automatic weapons.  Upon spotting Craig they opened fire, spraying the room with gunfire. Craig died instantly; a bystander pensioner was also murdered in the attack, and four other bystanders were wounded by stray bullets. The UDA claimed the killing was carried out due to Craig’s “treason” and involvement in John McMichael’s murder as they knew he had provided the IRA with information to successfully carry out the assassination.

They apologised for the unintentional death of the pensioner. Craig was not given a paramilitary funeral, and none of the UDA’s command attended it.

Andy Tyrie, the UDA’s former supreme commander, was not convinced of Craig’s complicity in McMichael’s killing. In an interview with Peter Taylor, he stated that after McMichael’s death, the UDA set up an inquiry, but couldn’t find any solid proof which linked Craig to McMichael’s assassination. Tyrie maintained that the two men had been good friends, and that Craig had given McMichael £20,000 to keep the latter’s pub (The Admiral Benbow) from failing. Tyrie suggested that Craig was a suspect because his wife was Catholic.

 Tyrie insisted that John Hanna, a prison officer in the Maze, had supplied the IRA with information about McMichael through Rosena Brown, a Belfast actress and IRA intelligence operative, with whom Hanna had been infatuated.

McMichael’s son, Gary, however, firmly believed Craig to have been the person behind his father’s killing. Less than three months after McMichael’s death, Tyrie himself narrowly escaped an attempt on his life by car bomb; he subsequently tendered his resignation as commander.

Reputation

According to McKittrick, Craig’s:

“notoriety and range of enemies meant he could have been killed by almost any paramilitary group, loyalist or republican”.

Described as stocky of build, he wore expensive clothing and jewellery, and enjoyed a lavish lifestyle from the proceeds of his racketeering. Author and journalist Martin Dillon wrote that Craig was not intelligent but was “cunning, boastful and ruthless”.

There was also much antipathy between him and UDA brigadier Tommy “Tucker” Lyttle due to Craig having allegedly made Lyttle’s daughter pregnant. Lyttle died of natural causes in October 1995.   It was later revealed that Lyttle had worked as an informer for the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC)’s Special Branch.

Craig reportedly invited RUC officers to an extravagant wedding reception held for his daughter. Author Sally Belfrage who encountered Craig at an “Eleventh night” party held at the UDA’s east Belfast headquarters, summed him up as “the most personally powerful man I had ever met, with an air of animal force that inspired awe at the idea of its ever being let loose. He was also as drunk as I had ever seen anyone in my life who could still more or less negotiate a sentence and a sequence of steps.” She claimed Craig had propositioned her; when she rebuffed his advances he took it in his stride, and grabbing a microphone, went on to lead the other revellers in a rendition of “The Sash My Father Wore“.

Dillon, in his book about the violent loyalist gang, the Shankill Butchers, recounted how Craig casually killed a man in a UDA club after a fellow UDA member handed him a jammed pistol. Craig, testing the weapon, allegedly pointed it at a man who was playing pool, and shot him in the head, killing him instantly. Craig then gave orders for the man’s body to be dumped in an adjacent alley. Dillon believes Craig had killed UDA commander William “Bucky” McCullough in October 1981 after the latter discovered Craig had been stealing funds from the UDA for his own personal use. The Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) had claimed responsibility for the killing.

Jackie McDonald, who was part of Craig’s protection racket, was arrested in 1989. He had taken over McMichael’s command of the South Belfast UDA, having been promoted to the rank of brigadier by Andy Tyrie in 1988. In January 1990, he was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment inside the Maze for extortion, blackmail, and intimidation. McDonald was released in 1994. In an interview with Peter Taylor, he made the following statement regarding his former association with Craig:

I would say without a shadow of doubt the worst thing that ever happened to South Belfast, John McMichael and myself especially, was that Jim Craig ever had anything to do with our organisation.

One builder who later assisted the RUC when they set up an anti-racketeering unit, admitted that he had paid out protection money throughout the 1980s to Craig and his henchmen. The amount of money he handed over increased each year.

Dillon suggested that prior to Craig’s killing, younger elements within the UDA, who were loyal supporters of McMichael, discovered (by means which Dillon did not divulge) that the RUC’s anti-racketeering squad CI3 had videotaped a clandestine meeting between Craig and a member of the IRA’s Northern Command, which is what reportedly sealed Craig’s fate.

See: The Rise & Fall of UDA Brigadier of Bling James Gray – AKA ” Doris Day”

See : 15th Oct deaths in the Troubles

See: Robin `The Jackal’ Jackson – Life & Death

Loyalists Episode1 No Surrender Full Version HQ

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Fragging – The deliberate killing or attempted killing by a soldier of a fellow soldier

Fragging –

The deliberate killing or attempted killing by a soldier of a fellow soldier………

Fragging is the deliberate killing or attempted killing by a soldier of a fellow soldier, usually a superior officer or non-commissioned officer (NCO). The word was coined by U.S. military personnel during the Vietnam War, when such killings were most often attempted with a fragmentation grenade, sometimes making it appear as though the killing was accidental or during combat with the enemy. The term fragging is now often used to encompass any means used to deliberately and directly cause the death of military colleagues.

What was ‘Fragging’? (The Vietnam War)

The high number of fragging incidents in the latter years of the Vietnam War was symptomatic of the unpopularity of the war with the American public and the breakdown of discipline in the U.S. Armed Forces. Documented and suspected fragging incidents totaled nearly nine hundred from 1969 to 1972

Motivation

Soldiers have killed colleagues, especially superior officers, since the beginning of armed conflict, with many documented instances throughout history (one such attempt was on unpopular Civil War general Braxton Bragg). However, the practice of fragging seems to have been relatively uncommon in American armies until the Vietnam War. The prevalence of fragging was partially based on the ready availability of fragmentation hand grenades. Grenades were untraceable to an owner and did not leave any ballistic evidence. M18 Claymore mines and other explosives were also occasionally used in fragging, as were firearms, although the term, as defined by the military during the Vietnam War, applied only to the use of explosives to kill fellow soldiers.

Most fragging incidents were in the Army and Marine Corps. Fragging was rare among Navy and Air Force personnel who had less access to grenades and weapons than did soldiers and Marines.

The first known incidents of fragging in South Vietnam took place in 1966, but events in 1968 appear to have catalyzed an increase in fragging. After the Tet Offensive in January and February 1968, the Vietnam War became increasingly unpopular in the United States and among American soldiers in Vietnam, many of them conscripts. Secondly, racial tensions between white and African-American soldiers and Marines increased after the assassination of Martin Luther King in April 1968.

With soldiers reluctant to risk their lives in what was perceived as a lost war, fragging was seen by some enlisted men:

“as the most effective way to discourage their superiors from showing enthusiasm for combat.

Morale plummeted among soldiers and marines. By 1971, a U.S. Army colonel declared in the Armed Forces Journal that:

“The morale, discipline, and battleworthiness of the U.S. Armed Forces are, with a few salient exceptions, lower and worse than at any time in this century and possibly in the history of the United States.”

The U.S. military reflected social problems and issues in the U.S. such as racism, drug use, and resentment toward authoritarian leaders. As the U.S. began to withdraw its military forces from Vietnam, some American enlisted men and young officers lost their sense of purpose for being in Vietnam, and the relationship between enlisted men and their officers deteriorated.

The resentment directed from enlisted men toward older officers was exacerbated by generational gaps, as well as different perceptions of how the military should conduct itself. Enforcement of military regulations, especially if done overzealously, led to troops’ complaining and sometimes threats of physical violence directed toward officers.

A number of factors may have influenced the incidence of fragging. The demand for manpower for the war in Vietnam caused the armed forces to lower their standards for inducting both officers and enlisted men. The rapid rotation of personnel, especially of officers who served (on average) less than six months in command roles, decreased the stability and cohesion of military units.

Most important of all, perhaps, was the loss of purpose in fighting the war, as it became apparent to all that the United States was withdrawing from the war without having achieved any sort of victory. Morale and discipline deteriorated.

Most fragging was perpetrated by enlisted men against leaders. Enlisted men, in the words of one company commander, “feared they would get stuck with a lieutenant or platoon sergeant who would want to carry out all kinds of crazy John Wayne tactics, who would use their lives in an effort to win the war single-handedly, win the big medal, and get his picture in the hometown paper.”

Harassment of subordinates by a superior was another frequent motive. The stereotypical fragging incident was of “an aggressive career officer being assaulted by disillusioned subordinates.” Several fragging incidents resulted from alleged racism between African-American and white soldiers. Attempts by officers to control drug use caused others. Most known fragging incidents were carried out by soldiers in support units rather than soldiers in combat units.

Soldiers sometimes used non-lethal smoke and tear-gas grenades to warn superiors that they were in danger of being fragged if they did not change their behavior. A few instances occurred—and many more were rumored—in which enlisted men collected “bounties” on particular officers or non-commissioned officers to reward soldiers for fragging them.

Fragging: Why U. S. Soldiers Assaulted Their Officers In Vietnam

M26 grenade, issued to the U.S. Army and U.S. Marines in the Vietnam War, used in many fragging incidents

Fragging incidents

1969197019711972
Army9620922228
Marine Corps30+50+30+5
Suspected306211131
Total156+321+363+64
Deaths4638123
Note: Statistics were not kept before 1969.

According to author George Lepre, the total number of known and suspected fragging cases by explosives in Vietnam from 1969 to 1972 totaled nearly 900 with 99 deaths and many injuries. This total is incomplete as some cases were not reported, nor were statistics kept before 1969 although several incidents from 1966 to 1968 are known. Most of the victims or intended victims were officers or non-commissioned officers. The number of fraggings increased in 1970 and 1971 even though the U.S. military was withdrawing and the number of U.S. military personnel in Vietnam was declining.

An earlier calculation by authors Richard A. Gabriel and Paul L. Savage, estimated that up to 1,017 fragging incidents may have taken place in Vietnam causing 86 deaths and 714 injuries of U.S. military personnel, the majority officers and NCOs.

Fragging statistics include only incidents involving explosives, most commonly grenades. Several hundred murders of U.S. soldiers by firearms occurred in Vietnam but most were of enlisted men killing enlisted men of nearly equal rank. Fewer than 10 officers are known to have been murdered by firearms. However, rumors and claims abound of deliberate killing of officers and non-commissioned officers by enlisted men under battlefield conditions. The frequency and number of these fraggings, indistinguishable from combat deaths, cannot be quantified.

Response

The U.S. military’s responses to fragging incidents included greater restrictions on access to weapons, especially grenades, for soldiers in non-combat units and “lockdowns” after a fragging incident in which a whole unit was isolated until an investigation was concluded. For example, in May 1971, the U.S. Army in Vietnam temporarily halted the issuance of grenades to nearly all its units and soldiers in Vietnam, inventoried stocks of weapons, and searched soldier’s quarters, confiscating weapons, ammunition, grenades, and knives.

This action, however, failed to reduce fragging incidents as soldiers could easily obtain weapons in a flourishing black market among nearby Vietnamese communities. The U.S. military also attempted to diminish adverse publicity concerning fragging and the security measures it was taking to reduce it.

Only a few fraggers were identified and prosecuted. It was often difficult to distinguish between fragging and enemy action. A grenade thrown into a foxhole or tent could be a fragging, or the action of an enemy infiltrator or saboteur. Enlisted men were often close-mouthed in fragging investigations, refusing to inform on their colleagues out of fear or solidarity.

Although the sentences prescribed for fragging were severe, the few men convicted often served fairly brief prison sentences. Ten fraggers were convicted of murder and served sentences ranging from ten months to thirty years with a mean prison time of about nine years.

Influence

In the Vietnam War, the threat of fragging caused many officers and NCOs to go armed in rear areas and to change their sleeping arrangements as fragging often consisted of throwing a grenade into a tent where the target was sleeping. For fear of being fragged, some leaders turned a blind eye to drug use and other indiscipline among the men in their charge. Fragging, the threat of fragging, and investigations of fragging sometimes disrupted or delayed tactical combat operations. Officers were sometimes forced to negotiate with their enlisted men to obtain their consent before undertaking dangerous patrols.

The breakdown of discipline, including fragging, was an important factor leading to the creation of an all-volunteer military force by the United States and the termination of conscription. The last conscript was inducted into the army in 1973. The volunteer military moderated some of the coercive methods of discipline previously used to maintain order in military ranks.

Notable incidents

World War I

Vietnam War (U.S. forces)

  • On 21 April 1969, a grenade was thrown into the company office of K Company, 9th Marines, at Quảng Trị Combat Base, RVN; First Lieutenant Robert T. Rohweller died of wounds he received in the explosion. Private Reginald F. Smith pleaded guilty to the premeditated murder of Rohweller and was sentenced to 40 years’ imprisonment; he died in custody on 25 June 1982.
  • On 15 March 1971, a grenade tossed into an officer billet at Bien Hoa Army Airfield killed Lieutenants Thomas A. Dellwo and Richard E. Harlan of the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile); Private E-2 Billy Dean Smith was charged with killing the officers but was acquitted in November 1972.

Vietnam War (Australian forces)

  • On 23 November 1969, Lieutenant Robert Thomas Convery of the 9th Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment was killed when a grenade exploded while he was sleeping in his tent at Nui Dat, South Vietnam. Private Peter Denzil Allen was convicted of Convery’s murder and served ten years and eight months of a life sentence in Risdon Prison.
  • On Christmas Day 1970, Sergeants Allan Brian Moss and John Wallace Galvin were shot dead and Sergeant Frederick Edwin Bowtell injured when Private Paul Ramon Ferriday opened fire with his rifle into the Sergeant’s Mess of the Royal Australian Army Service Corps at Nui Dat, South Vietnam after an all-day drinking session. Ferriday was convicted on two counts of manslaughter and one of assault with a weapon, and served eight years of a ten-year sentence.

Middle East peacekeeping

In Country: A Vietnam Story

War in Afghanistan

  • 17 August 2002, British Army Sergeant Robert Busuttil of the Royal Logistic Corps was shot dead by subordinate Corporal John Gregory during a barbecue at Kabul International Airport. It was later revealed that Corporal Gregory had been drinking and the two men had earlier been involved in an altercation. It was in the immediate aftermath of this that Corporal Gregory returned with his weapon loaded, and fired up to ten rounds killing Sergeant Busuttil as he lay in a hammock before turning the weapon on himself.

Iraq War (U.S. forces)

  • On 23 March 2003, in Kuwait, Sergeant Hasan Karim Akbar cut power to his base, threw four hand grenades into three tents where fellow members of the 101st Airborne Division were sleeping, and opened fire with his rifle when the personnel ran to take cover. Army Captain Christopher S. Seifert and Air Force Major Gregory L. Stone were killed, and fourteen other soldiers were wounded by shrapnel. Akbar was tried by court martial at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in 2005. On 21 April 2005, Akbar was found guilty of two counts of premeditated murder and three counts of attempted premeditated murder and was sentenced to death on 28 April.
  • Captain Phillip Esposito and 1st Lieutenant Louis Allen were killed on 7 June 2005 as a result of the explosion of a Claymore mine placed on Esposito’s office window at Forward Operating Base Danger in TikritIraq. The unit’s supply sergeant was charged with the murder, but was acquitted at court martial.
  • On 11 May 2009, Sergeant John Russell opened fire on Camp Liberty with an M16A2 rifle and shot dead five U.S. military personnel (U.S. Army Specialist Jacob D. Barton, Sergeant Christian E. Bueno-Galdos, Major Matthew P. Houseal, Private First Class Michael E. Yates, and U.S. Navy Commander Charles K. Springle). Russell pleaded guilty to five counts of premeditated murder and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Royal Navy

  • On 8 April 2011, during a port visit to Southampton, Able Seaman Ryan Donovan abandoned his sentry post at the boarding ramp of submarine HMS Astute, and opened fire on CPOs David McCoy and Chris Brown after they confronted him at the submarine’s weapons locker; he then forced his way into the control room and opened fire, killing Lt Cdr Ian Molyneux and wounding Lt Cdr Christopher Hodge before being tackled to the ground by a visiting dignitary as he reloaded. Donovan pleaded guilty to Molyneux’s murder and the attempted murders of Hodge, Brown, and McCoy and was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 25 years.

See: The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest – Rome’s darkest hour

See: Decimation in the Roman Army – Brutal!

Going Underground – The Jam: Iconic Songs & the story behind them

Going Underground – The Jam

The Jam

Going Underground

March 1980

Going Underground – The Jam: Iconic Songs & the story behind them

Going Underground” is the first British #1 chart single by The Jam, released in March 1980. It went straight in at #1 in the UK Singles Chart, spending three weeks at the top.

It was the first of three instant chart-toppers for the group

Going Underground

Song profile

“Going Underground” was not released on any of the band’s six studio albums, although it has appeared on many compilations and re-releases since then. The song was released as a double A-side with “Dreams of Children”, which originally had been intended to be the sole A-side; following a mix-up at the pressing plant, the single became a double A-side, and DJs tended to choose the more melodic “Going Underground” to play on the radio.

The song was ranked at #2 among the “Tracks of the Year” for 1980 by NME. In March 2005, Q magazine placed “Going Underground” at #73 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks, and in October 2006, placed it at #98 in its list of the 100 Greatest Songs Ever.

Jam Facts:

The band released 18 consecutive Top 40 singles in the United Kingdom, from their debut in 1977 to their break-up in December 1982, including four number one hits

“Going Underground”
Single by The Jam
A-side“Dreams of Children”
Released14 March 1980
Format7″ vinyl
RecordedDecember 1979
GenreNew wavemod revivalpower pophard rock[1]
Length2:50
LabelPolydor
Songwriter(s)Paul Weller
Producer(s)Vic Coppersmith-Heaven
The Jam singles chronology
The Eton Rifles
(1979)”Going Underground” / “Dreams of Children”
(1980)”Start!
(1980)

My Thoughts ?

me with hat.PNG
Me in my Mod days

Being an old Mod and a Jam super-fan this was one of the first Jam records I bought and from the first moment I heard it I loved it and became obsessed with the Jam and this set me on the road to becoming a Mod and the best years of my teenage/young adult life in Belfast, what I can remember anyways. The Jam became the sound track to my crazy teenage odyssey and I came to love everything about them and the Mod way of life and even to this day I still love all the Jams stuff and listen to it whenever the feelings take me , which is a few times a week at least.

My fav Jam album ?

Its a hard one but its between Setting Sons & Sound Affects , although I love In the City and This is a Modern World also . Grrrr…. Its like trying to choose which of your kids or pets you love best , an impossible task and Im the same with Jam albums I feel i’d be betraying those I left out. Going Underground is a personal fav of mine for the path it set me on but I have to say Thick as Thieves and That’s Entertainment are two of my fav Jam tunes off all time.

See: Getting Stoned with Paul Well

See: The Loyalist Mod – Death of a fella Mod and a catholic friend

See: Steve Marriott Jan 1947 – April 1991 All or Nothing

Lyrics

“Going Underground”

Some people might say my life is in a rut
But I’m quite happy with what I’ve got
People might say that I should strive for more
But I’m so happy I can’t see the point

Something’s happening here today
A show of strength with your boy’s brigade
And I’m so happy and you’re so kind
You want more money – of course I don’t mind
To buy nuclear textbooks for atomic crimes
And the public gets what the public wants

But I want nothing this society’s got
I’m going underground (going underground)
Well, let the brass bands play and feet start to pound
Going underground (going underground)
Well, let the boys all sing and let the boys all shout for tomorrow

Some people might get some pleasure out of hate
Me, I’ve enough already on my plate
People might need some tension to relax
Me, I’m too busy dodging between the flak

What you see is what you get
You’ve made your bed, you’d better lie in it
You choose your leaders and place your trust
As their lies wash you down and their promises rust
You’ll see kidney machines replaced by rockets and guns
And the public wants what the public gets

But I don’t get what this society wants
I’m going underground (going underground)
Well, let the brass bands play and feet start to pound
Going underground (going underground)
So let the boys all sing and let the boys all shout for tomorrow

La la la la…

We talk and we talk until my head explodes
I turn on the news and my body froze
These braying sheep on my TV screen
Make this boy shout, make this boy scream!

Going underground, I’m going underground!

La la la la…

These braying sheep on my TV screen
Make this boy shout, make this boy scream!

I’m going underground (going underground)
Well, let the brass bands play and feet start to pound
Going underground (going underground)
Well, let the boys all sing and let the boys all shout,
Going underground (going underground)
Well, let the brass bands play and feet go pow, pow, pow
Going underground (going underground)
So let the boys all sing and let the boys all shout for tomorrow

Covers and parodies

Ade Edmondson‘s folk punk band The Bad Shepherds covered it in 2013.

The Bad Shepherds Going Underground

Welsh alternative metal band Lostprophets covered the song in 2007 as a B-side to their single 4:AM Forever.

The comedy band Amateur Transplants released a two-minute parody titled “London Underground” in 2005 in the light of the December strike. It became a popular download in the United Kingdom.

Jam Facts:

Jam biographer Sean Egan said of the Jam that they “took social protest and cultural authenticity to the top of the charts.

Amatuer Transplants London Underground

The song was covered by Buffalo Tom for the 1999 Jam tribute album Fire and Skill: The Songs of the Jam. This version also was released as part of a double A-side single with Liam Gallagher‘s and Steve Cradock‘s version of “Carnation” and reached #6 in the UK singles chart.[6]

Manfred Mann’s Earth Band covered the song on their 1986 album “Criminal Tango“.

Daryl Denham released a version of the song titled “Go England” in 2002 after Weller gave permission for it to be adapted as a football song.

Jam Facts:

Paul Weller on becoming a Mod

“I saw that through becoming a Mod it would give me a base and an angle to write from, and this we eventually did. We went out and bought suits and started playing MotownStax and Atlantic covers. I bought a Rickenbacker guitar, a Lambretta GP 150 and tried to style my hair like Steve Marriott‘s circa ’66.

Dreams of Children

“Going Underground” was coupled with “Dreams of Children” as a double A-side. It opens and is intermittently accentuated with a backmasked sample of the band’s 1979 song “Thick as Thieves“. In the US the backwards intro was edited out making the single 10 seconds shorter than the UK Version. This US edit is available on the best-of compilation Snap!.

The Jam released two other double A-side singles: “David Watts“/”‘A’ Bomb in Wardour Street” and “Town Called Malice“/”Precious“.

Jam Facts:

On 29 April 1977, Polydor released the Jam’s debut single, “In the City“, which charted in the Top 40 in the UK.

See: here for more information on the Jam

Thick As Thieves

See: Golden Brown – The Stranglers

Ok i’m drunk & I might regret this in tomorrow morning, but this is how i’m feeling at this exact moment in time….21.04/06/09/2019

Ok i’m drunk & I might regret this in tomorrow morning, but this is how i’m feeling at this exact moment in time….21.04/06/09/2019

Someone just emailed me ( from Twitter I think () and asked me if I was ok ? , and why i was depressed and talking about drugs on my Twitter feed tonight & it made me stop and think about how people may perceive me and my chat and crack tonight – let me try and expalin.

I’m in the final drafts of completing my forthcoming autobiography Belfast Child( titled to TBC ) , which I’m obviously nervous about and worried how the great British public will receive. But when I planned to write the book although it was always important to tell the story of my mum and our amazing reunion, there was so much more to my story and I never wanted it to be just another book about “The Troubles ” and i have strived hard to make this so. that means alot of my story deals with my Mod life and that period in my early teens/adulthood where the world was my oyster and i grabbed it with both hands and this period for me invloved alot of drugs and trying to blot out the misery of my younger life. but as messed up as this seems there were many happy times and as i have been writting about these days thats why I have that head on tonight and why I am talking about drungs tonight.

Im not promoting them , im just telling me story , which has many funnt stroies about my Mod lifenand rugs.

Also , next week is the 1st anniversary of my mums brutal death , after a soul destroying fight with cancer , that lasted only six months and I cant begin to tell you how painful and hard that was for me , to watch the womean I had missed all my life died in front ogf me. At least I was with bher at the time and help her hand as she lieft this world forever, that was so important to me.

As if that wasn’t bad enough , me mum dying, my daughter 17 year old boyfriend died a few weeks later and he was ony 18 and his single mothers only child. It doesnst get more brutal than that and that sent me over over the edge

Golden Brown – The Stranglers: Iconic Songs & the story behind them

The Stranglers

Golden Brown

January 1982

Golden Brown – The Stranglers: Iconic Songs & the story behind them

Golden Brown – The Stranglers

Golden Brown” is a song by the English rock band the Stranglers. It was released as a 7″ single in December 1981 in the United States and in January 1982 in the United Kingdom, on Liberty. It was the second single released from the band’s sixth album La folie.

Stranglers - La Folie album cover.jpg

See: La folie (album) Track Listing

It peaked at No. 2 in the UK Singles Chart, the band’s highest ever placing in that chart.

In January 2014, NME ranked the song as No. 488 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.  It has also been recorded by many other artists.

See : 500 Greatest Songs of All Time NME

Single by The Stranglers
from the album La folie
B-side“Love 30”
Released28 December 1981 (US)10 January 1982 (UK)
Format7″ vinyl
Recorded1981
GenreNew wave[1]baroque pop[2]
Length3:30
LabelLibertyBP 407 (UK, 7″)
Songwriter(s)Hugh CornwellJean-Jacques BurnelDave GreenfieldJet Black
Producer(s)The StranglersSteve Churchyard
The Stranglers singles chronology
Let Me Introduce You to the Family” 
(1981)”Golden Brown” 
(1981)”La Folie” 
(1982)
The Stranglers singles chronoly
Always the Sun (Sunny Side Up Mix)”
(1991)”Golden Brown
(1991)”Heaven or Hell”
(1992)

My Thought ?

This is one of my favorite tunes of all time and I never tire of listening to it, especially after a skinfull of beer and/or a few wee Gin and Tonics , to get me in the mood so to speak. The hunting theme of the song and the hypnotic harpsichord always mesmerize me to the point I feel as though I’m in a trance and thats the kind of escapism I’m looking for when i want to chill out to some music and sooth my sometimes weary soul.

Lyrics

“Golden Brown”

Golden Brown texture like sun
Lays me down with my mind she runs
Throughout the night
No need to fight
Never a frown with Golden Brown

Every time just like the last
On her ship tied to the mast
To distant lands
Takes both my hands
Never a frown with Golden Brown

Golden Brown, finer temptress
Through the ages she’s heading west
From far away
Stays for a day
Never a frown with Golden Brown

(La la la la la la la la leeeah)

Never a frown
With Golden Brown
Never a frown
With Golden Brown

Overview

Originally featured on the group’s album La folie, which was released in November 1981, and later on the USA pressings of Feline, “Golden Brown” was released as a single in December 1981, and was accompanied by a video.

Golden Brown The Strangles

It reached No. 2 in the official UK Singles Chart in February 1982, remaining there for two weeks behind double A-sided record “Town Called Malice/Precious” by the Jam.

The Jam – Town Called Malice (1982)
The Jam – The Gift – Precious

The comparatively conservative BBC Radio 2, at that time a middle-of-the-road (MOR) music radio station, decided to make the record the single of the week, a surprising step considering the band were almost as notorious as Sex Pistols only a few years before.

The band claimed that the song’s lyrics were akin to an aural Rorschach test and that people only heard in it what they wanted to hear, although this did not prevent persistent allegations that the lyrics alluded to heroin.

How does the Rorschach inkblot test work? 

The single was a top 10 hit around the world, including Australia. It was also featured in the film Snatch and is included on its soundtrack album.[

Meaning

Hugh Cornwell
Hugh Cornwell

There has been much controversy surrounding the lyrics. In his book The Stranglers Song By Song (2001), Hugh Cornwell states “‘Golden Brown’ works on two levels. It’s about heroin and also about a girl.

” Essentially the lyrics describe how “both provided me with pleasurable times.”

Musical composition

The main body of the song has a 6/8 feel and is pitched halfway between the keys of E minor and E-flat minor, possibly to accommodate the tuning of the harpsichord. The instrumental introduction, in (a very flat) B minor, is unconventional. The keyboard and harpsichord vamp in 3/4, and in the head every fourth bar is in 4/4. The music was largely written by keyboardist Dave Greenfield and drummer Jet Black, with lyrics by singer/guitarist Hugh Cornwell.

The BBC newsreader Bill Turnbull attempted to waltz to the song in the 2005 series of Strictly Come Dancing. In February 2012, when interviewing Stranglers bassist Jean-Jacques Burnel on BBC Breakfast, Turnbull described the attempted dance as “a disaster”,

Bill Turnbull attempted to waltz to the song in the 2005 series of Strictly Come Dancing.

Burnel responded that the alternating time signatures made “Golden Brown” impossible to dance to; in contrast, a song written entirely in 6/8 is not unusual in waltzing.

Music video

Two shots from Golden Brown: the band performing the song in Leighton House and as explorers

The video for “Golden Brown”, directed by Lindsey Clennell, depicts the band members both as explorers in an Arabian country and non-Arab Muslim countries (sequences include images of the Pyramids as well as the explorers studying a map of Egypt) in the 1920s and performers for a fictional “Radio Cairo”.

Golden Brown – The Stranglers (Restored Music Video)

In addition to the Pyramids, the video is intercut with stock footage of the Mir-i-Arab Madrasah in Bukhara, the Shah Mosque in Isfahan, and Great SphinxFeluccas sailing, Bedouins riding and camel racing in the United Arab Emirates. The performance scenes were filmed in the Leighton House Museum in Holland ParkLondon, which was also used in the filming of the video for “Gold” by Spandau Ballet.

Charts

Chart (1982)Peak
position
Australia (Kent Music Report)10
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)7
France (IFOP)73
Germany (Official German Charts)63
Ireland (IRMA)3
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)8
Netherlands (Single Top 100)10
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)2
Chart (1991)1Peak
position
Ireland (IRMA)25
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)68

1Remix

Chart (2013)Peak
position
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)98

Main Source/More Info : Wikipedia/Golden Brown

The Stranglers Documentray Part 1

See: The Jam – Going Underground

Black and Tans – The Royal Irish Constabulary Special Reserve

Black and Tans

The Royal Irish Constabulary Special Reserve

Background & History

The Black and Tans  officially the Royal Irish Constabulary Special Reserve, was a force of temporary constables recruited to assist the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) during the Irish War of Independence.

Irish War of Independence in 12 Minutes

 The force was the brainchild of Winston Churchill, then British Secretary of State for War. Recruitment began in Great Britain in late 1919. Thousands, many of them British Army veterans of World War I, answered the British government’s call for recruits. Most of the recruits came from Britain, although it also had some members from Ireland.

Their role was to help the RIC maintain control and fight the Irish Republican Army (IRA), the army of the Irish Republic. The nickname “Black and Tans” arose from the colours of the improvised uniforms they initially wore, composed of mixed khaki British Army and black RIC uniform parts. The Black and Tans became known for their attacks on civilians and civilian property.

The Black and Tans were sometimes confused with the Auxiliary Division, a counter-insurgency unit of the RIC made up of former British officers. However, sometimes the term “Black and Tans” is used to cover both of these groups.

Disclaimer –-

The views and opinions expressed in these documentary are soley intended to educate and provide background information to those interested in the Troubles of Northern Ireland. They in no way reflect my own opinions and I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or factual errors.

Foundation

The late 19th and early 20th centuries in Ireland were dominated by Irish nationalists’ pursuit of Home Rule from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The issue of Home Rule was shelved with the outbreak of World War I, and in 1916 Irish republicans staged the Easter Rising against British rule in an attempt to establish a republic. Growing support amongst the Irish populace for the republican Sinn Féin political party saw it win 73 out of 105 seats in the 1918 Irish general election.

On 21 January 1919, Sinn Féin established themselves as the First Dáil, which then declared an independent Irish Republic. They also declared the Irish Republican Army (IRA) the official army of the state, which in the same month began the Irish War of Independence. The main targets of the IRA offensive were the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and the British Army in Ireland.

In September 1919 David Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister, outlawed the Dáil and augmented the British Army presence in Ireland, starting work on the next Home Rule Act.

A Black and Tan in Dublin, smoking and carrying a Lewis gun, February 1921

In January 1920, the British government started advertising in British cities for men willing to “face a rough and dangerous task”, helping to boost the ranks of the RIC in policing an increasingly anti-British Ireland. There was no shortage of recruits, many of them unemployed First World War army veterans, and by November 1921 about 9,500 men had joined. This sudden influx of men led to a shortage of RIC uniforms, and the new recruits were issued with khaki army uniforms (usually only trousers) and dark green RIC or blue British police surplus tunics, caps and belts.

These uniforms differentiated them from the British Army and the regular RIC, and gave rise to the force’s nickname: Christopher O’Sullivan wrote in the Limerick Echo on 25 March 1920 that, meeting a group of recruits on a train at Limerick Junction, the attire of one reminded him of the ScarteenHunt, whose “Black and Tans” nickname derived from the colouration of its Kerry Beagles.

Ennis comedian Mike Nono elaborated the joke in Limerick’s Theatre Royal, and the nickname soon took hold, persisting even after the men received full RIC uniforms. The popular Irish claim made at the time that most of the men serving in the Black and Tans had criminal records and had been recruited straight from British prisons is incorrect, as a criminal record would disqualify one from working as a policeman.

The vast majority of the men serving in the Black and Tans were unemployed veterans of the First World War who were having trouble finding jobs, and for most of them it was economic reasons that drove them to join the Temporary Constables.

The new recruits received three months’ hurried training, and were rapidly posted to RIC barracks, mostly in rural County DublinMunster and eastern Connacht. The first men arrived on 25 March 1920. The British government also raised another unit, the Auxiliary Division of the constabulary, known as the Auxiliaries or Auxies, consisting of ex-army officers. The Black and Tans aided the Auxiliaries in the British government’s attempts to break both the IRA and the Dáil.

The Blacks and Tans were meant to back up the RIC in the struggle against the IRA, playing a defensive-reactive role whereas the role of the “Auxies” were those of heavily armed, mobile units meant for offensive operations in the Irish countryside intended to hunt down and destroy IRA units. At least part of the infamy of the Blacks and Tans is undeserved as many of the war crimes attributed to the Blacks and Tans were actually the work of the “Auxies”

Conduct

See also: Timeline of the Irish War of Independence

A group of Black and Tans and Auxiliaries outside the London and North Western Hotel in Dublin following an attack by the IRA, April 1921

Temporary Constables were paid the relatively good wage of 10 shillings (half a pound) a day, plus full board and lodging. With minimal police training, their main role was to increase the strength of police posts, where they functioned as sentries, guards, escorts for government agents, reinforcement to the regular police, and crowd control.

British In Ireland (1916-1920)

They mounted a determined counter-insurgency campaign. They and the Auxies became known as Tudor’s Toughs after the police commander, Major-General Sir Henry Hugh Tudor. They were viewed by republicans as akin to an army of occupation because of these duties. They soon gained a reputation for brutality, as the RIC campaign against the IRA and Sinn Féin members was stepped up and police reprisals for IRA attacks were condoned by the government.

Alexander Will, from Forfar in Scotland, was the first Temporary Constable to die in the conflict. He was killed during an IRA attack on the RIC barracks in Rathmore, County Kerry, on 11 July 1920.

The Black and Tans were not subject to strict discipline in their first months and, as a result, their deaths at the hands of the IRA in 1920 were often repaid with arbitrary reprisals against the civilian population. In the summer of 1920, the Black and Tans burned and sacked many small towns and villages in Ireland, beginning with Tuam in County Galway in July 1920 and also including TrimBalbrigganKnockcrogheryThurles and Templemore amongst many others. In November 1920, the Tans “besieged” Tralee in revenge for the IRA abduction and killing of two local RIC men. They closed all the businesses in the town, let no food in for a week and shot dead three local civilians. On 14 November, the Tans were suspected of abducting and murdering a Roman Catholic priest, Father Michael Griffin, in Galway. His body was found in a bog in Barna a week later.

From October 1920 to July 1921, the Galway region was “remarkable in many ways”, most notably the level of police brutality towards suspected IRA members, which was far above the norm in the rest of Ireland. On the night of 11 December 1920, they sacked Corkdestroying a large part of the city centre.

In January 1921, the British Labour Commission produced a report on the situation in Ireland which was highly critical of the government’s security policy. It said the government, in forming the Black and Tans, had:

The R.I.C. The Forgotten Force

“liberated forces which it is not at present able to dominate”.

However, since 29 December 1920, the British government had sanctioned “official reprisals” in Ireland – usually meaning burning property of IRA men and their suspected sympathisers. Taken together with an increased emphasis on discipline in the RIC, this helped to curb the random atrocities the Black and Tans committed since March 1920 for the remainder of the war, if only because reprisals were now directed from above rather than being the result of a spontaneous desire for revenge.

Many of the activities popularly attributed to the Black and Tans may have been committed by the Auxiliary Division. For instance, Tomás Mac Curtain, the Mayor of Cork, was assassinated in March 1920 by local RIC men under the command of an Inspector General who had been a ‘plague on the local Catholic population’ and the shooting dead of 13 civilians at Croke Park on Bloody Sunday was supposedly carried out by the regular RIC, although a small detachment of Auxiliaries were also present. Most Republicans did not make a distinction, and “Black and Tans” was often used as a catch-all term for all police groups.

Government policy and reaction

The actions of the Black and Tans alienated public opinion in both Ireland and Great Britain. Their violent tactics encouraged the Irish public to increase their covert support of the IRA, while the British public pressed for a move towards a peaceful resolution. Edward Wood MP, better known as the future Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax, rejected force and urged the British government to make an offer to the Irish “conceived on the most generous lines”.

Sir John Simon MP, another future Foreign Secretary, was also horrified at the tactics being used. Lionel Curtis, writing in the imperialist journal The Round Table, wrote:

If the British Commonwealth can only be preserved by such means, it would become a negation of the principle for which it has stood”.

 The King, senior Anglican bishops, MPs from the Liberal and Labour parties, Oswald MosleyJan Smuts, the Trades Union Congress and parts of the press were increasingly critical of the actions of the Black and Tans. Mahatma Gandhi said of the British peace offer:

“It is not fear of losing more lives that has compelled a reluctant offer from England but it is the shame of any further imposition of agony upon a people that loves liberty above everything else”.

About 7,000 Black and Tans served in Ireland in 1920–22. More than one-third left the service before they were disbanded along with the rest of the RIC in 1922, an extremely high wastage rate, and well over half received government pensions. A total of 404 members of the Royal Irish Constabulary died in the conflict and more than 600 were wounded but it is not clear how many of these were regular RIC men and how many were Black and Tans or Auxiliaries.

Those who returned to civilian life sometimes had problems re-integrating. At least two former Black and Tans were hanged for murder in Britain and another (Scott Cullen) wanted for murder committed suicide before the police could arrest him.

Legacy

Due to the ferocity of the Tans’ behaviour in Ireland and the numerous war crimes they committed, feelings continue to run high regarding their actions. The term can still stir bad reactions because of their remembered brutality.

One of the best known Irish Republican songs is Dominic Behan‘s “Come out Ye Black and Tans“.

The Irish War of Independence is sometimes referred to as the “Tan War” or “Black-and-Tan War.” This term was preferred by those who fought on the anti-Treaty side in the Irish Civil Warand is still used by Republicans today. The “Cogadh na Saoirse” (“War of Independence”) medal, awarded since 1941 by the Irish government to IRA veterans of the War of Independence, bears a ribbon with two vertical stripes in black and tan

B Specials

See: The “B-Specials” or “B Men’

See: Why Ireland split into the Republic of Ireland & Northern Ireland

Main Source : wikipedia.org

The Battle of Springmartin 13th –14th May 1972

Battle of Springmartin 13th -14th May 1972

The Battle at Springmartin was a series of gun battles in Belfast, Northern Ireland on 13–14 May 1972. It involved the British Army, the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), and the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).

See: IRA history & Background

See: UVF history & background

The violence began when a car bomb, planted by Ulster loyalists, exploded outside a crowded public house in the mainly Irish nationalist and Catholic district of Ballymurphy.

UVF snipers then opened fire on the survivors from an abandoned high-rise flat. This began the worst fighting in Northern Ireland since the suspension of the Parliament of Northern Ireland and the imposition of direct rule from London. For the rest of the night and throughout the next day, local IRA units fought gun battles with both the UVF and British Army. Most of the fighting took place along the interface between the Catholic Ballymurphy and Ulster Protestant Springmartin housing estates, and the British Army base that sat between them.

Seven people were killed in the violence: five civilians (four Catholics, one Protestant), a British soldier and a member of the IRA Youth Section. Four of the dead were teenagers.

Northern Ireland in the 1960s/1970s Documentary

— Disclaimer –

The views and opinions expressed in this post/documentaries  are soley intended to educate and provide background information to those interested in the Troubles of Northern Ireland. They in no way reflect my own opinions and I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or factual error

Bombing of Kelly’s Bar

Aftermath of Bomb

Shortly after 5:00 PM on Saturday 13 May 1972, a car bomb exploded without warning outside Kelly’s Bar, at the junction of the Springfield Road and Whiterock Road. The pub was in a mainly Irish Catholic and nationalist area and most of its customers were from the area.  At the time of the blast, the pub was crowded with men watching an association football match between England and West Germany on colour television. Sixty-three people were injured, eight of them seriously. John Moran (19), who had been working at Kelly’s as a part-time barman, died of his injuries on 23 May.

At first, the British Army claimed that the blast had been an “accident” caused by a Provisional IRA bomb. The Secretary of State for Northern IrelandWilliam Whitelaw, told the House of Commons on 18 May that the blast was caused by a Provisional IRA bomb that exploded prematurely.

However, locals suspected that the loyalist Ulster Defence Association (UDA) had planted the bomb. Republican sources said that IRA volunteers would not have risked storing such a large amount of explosives in such a crowded pub. It later emerged that the bomb had indeed been planted by loyalists.

See: UDA History & Background

A memorial plaque on the site of the former pub names three members of staff who lost their lives as a result of the bomb and the gun battles that followed. It reads: “.

” ..here on 13th May 1972 a no warning Loyalist car bomb exploded. As a result, 66 people were injured and three innocent members of staff of Kelly’s Bar lost their lives. They were: Tommy McIlroy (died 13th May 1972), John Moran (died from his injuries 23rd May 1972), Gerard Clarke (died from his injuries 6th September 1989) “

The Gun Battles

Saturday 13 May

The night before the bombing, gunmen from the UVF West Belfast Brigade had taken up position along the second floor of an abandoned row of maisonettes  (or flats) at the edge of the Protestant Springmartin estate. The flats overlooked the Catholic Ballymurphy estate. Rifles, mostly Second World War stock, were ferried to the area from dumps in the Shankill.

Not long after the explosion, the UVF unit opened fire on those gathered outside the wrecked pub, including those who had been caught in the blast.

 A British Army spokesman said that the shooting began at about 5:35 PM, when 30 high-velocity shots were heard.  Social Democratic and Labour Party Member of Parliament Gerry Fitt said that shots had been fired from the Springmartin estate only minutes after the bombing. William Whitelaw, however, claimed that the shooting did not begin until 40 minutes after the blast.

Ambulances braved the gunfire to reach the wounded, which included a number of children.  Tommy McIlroy (50), a Catholic civilian who worked at Kelly’s Bar, was shot in the chest and killed outright. He was the first to be killed in the violence.

See: 13th May – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

Members of both the Provisional and Official wings of the IRA “joined forces to return the fire”, using Thompson submachine gunsM1 carbines and a Bren light machine gun.

When British troops arrived on the scene, they too were fired upon by IRA units. Corporal Alan Buckley (22) of the 1st Battalion The Kings Regiment was fatally shot by the Provisionals on Whiterock Road.

 A platoon of soldiers then gave covering fire while a medical officer tried to help him. Another soldier was also wounded in the gunfight. Following this, 300 members of the Parachute Regiment were sent to back up the King’s Own Scottish Borderers.

Over the next few hours there were 35 separate shooting incidents reported, making it the most violent night since the suspension of the Northern Ireland government and imposition of Direct Rule from London earlier that year.

The IRA exchanged fire with both the British Army and with the UVF snipers on the Springmartin flats. Most of the IRA’s fire was aimed at the Henry Taggart Army base—near the Springmartin flats—which was hit by over 400 rounds in the first 14 hours of the battle.  

Although most of the republican gunfire came from the Ballymurphy estate, British soldiers also reported shots being fired from the nearby mountain slopes. According to journalist Malachi O’Doherty, a source claimed that the British Army had also fired into Belfast City Cemetery between the Whiterock and Springfield roads.

If you hate the british army clap your hands! – Irish children’s music (Ballymurphy)

Two more people were killed that night. The first was 15-year-old Michael Magee, a member of Fianna Éireann (the IRA youth wing), who was found shot in the chest at New Barnsley Crescent, near his home. He died shortly after he was brought to the Royal Victoria Hospital.

Two men who took him there claimed they were beaten by British soldiers who had just heard of Corporal Buckley’s death.  A death notice said that Magee was killed by the British Army but the republican publication Belfast Graves claimed he had been accidentally shot.

The other was a Catholic civilian, Robert McMullan (32), who was shot at New Barnsley Park, also near his home. Witnesses said there was heavy gunfire in the area at 8PM and then:

“a single shot rang out and Robert McMullan fell to the ground”.

It is thought that he was shot by soldiers firing from Henry Taggart base.

Trevor King Mural

On the first night of the battle, the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) arrested two young UVF members, Trevor King and William Graham. They were found at a house in Blackmountain Pass trying to fix a rifle that had jammed. During a search of the house, the RUC found three Steyr rifles, ammunition and illuminating flares.

See: Trevor King

Sunday 14 May

The fighting between the IRA, UVF and British Army resumed the following day. According to the book UVF (1997), British soldiers were moved into the ground floor of the abandoned flats while the UVF snipers continued firing from the flats above them. The soldiers and UVF were both firing into Ballymurphy, and according to the book both were “initially unaware of each other”.

 However, according to a UVF gunman involved in the battle, there was collusion between the UVF and British soldiers. He alleged that a British foot patrol caught a UVF unit hiding guns in a bin but ignored their cache with a wink when the UVF member said the guns were “rubbish”.

According to Jim Cusack and Henry McDonald, Jim Hanna — who later became UVF Chief of Staff — was one of the snipers operating from Springmartin during the battle. Jim Hanna told journalist Kevin Myers that, during the clashes, a British Army patrol helped Hanna and two other UVF members get into Corry’s Timber Yard, which overlooked the Catholic Ballymurphy estate.  When a British Army Major heard of the incident he ordered his men to withdraw, but they did not arrest the UVF members, who were allowed to hold their position. The IRA’s Ballymurphy unit was returning fire at an equal rate and some 400 strike marks were later counted on the flats.

Squaddies on the Frontline – BBC Documentary 2018 – British Army in Northern Ireland

In the Springmartin estate, gunfire killed Protestant teenager John Pedlow (17) and wounded his friend.  According to the book Lost Lives, they had been shot by soldiers. His friend said that they had been walking home from a shop when there was a burst of gunfire, which “came from near the Taggart Memorial Army post and seemed to be directed towards Black Mountain Parade”.

However, Malcolm Sutton’s Index of Deaths from the Conflict in Ireland states that he was killed by the IRA.  An inquest into Pedlow’s death found that he had been hit by a .303 bullet, which was likely a ricochet. Pedlow was given a loyalist funeral, but police said there was nothing to link him with any “illegal organisation or acts”.

UVF snipers continued to fire from the high-rise flats on the hill at Springmartin Road. About three hours after the shooting of Pedlow, a bullet fatally struck a 13-year-old Catholic girl, Martha Campbell, as she walked along Springhill Avenue.

She was among a group of young girls and a witness said the firing must have been directed at himself and the girls, as nobody else was in the area at the time. Reliable loyalist sources say that the schoolgirl was shot by the UVF.

Shortly afterwards, the loyalist UDA used roadblocks and barricades to seal-off the Woodvale area into a “no-go” zone, controlled by the UDA’s B Company, which was then commanded by former British soldier Davy Fogel.

Belfast 1969 : The Dawn of the Troubles ( Shankill / Falls Rd

Main Source : Wikipedia

Don’t forget to check out my homepage for a comprehensive database on deaths & events during the Troubles

See: The Loyalist Mod , extracts from my forthcoming autobiography

Northern Ireland/Belfast Food & Drink – Things I love & miss from home & A few I don’t!

Things I miss ( and some I don’t ) from homeBelfast

Ok so here’s a list of things I love and miss from home , food and drink I grew up with which are still firm favorites and will be known to all Belfast/Northern Ireland folk the world over. And the good news is you can actually order some of these iconic foods online , including Veg Roll ( who knew ) , Dulse and my fav Tayto Cheese and Onion. So if you have a husband or wife originally from Belfast/Norther Ireland you could bring a smile to their face and the taste of childhood memories. See individual listings for order details were available.

Having just returned from a trip home, working on my forthcoming book and taking in the glorious 12th whilst there I’ve feasted on many of these childhood favorites and so I’m not missing them as much as usual, but give it a few weeks/months and I’d sell my granny for a Pastie Supper from Beatties on the Shankill after a few jar in The Royal or Blues.

The list is a work in progress, so if you notice something missing please email me, leave a comment below or send me a Tweet .

@bfchild66

And a MASSIVE BIG thank you to all my Twitter friends whom helped me compile the list and offered many comments and suggestion along the way – I couldn’t have done it without you guys helping me – so Thank You All.

Barmbrack

Barmbrack is a yeasted bread with added sultanas and raisins and has long been a favorite of Northern Ireland folk.

It is usually sold in flattened rounds and served toasted with butter. The dough is sweeter than sandwich bread, but not as rich as cake, and the sultanas and raisins add flavour and texture to the final product.

I loved this toasted when I was younger , the smell of hot sultanas and raisins was to die for.

Cook it at home :  Barmbrack Recipe

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Beef Sausages

Although beef sausages are available all over the UK the ones from Belfast and my childhood remain a firm favorite and no Ulster Fry is complete without one or two in my humble opinion. I do love a sausage now and again , but I’m very fussy and only eat the top brands or those infused with herbs. cheese , onions, peppers or spices etc . But given a choice I would give them all up for one from home.

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Belfast Bap

Big, crusty bread famed throughout Northern Ireland and Belfast the stuff of legends and a firm favorite for generations of Norm Iron folk.



Often split in the middle and stuffed full of any filling you like , a pastie, crisps or some folk like Dulse in them, but that’s just wrong in my book.


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Brown Lemonade

 Brown Lemonade is a brown coloured lemonade flavoured fizzy soft drink sold in Northern Ireland. It is made by companies such as Cantrell & Cochrane (C&C) and by Maine.

When I first moved to London and went drinking in the bars and clubs I couldn’t believe that none of them sold or had heard of brown Lemonade. Grrrr……..

Link to : Brown Lemonade – Stujak Blog

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Brandy Balls

Brandy Balls, a traditional Irish hard boiled sweet, with a sweet brandy hint about them and a taste that transports me back to 1970’s Belfast.

My granddad always seemed to have an endless supply of these in his “magic ” pockets , which held all sorts of weird and wonderful things he would randomly produce. Looking back I think he sucked them so me Granny wouldn’t smell the smoke on him & as he was supposed to have stopped and he’d get a telling off.

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Buckfast

Buckfast Tonic Wine is a caffeinated fortified wine originally made by monks at Buckfast Abbey in Devon, England, now made under a licence granted by the monastery, and distributed by J. Chandler & Company in the United Kingdom and Richmond Marketing Ltd in Ireland.

This stuff is legendary and splits the crowd big style. I’d drank it when I was younger back in Belfast , but had not had it in ages. So whilst I was home ( working on my book & taking in the 12th 2019 ) I decided to try a bottle, small to be fair. But I’d been on the Shankill drinking all day and by the time I drank it , mid afternoon I was already pissed outta my head. To be fair i had drank about 15 pints of Harp & countless Gin n Tonics. Anyways I lost a few hours of my life and had little memory of what i got up to during this sad period. Ive been informed that I was drinking like there was no tomorrow in the Royal, The Blues and various other pubs in and around the Shankill. How I managed to stay conscious long enough to watch the Bonfires is a mystery, but I did have a monster hangover whilst watching the bands on the 12th

See my Tweet below , posted whilst I could still stand, just .

NEVER again !!

Link to :  Buckfast: a drink with almost supernatural powers of destruction

English People Try Buckfast For The First Time

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Club  Orange

Club is the brand name for a series of Irish carbonated soft drinks produced in Ireland by Britvic Ireland and previously by Cantrell & Cochrane (C&C). It is bottled by the Britvic plant in Dublin. The series includes Club Orange, Club Lemon, Club Rock Shandy (a mixture of the orange and lemon flavours) and Club Apple soft drinks.

History :

Club Orange, an orange flavoured carbonated drink, was the first orange fruit juice to appear on the Irish market. It was launched in the late 1930s, with the formula refined since then to its present state. The name Club derives from the Kildare Street Club in Dublin, which commissioned C&C to make an orange-flavoured drink. In 1960, Club Lemon was introduced as a sister product, and in the 2000s several other flavours were added to the range.

In 2004 C&C relaunched Club Lemon, which now also contains vesicles. Over the years a number of drinks have appeared under the Club label, including Club Orange and Cranberry, Club Berry, and Club Apple. Diet and sugar free versions were also produced.

Not a lot I can say about this apart from it was a childhood favorite and there were always a few bottles lurking about in the cupboard or fridge at home. Its got a unique flavor that I’ve never tasted in an fizzy orange drink elsewhere in the world!

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Champ


Champ is an Irish dish, made by combining mashed potatoes and chopped scallions with butter, milk and optionally, salt and pepper. As recently as the mid-20th century it was sometimes made with stinging nettle rather than scallions but this is rarely seen now

I never liked this for some reason and when my wee granny use to make it when I was a kid in Glencairn back in the early 70’s I’d wait until she’d left the room and then throw it in the bin or dog, whichever was closer. My wee granny wasn’t the kind of person to take cheek from a nipper like me and i’d have been in trouble if I’d complaint about the food. Plus i loved her and didn’t want to hurt her feelings.

Link to : Easy Traditional Irish Champ

 

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Cowboy Supper

Cowboy supper (plural cowboy suppers). (Northern Ireland ) A meal of sausages, baked beans, and chips or mashed potatoes.

Ok this one’s not strictly traditional Northern Ireland cuisine but once again a firm childhood favorite and a treat on a Friday night when me Da got paid. Once again plastered in HP sauce and a Belfast Bap to make a piece ( Northern Ireland slang for sandwich ) beans and all!

The wife often makes it now, but with posh sausages , caramelized onions , mash and she tries to get me to have it with carrots or some other veg, but sometimes I rebel and much to the amusement of her and the kids I insist on having it with beans ,the taste of my childhood

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Dulse

Dulse (Palmaria Palmata) is a wild seaweed that grows on the North Atlantic coast of  Britain. Its Gaelic name is duileasg, and the fronds are long and membranous with a dark reddish-purple translucent hue. It formed part of a regular diet for coastal-dwelling communities in Scotland and Northern Ireland for centuries, as it is highly rich in vitamins and minerals, and a good source of protein. It is a very versatile ingredient; it can be eaten raw, having a salty flavour and chewy texture, like a natural chewing gum. It can also be dried and consumed as a snack or added to broths and stews to enhance the flavour and act as a thickener. It can be boiled for several hours into a pulp which has a porridge-like consistenc

Always loved this as a child growing up in Belfast and it was one of my favourite childhood snacks. We use to get it in Bangor ,  Millisle and Donaghadee and it was served in a small white paper bag and fresh from the sea, covered in dry salt. My mum and many others would make a sandwich (piece in Northern Ireland slang ) and eat it like this, but I thought that was gross !

Nowadays it seems harder to come across and it just doesn’t taste as good as what I remember.

Travel Bloggers Eat Dulse For the First Time

You can order it here : Get some Dulse delivered straight to your door

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Guinness

Guinness is a dark Irish dry stout that originated in the brewery of Arthur Guinness at St. James’s Gate, Dublin, Ireland, in 1759. It is one of the most successful beer brands worldwide, brewed in almost 50 countries, and available in over 120.

Now I know its controversial, an Irish man not liking the   the “ Black Stuff”, but I have a good excuse , trust me!

When I was in my teens my granda use to take me down the Woodvale/Shankill whilst he put a few bets on the horses and watched the results as he supped a few beers in the bars. I was always given a coke and told to be quiet whilst he watched ( and lost on )  the races. As I got  a bit older I kept on and on at him to let me have a “real” drink and so one day in order to shut me up he got me a half pint of Guinness . One sip and I hated it, but he insisted I drank the lot and I was sick as dog afterwards.

So that’s why I can’t stand the “Back Stuff

The perfect pint of Guinness

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Harp

Harp Lager is an Irish lager created in 1960 by Guinness in its Great Northern Brewery, Dundalk. It is a major lager brand throughout most of the North of Ireland, but is a minor lager brand in the rest of the Republic.

What can I say apart from  the taste of Belfast in a glass. The crowd is split on this one, but I’ve always enjoyed it and any time I’m home it’s my drink of choice , apart from gin off course

A pint of Harp and packet of dates please Harp Lager TV Ad 1992

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Irish Stew

Irish stew is any variety of meat and root vegetable stew native to Ireland. As in all traditional folk dishes, the exact recipe is not consistent from time to time, or place to place. Common ingredients include lamb, or mutton, as well as potatoes, onions, and parsley. It may sometimes also include carrots.

This is more like the stew I had when I was a kid in Belfast. Although ours use to be much thicker and better looking.

In recent years Ive perfected a recipe that uses lamb on the bone and I gotta say its to die for. But when I was a kid in Belfast my family use to make in with mince meat ( we couldn’t afford real lamb ) , loads of spuds, onion, carrots and thickened it up with gravy.  A big bit of bread ( Belfast Bap ) and HP brown sauce made it a winter favourite that would leave me stuffed and needing a wee lay down on the sofa.

Link to: Irish Stew recipe

Link to: How to cook the perfect Irish stew

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Maine Sarsaparilla

Maine Sarsaparilla – For over 65 years The Maine Man has continued the tradition of delivering quality soft drinks to our doorsteps.

Families throughout Northern Ireland have fond memories of regular weekly orders of their favourite flavours such as Sarsaparilla, American Cream Soda, Pineappleade and Cloudy Lime in glass returnable bottles.

Practically everyone who grew up in Northern Ireland remembers the Maine mineral van coming with a crate of goodies every week. Flavours like Sarsaparilla, Pineappleade and American Cream Soda came in glass bottles which were returned empty and new ones replaced them.

It all began when the Harkness family established a soft drinks business, Braid Mineral Water Co., in Ballymena in 1919. The founder’s son, John Harkness, decided to branch out on his own in 1949 and formed Maine Soft Drinks. In 1959 the business relocated to its current premises in Ballymoney.

The company is still owned by the Harkness family and is now into its 4th generation.

It has expanded and branched out in different ways including supplying to supermarkets and contract bottling. They are also exporting to various companies on the UK mainland. Regardless of expansion the doorstep delivery side of the business is still very important, with more than 40,000 homes supplied on a weekly / fortnightly basis.

Maine Soft Drinks employs more than 100 people, half of which are based in Ballymoney and the other half spread throughout Northern Ireland in depots located in Lurgan, Belfast and Derry-Londonderry.

What can I say apart from this is another childhood favorite and I loved all their drinks especially Cream Soda, Pineappleade and Cloudy Lime , which in my book all have a unique flavor I’ve never come across before throughout my 30 years of living in the land of the English. And having it delivered straight to your door was an added bonus.

Link to : Maine Soft Drinks Website

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Nambarrie

Nambarrie was launched back in 1860 and for over 150 years has been our wee country’s beloved bold and hearty tea that can be relied on for the perfect cuppa at any time of the day.

Nambarrie is the brand name of a tea company based in Andover, Hampshire, now owned by Twinings. Nambarrie Tea Co. Ltd. now operates delivery depots in Mallusk, County Antrim and Glasgow, being the third biggest brand in Scotland

On 10, April 2008 Nambarrie announced its plans to close its factory in Belfast. The factory is now closed and production currently takes place in England. The signage at the Belfast Nambarrie factory is still attached, however the building is now disused and has since fallen into disrepair.

Writer and comedian Will Self is a self-confessed fan of Nambarrie.

This was the only tea served in our house when I was a kid and has a very distinct strong taste that lingers on the palette . great for dipping Rich Tea biscuits in and the odd Hob Nob. The wife doesn’t like it so we have “English” breakfast tea at home, which is ok to be fair, but not the taste of my childhood. When I’m back in Belfast , tucking into an Ulster fry or Pastie Supper I always have a big mug of this on the side, with two sugars , sometimes three if I’m feeling rebellious . Don’t tell the wife though , she’s got me on sweeteners at home !

Nambarrie TV Advert

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Pastie Supper/ Pastie Bap

Pastie Supper – A pastie /ˈpæstiː/ is a large to medium-sized round battered pie common to Northern Ireland. Generally served with chips to form a “pastie supper” (“supper” in Northern Irish chip shops meaning something with chips), or in a bread roll as a “pastie bap”, it is a common staple in most fish and chip shops in the country.

Recipes vary, but the most common ingredients are minced pork, onion, potato and seasoning formed into a “round” (just like a burger) which is then covered in a batter mix and deep fried. Traditionally, chip shops coloured the pastie’s filling with a cochineal dye, giving it a bright pink colour, supposedly to make the snack more appetising. Many shops have stopped using this method due to cochineal allergies.

Another taste from home that I yearn for after a beer or six. Although the crowd is split on this I’ve always preferred the pink ones

This is one of the things I miss most about Belfast, the good old Pastie supper, preferably from Beatties on the Shankill. When I first moved to London after a skin full of beer one day I went into the local chippy and tried to order a Pastie Supper. To my absolute horror and continuing disappointment they hadn’t a clue what I was talking about and tried to give me everything from Jamaican Patti to a plastic bag and some very funny looks.

Grrr……  I was gutted

Thrush and Jen challenge. Join us as we make Belfast pastie baps

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Pigs Trotters

A pig’s trotter, also known as a pettitoe,  is the culinary term used to refer to the foot of a pig. The cuts are used in various dishes around the world, and experienced a resurgence in the late 2000s. Before sale, the trotters are cleaned and typically have the hairs pulled with a hot tank and beaters.

They are often used in cooking to make stocks, as they add thickness to gravy, although they are also served as a normal cut of meat.

Back in the early 70’s my Da use to bring these home from work every Friday night and I use to love them, although sometimes they still had hair on them and that was kinda gross to say the least, but didn’t put me of eating them.  These days I wouldn’t touch one with a barge pole , but they bring back memories of my beloved dad and therefore will always be special to me.

See: Getting Stoned with Paul Weller

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Plain Bread

Plain Bread , preferably O’Hara’s – O’Hara’s Plain Bread is a batch bread made in a large baking tray, which means the loaves only form a crust on the top and bottom. it differs from a pan loaf, which is baked in an individual tray and so forms crust round the whole bread. I know the picture is Sunblest , but I couldn’t find a picture of an O’Hara’s one ! If you have one please send it over.

Another thing I really miss from home is plain bread. Nothing tastes better toasted or fried and the crust is always the best bit. I can’t understand why they don’t sell/make it in England  .

If they do , where please ?

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Potato  Bread

Potato bread is a form of bread in which potato flour or potato replaces a portion of the regular wheat flour. It is cooked in a variety of ways, including baking it on a hot griddle or pan, or in an oven. We fry it in our family as most others in Northern Ireland do.

This is as iconic as its possible to be when talking about food from Belfast / Northern Ireland. A must have in every Ulster Fry , best served fried in a shallow pan with loads of oil , although some folk like them toasted and covered in butter, my wee granny use to love these served that way. Nowadays its readily available in most of the big UK supermarkets, but it’s just not the same as back home and the taste of my childhood O’Hara’s . Although I do buy and eat it in England , its always a bit of a disappointment.

Also known as Tattie Scone to our friends from Caledonia .  I ran a poll on Twitter last year and had over 25,000 votes (see below) and surprisingly Tattie Scone came up tops by a vast margin. I can only assume more Scottish folk responded as its clearly “ Potato Bread “ to most folk in Belfast /Northern Ireland .

Recipe from Ulster Folk Museum

See : Is this Potato Bread or Tatti Scone?

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Shandy Bass

Shandy Bass is a 0.5% ABV shandy made with Bass beer and lemonade Introduced in 1972, it is made by Britvic.

When I was 12/13 me and my cousin Wee Sam were given a tin of this each ( or did we steal it ? I can’t remember) on the 11th of July. It was the first time I recall drinking alcohol ( I know ) and we were both pissed as a newt, or acted as if we were anyways and we sang and dance to all night long until me granny came and dragged us of to bed. Innocent days I’ll never forget.

Funny Drunk People Compilation

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Soda Bread

Soda bread is a variety of quick bread traditionally made in a variety of cuisines in which sodium bicarbonate (otherwise known as “baking soda”, or in Ireland, “bread soda”) is used as a leavening agent instead of the traditional yeast. The ingredients of traditional soda bread are flour, baking soda, salt, and buttermilk. The buttermilk in the dough contains lactic acid, which reacts with the baking soda to form tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide. Other ingredients can be added such as butter, egg, raisins, or nuts. An advantage of quick breads is their ability to be prepared quickly and reliably, without requiring the time-consuming skilled labor and temperature control needed for traditional yeast breads.

Another icon of Northern Ireland foods and star of any Ulster Fry. Like the good old potato bread it can be served toasted or fried and like most of my peers I love it well fried with the yoke of a runny fried egg running all over and soaking into it.

Link to: BBC Irish soda bread recipe

Link to youtube :  How to make a very quick and easy Irish Soda bread.

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Snowball

Preferably from O’Hara’s back in the day.

A kind of round bun , dense sponge covered in coconut flakes and held together with icing sugar in the middle.

I loved these as a kid and when I started secondary School, Cairnmartin Ballygomartin , after the bell went I would hang about out side the O’Hara’s at the bottom of Glencairn in the hope that there would be some cheap cakes/buns left over before closing, which they always sold at a knockdown price to get rid of them. If I was lucky there would be a few snowballs on offer , which I loved pulling apart and licking the icing suger from the middle and dunking some in my after school cup of Nambarries tea. Heaven ! They are very popular in Scotland also, but there not the same as the Belfast ones of my childhood.

Steakette

Steakette – Is kind of like a hamburger coated in batter and deep fried in oil.

Not for the faint hearted – These are another favorite of mine and when I’m home and on the beer I head straight for Beatties if I’m on the Shankill and get one. Last time I was home I order a Pastie & Steakette in one sitting and I gotta say they booth went down well. They are normally swimming in fat and grease, but I love them just like that ( don’t tell the wife ) smothered with loads of salt and vinegar. Yum Yum

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Tayto Cheese and Onion

Set deep in the heart of the Ulster countryside in Tandragee is Tayto Castle where Tayto crisps and snacks have been made for the past 60 years. A ‘Taste of Home’ our products have been a big part of growing up in Northern Ireland.

Established in 1956 and still owned by the same family – the Hutchinsons, we pride ourselves in employing local people and using local ingredients and materials to produce great tasting crisps and snacks for everyone to enjoy. In our 60th year, we are also proud to support Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink 2016.

Within the Castle is a closely guarded room where the unique Tayto Cheese & Onion flavour is made to the same recipe as it has for the last 60 years. Only a very select few know the secret recipe which has been carefully passed down to the current day.

Come and visit us at Tayto Castle to see for yourself how our crisps and snacks are made and meet our very own Mr.Tayto – why not book a tour today?’

Another of the things I miss most from home and something I always stock up on when visiting Belfast. My daughter orders me a box for Xmas, which was very thoughtful of her. But the problem was they came from the Tayto brand in Ireland (ROI) , in an insulting blue packet, lol.  They just aren’t the same as the ones I still love and crave since childhood.

You can order them here and I believe they do international delivery : Follow this link to order

Link to: Book a tour here

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Tennants Larger

Tennents is the most popular draught lager beer in Northern Ireland, according to the latest research. 2007It was piloted in Northern Ireland before being rolled out across the rest of the UK.

Tennents lager was produced by the Bass Brewery on the Glen Road in west Belfast until a cutback in 2003.

Now it comes from the Wellpark Brewery in Glasgow, but the company, owned by Belgian group InBev, still has a warehouse and logistics operation in Belfast.

A specific draught is brewed for Northern Ireland with an alcohol volume of 3.7% compared with the 4.1% Scottish drinkers buy as research has shown it to be what local consumers want.

Another iconic Northern Ireland ( and Scotland ) drink from my childhood in Belfast and one which cause much uproar and debate, regarding the sexy ladies on the them. You’d never get away with that now ! I remember my Da and uncles having card schools and drinking vast amounts of this stuff and me and my brothers,cousins always had a good wee look at the ladies on the tin and we all had our favorites. For the record my favorite was Linda

See : The Scotsman – The story of Tennent’s Lager Lovelies

Link to survey in Belfast telegraph

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Ulster Fry

The best known traditional dish in Northern Ireland is the Ulster fry. An Ulster fry, although not originally particularly associated with breakfast time, has in recent decades been marketed as Northern Ireland’s version of a cooked breakfast. It is distinguishable from a full breakfast by its griddle breads – soda bread and potato bread, fried (or occasionally grilled) until crisp and golden. Sometimes also including small pancakes. Bacon, sausages, an egg, and (as a modern development) tomato and sometimes mushrooms complete the dish It is usually served with tea and toast.

This is a the king of Northern Ireland foods and has been enjoyed for generations of folk from Belfast and throughout the six counties since time began, relatively speaking . It will satisfy any hunger or cure any hangover and is served with an array of tasty N.I things , depending on your preference , including  fried eggs, the all important fried potato and soda bread, perfect pork sausages or beef sausages in my house , crispy bacon, black and white pudding ( optional ) and a few slices of Veg Roll (always in my house ) and a mug of strong sweet tea to wash it all down.

With or without Beans?

That is the question  – OK I’m going to get slated for this, but I always have beans with an Ulster Fry, blame my English wife for teaching me bad habits. HP sauce is also a must

Ulster Fry Up: Full Northern Irish Breakfast in Belfast, Ireland

Link to : Is the Ulster fry best in UK

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Veda Bread

Veda bread is a malted bread sold in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland . It is a small, caramel-coloured loaf with a very soft consistency when fresh. Allied Bakeries Ireland (ABI) is the market leader with over 81 per cent value share of the Veda market within Northern Ireland, which it sells as “Sunblest Veda”.

Stylish Belfast city centre hotel Malmaison has teamed up with Northern Ireland’s biggest bakery Allied Bakeries Ireland (ABI) to serve up one of the Province’s best loved bread brands to residents and customers.

Veda bread, while very much a Scottish invention, has become a Northern Ireland phenomenon since Allied Bakeries Ireland launched its first Veda loaf back in 1930 and continues to grow from strength to strength.

Sunblest Veda, launched in 1956, is the market leader with over 81 per cent value share of the Veda market within Northern Ireland and an established local favourite.

I love this toasted and its smells amazing when covered in butter and eaten whilst still hot. we always had this in the cupboard at home and whenever there was nought else to eat this always filled a hole.

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Vegetable Roll

Vegetable Roll is a uniquely Northern Irish delicacy, made up of cuts of lean beef and seasoned with fresh herbs and vegetables such as leeks and onions.

Always served with an Ulster Fry in my family and controversially we always kept the plastic cover on whilst cooking, although take it off before eating , if I’m sober at least ! In another of those little Northern Irish things that make my England friend laugh, its as far from being “vegetable “ as can be. I think it just makes us feel we’re getting one of our five a day as it has ” vegetable ” in it. LOL

You can order it here: Home Butchers Northern Ireland 

Twitter : @meatdelivered They deliver Veg roll folks !!!

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Veg Soup

A traditional soup made by my parents and grandparents and a traditional winter soup in Northern Ireland and especially popular served as a starter to Christmas dinner. Pure, simple, wholesome comforting and natural food. As with all one pot dishes, it always tastes better the following day when all the ingredients have had time to marinate and got to know each other so if you want to impress, make it the day before serving.

Link to : All Recipes Northern Irish Veg Soup Recipe

Another classic I love and miss from home and I have never had this outside Belfast or a soup taht tasted anything like it. It’s common to cook it with a whole chicken (I know ) or shin bone and this is often removed and stripped before being eaten, my family use to leave it in.

Once my veggie sister in law was half way through a bowl before anyone had the heart to tell her it was made with a chicken involved.

Ouch……..

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Willicks

An edible sea snail – The common periwinkle or winkle (Littorina littorea) is a species of small edible whelk or sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusc that has gills and an operculum, and is classified within the family Littorinidae, the periwinkles.

This is a robust intertidal species with a dark and sometimes banded shell. It is native to the rocky shores of the northeastern, and introduced to the northwestern, Atlantic Ocean.

The common periwinkle is sold by fishmongers at seafood markets in large cities around the world, and is also commonly found in seafood restaurants as an appetizer or as a part of a seafood platter. In some countries, pubs may serve periwinkles as a snack.

Entrance of a sea snail’s house with living sea snail within. Veddö naturreservat, Sweden 2005.

Most of the volume fished, is consumed by France, Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands.

I loved these as a child and we use to go round the coast of Antrim and beyond collecting, cooking and eating. We’d spend ages boiling them and when they were cooked we would all gather round, with a pin in hand, to pick the eyes out  and tuck in. A taste and smell that always brings me back to my childhood. 

Once I was in a French restaurant with the wife and she ordered snails ( Escargots ) and I had the cheek to turn my nose up. Hee hee , The contradiction was not lost on me, but Willicks are just one of those things that I was raised eating/liking and was way more civilized than eating slimy French snails in my book. LOL

Belfast Granny just won’t let him cook his Willicks in her home.

Other things Northern Ireland folk grew up with and love and know know

  • Caramel Squares
  • Cockles
  • Dale Farm ice-creams
  • Golden Cow Butter
  • Gravy Ring
  • Moy Park Chicken
  • Portavogie prawns
  • Yellow Man

See: How to speak Belfast/Northern Irish

See: Mickey Marleys Roundabout

See: The Loyalist Mod

And don’t forget to check out my homepage and read extracts from my forthcoming autobiography: Belfast Child

Battle of Thermopylae & Leonidas I – The King of Sparta

Battle of Thermopylae

The Battle of Thermopylae  was fought between an alliance of Greek city-states, led by King Leonidas of Sparta, and the Persian Empire of Xerxes I over the course of three days, during the second Persian invasion of Greece.

Map of Thermopylae area with modern shoreline and reconstructed shoreline of 480 BC

It took place simultaneously with the naval battle at Artemisium, in August or September 480 BC, at the narrow coastal pass of Thermopylae (“The Hot Gates”). The Persian invasion was a delayed response to the defeat of the first Persian invasion of Greece, which had been ended by the Athenian victory at the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC.

Xerxes

By 480 BC Xerxes had amassed a huge army and navy, and set out to conquer all of Greece. The Athenian politician and general Themistocles had proposed that the allied Greeks block the advance of the Persian army at the pass of Thermopylae, and simultaneously block the Persian navy at the Straits of Artemisium.

Map showing major incidents of the second Persian invasion of Greece

A Greek force of approximately 7,000 men marched north to block the pass in the middle of 480 BC. The Persian army, alleged by the ancient sources to have numbered over one million, but today considered to have been much smaller (various figures are given by scholars, ranging between about 100,000 and 150,000) arrived at the pass in late August or early September. The vastly outnumbered Greeks held off the Persians for seven days (including three of battle) before the rear-guard was annihilated in one of history’s most famous last stands.

Last Stand of the 300 documentary

During two full days of battle, the small force led by Leonidas blocked the only road by which the massive Persian army could pass. After the second day, a local resident named Ephialtes betrayed the Greeks by revealing a small path that led behind the Greek lines. Leonidas, aware that his force was being outflanked, dismissed the bulk of the Greek army and remained to guard their retreat with 300 Spartans and 700 Thespians, fighting to the death.

Others also reportedly remained, including up to 900 helots and 400 Thebans; most of these Thebans reportedly surrendered.

Themistocles was in command of the Greek Navy at Artemisium when he received news that the Persians had taken the pass at Thermopylae. Since the Greek strategy required both Thermopylae and Artemisium to be held, given their losses, it was decided to withdraw to Salamis. The Persians overran Boeotia and then captured the evacuated Athens. The Greek fleet—seeking a decisive victory over the Persian armada—attacked and defeated the invaders at the Battle of Salamis in late 480 BC. Wary of being trapped in Europe, Xerxes withdrew with much of his army to Asia (losing most to starvation and disease), leaving Mardonius to attempt to complete the conquest of Greece. However, the following year saw a Greek army decisively defeat the Persians at the Battle of Plataea, thereby ending the Persian invasion.

Both ancient and modern writers have used the Battle of Thermopylae as an example of the power of a patriotic army defending its native soil. The performance of the defenders is also used as an example of the advantages of training, equipment, and good use of terrain as force multipliers and has become a symbol of courage against overwhelming odds.

See here for more details : Battle of Thermopylae

See: 10 Things You Should Know About The Battle Of Thermopylae

Leonidas I – The King of Sparta

Leonidas I

Leonidas I , Leōnídas A’;  “son of the lion”; died 11 August 480 BC) was a warrior king of the Greek city-state of Sparta, and the 17th of the Agiad line; a dynasty which claimed descent from the mythological demigod Heracles.

He was the husband of Gorgo, the daughter of Cleomenes I of Sparta. Leonidas had a notable participation in the Second Persian War, where he led the allied Greek forces to a last stand at the Battle of Thermopylae (480 BC) while attempting to defend the pass from the invading Persian army

My Thoughts

I have long held a fascination bordering on obsession with the ancient world , esp the epic times and battles of the Romans , Persians & Greeks. The Spartans knew how to kick arse and this battle and the heroics of Leonidas and his “300” has rightly earned its place as one of the greatest battles ever and has fascinated me since i was a child.

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The Persians & Greeks: Crash Course World History 


Ancient Greece: The Legacy of Leonidas I (The King of Sparta)

See :The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest – Rome’s darkest hour

See: Decimation in the Roman Army

Testing – Don’t Panic !

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