Category Archives: A Belfast Child : My Story

Tipperary Tim – astounding 1928 Grand National winner at 100/1 & a proud resident of Glencairn !

Tipperary Tim

Astounding 1928 Grand National winner at 100/1 & a proud resident of Glencairn !

Tipperary Tim (foaled 1918) was an Irish Thoroughbred racehorse that won the 1928 Grand National. He was foaled in Ireland and was a descendant of the undefeated St. Simon.

Tipperary Tim was owned by Harold Kenyon and trained in Shropshire by Joseph Dodd. He was regarded as a fairly slow horse, but one who rarely fell. Tipperary Tim was a 100–1 outsider at the 42-runner 1928 Grand National, which was run in foggy conditions and very heavy going.

A pile-up occurred at the Canal Turn jump that reduced the field to just seven horses. Other falls and incidents left only Tipperary Tim and the 33-1 Billy Barton in the race. Billy Barton struck the last fence and fell, leaving Tipperary Tim to win – Billy Barton’s jockey remounted and finished a distant second (and last). The incident led to controversy in the press who complained that a Grand National should not be won merely by avoiding accident. It led to changes to the course with the ditch at Canal Turn being removed for the following year’s race. Tipperary Tim enjoyed no real success in other races.

Early life

Tipperary Tim was foaled in Ireland in 1918, his breeder was J.J. Ryan. Tipperary Tim’s sire was the British horse Cipango and his dam was the Irish horse Last Lot, his grandsire was the British horse St Frusquin (who had been sired by the undefeated St. Simon) and his damsire was British horse Noble Chieftain. He belonged to Thoroughbred family 19-b.

The stud fee paid for Cipango was just £3 5s (equivalent to £153 in 2020). Tipperary Tim was named after a local marathon runner, Tim Crowe. He was a brown-coloured gelding.[1] Tipperary Tim had been sold as a yearling for £50 (equivalent to £2,349 in 2020) and was said to have once been given as a present.

Tipperary Tim came into the ownership of Harold Kenyon. He was trained in Shropshire by Joseph Dodd who noted that “he never falls”. By other reports he was capable of only one pace, and that a relatively slow one. Tipperary Tim was tubed, that is he received a permanent tracheotomy, with a brass tube halfway down his neck to improve his breathing. He was stabled at Fernhill House in Belfast. Tipperary Tim competed at Aintree in the November 1927 Molyneux Steeplechase.

Fernhill House
It breaks my heart to see my childhood playground going to wreck and ruin

1928 Grand National

Tipperary Tim was entered into the 1928 Grand National at the age of 10 years. He was ridden by amateur jockey Bill Dutton, a Cambridge-educated solicitor from Chester, who had left the profession to pursue horse-riding. Tipperary Tim was a 100–1 outsider and Dutton later recalled that a friend had told him before the race:

“you’ll only win if all the others fall”.

The field in 1928 was the largest to date with 42 runners starting the race. The going was very heavy and there was a dense fog.  There were three false starts, after which the broken starting tape had to be knotted together. On the first circuit of the Aintree track the leader, one of the favourites, Easter Hero, mistimed the Canal Turn jump.

 Rising too early he was stranded briefly on the fence before becoming trapped in the ditch, which preceded it. The next three horses, Grokle, Darracq and Eagle’s Tail were brought down by Easter Hero. Of the remaining runners (22 remained in the race), twenty refused to jump the fence. The pile-up was described by racing historian Reg Green as “the worst ever seen on a racecourse”.

Only seven horses with seated jockeys emerged from the incident to continue the race.  One of these was Tipperary Tim as Dutton had chosen to take a wide route around the outside of the course, avoiding hazards that had brought down other jockeys. Because of the fog the majority of the audience were unaware of the incident at Canal Turn.

By the second jumping of Becher’s Brook only five horses remained in the race with Billy Barton leading ahead of May King, Great Span, Tipperary Tim and Maguelonne. Maguelonne was still trailing at the first fence following Valentine’s Brook where it fell. May King fell shortly afterwards before Great Span lost his saddle and rider, leaving only Billy Barton, who started with 33–1 odds, and Tipperary Tim.

Billy Barton had led the race for 2.5 miles (4.0 km) until the last fence where Tipperary Tim drew level. The riderless Great Span was between them and may have slightly hindered Billy Barton. Billy Barton struck the final fence with his forelegs and fell, dismounting his rider, Tommy Cullinan. Tipperary Tim came in first, with a time of 10 minutes 23.40 seconds, he was closely followed by the riderless Great Span; a remounted Billy Barton came a distant second and was the last to finish.

With only two horses completing the race the 1928 Grand National set a second record, for the fewest finishers. Tipperary Tim was the only horse to have completed the race without falling or unseating its rider.  Kenyon received prize money of 5,000 sovereigns as well as a cup worth 2,000 sovereigns. Tipperary Tim became one of the biggest outsiders to win the Grand National, only three other horses with odds of 100–1 have won the race: Gregalach in 1929, Caughoo in 1947 and Foinavon in 1967.

There were scathing reports in the press, which described the race as “burlesque steeplechasing”, and many writers stated that a Grand National should not be won merely by avoiding an accident. The race inspired some to become involved in the sport. The future horse racing commentator Peter O’Sullevan laid his first ever bet on Tipperary Tim and cited it as the start of his life-long connection with racing. The Pathé footage of the race inspired a young Beltrán Alfonso Osorio to aspire to a career in racing. He became an amateur jockey who rode at the 1952 Grand National and others thereafter .

The World’s Greatest Race (1928)

The success of Tipperary Tim led to larger fields in the following Grand Nationals. According to racing historian T. H. Bird “everyone who owned a steeplechaser that could walk aspired to win the Grand National”, leading to more entries which, Bird lamented, “cluttered” the field with “rubbish”.

The 1929 Grand National started with 66 runners, including Tipperary Tim who, despite his success the previous year, remained a 100-1 outsider. The ditch at the Canal Turn had been removed before this race, as a result of the incident in 1928. Tipperary Tim fell during the 1929 race and did not finish. The horse enjoyed no real success aside from his 1928 Grand National win.

Main source Wikipedia

Grand National News : Tipperary Tim

The Mirror : The amazing story of Tipperary Tim and the Grand National’s biggest ever upset

If you’ve read my book you’ll know I write about this legendary horse and my childhood spent playing in and around Fernhill House.

See below for extracts.

Dad pointed to an old and imposing big house up the top end of a driveway in Glencairn Park. ‘This is Fernhill House, and it’s where Lord Carson inspected the UVF men before they went off to war.’

               ‘To fight the Provies?’ I asked. I was only six, but already the language of the Troubles had begun to filter through my vocabulary. The ‘Provies’ were the Provisional Irish Republican Army – the enemy currently engaged in warfare with the British Army and bombing buildings in Belfast, Londonderry and many other places, killing soldiers, police officers and innocent civilians alike, and the UVF stood for the Ulster Volunteer Force, which was better known as a Loyalist paramilitary group during the Troubles.

               ‘Nah,’ said Dad, laughing, ‘not them. The UVF went off to fight the Germans in the First World War. Have you heard of the 36ththirty-sixth?’

               I hadn’t, so Dad gave me a quick history lesson. The 36th Ulster Division were the pride of Protestant Belfast (although many Catholics fought in it too) and distinguished itself at the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Dad used to quote the words of Captain Wilfred Spender, who watched as the 36th Division went over the top: ‘I am not an Ulsterman but yesterday, the first of July, as I followed their amazing attack, I felt that I would rather be an Ulsterman than anything else in the world.’

               Even today, I feel an enormous sense of prised pride when I hear those words.

               I loved these kinds of stories, especially about our grandfathers and great-grandfathers who’d been so brave in the face of almost certain death. In fact, my great Uncle Robert fought and tragically died two weeks before the end of the war.

               ‘Are the UVF still around, Da’?’ I asked, wide-eyed. I hoped they were, as I recalled the rioting and burning I was told was the work of Catholics out to get us.

               ‘So they are, son,’ Dad said, ‘but hey, let’s not talk about all that now. C’mon with me now and we’ll get a pastie supper.’

               I jumped up and down with delight. Pastie suppers were (and still are) my favourite. Only Northern Ireland people can appreciate the delights of this deep-fried delicacy of minced pork, onions and spuds, all coated in delicious batter, with chips on the side and a Belfast Bap (a bread roll).

               As we walked from the brow of the hill down to the chippy, Dad told me a few more stories about Fernhill House. It was owned by a family called Cunningham, he said, and it had stables attached to it. In one of these was housed a racehorse called Tipperary Tim.  and according to legend, the horse’s jockey, William Dutton was told by a friend, ‘Billy boy, you’ll only win if the all the others fall.’

               ‘Sure enough,’ said Dad, ‘yer man Dutton took the horse into the Grand National in Liverpool and all the other horses fell down. And so Tipperary Tim won the race.’

               ‘That’s amazing!’ I shouted. ‘Does he still live in the stables? Can we go and see him? Please, Da ’ . . .’

               In response, my dad laughed. ‘You’re a bit late, son,’ he said., ‘the race was won in 1928!’

               In time, Fernhill House and the surrounding area would become my childhood playground and I’d spend hours playing in the park and exploring the empty mansion and its cavernous cellars. Years later, when the Loyalists called their ceasefire as part of the Good Friday Agreement, legendary Loyalist leader Gusty Spence and the ‘Combined Loyalist Military Command’ choose Fernhill House to tell the world their war was at an end and offer abject and sincere remorse to their victims.

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fifty skinheads appeared from nowhere, many of them wearing Chelsea and Rangers football scarves and covered in Loyalist and swastika tattoos. These psychos were obviously baying for blood – Mod blood, to be exact.

In the early 80s about thirty of us travelled from Belfast to Liverpool by boat. Then we caught the train down to London and headed straight for Carnaby Street. It felt like a religious pilgrimage and I was hypnotised by the sheer joy of just being there and drinking in the Mod culture it had given birth to.

Me in my mod days

But my excitement was to be short- lived. As we walked around the legendary area and drank in the super- cool atmosphere, suddenly we heard a massive roar and what sounded like a football stampede, then three terrified young Mods ran past us as if the devil was on their tails.

Belfast Mods 1985

I feature in the documentary , see if you can spot me ?

               Time stood still as we waited to see what had scared them and made them take such desperate flight. Then, from a side street, about fifty skinheads appeared from nowhere, many of them wearing Chelsea and Rangers football scarves and covered in Loyalist and swastika tattoos. These psychos were obviously baying for blood – Mod blood, to be exact.

               The moment they spotted us they stopped dead and some even grinned at the Mod bounty fate had delivered them. We were in some deep shit and I searched my mind frantically for a way out.

               There was only a few of us together at this stage and my heart leaped into my throat as I anticipated the beating I was about to receive. But if nothing else, I was used to brutal violence and two things came to my mind at once.

               The first was that I’d experienced many gang battles between Mods and skinheads in the backstreets of the Shankill and Ballysillan, and survived largely intact. But here we were vastly outnumbered, on foreign soil (so to speak), and these guys wanted to rip us apart, limb by limb, while savouring every moment of our agony and humiliation . 

               I glanced over at the leaders in the front row as they hurled insults and threats. My heart sunk when I noticed some of them had already pulled out weapons, including blades, and were preparing to attack us. This was our last chance. My survival instinct kicked in . I took a deep breath and played my hand.

               ‘Stay back,’ I said, as calmly as I could to the boys behind me. I was aware that some of our lot were Catholics and, if anything, were probably in far more danger than I was. I stepped forward and, looking for their ‘top boy’, I suggested they all slow down and tell me what the problem was.

The Difference Between Nazi’s and Skinheads | Needles And Pins

               You could have heard a pin drop as the fella in question looked me up and down as though I’d just insulted his mother. I could tell he was moments away from lunging at me and all hell kicking off.

               Then I heard a familiar accent calling out from the skinhead crowd.

               ‘Are youse from Belfast?’ said the voice.

               There was what seemed like a lifetime’s pause before I answered.

               ‘Feckin right,’ I said, ‘from the glorious Shankill Road!’

               Now I was praying I’d made a good call.

               ‘That right?’ he replied. ‘So who d’you know?’

               I wheeled off a few names of skinheads and assorted bad boys I knew and had grown up with on the Shankill and Glencairn and this satisfied them. We were safe, for now at least. It turned out the guy who spoke, Biff, had grown up in Glencairn, now lived and worked in London and was involved with other Loyalists living in the capital. His crew were a nasty bunch and I pitied those who had the misfortune to come across them, especially if you weren’t a WASP. If they had known some of the Mods present were Catholics, nothing would have stopped them kicking the shit out of me and the others and I silently thanked the gods for delivering us from evil.

               My second thought was about the Rangers scarves and the Loyalist/English Pride-style tattoos a good number of them were sporting. An idea started to take shape in my terrified brain. Rangers was the team of choice for much of the Protestant population of Northern Ireland and, along with Chelsea and Linfield, were inextricably woven into the core of our Loyalist culture. I hoped these baying skinheads, or some of them at least, would hold the same pride and love for Queen and country as me and I thought this might just save us.

Me on the cover of a Mod book ©Jay McFall

               With the situation defused, I told the others to look around a bit and I’d catch up with them later. I didn’t want the skins chatting with them, finding out some of them were Catholic and undoing all my capital work. They insisted I joined them for a pint or two in the Shakespeare’s Head pub nearby and it must have looked a bit weird: a sixties style Mod, wearing eye liner and a Beatles suit, drinking and laughing with a gang of psycho Nazi skinheads.

SkinheadS & Reggae

               But I had spent my life growing up among Loyalist killers and paramilitaries and nothing really fazed me anymore. I didn’t particularly like Biff and his crew but chatting with him over a few pints I realised there was much more to him than the stereotypical skinhead. His English girlfriend had just given birth to their first child and he was ‘trying to get on the straight and narrow’, – whatever that meant.

               After a few hours of drinking and snorting speed with Biff and the others I left them in the pub and return to the sanity of my Mod mates. I was to come across Biff and his crew later that weekend, when they and dozens of other skinheads and punks ambushed and attacked Mods coming into or out of the all- dayer in the Ilford Palais. Luckily, I was safely inside, stoned out of my mind and living the Mod dream and I didn’t concern myself with the antics of those fools, though I did have a chat with Biff while grabbing some fresh air and a fag outside.

               Safely back in Belfast, we started to plan other trips abroad, specifically to ‘The South’. Enemy territory.

You have been reading extracts from my number one best selling book A Belfast Child.

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The Story of Skinhead with Don Letts (BBC Documentary)

The Shankill Butchers…

By age ten I’d heard shots ring out and seen the injuries caused by bullets and beatings. But nothing could’ve prepared me for the scene outside Glencairn’s community centre on Forthriver Road on an overcast morning in October 1976. Before heading to school I polished off my cornflakes and, kicking and protesting as ever, had my face wiped by Granny, who spat on a handkerchief and assaulted my grubby mush with it. ‘Come here, ye dirty wee hallion!’ she shouted as she grabbed me for the unwanted daily routine. Struggle over, I let myself out of the front door and walked the few doors to Uncle Sam’s to call for Wee Sam.

               He too had succumbed to the humiliating last-minute face scrub from Aunt Gerry and as we trudged down his garden path and on to the main road through the estate we muttered darkly about our so-called elders and betters.

               We’d only walked a few yards when up ahead we noticed a gathering of green and grey Land Rovers and Saracen armoured cars, which we nicknamed ‘Pigs’. That meant only one thing that the RUC and the army were out in force. To the side stood a small knot of onlookers, mostly women on their way to school, the wee ones holding their hands. This group had turned away from the scene and were speaking together. As we approached, we heard murmurs from the women and the occasional shaking of a scarfed head.

               ‘Fuckin’ hell,’ said Wee Sam, wide-eyed, ‘somebody musta gotten kilt up there. Look at all the peelers around.’

               A knot of fear tightened in my stomach as we approached the scene. Despite being on supposedly ‘safe’ Loyalist territory, grim-faced soldiers gripped their SLRs tightly while uniformed police from the RUC spoke into radios and plain-clothes detectives huddled in a group. Judging by the mood hanging over the community centre on this cold, grey morning, we were about to see something unprecedented.

               Maybe we should’ve walked on by. But we were just wee boys. Filled with childish curiosity we rubbernecked all the time. ‘C’mon,’ said Sam, grabbing me by the sleeve of my snorkel jacket, ‘let’s see what’s going on!’

               We ducked past the group of clucking housewives and right up to a tall soldier in full battledress. ‘Hey mister, what’s happenin’?’ I asked. ‘Is somebody dead?’

               The soldier looked down on us, not unkindly. We weren’t his enemy. Maybe he viewed similar aged boys from the Catholic areas of Ardoyne and Andersonstown in a different way, but up here we were the good guys. Supposedly.

               ‘If I were you two I’d bugger off to school pronto,’ he said, in a northern English voice. ‘There’s nowt to look at here.’

               He was wrong. There was something to look at, lying just a couple of yards from where he stood. Behind the soldier’s back, down the grassy bank at the back of the community centre – UDA controlled, of course, and a social gathering point for those in the estate – we saw a pair of shoe-clad feet sticking out at angles from beneath a brown woollen blanket. This covered the undisputable shape of a body, and surrounding it was thick, red, jellified blood. Pints of the stuff that had spread across the grass on which the body lay, creating a semi-frozen scene of complete horror.

               ‘Jesus!’ I said, stepping back a couple of paces from the soldier. ‘What the fuck happened here?’

               ‘Never you mind,’ he said. ‘Kids your age shouldn’t be seeing things like this. And watch your language, lad.’

               I ignored him and looked again. By now, a typical Belfast morning drizzle had begun to fall, covering the blanket in a fine mist. I craned my neck, and could just about see a tuft of dark, bloodstained hair sticking out of the top. Even at this age I knew that a single bullet, or even a couple of them, couldn’t have created such a mess. Rooted to the spot, I hadn’t noticed that Wee Sam was no longer by my side. I turned to see him talking animatedly to a boy of about our age standing beside his mum and went over. Wee Sam grabbed my sleeve, pulling me into the conversation.

               ‘Jimmy’s ma says it’s the Butchers who’s done him,’ he whispered, pointing to the body. ‘They carved him up wi’ knives and a’ that. Just cos he’s a Catholic.’

               I couldn’t believe it. I knew Provies killed Loyalists, and we killed them. That’s how it was. In my mind that was all fair. We were under siege, and at war. But to have murdered this man just because he was a Catholic? And to have used knives on him, literally carving him up like a piece of meat? I knew something about this was terribly, terribly wrong and I wondered why God in all his wisdom would let such things happen. Was this the point when I started to lose faith in a Saviour who seemed to ignore the suffering of mortal men?

               For weeks previously we’d heard whispers across Glencairn about a gang called the ‘Butchers’, or the ‘Shankill Butchers’. We knew they were Loyalist UVF paramilitaries, but seemingly nothing like the uncles, cousins and friends who aligned themselves to the UDA or UVF, collecting for prisoners and running shebeens, illegal drinking clubs that brought in funds. Those we knew to be UDA members, hardened as they were to whatever was going on across Belfast, seemed to be talking about this particular set of murders with a mixture of awe and horror.

               As time went on, it became clear that the ‘Butchers’ killings had little connection with everyday Loyalism and more to do with the psychopathic condition of the gang’s members. It appeared they were using a black taxi to pick up their victims – innocent people on their way home – before kidnapping and murdering them. But they were also killing Protestants too; people who’d fallen foul of their notorious leader, Lenny Murphy. In short, they enjoyed killing for killing’s sake, and in mid-1970s Northern Ireland the opportunity to destroy lives at random, for any scrap of a reason, was unprecedented and easy. Life was cheap and victims would be forgotten about by the next day as another victim took their place.

               The politics of Loyalist feuding was way over my head back then, but like everyone else I came to regard the Butchers as nothing short of bogeymen. They invaded my dreams and seemed to be pursuing me during my waking hours. On late summer nights and into the dark nights of autumn 1976, a group of us would gather at the bottom of the estate, playing around the woods and streams that gave this area a kind of weird beauty in the midst of all the mayhem. When darkness fell and it was time to go home, I would walk alone back up the estate, listening out in mortal fear for the distinctive sound of a wailing diesel engine climbing the hill behind me that could only be a Belfast black taxi. I was only just ten by then , but I had no reason to believe the Butchers wouldn’t grab me and rip me apart with their specially sharpened knives, just for the fun of it.

               These guys meant business. The body Wee Sam and I saw was the first of four that were dumped on Glencairn by the Butchers, along with others murdered in Loyalist feuds. Some months after we came upon the scene in Forthriver Road, we were playing in and around a building site in ‘the Link’, a new part of Glencairn still under construction. Several houses were being created and while we shouldn’t have been there, nobody was stopping us from running wild around the estate and doing what we liked. We’d poked about one particular half-built house and were about to leave when I spotted what appeared to be words written on an unplastered wall.

               ‘Gi’e us a match, Sam,’ I said, ‘I wanna see what’s written up there.’

               Sam produced a box of matches from his jeans pocket and I struck one, holding it close to the wall. The colour drained from my face as I read the words ‘Help me’. They had been written in blood. Dropping the match we legged it out of there and ran all the way home.

               I told Dad, but if I expected him to be shocked I was just as surprised when his reaction was indifference. ‘Just leave well, alone, John,’ he said, shaking his head. ‘You’re better off out of it.’

You have been reading extracts from my No.1 bestselling book : A Belfast Child. See blow for more details and how to order.

Who wants… A signed copy of my No.1 best selling book ? Makes a great Xmas gift for book lovers & those interested in the Troubles & the crazy, mad days my generation lived through.

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See: Shankill Butchers

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My ‘time’ in the Crum Prison – mid 80s

My ‘time’ in the Crum Prison – mid 80s

…but a matter of life and death. These were the lads who would go on to be the ‘top boys’ of Loyalist paramilitarism and in time would become infamous in Belfast and well beyond. They’d do time in the Maze prison or in ‘ the Crum’ – the damp, dank Crumlin Road gaol that is now a major tourist attraction in Belfast. I have to confess that I was in there too – but not for any romantic notion of defending Loyalism against hordes of Republican invaders.

In fact, it was for motoring offences.

            I had a very reckless approach to taxing and insuring my scooter and given that I was prone to crashing or falling off it, this wasn’t great behaviour. Time after time the RUC would flag me down and demand that I produce my documents at the nearest station. Of course, I never had any of these so it would be off to court, and a fine that I couldn’t or wouldn’t pay. This happened so frequently that eventually the magistrate demanded that I either pay the fine straight away or spend three days in Crumlin Road gaol.

            Well, I didn’t have much else to do that weekend, to be honest. And I didn’t want to be slapped with a big fine that would be on my mind for ages. So to the surprise of the magistrate I said, ‘I’ll take prison, please,’ and with that I was marched down the steps of the dock and through the tunnel that links the courthouse with the gaol. As I walked I thought about all the paramilitary hard men from both sides who’d been taken on this very journey, many receiving multiple life sentences for the terrible stuff they’d done. I wasn’t exactly in their ranks, but a taste of the Crum would be something to tell the boys when I was finally sprung on the Monday.

Me in my mod days and when I was banged up !

            Unfortunately for me, I’d overlooked two things. The first was that my time in prison coincided with a bank holiday Monday. There wouldn’t be enough screws present that day to take me through the release procedure, so I’d have to come out on the Tuesday instead. That took the wind out of my sails a wee bit. The second was my clothing. I’d arrived at court complete with sixties paisley shirt, eyeliner and a string of beads around my neck. This wasn’t great gear for going to prison in and when I arrived in the prison to take the obligatory shower the screw in charge gave me a filthy look.

            ‘Are ye seriously goin’ in there looking like a fruit,’ he asked. ‘D’ye think that’ll be fun for ye?’

            I looked at myself in the cracked mirror. The guy was right. Some of the fellas in here were psychos, not exactly sympathetic to lads who looked a bit gay, as I’m sure I did. I couldn’t do much about the shirt, but I scrubbed off the eyeliner and handed in the love beads for safekeeping. Then, in an act of defiance, I scratched the words ‘Mods UTC’ (‘Up The Hoods’) on the door of the shower with a pen before handing that in too. I headed into the prison and to my cell for what turned out to be a pleasant few days.

My graffiti is still there.

Because I wasn’t in for anything heinous nobody took any notice of me. Also, I was a skinny lad with hollow legs and I enjoyed the carb-heavy prison food served up to us three times a day. I can’t say I was sorry to be released but it was an experience, and I could always talk it up a bit for the benefit of my mates.

            Many years later I took my young son on an organised tour of the prison, which is now a museum. I showed him the shower, and the graffiti that I’d etched on to the door. An American tourist overheard me talking to my boy about my ‘time’ in the Crum, and for the rest of the tour he and his fellow visitors treated me like royalty – Republican, no doubt. I didn’t tell them the truth . . . .why let the facts get in the way of a good story ?

            As I’ve said, the spell in gaol was towards the end of a long period of joy-riding, shoplifting and drug-taking, some of which I was lifted for, many others that I got away with. In the 1980s, stealing cars and joyriding was almost a full-time occupation for many of Northern Ireland’s teenage males , especially in the Loyalist and Republican-controlled ghettos. There was always a danger that an untrained driver would crash, accidentally or deliberately, into an army checkpoint and be shot dead, and this happened on multiple occasions during the Troubles. I wasn’t confident enough to drive, but I was a regular passenger in cars that had been stolen by my mates in Belfast city centre and driven at high-speed back up to Glencairn, where they’d be burned out.

            This was the scenario one such Saturday night, when we jacked a car just…

See : Tarred and Feathered: Street Justice Belfast Style.

You have been reading extracts from my No.1 best selling book A Belfast Child.

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Tarred and Feathered: Street Justice Belfast Style.

Tarred and Feathered: Street Justice Belfast Style

Life during the Troubles

Here are the opening few pages of my bestselling book: A Belfast Child

As a child, I loved the housing estate of Glencairn. To my mind it was paradise. Cut into the hillside, and with unbeatable views of the city on one side and the Divis Mountains on the other, it was like arriving in heaven after the hell of living among the urban sectarian flashpoints of West Belfast. Here were trees, lush green fields, sparkling clear rivers and streams that rushed down from the mountainside and were filled with fish. Us kids spent long hot summers splashing about in the ‘Spoon’, a natural cavernous feature of the landscape filled with water, and feasted on wild berries, strawberries and nuts that grew along the banks of the river.

               Here were our close family and friends, housed in the damp flats and maisonettes that had been hurriedly built to house those Protestants ‘put out’ of their homes in the city by avenging Catholics. They too were being burnt from their homes but back then my young Loyalist heart felt no sympathy for them; in my opinion they supported the IRA and had started the ‘war’.

               Up in Glencairn we felt safe and free. As long as we all obeyed the rules, of course.

               These rules were not the laws of the land. They were not enforced by police, army or government officials. They were not set down in any written form, but we all knew what they were and who had made them. And even as small children, we knew that a heavy price would be extracted for those foolish enough to break the rules. A heavy price, and sometimes a very public price too.

               Our two-bedroom maisonette was situated at the bottom of a small grassy hill facing St Andrew’s church Church and the local shopping complex, which consisted of a Chinese chippy, the VG general store, a laundrette, a newsagent’s, a wine lodge and the local Ulster Defence Association – UDA – drinking club called ‘Grouchos’ . In fact, we could roll down it almost to our back door – a game my younger brother David and I played frequently. In the winter when the hill was covered in snow, we would make sledges out of old bits of wood and spend hours and hours going up and down the hill, never feeling the cold. Dad would have a go at us for all the mud and grass we trailed into the flat but his was a good-natured telling-off. The truth was that he was pleased to see us all happy and carefree again after the trauma of the previous few years, and the sudden and final disappearance of my mum.

               One late spring afternoon I was revolving rolling towards our back door, Dad’s beloved Alsatian dog Shep (my best friend and constant companion) in hot pursuit. Dad called him Shep after the Elvis song and he was able to knock our letter box with his nose when he wanted to come indoors. The grass had recently been cut and was damp, meaning that it stuck to every part of my clothing. I came to a halt just short of our back wall, the sweet smell of cut grass filling my nostrils, before standing up to brush it all off my jumper. As I did, I noticed my cousin, Wee Sam, running up towards our house from the direction of the main road.

               ‘John! Davy! C’mon, hurry up! There’s summin’ going on down the shops!’

               Wee Sam was red in the face and could hardly get his words out. ‘It must be good,’ I said, ‘cos you look like you’re about to die.’

               ‘Not me,’ he replied, ‘but there’s a woman down there looks likely to. C’mon, we gotta see this!’

               He turned tail and without thought we ran after him. As anyone who’s ever grown up on a housing estate will know, if there’s a commotion taking place word gets around like lightning. In Loyalist Glencairn there was always something going on and it was violent as often as not violent. As we ran, it seemed that from every direction half of estate was also making its way to the shops from every direction facing St. Andrews church from every direction. ‘This must be big,’ I thought as I ran, my wee brother trying to keep up with me. On this estate, as in every area of Belfast afflicted by the Troubles, very few people turned away from troubledanger. The natural sense of curiosity found in spades among Northern Irish people was too strong for that.

               In the few minutes it took us to run from our house, a large crowd had already gathered outside the shops. A gang of ‘hard men’, whom we all knew to be paramilitary enforcers, seemed to be at the centre of the action. Local women stood on the fringes of the crowd, shouting, swearing and spitting.

               ‘Fuckin’ Fenian- loving bitch!’

               ‘Youse deserve to die, ye fuckin’ Taig-loving hoor!’ (‘Taig’ is an offensive slang term for a Catholic).

               I pushed in to get a better look. At the heart of the crowd was a young woman, struggling against the grip of the men holding her. Her cheap, fashionable clothes were torn and her eyes were wild and staring, like an animal’s before slaughter. She screamed for them to take their hands off her, spitting at her accusers and lashing out with her feet. It was no use. One of the bigger guys pulled her hands behind her back and dragged her against a concrete lamppost. Someone passed him a length of rope and with a few expert strokes he’d lashed the young woman against the post by her hands, quickly followed by her feet. She reminded me of a squaw captured by cowboys in the Westerns I loved to watch and then re-enact using local kids in games that could last for days.

               Except this wasn’t a game. This was justice Glencairn style – all perfectly normal to me and my peers and we took it in our stride. Although she was still squealing like a pig, the resistance seemed to have gone out of the woman. Smelling blood, the crowd pushed forwards and the woman’s head hung low in shame and embarrassment. One of the men grabbed a hank of her long hair and wrenched her head upwards, forcing her to look him right in the eye.

               ‘You,’ he said slowly, ‘have been caught going with a Taig, so you have! Do you deny it?’

               Now I recognised the woman. She was a girl off the estate. I ha’d seen her walking down Forthriver Road on her way to meet her mini-skirted mates. They’d pile into a black taxi and head into town for a bit of drinking and dancing. I guess it was on one of these nights out that she’d met the Catholic boy – the ‘Taig’ – who was at the centre of the allegations. Good job he wasn’t here now, because he might already be lying in a pool of blood, a bullet through his head.

               The woman shook her head. There was no point trying to talk her way out of anything now.

               ‘Fuck you,’ she said defiantly. ‘Fuck youse all.’

               ‘Grab her hair!’ shouted a female voice from the crowd. ‘Cut off the fuckin’ lot!’

               The enforcer produced a large pair of scissors from his pocket. Slowly, deliberately, he tightened his grip on her hair before hacking savagely at the clump below his fist. Amid cheers he threw it at her feet before continuing his rough barbering skills. Within minutes he’d finished and now the woman looked like a cancer victim. Blood oozed from the indiscriminate cuts he’d made on her head and as it ran down her face it intermingled with her tears and snot. She was not a pretty sight.

               ‘  back!’ demanded one of the enforcers. The crowd parted and someone came forward with an open tin of bright red paint. Knowing what was to come, and not wanting to be physically contaminated with the woman’s shame, the crowd moved even further back.

               The UDA man poured the contents of the tin all over the woman’s head, allowing it to run the entire length of her body, right down to her platform boots. She looked like she’d been drowned in blood. Then a pillow was passed up, and   ham-hands the enforcer tore a big hole in the cotton, exposing the contents – feathers, hundreds and thousands of them.

               ‘G’wan,’ said a voice, ‘give her the full fuckin’ works.’

               Without further ado the man poured the white feathers all over the woman, head to toe. They clung to the paint, giving the impression of a slaughtered goose hanging off the telegraph pole.

               ‘That will teach ye not to go with filthy Taigs,’ said the enforcer. ‘Any more of this and youse’ll get a beating then a bullet, so you will. Understand?’

               Through the paint and the feathers came a small nod of the head.

               ‘Good,’ said the man. ‘And just so ye don’t forget, here’s a wee something we made for you earlier.’

               To laughter and jeers, the man produced a cardboard sign which he placed around the woman’s neck. In the same red paint used to humiliate her, someone had written ‘Fenian Lover’ across the middle of the cardboard.

               ‘Leave her there for half an hour,’ commanded the man to a subordinate, ‘then cut her down.’ The crowd dispersed, a few women spitting on the victim as they left.

               ‘Jesus,’ said Wee Sam, wide-eyed. ‘Did you see that? Looked like she’d been shot in the head and the feathers were her brain running down her face. Fuckin’ amazing.’

               ‘Course I saw it,’ I said. ‘I was right at the front, wasn’t I? The bitch deserved it. Imagine going with Taigs, the dirty whorehoor.’

               ‘Let’s wait round the shops till they chop her down,’ said Sam. ‘See where she goes.’

               We’d been playing one of our eternal games of Cowboys and Indians recently and we’d got into the idea of tracking people down stealthily. So we waited until another paramilitary cut the woman’s rope and watched as she slumped to the ground.

               ‘I think she’s pissed herself,’ said Sam.

               ‘Ssh,’ I replied, ‘she’ll hear us. Wait while she gets up.’

               We watched the woman slowly pick herself up from the pavement. She wiped her eyes and looked around. The area outside the shops was now completely deserted, as though nothing had happened. An angry mob had been replaced by an eerie silence.

               As she stumbled off, we nudged each other. ‘Look,’ I said., ‘Look what’s happening. She’s leaving a trail!’

               She was too, a trail of blood- red boot  prints. We gave her twenty or so yards’ start, then in single file began to follow her, sidling up against walls and lamp-posts like the gang of Cherokees we imagined we were. We must have gone a good quarter- mile when she turned into a pathway leading up to a small, shabby flat. We saw her fumbling in her pocket for a key, noticing the relief on her face as she found it still there. The lock turned and she went inside without a backwards glance.

               ‘That’s it,’ said Sam, ‘fun’s over. Let’s go home.’

               ‘Wait,’ I said. I watched as the woman put on a light, looked in a mirror then drew the curtains tightly. Some part of me, the part that wasn’t screaming ‘Fenian bitch!’ with all the others, suddenly felt hugely sorry for her. She only looked about seventeen17 or eighteen18 – not much older than my sister Margaret. What had she really done wrong, other than meet a nice boy she liked? Did she deserve such brutal treatment? After this I never saw her around the estate again. She’d probably fled for her ,life, never to return. And who could blame her?

           Something inside of me knew I’d witnessed a terrible thing, yet I knew I couldn’t even begin to think like this. It was against the rules; the same unwritten rules and code of conduct that this young woman had disobeyed. Fear of the paramilitaries created a culture of silence and where we lived this was a survival strategy we all lived by. We were all products of this violent environment and we were had been desensitised conditioned to events that no child should ever have to witness.

                I shuddered, pulled my thin jacket close around me and with the others, headed for the safety of home.

               Even now, more than forty years later, whenever I smell the sweet smell aroma of cut grass I am transported back to that dusky spring evening in the early 70’s seventies and the woman’s brutal punishment, and I can hardly believe the madness of my childhood in Glencairn.

Who wants… A signed copy of my No.1 best selling book ? Makes a great Xmas gift for book lovers & those interested in the Troubles & the crazy, mad days my generation lived through.

Click here to order : https://tinyurl.com/2p9b958v

UK orders only – if you live outside the UK email me belfastchildis@googlemail.com and Ill send you a link for ordering outside the UK.

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To buy my book from amazon follow this link: https://tinyurl.com/wzpp5ra

Reviews

Famous folk loving it

See : Tarring and feathering

See: Belfast Telegraph Public humiliation that was all too familiar during Troubles

A signed copy of my book ? Ive got a few left…

Signed copy of my book

Hi folks

See below for details on how to order a signed copy:

The book is selling beyond my wildest expectations and the reviews are awesome , so good in fact you’d think I was paying for them ,lol

I have quite a few copies at home and if you would like to receive a signed copy they cost only £10.00 plus postage .

Click a buy now button below to order

UK Orders

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Ireland Orders

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USA and Canada orders

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You can email directly : belfastchildis@googlemail.com

Date 1st September 2020

Here’s a quick update on the book launch, promo and a link to order a signed copy.

Only thirteen days to go until my life story is in the public domain and having worked on it and waited almost twenty five years to see it in print I must admit I’m extremely nervous and apprehensive about its forthcoming release.

Having grown up during and lived through some of the worst years of the Troubles I know  my story is far from unique and many have suffered far more both physically and emotionally due to the nightmare that stalked our lives for thirty long blood soaked years.

However due to the secret of my dual heritage, compounded by growing up in and around some of the most violent Loyalist estates in West Belfast the sudden and final disappearance of my catholic mother hunted me throughout my life and my search for her is the main theme throughout the book. The Troubles provide the backdrop and needless to say my story includes brief accounts of some of the highest profile and soul-destroying times that we all lived through.

Although I know this area will be a very divisive issue I hope when reading it folk bear in mind that I’m writing about these accounts as seen through the eyes of a child living through them.

Despite the madness throughout the book/my life there is much laughter and many accounts also of my crazy teenage years in and around Glencairn and drug fuelled mod years and later the rave scene in and around London. When all is said and done no one else has ever walked in my shoes and although I expect much criticism when folk read the book, I hope it might make them stop and think for a moment : Was it all worth it ?

I think not.

Promo

Sadly, due to the coronavirus I will not be doing book signings in Belfast, Scotland and Ireland as originally planned. Thank god because I hate that side of things and wasn’t really looking forward to it to be honest lol. The publisher has informed me that this may change over the coming months and I will keep you updated via here or on Twitter.

If you want a signed copy of the book see blow.

In regards to interviews etc there are quite a few lined up, including radio , podcasts , TV and in print and I will be posting details of these as and when they happen or become available.

Another aspect of the publishing world Im not looking forward to.

The cost is £10.00 plus £2.50 for postage per book.

Please note the book will be dispatched within a few days of payment

Click here to buy directly from Amazon : Buy A Belfast Child

My Email: belfastchildis@googlemail.com

Introduction to my book: Read it here plus top reviews

A Belfast Child

by

John Chambers

Read the introduction to my No.1 Best Selling book here:

INTRODUCTION

‘Historically, Unionist politicians fed their electorate the myth that they were first class citizens . . . and without question people believed them. Historically, Republican/Nationalist politicians fed their electorate the myth that they were second class citizens . . . and without question the people believed them. In reality, the truth of the matter was that we all, Protestant and Catholic, were third class citizens, and none of us realised it!’

Hugh Smyth, OBE (1941­–2014). Unionist politician.

Although I was raised in what is probably one of the most Loyalist council estates in Belfast, I was never what you might term a conventional ‘Prod’. Don’t get me wrong – coming from Glencairn, situated just above the famous Shankill Road and populated by Protestants (and their descendants) who fled intimidation, violence and death in other parts of Belfast at the beginning of the Troubles, I was (and remain) a Loyalist through and through. I was unashamedly proud of my Northern Irish Protestant ancestry (still am) and couldn’t wait for all the fun and games to be had on 12th ‘The Twelfth’, or ‘Orangeman’s Day’ (still can’t). Even after 30 plus years of living away from the place my dreams are populated by bags of Tayto Cheese & n Onion crisps, pastie suppers from Beattie’s on the Shankill and pints of Harp lager. I cheer on the Northern Ireland Football team (though I’m not a massive football fan I watch all the big games) and I bitch frequently about the doings of Sinn Fein.

            I’m a working-class Belfast Loyalist through and through and very proud of my culture and traditions. Yet from an early age I sensed that I was somehow different. As a child I couldn’t quite put my finger on it and when I discovered the truth in my early teens, I was embarrassed, mortified and ashamed – but maybe not particularly shocked. I always knew there was something not ‘quite right’ about me. The secret was that I wasn’t as ‘Super Prod’ as I thought; there was another strand of Northern Irish tradition in my background, one that was equally working-class Belfast, but as diametrically opposed to Protestantism as you’re likely to get. There’s a comedy song that probably still does the rounds in clubs across Ireland, North and South, called ‘The Orange and The Green’, the chorus of which goes something like ‘It is the biggest mix-up that you have ever seen/My father he was Orange and my mother she was Green.’ In other words, a Protestant father and a Catholic mother. This song could have been written about our family directly, so closely did it match our dynamic.

            Now, if you’re reading this from the comfort of any other country than Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland or Scotland, you’ll be (just about) forgiven for wondering what all the fuss is about. Catholics marrying Protestants? So what? No big deal, surely. No one cares . But in a country like Northern Ireland, where tribalism still reigns supreme and the local people can sniff out a person’s religion just by looking at them, the prospect of the ‘mixed marriage’ is still cause for a good gossip, at the very least. During the Troubles period it was an excuse for deep embarrassment, banishment, a paramilitary beating, or worse. Those Protestants and Catholics who married and stuck it out either slunk away into some quiet corner of Northern Ireland, trying to ignore the conflict while hoping the neighbours wouldn’t ask too many questions, or left the place altogether, never to return.

            The marriage of my own parents, John Chambers (Protestant) and Sally McBride (Catholic), fell apart in the late 1960s as Belfast burned in the early days of the Troubles. The ferocity of hatred between the city’s two warring communities scorched many people desperately trying to find sanctuary in a country heading towards allout civil war. As we’ll see, my parents’ marriage was among these early casualties. Their lives, and the lives of their four children, would change forever and were shaped by the sectarian madness that tore Belfast and all of Northern Ireland apart and brought us all to the brink of an abyss that threatened and ruined our daily lives.

            This isn’t a book about the day-to-day events of the Troubles. There are plenty of excellent histories available detailing the period in all its gory glory, and from all viewpoints. If you need deep context, I’d recommend reading one of these, or even visiting Belfast. It’s safe now and as a tourist you won’t find a warmer welcome anywhere on this earth. As we say, Northern Irish people are the friendliest in the world – just not towards each other.

            Although I love history, I’m not a historian and I don’t intend this book to be a dry run through of the events of 1969 onwards. As I child I learned the stories and legends of the Battle of Boyne and the Siege of Derry at my grandfather’s and father’s knees, becoming immersed in the Loyalist culture that would shape and dominate my whole existence.

            I just happened to be there at the time – an ordinary kid in an extraordinary situation made even more complicated by the secret of my dual heritage. This is simply the story of a boy trying to grow up, survive, thrive, have fun and discover himself against a backdrop of events that might best be described as ‘explosive’, captivating and shocking the world for thirty30 long years. I’ve written this book because even I find my own story hard to believe sometimes, and only when I see it on the shelves will I truly know that it happened. In addition, it’s a story I would like my own children and grandchildren to read.

I want them to live in peace, harmony and understanding in a multicultural world where everyone tolerates and respects each other. I suppose I’ve always been a dreamer….

            When they read my book, which I hope they will, they might understand what it is to grow up in conflict, hatred and intolerance, and work towards a better future for themselves and others. When I was 20twenty, 21twenty-one, I knew that if I didn’t leave Northern Ireland soon, I would end up either in prison or dead, or on the dole for rest of my life. This was the brutal reality I was faced with. My own personal journey through life and the Troubles had lead me to a crossroads in my life and I made the monumental choice to leave Belfast and all those I loved behind and start a new life in London.

            I would hate to think my son, daughter or nephews and nieces back in Belfast would ever have to make the same drastic judgement about their own situation.

            My Loyalist heart and soul respects and loves all mankind, and providing the God you worship or the political system you follow is peaceful and respectful to all others then I don’t have a problem with you and wish you a happy future. Just because I am proud of my Loyalist culture and traditions doesn’t make me a hater or a bigot; it just means I am happy with the status quo in Northern Ireland and wish to maintain and celebrate the union with the UK and honour our Queen.

             As a child growing in Loyalist Belfast during the worst years of the Troubles, I hated Catholics with a passion and I could never forgive them for what I saw as their passive support of the IRA and other Republican terrorist groups. However, unlike many of my peers around me, I was never comfortable with the killing of non-combatants, regardless of political or religious background, and I mourned the death of innocent Catholics as much as innocent Protestants. In my childhood, I looked up to the Loyalist warlords and those who served them and when they killed an IRA member I celebrated with those around me. As I grew older and wiser my views changed. I no longer based my opinions and hatred on religion, but on politics and the humanity shown to others.

            I’m a peace-loving Loyalist and therefore want everlasting peace in Northern Ireland. We do exist, despite perceptions from some quarters, but our voices are rarely heard, drowned out by the actions of the few, and certainly nowhere near as frequently as our Republican neighbours who are very much ‘on message’ with their own take on events. I hope this book goes some way to redressing that balance, and that whatever ‘side’ you might be on (or on no side at all) you will enjoy it, and that it will make you stop and think.

            Finally, the story you are about to read is my own personal journey through the Troubles and my perception of growing up in Loyalist Belfast. In no way am I speaking for the wider Loyalist community or Protestant people and the views expressed here are my own. For reasons of security, some names have been changed.

John Chambers

England, April 2020

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Click here to buy: A Belfast Child by John Chambers

Click here to read more reviews

Signed copy of my book & update on book launch /Promo

Signed copy of my book & update on book launch /Promo

Hi folks

See below for details on how to order a signed copy:

12th Sep 2020

Well folks the book is a No.1 best Seller to my absolute delight and Im buzzinf

Signed copy of my book: A Belfast Child

Please note I am waiting on a delivery of books from the warehouse and therefore if you order a signed copy it will take a little longer to reach you.

Also, if you are ordering from outside the UK the postage is substantially higher and I suggest you email me and I will send you an online invoice with an amended price to cover postage charges.

If you can’t wait to read my amazing story you can order directly from Amazon:

Use the link below to order a signed copy.

Click to buy

You can email directly : belfastchildis@googlemail.com

I’m actually embarrassed offering this option but quite a few folk have contacted me enquiring about a signed copy and therefore I thought I’d make this available to those interested.

If you would like a signed copy of my book, please purchase via this link (above) and fill in the contact form below, making sure to include your email and the text you wish to appear in the book. If you require more than one copy, please email me and I will send you details and an online invoice.


Date 1st September 2020

Here’s a quick update on the book launch, promo and a link to order a signed copy.

Only thirteen days to go until my life story is in the public domain and having worked on it and waited almost twenty five years to see it in print I must admit I’m extremely nervous and apprehensive about its forthcoming release.

Having grown up during and lived through some of the worst years of the Troubles I know  my story is far from unique and many have suffered far more both physically and emotionally due to the nightmare that stalked our lives for thirty long blood soaked years.

However due to the secret of my dual heritage, compounded by growing up in and around some of the most violent Loyalist estates in West Belfast the sudden and final disappearance of my catholic mother hunted me throughout my life and my search for her is the main theme throughout the book. The Troubles provide the backdrop and needless to say my story includes brief accounts of some of the highest profile and soul-destroying times that we all lived through.

Although I know this area will be a very divisive issue I hope when reading it folk bear in mind that I’m writing about these accounts as seen through the eyes of a child living through them.

Despite the madness throughout the book/my life there is much laughter and many accounts also of my crazy teenage years in and around Glencairn and drug fuelled mod years and later the rave scene in and around London. When all is said and done no one else has ever walked in my shoes and although I expect much criticism when folk read the book, I hope it might make them stop and think for a moment : Was it all worth it ?

I think not.

Promo

Sadly, due to the coronavirus I will not be doing book signings in Belfast, Scotland and Ireland as originally planned. Thank god because I hate that side of things and wasn’t really looking forward to it to be honest lol. The publisher has informed me that this may change over the coming months and I will keep you updated via here or on Twitter.

If you want a signed copy of the book see blow.

In regards to interviews etc there are quite a few lined up, including radio , podcasts , TV and in print and I will be posting details of these as and when they happen or become available.

Another aspect of the publishing world Im not looking forward to.

The cost is £10.00 plus £2.50 for postage per book.

Please note the book will be dispatched within a few days of payment

Click here to buy directly from Amazon : Buy A Belfast Child

My Email: belfastchildis@googlemail.com

My Book Update , sad to say publication has been delayed due to …..

Howdy Blog followers…

My Book update , Im gutted !! I’m sad to let you all know that due to the Coronavirus crisis publication of my book has been delayed for at least five months , see below for more details.

I’m more than a little disappointed to let you all know due to the Coronavirus & the chaos it is causing worldwide the launch date for my book has been put back until September 3rd, a delay of more than five months.

The publishers believe that persisting with the planned April date would be highly detrimental to the book’s prospects.

Many of Ireland’s bookshops are closing at the moment and expecting to remain closed through April. Retailers Eason, Argosy, Dubray and WHS Travel have cut their orders dramatically in light of the ongoing crisis, and Irish WHS Travel have cancelled all their Irish orders for April.

Apparently twenty-five book retailers in Ireland have closed their doors until further notice.

Amazon are also having enormous issues meeting demand and are currently prioritising medical and home supplies over things like books, so many soon-to-be-released and new books currently don’t have a ‘Buy’ button on the page. As does my own. This may only get worse as the problem deepens.

 The proposed publication date will now be 3 September. I’ll keep you all posted on here!

It’s not the first time a major global event has thrown a spanner in the works for me. The week Princess Di so tragically died a national Newspaper had done a massive feature of my story for publication in the Sunday papers and I was bracing myself for the interest that would generate. In the event Princess Di’s death rightly dominated the press and my feature was kicked into the long grass.

Social Distancing Global Champion

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