Tag Archives: The 12th

Shankill Road Bonfire Horror – I was there

Shankill Road Bonfire Horror

Take a close look at this picture…

Shankill Houe Fire

This guy was almost burnt to death trying to put out a fire in the roof of this house on the 11th and in my opinion he is the luckiest man in all of Northern Ireland today and should be thanking his lucky stars.

Seconds after this picture was taking the roof caved in and had he not move he would have fallen into the inferno that was engulfing the roof space of this house and hundreds watching would have witness someone being burnt to death and every time I think about I get shivers down my spine.

The family and I had watched a few fires in and around the Woodvale & Glenciarn before heading down to the lower Shankill to watch the main fire there , with 1000’s of others. The heat was unbelievable hot and the local council expecting this had covered the doors and windows of those houses deemed to close to the fire  with hoarding , including those houses that eventually caught fire.

As the night wore on and the fire was reaching its peak everyone was happy and celebrating the 11th bonfires , but gradually we became concerned with the vast heat coming from the fire and the showers of hot ash and  sparks that the wind was blowing towards the row of houses to the north of the fire. Gradually we noticed some a small fire in the air vents in one of the roofs and this quickly spread to three or four adjoining houses.

At this stage it was only tiny flames and no one seemed overly concerned when someone brought out a ladder and a few men/boy started  a small chain and were passing buckets of water to the guy at the top of the ladder as he tried to put the fire out.

And then things took a sinister turn. The guy at the top climb onto the roof and to all our amazement he clambered over the roof tiles to reach the small fire better. The crowd held their breath as we watched him attempt to extinguish the flames and then to our horror  he slips and one of his feet went through the tiles and  flames shot up from the loft of the house and it was immediately obvious the fire was much worse than we had thought and the whole of the loft/roof spaces were engulfed in fire and the situation was grave.

Then as the guy on the roof was trying to climb away from the hole he slipped again and almost feel into the hole and certain death and i have to say my heart was in my throat and like many in the crowd i had to look away as I had no wish to see someone die such a terrible death. Screams of terror echoed round the square and everyone present held their breaths , but thankfully he made his way back over the roof and down the ladder to relative safety on the ground.

Seconds later the roof he had been on collapsed completely and had he been still in the same position he would not have been here today as it would have been impossible  to save him and besides for some reason the fire-brigade had not yet arrived on the scene and when they did it seem to take them ages to get the equipment set up and working to deal with the fire.

Sadly this was to late for these houses.

Shankill Houe Fire

Some more pictures from the night.

The Sash my Father Wore

The Sash my Father Wore

This one is for all those proud Ulster men and women missing home today and the glorious 12th  of July celebrations.

Lyrics

So sure l’m an Ulster Orangeman, from Erin’s isle I came,
To see my British brethren all of honour and of fame,
And to tell them of my forefathers who fought in days of yore,
That I might have the right to wear, the sash my father wore!

Chorus:
It is old but it is beautiful, and its colours they are fine
It was worn at Derry, Aughrim, Enniskillen and the Boyne.
My father wore it as a youth in bygone days of yore,
And on the Twelfth I love to wear the sash my father wore.

Chorus

For those brave men who crossed the Boyne have not fought or died in vain
Our Unity, Religion, Laws, and Freedom to maintain,
If the call should come we’ll follow the drum, and cross that river once more
That tomorrow’s Ulsterman may wear the sash my father wore!

Chorus

And when some day, across the sea to Antrim’s shore you come,
We’ll welcome you in royal style, to the sound of flute and drum
And Ulster’s hills shall echo still, from Rathlin to Dromore
As we sing again the loyal strain of the sash my father wore!

SHANKILL PROTESTANT BOYS FLUTE BAND, SINGING THE SASH

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Growing up in loyalist Belfast every child knew the words to the Sash and it was our national anthem.

As a child growing up in Belfast I would count the days down until the great day arrived and surrounded with friends and family we would peacefully celebrate our history and culture.

Just because we celebrated the 12th of July doesn’t mean we hated Catholic’s or people from the Republic. It means we are proud of our history and exercise the right to embrace our culture and   the right to celebrate and mark the greatest day of the Protestant Calendar in Northern Ireland.

God Save the Queen

The Sash (also known as The Sash My Father Wore) is a ballad from the Irish province of Ulster commemorating the victory of King William III in the Williamite war in Ireland in 1690–1691.

The lyrics mention the 1689 Siege of Derry, the 1689 Battle of Newtownbutler near Enniskillen, the 1690 Battle of the Boyne and the 1691 Battle of Aughrim. It is popular amongst Ulster loyalists and many unionists in Northern Ireland, as well as in parts of Scotland where it can often be heard sung at football games by supporters of Rangers F.C. and in England, albeit as a variant called The Scarf, at Stockport County (in particular by the more vocal support at away matches).

The lyrics are thought to be around 100 years old, and the melody has been traced back to the early 19th century. The tune of “The Sash” was well known around Europe, and before the lyrics were added, it was a love song that lamented division between people. Instead of “it was old and it was beautiful”, the lyrics were “she was young and she was beautiful” and is in Broadside Ballads (1787)[1] titled Irish Molly O. Another known printing of the tune is from 1876 including the words “The Hat My Father Wore”.[2] The song is classified in the Roud Folk Song Index as number 4796. It has also been adapted by fans of Stockport County F.C., who call it “The Scarf My Father Wore” or simply “The Anthem”.

The tune is used by Liverpool F.C. fans in their song Poor Scouser Tommy.

Proud to be British – Someone called me a Republican hater yesterday it made me stop and think !

Time for Peace

Someone called me a Republican hater yesterday and it made me stop and think. The twitter in question was from Ireland and accused me of being a loyalist and hating Republicans.

With all due respect she got that right on both counts and I make no apology for being from the Shankill Road, being proud to be British and hating (Sinn Fein/IRA ) Republicans

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That doesn’t mean I hate Catholics or Irish people (I don’t) and would wish any harm on them. In fact during the worst years of the troubles whenever I learnt of the death of an innocent Catholic or anyone else for that matter, my heart would bleed for them and those they left behind.

My sympathy extended to all innocent victims of the conflict, regardless of religious or political background , including the army and other security forces tasked with the impossible job of policing two communities whom at times seemed to want to destroy each other.

The security forces were caught in the middle and were always fighting a losing battle and I salute you all. I am a pacifist at heart and I abhor all murder, especially the murder of innocent people & those committed for political or religious reasons. Life’s to short and  hard enough without having to worry that you will be killed for following a certain political system or worshipping a different god.

The definition of loyalist is :

a. A supporter of union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland

b. A person who remains loyal to the established ruler or government, especially in the face of a revolt.

Growing up in West Belfast during the height of the troubles was no laughing matter and I have seen things that no child should ever have to witness .Death stalked the streets of Belfast day in and day out and there was no escape from the madness that surrounded and engulfed us.

shankill road

The communities from The Shankill , The Falls and surrounding areas arguable suffered most during the Troubles , as not only were we on the “frontline” of the sectarian divide , but the paramilitaries from both sides lived and operated among us.

I have lost count of how many people I grew up with whom have been murdered, imprisoned or had their life’s destroyed as a direct result of the Troubles. As a child growing up in loyalist West Belfast my day to day life was dominated by the conflict and my own family have suffered personally due to the Troubles.

But every other family in Belfast was living the  same nightmare and few escape the legacy of  Northern Ireland’s tortured past.

Ulster_Is_British_magnet

Whilst the Protestants’ clung to their British sovereignty and took pride in the union, our Catholic counterparts felt abandoned and second class citizens in a Unionist run state. The civil rights marches of the 60’s & Republican calls for a United Ireland were the catalyst for the IRA and other Republican terrorist groups to take up arms against the British and feed the paranoia of the loyalist community.

Northern Ireland descended into decades of sectarian conflict & slaughter. An attack on the crown was an attack on the Protestant people of the North and the Protestant paramilitaries took up arms and waged an indiscriminate war against the IRA, Catholic population and each other. Many innocent Catholic’s and Protestant’s became targets of psychopathic sectarian murder squad’s. Murder was almost a daily occurrence and the killings on both sides perpetuated the hatred and mistrust between the two ever-warring communities. It was a recipe for disaster.

1. Irish republicanism is an ideology based on the belief that all of Ireland should be an independent republic.

It may surprise some readers to hear that I have no adverse objections to Republicanism as a concept or a United Ireland and I believe at some time in the far distant future this will come about.

But not in my lifetime or with my support.

imagesmmmm - Copy

I abject to the misery and lost lives the IRA and other paramilitary groups are responsible for and yes I don’t like the IRA and all they stand for.

I was born British into a British country and I am extremely proud of my British & Unionist heritage and it saddens me to see this being slowly eradicated by Sinn Féin//IRA and other Irish Republican groups.

That doesn’t mean I hate Catholics or wish harm on them, it means I have a different point of view and democracy is all about freedom of choice and my choice is to maintain the Union with the UK and embrace and celebrate my loyalist culture and traditions.

1 Teddy with new text

If you have taken the time to read extracts from my autobiography, Belfast Child , you will know that my own family was ripped apart due to the sectarian divide in Northern Ireland and I spent most of my life searching for my missing Catholic mother, whom I thought was dead. Living in loyalist West Belfast I had to keep this dirty little secret to myself and when my father died when I was eleven I longed for my mother to be there, but of course she wasn’t. Times have much changed since my youth and the turbulent early years of the troubles and life is much better and less uncertain for the Children of Belfast today. Hopefully we can all put the past behind us and build a lasting peace and learn to live side by side and respect each other’s history and culture.

“Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.” ― Maya Angelou

The Twelfth in Northern Ireland 2013 (BBC Documentary)

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

Documentary about Loyalists celebrating their culture on their yearly Orange festival. Contains violence and riotous behaviour.