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In their own words: Stories from across the divide

I had never met any Protestants until I started training to be a chef at the Europa – the most bombed hotel in Europe at the time. Things were hardest in the 1970s. I used to go to house parties on the Shankill, this was around 1974 when the Shankill Butchers were around. One of my friends gave me this loyalist badge, which I put on and jumped in the taxi with him.'

Danny McGrath, Falls

My brother was shot in the groin when he was 11. He had been in Woodvale Park playing football with some of the bigger boys. I remember they wouldn't let him have the ball or something. Next thing a car pulled up and he was shot. We never found out who or why. That was it for my brother, once he was back up on his feet, he moved away to England and never came back.

Violet Walker, Shankill

My husband and I moved into an all-Protestant street in the 1960s. The day we moved in, our neighbours put a radio in the window and played God Save The Queen. We didn't own a radio so I walked down to a shop and explained the story so I could borrow one. The next day I played The Soldier's Song out our window. She never bothered us again.

Anonymous

When I first moved into that house the Springfield Road was a lovely place – you could walk anywhere then. You weren't afraid to walk because at that time Protestants and Catholics lived on the Springfield Road and Woodvale. But when the Troubles started I would have been more fearful of men walking on it or children.

Anonymous

I remember Mackie's men coming up the Kashmir Road and I would run in and look out the window. It was like a big grey cloud coming down the hill and there was such a profound noise of all these feet marching down. I suppose it was like the old fashioned Bogie men because they were from the Shankill, so it was like "Mackie's men will take you away". Come 5pm the horn would go and every child would be trailed in off the street for Mackie's men to go through the bottom of Clonard and up onto the Shankill.

Anonymous

We got put out of our house, like hundreds of other people. When I went into work the next day, a lady told her daughter to bring us to their house if we'd nowhere to stay and they lived in the middle of the Shankill. So she had offered to take us in. She was a marvellous woman as was her daughter.

Anonymous

The Army would arrive about 5.30am when they were doing a house search. They wouldn't have left until 9.30am. You got the day off school because you couldn't get dressed when they were there. The police accompanied them, the house would have been surrounded, everyone in the street knew. It was like a badge of honour, your house being searched.

Anonymous

I was working in a hospital when the Abercorn bomb went off. It was a Saturday afternoon. It was a terrible thing. They gave us tweezers to sit and pull bits of wood out of people.

Anonymous

All I remember (of the Shankill bomb) is running up the road looking for my daughters. They had gone out shopping that morning and I heard the noise. I went round the corner, people were hysterical. People were running everywhere and the dust. I found them and took them in my arms. I was so glad to see them. I feel bad about it sometimes, but in that sort of situation you are bound to think of your own first.

Anonymous

I don't know how anybody coped. I often say that even now, how did we cope and if it ever, God forbid, should happen again, could we ever cope again? I don't think I could because if anything like that ever happened again I wouldn't be here, I'd get out. By the 80s we were all on Prozac.

Anonymous

I met one woman – a soldier was shot and was dying – she went out and put a pillow under his head and a blanket around him and she held him till the ambulance came. That woman never got peace to live, but never gave in. No matter what your feelings, how could you walk past somebody who was hurt?

Anonymous

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