Where were you on Bloody Friday?
In light of the recent 40th anniversary of the Bloody Friday bombings in Belfast we ask some people what their recollections of that day were. Many loyalists have stated that this particular set of incidents was a catalyst in why they took up arms in response to IRA violence. What do you remember of that day and how—if at all—did it impact upon you in terms of a reaction. How do you feel about it forty years on?
I was 15 years old. Because the troubles were so bad my parents had got me a job in a local grocers shop–on Botanic Avenue. It was OK and it was at least something to do over the school holidays. It was a normal start to the day. Friday and the weekend starts tomorrow. The 21 st of July 1972. I went into the shop and was told what had to be done that day. We had our normal tea break at 11. Plenty of joking and good banter—then back to work. I didn’t hear the first bombs but soon we knew something was badly wrong even for Belfast in these troubled times.
People where coming in saying that there were ‘bombs everywhere’. Some of the staff, me included, went to the roof top to see out over Belfast. There were palls of smoke in the air. It was a dry, bright summer day. The air was filled with the sound of sirens. The boss talked about letting the staff go home early. One bomb went off round the corner from the shop. I was worried because my Mum worked nearby. We had dinner at 6pm when we all got home. Neighbours where coming in and out. I didn’t get the full importance of what happened until the news came on later in the evening. It was ugly. People where angry and afraid. I heard the talk about ‘doing something ourselves’. We were under attack and this was like some type of war. It was a turning point.