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“The Belfast Chronicles: Operation Demetrius: Part VII “Granda and the O.B.E.”

Belfast, The Falls Road, La Salle Park, 20 August 2018 


Time nor tide waits for no man” Geoffrey Chaucer

I never knew my Granda but he has always been alive within my heart and soul due to the stories my mother told us about him, the photographs we treasured, and in the home movies we watched again and again and again, as children and young adults.Granda

Through our mother, aunties, uncles, Grannie, cousins and close friends, we piece together his life.

He was born in Carrick on Sur Co Tipperary, in 1898, and was brought up in Wexford, his parents were publicans.

His baby sister, Mollie, died in infancy; about two years old.

Of what? I do not know, at this point.

Many valuable records were lost during the Irish Civil War on 30 June 1922 when, after a two-day bombardment, an explosion and fire ravaged the building, which makes Irish family history challenging.

But not impossible. Some important records were nowhere near the flames. So, I would need to do a bit of digging to find my Great Infant Auntie Mollie.

Mammy also reports that her father spoke lovingly of her Great Uncle Denis, who was stable, sensible, funny and kind. He was a Police Officer, and sadly died in his 30s. 

I’m not sure of what?

Still so many questions.

And, what of his character:

Mammy tells us if Granda wanted something, he would walk out to the hall, or the landing, and holler;


He demanded a response.

My mother reported that it was usually her that answered his call, and occasionally, Denis. The others were a bit more defiant, and usually just ignored him.

My mother said he was a Great Man and she adored him. But she felt that he loved our Auntie Mollie more, and that Mollie could do no wrong, in his eyes.

My Uncle Peter would say he was a very difficult man, had a bad temper.

My Uncle Denis said he was no angel.

My Uncle Billy gave no opinion at all that I ever heard, but I am sure he had plenty.

Mammy reports that her father was strict with the boys. And was heated at times.

This fiery temper may have had something to do with his being a Catholic in a Protestant-lead country.

And he sure did have just cause to be angry

My Granda was reputed to be highly intelligent, well-read, devilishly handsome, quick-witted, cheeky, playful, politically-minded, controlling, passionate and kind.

He was a working-class lad who won a scholarship to Queens University in Belfast, gaining a First-Class Honours degree in law.

He chose to go to university in Belfast as he was already in a relationship with my Grannie – and he wanted to marry her.

File0063 (1)

Granda and Grannie at her wedding day. Granda’s Best Man was Uncle Andy. The bridesmaid was called Ria Trainor, and was no particular friend of Grannie’s but she asked if she could do it and Grannie didn’t like to say, No!

Unfortunately, after his graduation, he couldn’t practice at the Bar as he couldn’t afford to – as he had a family to raise.

So, instead, he took a job as a Clerk with The Civil Service where he was repeatedly overlooked for promotion because he was a Catholic.

Catholics were second-class citizen in Northern Ireland (Some say they still are, with statistics to prove it* – especially in housing and employment), the discrimination was/is widespread, particularly at senior levels of the public sector.

My Granda was told that they could not promote him to the top post, because he was Catholic. This was written into the contract. It was state sanctioned sectarianism. Even if his bosses wanted to promote him, they simply were not allowed to. They shrugged, possibly even empathized, but their hands were tied. This frustration, all round, may have led to this next fascinating fact pertaining to the life and times of my Granda:

One find day, my Granda received a letter from one Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, the woman he first new as new born baby, The Princess Elizabeth of York, in 1926. And then, in 1936, he knew her as Her Royal Highness The Princess Elizabeth (dropping the York due to the scandal of The Yorks) and then, in 1947, he knew her as Her Royal Highness The Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh and finally, from February 1952, he knew her as Her Majesty The Queen.

He watched the scandal play out, he saw her married, he saw her mourne for her father, and eventually, he knew her as Her Majesty, The Queen Elizabeth II.

The Queen asked him if he would accept an OBE for outstanding service, if he was offered one. 

He wrote back, stating that he would not accept the OBE as he had been overlooked many times for promotion, because he was Catholic.

These positions were instead filled with Protestant workers, who he knew were intellectually his juniors.

Therefore, the Crown did not offer him one, as it would be an embarrassment had he refused it  – and that was why they first put the feelers out before hand. 

Naturally, my Granda was frustrated at this oppression and he pushed his children to go as far as they could.

I was fascinated about my Granda and begged for stories about him.

Tell us again, 


About Granda

His funny ways?

Was he a nice?

Was he strict?

Was he grumpy?

Was he handsome?

He would have adored you all!
That’s for sure, Mammy says,
And she would bring him to life again
With another story

Mammy remembers her father going through all the papers in the sitting room, devouring the news, end to end, every bit of it, even the death notices.

A habit my Grannie picked up from him.

He would hold a cigarette in between his lips, one eye half closed, and closely study all the newspapers until his hands were black from the ink.

And when he was finished, he would go into the bathroom, fill the sink with soapy water and soak his hands in it for ages.

Then he would pull out the plug and watch the black ink suds disappeared down the drain, and say, “That’s where that dirt belongs!”

He spoke his mind and went to the pub every night after work. He drank Guinness and held his cigarette in his lip, whilst waxing lyrical and criticizing the government and generally having the craic.

He never inhaled the smoke, just let it sit there on the end of his lip.

Grannie at home, feeding her children, would wash up the dishes and then take two slices of freshly baked bread and whatever dinner she had made for the children, she put it in between the bread slices and wrap it up in a newspaper.  

She packed the dinner-sandwich into her handbag, put on her hat, coat, scarf, gloves, walked up to the top of The Falls Road and took a bus down The Donegal Road. She then had to switch buses and take another bus out to The County Court, and into the pub that JJ was drinking den, that night.

Grannie arrived into the pub, she was not there to scold him, she was there to have a drink herself with him, and enjoy a bit of craic.

She had one or two half-pints of stout, and then she would take the two busses back home again, and get the bread ready for the morning.

After her fifth child, Grannie moved into the spare bedroom and never left it.

JJ would continue to enjoy his night, and would come home some considerable time later.

If Grannie was still awake, he may say, Goodnight. I am not even sure he would have kissed her goodnight. But he would certainly retire to the marital bedroom, alone.

He saw Grannie again, in the morning, in the kitchen, and would surely eat a hearty breakfast, with his wife and children, and the papers.

He would discuss things with his children, opening up different opinions, and the news of the day.

He loved his tea, and continued to drink it up and until the last possible minute, keeping it in his hand, even in the garden. Before turning it in.

In the old house on Donegal Road, he could stand outside finishing his morning cup of tea, waiting for his bus. And, as the bus approached, he would finally knock back the last drop, and would reach over the low wall, and leave the cup on top of the window ledge, at the front, where Grannie would fetch it and return to the kitchen, to wash.

This was a functioning, happy family living in a cared for and much-loved house and home on the Catholic side off the Upper Falls Road, in Belfast in the 30s and 40s and 50s.

And this house was filled with laughter. And prosperity for the future. The Doyles were striving and thriving.

The girls would marry well, as they were educated in a prestigious Convent School, St Dominic’s, on the Upper Falls, an education in Mathematics, English, Latin, Geography, History. Music, Gymnastics, Divinity and Domestic Skills.

The Dominican motto: ‘Benedicere, Laudare, Praedicare’ (to pray, to bless, and to preach).

Members of the Dominican Family all share the same priorities: prayer, contemplation, community, study, preaching.

Both girls were beautiful, bright, bold, witty, socially adept and highly-skilled in the domestic arts such as crocheting, knitting, dressmaking, baking, cooking, interior decorating. 

Yes, the girls will do well.

The girls will be alright.

But what of the boys?


Grannie at aged 13


“The Belfast Chronicles: Operation Demetrius: Part VI” “Returning”

Belfast, The Falls Road, La Salle Park, 20 August 2018

I go back to Grannies House

48 years and ten days later

Grannie does not live here anymore

Grannie is dead

She died 33 years ago

In Downpatrick

Enveloped in love

At the tender age of 93


I stand in the street

Where she used to live

Where my mother grew up

Alongside her four siblings

I perch on the wall

On the opposite side of the street

With a backpack and a broken flight case

In racing green

That once belonged to my mother


I got the shittiest of the suitcase collection

In the dividing up of things from Mammy’s estate

After she died last year

I hate this little suitcase

It smells of dust

But it was my mother’s

And I can still smell her

Perfume in it


The wheels are too close together

So it continually twists off its axis

And I have to stop, turn it around

And walk on, cautiously,

As to not let it flip over

In the street

I was going to buy one

Those new Lightweight ones

That look really small

But inside it is as The Tardis

Enough room for a family of four

And a designer dog


They are a little pricey

But well worth it in the long run

And I was all set to purchase one

But my sister told me there were

Loads of them in Mammy’s house

And not to be daft

Wasting my money


She’d bring me one

Free of charge

In exchange for a lunch

What colour?

I said,

The Wee Green One


And so I got it

I have to put the handle

Up and down,

Down and up

Shake it a bit

Recenter it

Shoogle it

Pull it along


With care






One too many yanks

Broke the damn thing

The day

I came to





My tartan scarf

Is now tied

Around the handle

In a ‘classic loop’

As I drag it

Through the back streets

Of Belfast

On the most dreariest

Of Mondays


With the broken suitcase

Kicking at my heels

I stare across at the old house

My childhood memories fail me

I do not recognise this house

I do not recognise this house!

Why do I not recognise this house?


The memories I had known

From stories passed down

In the oral tradition

Crumbled into dust

I was now frozen in time

I could not move forward

For looking back,



I am alone on this mission

Alone on this street

And, yes, I do feel lonely

But I know I have to go solo

On this expedition

Otherwise, part of this journey

Would belong to someone else

And I am not in the mood for sharing


All I have is my memories

Of this house

And the laughter and joy within it

The stories attached to it

Involving those I love

Who live vibrantly

In my mind



Such as

Grandad doing the dishes

Once a year

On Christmas Day

His present to Grannie,

Among other things

Returning to the Sitting Room

He would ask,  

Does anyone want a spam sandwich?

Everybody laughed



One year

My uncles

Went out to the pub

In the evening

Of Christmas Day

And got full

On Guinness and whiskey

And on their way home

They went into ‘The Chipper’

Fish and chips for three!


Don’t mind if we do!

Seated on the wall,

Outside, they

Devouring their feast

Back at La Salle

Ne’ry a word spoken

As they hid their



Filled with




The incident

Was reported

To Grannie

By a neighbour

Who had heard it

From her Sister’s


Who’d had been told it

By her son

After hearing it

From his friend

Who had reported it to his


Who had told it to

The woman who did the flowers

At The Chapel

Who had told it

To Her husband

Who told it to his wife

And here they are

On The Falls

The Day after

Boxing Day

Bumping into each other

Quite unexpectedly


Telling it to Grannie


Och, Hello, Mrs Doyle

Did ye have a nice



Aye, says Grannie

I did indeed


Is that right?

Nothing strange with ye then,

Mrs Doyle?


Eh, no!

Nothing strange?



Well, now that ye ask,

It’s just that

My Thomas

Was tellin’ me

He’d seen yer boys

In the pub


On Christmas night

Very jolly

Very jolly indeed!

Full of

The Craic!

Knocking back

The drink!

In fine form


And singin

And later

Tuckin in til

Fish and Chips

On the wall

Outside the Chipper!

So they did!


Is that right?

Says Grannie,


In a Red Sea

Of shame



It is indeed!

They were spied

Oan Christmas night!

Devouring their


On The Lord’s Day

God help our souls

Time’s must be hard

Did they nat have

A Christmas Dinner?

This year?

Did ye nat?

Did ye nat?

Did ye nat?


A course we did!

We did indeed

The full turkey

And all the trimmins

We ate early

And heartily

At a decent hour!

And my lads are

Big Lads!

Growin’ lads

Wi healthy appetites

Hope you enjoyed

YOUR dinner too

Mrs Morrison

De ye tend til eat late

On Christmas Day

Do ye?


Nat that late

That would send

My Boys



The Chipper


Christmas Night!


Sounds like yer laddie

Was in the pub too

I wonder if anyone saw


On Christmas Night

Eatin’ a fish supper?

On the wall

Full a’ whiskey…?

Sounds like he has

A hearty appetite too

I’ll have te go now

Mrs Morrison

Before the Post Office

Closes oan me

I’m sure yee’ve messages

Yerself te fetch?

Tata then


Grannie shaken

Shuffles off

Quick quick


The Falls Road

Tight lipped


Returns home

Wrath ridden



Her young adult children


The family like that!

The whole town’s talking about it

‘The Doyles had

No Christmas Dinner!’

Starvin they were?

They had til sneak out

The House!

Filled thur bellies

In ‘The Chipper’

Hard times indeed!


Grannie grips the toe

Of her slipper

Swipes it across

The Sitting Room

Slicing the air

Whack! Whack!

She serially misses

The boys

Towering above her




Into the hall

Grannie rages,

Grandad laughs


Mammy crying

With laughter

Through tears


As she sits

In her armchair

In Glasgow

70 years later

Telling this tale to us

Again and again

Of her comical brothers

Our uncles

Nipping down ‘The Chipper’

On Christmas night

After a full feast of turkey

And all the trimmings

We are in painful laughter

At the vivid image


Alive in our minds

The Wall

The feast

The big bellies

The bold spirits

The Larger than life


That live on

In us

And will be

Passed Down

To the next generation

A simple story

A human story

A timeless story

No timeline required


Fish and Chips Vintage advert

Protected: “Dirty Dick” by Keara Murphy

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“The Belfast Chronicles” Operation Demetrius: Part V “Still Waving”

Still Waving

I wake up

It is morning again

Mammy is not smiling

She is shouting

At The Big Girls

To get dressed

Get up! Get up!

Get dressed!

She hurries me and Clodagh

Down to the kitchen

We have porridge

With milk and butter and sugar in

Up to the bathroom, you two

Quick! Quick!

Mammy is helping us to

Brush our teeth

It is sore

She wipes our faces

It is sore

Clodagh is scrunching up her face

I crunch up my face too

Even though it’s not that sore

We are both trying to get away from the facecloth

Then Mammy is dressing us

Both at the same time

In matching trousers and jumpers

She wipes the dirt and leaves off off my jumper

And it is sore on my tummy

Coz my belly is full of porridge

She is packing our bags

Grabbing what she can carry

Running down to the car

Then back up again to get more things

And running down to the car again

Don’t leave anything behind!

She shouts

Into the car with you all!

Get in the car!

I won’t tell you again!

You already went to the toilet!

Okay, well, hurry!

Quick! Quick!

Get in the car!

Mary Margaret!

Get in the car!

Therese Bernadette!

Get in the car!


Get in the car!

Keara Patricia!

Get in the car!


Get in the car!

Mammy carried

Patrick Leo

On her lap

Leo! Get in the car!


Daddy is driving

Grannie is waving at the gate

In front of The Big Green Hedge

The one I couldn’t look over

Now I remember the spider

I forgot to bring her lemonade

But it’s too late now

She will wonder where I’ve gone

She might be thirsty

I promised her

Come back soon, says Grannie

We will, we say, through the open window

Grannie is waving at us

And we are waving back

Safe trip, says Veronica and Angela’s Mammy

God speed!

And she waves at us as well

Veronica is waving at Sheonagh

And Sheonagh is waving back at Veronica

Angela is holding her teddy

I wave at her and her teddy

But she does not wave back

I want to tell her about the spider

She watches us go

I don’t get to tell her about the spider

I look at her, and wave

But she is not waving back at me?

Why is she not waving back at me?

Mrs Kettle is waving at me, smiling

So, I wave at her instead

Her head is hanging off on one side

And bobbing about like it’s going to fall off!

She is standing next to Grannie

She holds onto Grannie’s arm

Maybe that will stop her head from falling off

We are all waving from the car

All the windows are down

We are all shouting

Bye! Bye! Grannie

Bye! Bye! Mrs Kettle

Come again soon!

Says Grannie

Mrs Kettle says

Please God!

Yeez’ll be back, surely

Be good

Smiling, laughing, waving

Grannie is blowing kisses

To us

And she is


And she is


And she is


And she is


And she is


And she is


And we are all still


















The car reaches the top of the street

We are all looking back

Still waving

But we can’t see Grannie any more

Still waving

We can’t see Mrs Kettle any more

Still waving

We can’t see Grannies House any more

Still waving

The car turns

Up The Falls Road

And Mammy is crying

I have a funny feeling in my tummy

No more hide and seek

No more sheets billowing in the wind

No more secret passageways

No more tiny spider

No more wee yellow flowers

No more wee white flowers

No more Hopscotch on Grannie’s Hall

No more Cling! Cling!

No more Veronica and Angela coming out to play

No more soldiers smiling down at us

No more green sandals on red brick paths

No more Grannie’s homemade cake

No more Grannie’s homemade lemonade

No more fireworks

No more Barricades

No more Bangor Boat Away

The Bangor Boat’s Away

It has no time to stay

Blow your horn

For Indian Corn

The Bangor Boat’s Away

We are all still looking back

And soon we all stop waving

And everyone is quiet

And Mammy says,

Roll up the windows!

And I am thinking

Why Can’t We Go Back To Grannie’s House?


Falls Road 71



“The Belfast Chronicles” Operation Demetrius Part IV “Barricades”


I like the red bricks in Grannie’s street
I like the big green vans and the soldiers too
They smile down at me and Sheonagh
And we smile back up at them
We are going to find our friends
Veronica and Angela
To see if they want to come out to play

Soldier and kids at Checkpoint

The soldier bends down and asks us where we live
We tell them, we live in Grannie’s House
Just up there!
But it’s not really our house
We are here on our summer holidays
We live in Glasgow

The soldiers put their arms around us
And ask us if we are enjoying our holidays
And we say, Yes

I like the soldiers
They are nice
They make funny faces at us
And we laugh at them
We make funny faces back at them
And they laugh at us

Sheonagh sticks her tongue out at them
And they laugh again
Then they drive away
They wave at us
In their big green trucks
With guns

Soldier smiles at a little girl

Veronica and Angela’s path is all red shiny bricks
Not like in Glasgow with red stones
Which sometimes are sore in my shoes
I like how my new shoes look
On the red bricks at Veronica and Angela’s house
Veronica and Angela
Asks their Mammy if she can come out to play
Her Mammy says yes
So we go out to play

We play Hopscotch
And Skipping
And Leapfrog
And Barricades

Soldiers and Roller Skates

Mary Margaret is playing Barricades
With her friends in the street
And we are watching them
But Mary Margaret doesn’t let us play with them
Because they are The Big Ones
Even though I am nearly four
Sheonagh said she is one of The Big Ones
But The Big Ones say she is not a Big One
Because she is only five-and-a-half
And they are nearly eight

We are too little to play with The Big Ones
So we make up our own game
It is called ‘Barricades’ too
But it isn’t as much fun as their Barricades
Because we don’t have as many people as them
And can’t fill up all the spaces on the road
So we just sit down on the pavement

And watch The Big Ones play Barricades
And it looks really fun


I cannot wait to be nearly eight
So as I can play
With them

If you’ve never played Barricades before
I can tell you how to play it if you want:

Well everybody lays down on the road
And everybody jumps on top of each other
To make a barricade
So as
 no Protestants can get into our street
If a car comes you do not let them pass
Unless they know the secret password
And then if they know it
We say “Open Sesame”
And everybody who is in The Barricades
Has to run into the side of the road
To let them drive past in their cars
Then someone shouts “Barricades” again
And everybody jumps onto each other
And blocks the road with their bodies
Until someone else comes along
And we ask them if they know the password
And if they know it we let them pass

I like playing down Grannie’s Street
Playing Barricades looks really fun


Grannie says she needed to go to the shops
For some messages
And I ask her if I can come
And she says yes
She says if I am good girl
I can have a sweetie

She makes me put on my coat
And my rain-mate
She brushes my hair
And spits on my shoes
Then wipes them with her hankie
All ready to go!

Grannie holds my hand
We walk up to the big road
And I see all the people
Running around
Grannie says it’s really busy today
So I must hold on to her hand
Falls 71 soldiers and woman chatting

There are lots of Taxis
And The Taxi doors are open wide
And people are nearly falling out
It looks really fun
But not if they fall out
Coz it would be sore
We didn’t get in one
And I was glad

Me and Grannie cross the road
To go to The Post Office
And Grannie says we must go quickly
Or we’ll get knocked down
The taxis are driving really fast
I hold Grannie’s hand
And run over the road

We do not get knocked down
Thank goodness

Grannie meets a lady in the street
With a nice furry coat on
I touch it at the bottom
And it feels nice and soft

Terrible trouble, Mrs Doyle!
Terrible business, altogether!
Margaret’s three boys are away
And Himself only home!
Terrible! Terrible!
She’s beside hersel’
Aye, terrible business

This yer Granddaughter?
Oh, she’s lovely
Clare’s is it?

She bends down to talk to me,
Wat’s your name?
I say, Keara!
How are ye likin’ yer holidays, Keara?
I say, Nice!
Is it nice seein’ yer Grannie?
I bounced my head up and down again
Are ye gonna get a sweetie in the shop?
I bounced my head up and down
Ah, that’s nice. You be a good gierl now
Fur yer Grannie
And maybe yeell get a wee sweetie at the shop!
Would ye like that?
I say, Yes.

The Lady with the furry coat stands up
And says to Grannie,
Ah, dear heart!
God love ‘er!
How many does Clare have how?

Six, says Grannie
The baby, Patrick Leo, only two months

Is that right? Oh, bless!
What are they gonna do?
Are they gonna go back?

Aye, ah think so
She was thinkin’ o’headin’ oan down te Donegal
But doesn’t want til drive through Derry

Aye, ah thinks it might be better tae go back tae Glasgow
See how the land lies?
Better be safe than sorry!


Maybe for the best, not great round here at the minute
Heaven knows what’s comin’ our way
Dreadful business!
My ones woke wi the clatter
And on the holidays too

Ah, aye, I know, tis indeed

Poor Clare!
Give her all my love
Will ye?

I will, surely

Terrible business
Terrible trouble, altogether!


Here, did they come on the boat

Aye, the boat




Does she take a cabin, Clare?

Aye, oh, aye. She takes two

Oh, aye, well she’d need the two, right enough
Wi that brood on her hands


Lotta money there
Bringin’ thum all over
Payin’ for a holiday
Only til go back

Boat Cabins in the 70s

Well. That’s life!
Can’t be helped
We’ll jist hay til on wi it
How’s your Frank?

Aye, not bad; not bad
He’s still waitin’ fur the all clear!
Getinn’ there
But he’s still bloody smokin!

Anyway, Mrs Doyle, ye’ll be gettin oan
Yee’ll have a lot til do
You get back tae yer family now
While ye still have thum!
Sure I’ll see ye again
I’ll pop round, next week
Fur a cuppa tea

Aye, right ye are
That’ll do

You take care now!
Look after yersel’
See ye later
Be safe, now!
Bye bye!
Bye bye!

The lady with the furry coat
Bends down
Holds my shoulders
And Says,
Bye bye, now, Pet
You be a good gierl,
Keara, now, will ye?
I nod
God bless!
You’re a good geirl! 

And then the lady with the furry coat
Walks away, waving back at Grannie
Who waves back at her
I wave too, holding Grannie’s hand
Then I see another taxi
With people falling out of it
And then we go into
The Post Office
Black Tazis

The Post Office smells of stinky feet
The lady behind the counter says,
Terrible trouble, isn’t it, Mrs Doyle?
Grannie says, Ah, ‘tis terrible!
And hands over a wee book

The lady in The Post Office
Gives Grannie some money
And stamps a mark in her book
And gives it back to Grannie
Grannie opens her purse
And puts the money in
But she keeps some pennies out for me

She shows me where the sweeties are
And tells me what ones I can have
“Pick one”, she says
And I see an orange lolly pop
“I like that one!”
Okay, says Grannie,
And she hands over the money
And the lady hands me down
The lolly pop
I look up at her and say,
“Orange is my favourite colour”
The woman and Grannie laugh
But I don’t know why it’s funny
I lick my lolly
And we cross the street
I love my Grannie
She is the best Grannie
In The Whole Wide World
I hold tight onto her hand

She smiles at me

It’s the best day ever

Two Grans and a Child





“The Belfast Chronicles” Operation Demetrius Part III – “The Boys Are Away”

“The Boys Are Away”

I woked up today
In my Grannie’s house
Mammy was already there
And smiling at me

A great big big smiling face
Like a face that was happy
And she walked so so slowly
Over to me in
my cotty-bed
She then lifted me up
And kissed my face
And hugged me tight
And hugged me more tightly

Your hurting me, Mammy!
Sorry, she said!
And hugged me again
And again, it was a little bit sore
But not as bad as before

I like how Mammy is happy in Grannie’s House
I like Mammy’s hair in Grannie’s House
She’s got big soft curls in Grannie’s House
I like putting my hands on Mammy’s hair in Grannie’s House
Mammy’s hair
smells really nice in Grannie’s House

Mammy in Heydayaya

Mammy carries me down the stairs
Grannie’s House has two stairs in it
With a bathroom in-between
It’s a lot of stairs so I have to hold on tight
When we go down the stairs in Grannie’s House
We get to the hall in Grannie’s House
I like the white and black tiles
On the floor in Grannie’s House

I remembered them from yesterday
The Big Grandmother’s clock goes
Cling Cling
Cling Cling
I shout back to it,
Cling Cling!
Cling Cling!
To you,
Mrs Clock!

The Girls and Conor

The Murphy Children in 1971 – All of us were in Belfast on the night of Internment

I like the smells coming out of Grannie’s kitchen
It makes me hungry for my breakfast
Mammy carries me in and puts me at the table
On a big chair w
ith a big cushion on
I dangle my legs under it and kick the table
Mammy says, stop kicking! and Grannie has a giggle

Grannie gives me porridge with butter and milk and sugar as well
My feet are nice and warm in my new slippers 
In Grannie’s House
I sit at Grannie’s table with a nice yellow tablecloth
I watch Grannie going in and out of the pantry
She has a fridge in there too
That is where she gets the milk from
And the butter as well

The pantry smelts funny
It’s got lots of different kind of smells in it
I like going into the pantry and looking at all the jars on the big shelves
Grannie has a lot of packets on the shelves
And lots of bottles and boxes on the floor
And jars of sweeties as well
But I cannot even reach them
They’re put up too high
I can’t even do it on my tippy-toes

And anyway, I’m not allowed to go in the pantry
Well, not 
on my own
I saw Rice Krispies on one of the shelves
But I didn’t get any – even though I had asked
But Mary Margaret did get some
When she came down stairs
Mary Margaret is bigger than me
So, she’s allowed Rice Krispies
But not me

Rice Krispies

Grannie said,
“You’ve had your breakfast!”
I sigh, and I 
put my hands under my chin
And watch Mary Margaret
Eating Rice Krispies

Mary Margaret asked Grannie,
What was all that big noise
Last night
When I woke up

Grannie said,
The soldiers came and took the boys away.
And it was just the women rattlin’ the bin lids to warn them.
Do you want some bacon and sausages now?
Yes please! Said Mary Margaret
Staring at Grannie
Then she just kept on eating Rice Krispies
Until her sausages were ready


Because I amn’t getting any Rice Krispies
I go to find my brother, Patrick Leo
Coz he’s a boy – and we only just got him
So it would be a shame if the soldiers had taken him away
With all the other boys
Because I wanted to play with him
Even though he’s atill really small
But one day he’ll get bigger
And play football in the hall
And he’s the only boy we’ve got

I found him in the sitting room in his pram
I ran back into Grannie’s kitchen and told her
Patrick Leo is still here!
I found him!
He was in the sitting room
All along!
So, he’s not gone with the soldiers, Grannie
See for yourself!

Internment Young Boy

Grannie is laughing that Patrick Leo is still here
She is happy coz he has not gone off with the soldiers
Then I watch Grannie make sausages
And then she blows on one
So as it is not very hot
And gives it to me

I play on the black and white tiles
Inside Grannie’s House
In the Hall
The Big Grandmother Clock goes
Cling! Cling!
I say
Cling! Cling!
To You!

Mammy is watching me play
On the black and white tiles
She is laughing at me
And I do more Hopscotches
And some dancing
She has a cup of tea in her hand
But then she goes into the sitting room
And closes the door

Grannie's Diamond Floor

I am too small to open it
Coz the handle is too high
I try to jump up but I cannot reach it
I want to go into the sitting room
To see Mammy’s laughter
And to tell Grannie about the spider
I hit the door with my hand
Let me in!
Let me in!
With my chinny chin chin

And so Mammy eventually opens the door
And I run on in
The sitting room is really cozy
The fire is on
I saw Mrs Kettle in there
She is eating cake again
With her hat on
I hear a big bang

Internmant joe mc

I look up at Grannie
Grannie smiles down at me
And laughs
She gives me a big bit of cake
Straight into my hands
I’m supposed to use a plate
I spill crumbs on the carpet
I look at Mammy
But she doesn’t give me into trouble
I pick up the crumbs and put them in my mouth


Mrs Kettle laughs
Grannie laughs
Mammy laughs
I hear another bang
I look up at Grannie
She smiles down at me
It’s fireworks, love
Just fireworks
I smile and laugh
I sit on the carpet
I eat my cake

Grannie’s house
Is the most f
un house
I’ve ever been in
For my whole life

Fireworks for the 70s




Cling! Cling!

Mrs Clock!

The boys are away!
The boys are away!
The boys are away!
The boys are away


internment 9 August 1971

“The Belfast Chronicles” Operation Demetrius: Part II – “The Bangor Boat’s Away”

The Bangor Boat’s Away

In Grannie’s House I run into the hall

The Big Grandmother Clock goes

Cling Cling

On the wall

I say, Cling Cling, back

To you too Mrs Clock

Then I go to explore

Granny's Clock

I like my green sandals

On Grannie’s hall floor

And the diamond shaped tiles

That run up to the door


I play ‘Hopscotch’ on them

They are all black and are white

I do skipping on them sometime

And can reach quite a height

Granny's Hall Tiles Diamonds

I like Grannie’s backyard

With her great big white sheets

Blowing up in the wind

So I play Hide and Seek


I like spinning round

Like a nice ballerina 

But I get all entangled

And become a hyena


There’s not any grass

In Grannie’s Backyard

I like skipping there

Coz the ground is quite hard


Not like in Glasgow –

When it gets very muddy

My socks are all white now

It’s really quite funny


I find a secret passageway

In Grannie’s Backyard

It’s behind the bins

And I’m always on guard

Coz no-one else knows

It’s only just me

And I play here alone

And I like to be free


The passage is long 

With two great big walls

But not any doors

Or windows at all


Oh, dear, I see!

Yes, there’s windows as well

But I’m still very small

And can’t reach them at all


I walk a way down

And it feels a bit scary

I see tiny flowers

That are nice and are smelly


There is flowers of green

And some white ones as well

And there’s even yellow ones

That are shaped like a bell
Others are purple

And orange

And blue

And red ones

And pink ones

With thorns on them too


I see a wee spider

Come up from the ground

She looks very sad

I say, please do not frown


Guess what, little Spider

I have Lemonade!

It’s in Grannie’s Pantry

But we both need to wait

Coz it’s not quite yet ready

And not nearly made


I put my hand down

Full flat on the ground

And Wee Spider climbs up

And walks all around


But very soon later

It feels really tickley 

So I shake it right off

And it feels much less prickly


I say, Little spider

Be good

And be kind

Be nice

And be happy

And when it’s all made

We can go to the kitchen

And drink Lemonade



I see a nice butterfly

All white and all black

Like in Grannie’s nice hallway

Where I soon will go back


Oh! I just nearly catched it!

In the Big Tall Green Hedge

But it fluttered away

It flew right round the edge


So I walk to the end

To see who is there

And spied a big garage

And a head of red hair

Oh, It is my sister, Mary Margaret

Who was looking for me

She said, this is Grannie’s House

Can you not see?


Oh, I must have been sleeping

The first time I came

From off of the boat

But I now know the game


I like my green sandals

On Grannie’s red step

And the golden letterbox

Where last I had slept


I like the big knob

That looks like a fox

But it’s too high to reach

To give it a knock


So, I go up on my toes

And shout down the hall

Grannie! Grannie!”

I’m back

Did you know that at all?

“No milk today

Shouts Grannie

And laughs

“I’m not The Milk Man


So don’t be so daft


Here comes Grannie

Walking Down her nice hall

And opens the door,

“Well! Well Well!

Where did ye get to at all?”


Well, I saw a butterfly

Just like your hall floor

And some lovely flowers

And quite a lot more!


But is’t now nearly bedtime

And I bounce on her knee

Up and Down; Up and Down

And I shout

Wee Wee Wee Weeeeeeeeeeee


She holds me so tightly

To make me so safe

And rocks me

Back and Forth;

And smiles in my face


She holds onto my wrists

Says, Now, here we go!

Go! Go! Go! Go!

And I do not resist:

The Bangor Boat’s Away!

It Has No Time To Stay!

Blow Your Horn!

For Indian Corn!

The Bangor Boat’s




Well, she nearly did drop me

On her lovely rug

But she catches me


And we both have a hug



And holding on tightly



Again here we go…

The Bangor Boats away…

Bangor Boat

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