by Charlie Murray
Believe it or not this post starts with "I met this guy in a bar".
Actually it was several guys in a pub. I bought the bar a round and for the
rest of the night my money was no good and my hand was never empty. These guys are very much Republican and very
strong in their beliefs. The first was Jim.
Jim is the manager of the Irish Language arts center and he introduced
me to everyone else. He also wants to
have lunch one day so that he can tell me his story. One of his friends is Noel. Noel has many tattoos honoring the Republicans
including one of Bobby Sands on his inside forearm. This man is an American football fan and we
hit it off right away. He invited me to
his house to watch the national championship game Monday night. With Jim and Noel was Cathal (Charles in
Irish). Cathal had many tattoos as well
including his name with a Fighting Irishman above it. Another
person I met was William McGuinness, brother of Sinn Fein leader Martin
McGuinness and owner of Peadar O’Donnells.
Last night I met a man that was in prison for 16 years during the
troubles and he gave me his phone number so that I will call him and get his
story. He works with an organization
called Tarabnaile or “Going Home”. Finally,
I met a couple from Armagh that was here on holiday and I actually introduced
them to Jim with whom they got on well with.
The couple’s names were Terrence and Dana. They told me about Armagh and gave me the
name of the best pub to visit. At one
point the subject of the boy in the gasmask came up and when I asked who it was
I was told not to ask. There was a lot
of conversation between all my new friends that I know included sensitive
information, but the accents were such that I could only pick out bits and
pieces. I didn’t ask questions for fear
of learning things I may not want to know.
All of these people just want to tell their story. They want to be sure we are getting both
sides. They are also committed to
peace. I asked them point blank “will
there be violence again or will peace be the way of the future”? The answer was “peace is the only way”.