The Story Behind the Song – “Belfast 1985”

Jan Carson and I are holding up the wall of the Crowne Pub in Belfast. It’s 1985 and we are filming part of a series of news stories for KPRC in Houston on a project called Childrens’ Committee 10. The pub is a sacred shrine in Northern Ireland that even during the “troubles” was safe for everyone. In a particular Irish juxtaposition it was across the street from the hotel where we were staying that also happened to be the most bombed hotel in Europe. During “the troubles” that was life in Northern Ireland. On the day we arrived to begin filming a BBC camera crew had been covering a practice march of the protestant Orangemen through a Catholic Republican neighborhood as part of “the marching season.

On the day we arrived to begin our filming a BBC crew had been covering a practice march of the protestant Orangemen through a Catholic republican neighborhood as part of the “Marching Season”. The crew was beaten and their gear destroyed. The next day we were taken by our local contact to the same area and the Orangemen waited for us to set up and then marched right up the camera playing “The Eye’s of Texas”. We were there for much of the month of May and were treated with grace and dignity by all the folks we met.

The Children’s Committee 10 had been organized by mothers of both faiths and their project was to send children from the North to the US for the summer and Catholic kids would stay with a Protestant family and the Protestant children would be with a Catholic family. We were in Northern Ireland to film the kids that were coming to Houston and we would be combining that footage with them involved in activities in Houston.

Jan’s mother was from Belfast and they were staying with an aunt who lived near by. I have three great grandmothers from Belfast and one from near a little town in the Republic by the name of Rosecrae so we had a sense of connection but still weren’t ready for the tremendous tension of the opposites that we experienced.

Track from the CD Troubadour Volume 2