When We Were Young

Memories of the Club Bar in Belfast.

On 28th May, 1976, the Ulster Defence Association detonated, without warning, a bomb in the Club Bar on University Street, Belfast. Two civilians, one Catholic and one Protestant, were killed. The pub, which had been attacked by loyalists a number of times previously, was frequented by both Catholics and Protestants.

The documentary, made by Caroline Magowan and supported by Northern Visions through its Access Initiative, interviews those who were caught up in the bombings.

Marion Milne was 16 and at boarding school. She had sneaked out from school, but for a long time couldn’t tell anyone what she had experienced, as she wasn’t supposed to be there.

David Smylie mentions that the events of that night repeated in his mind “like a small [film] reel”, his own form of post-traumatic stress, and of walking through the bar after the explosion.

“There was a smoke like a mist hanging in the bar. It was thicker towards the ground, and there was a smell, which I found out was cordite, the smell of the explosive. It was raining, but it wasn’t rain – it was the burst pipes from the toilets. And I walked through, and I soon as I got in I said ‘what are you doing here?’ I was frightened. Fear hit me then. But I had come so far, and I found a young man lying on the ground, and I stopped there and stayed with him… I didn’t want to go any further. He needed him, and I think I needed him. I found out later there were two people killed, and a lot of people badly injured, in fact other people I knew… but I stayed with this young man.”

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