CAIN Web Service

hemmed in and hacking it -
The Gobnascale Interviews

[Key_Events] [Key_Issues] [Conflict_Background]
[Templegrove Action Research Limited - Main Menu]

Text: Ruth Moore and Marie Smyth ... Page Design: Fionnuala McKenna
Material is added to this site on a regular basis - information on this page may change

              The Gobnascale Interviews

              First Gobnascale Woman Interviewed

              I wouldn't live anywhere else.
              The people are great
              and the view is beautiful.
              The family are all nearby -
              all on the Waterside.
              Around the Top of the hill,
              they can call on me.
              I'd do anything for anybody.
              but I wouldn't let nobody abuse me
              or my family.
              [The boys used to stand up here
              throwing petrol bombs]
              I went over across the way,
              I says to the boy,
              "Where do you come from?"
              He says, " Anderson Crescent,"
              I says
              "well get tae f... out of here!"
              My daughter
              she had a wee baby,
              she was upset.

              I had worries
              when one boy
              was going with a girl
              over by Woodburn.
              The shortest way home
              was through Irish street.
              I stood watching
              afraid he would get a hiding.
              He would say,
              "I never done nothing -
              nobody will touch me."

              I don't think there are
              any Protestants left in the area.
              There might be
              a few mixed marriages.

              To be honest,
              there are two laws -
              one for Protestants
              one for Catholics.

              Somebody called and told me
              "Your son's stopped down the road'.
              I beat it down and says,
              "What are yous doing?".


              They says "We are checking him out."
              I said
              "The fella's been away
              since seven this morning
              working with patients in the hospital
              and you have him standing here.
              Away and do your bloody duty right!"
              I gave off to them.
              No time for them
              because I think
              there are two laws.

              Politicians are the cause of this bother.

              Nobody is prepared
              to give an inch.

              interviewed 1995

              Charlie Hillen

              I come from the other side of the water
              the Derry side.
              I feel at home here now.
              This is a very
              picturesque part of Derry
              The scenery alone
              is breath taking.


              Gobnascale estate is a very close community.
              The inhabitants are nearly
              all inter-related
              strong family ties.
              A lot of people in Gobnascale
              were originally from Top of the Hill-
              original Waterside people
              that have lived here for years.

              In the seventies we had an unsettled situation -
              people moving in and out.
              Because of the scarcity of houses
              people had to move over.
              Those coming over from the Derry side
              in the late sixties and early seventies

              Other people came over
              in the late seventies
              and tried to settle in
              but it didn't work.
              They felt very isolated
              and they moved back out again
              over to the Derry side.

              The Derry people never mixed
              with Waterside people.
              Waterside people never mixed
              with the Derry people.
              Meanwhile, the people that came stayed
              families were growing up
              getting married,
              reluctant to leave Gobnascale.

              At one time, it was a desolate estate
              over a hundred and twenty houses lay empty
              because of the fuel situation in Bard's Hill.
              The Housing Executive
              decided to put in electric fires.
              It didn't work.
              People got the first fuel bill
              for nearly £300.
              They just got up and left Bard's Hill-
              which was tucked away
              into the back of the estate -
              to disintegrate.
              It was empty for nearly 10 years
              until a private developer came in.

              I am getting less conscious
              of Protestant estates around me
              as the cease-fire goes on.
              But back in the seventies
              Gobnascale felt very isolated,
              surrounded by New Buildings,
              Irish Street and Tullyally.

              People living on the outskirts
              towards Irish street
              were on the look out
              all the time
              and had their windows boarded up.

              Mountain View and
              the far side of Anderson Crescent
              lay desolate for many years
              because Catholics had to leave
              and be rehoused inside the estate.


              [Newspaper extract]
              Caption: Derry Journal Friday 4th February 1972
              Coverage of one of the Bloody Sunday funerals


              [Newspaper extract]
              Caption: Derry Journal 22 December 1972:
              Coverage of Annie's Bar killing

              The people in Mountain View
              were stuck in the middle.
              People had lived there for generations
              and were very reluctant to leave.

              Some owned their own house.
              Whereas, the Housing Executive
              was under an obligation
              to get you out.

              What we didn't realise
              Irish Street, our closest neighbour
              were the same as us -
              watching, looking over their shoulder.
              At that time,
              it was a built-in defensive mechanism
              to watch your neighbour.

              At one time there was
              a siege mentality here
              because of what happened
              in Annie's Bar.
              If there was a border line
              between (here and) Irish Street
              Annie's bar would be just slightly this side.

              Bloody Sunday happened (but it)
              was a different sort of situation.
              One was perpetrated
              by government forces
              and public opinion would keep
              that sort of thing at bay.
              The other was perpetrated
              by a loyalist organisation
              which was proven down through the years
              to have happened
              over and over again.

              Annie's Bar was the local bar
              for generations.
              One night just after Christmas 1972,
              loyalist gun men came in
              and murdered seven men.

              The young people here
              were on what you would call
              a war footing
              because nobody
              was brought forward for it.
              The people were uptight.

              Somebody had to pay.
              The army and the police coming in
              had to pay the price.

              Redevelopment on the outskirts
              of Gobnascale
              the old original Annie's Bar
              is now gone

              You had this waste land
              left open for battling.
              It's still there.
              We have big boulders in the middle now.

              Annie's Bar
              started to take on
              a siege mentality again.
              When loyalist gunmen
              were going into bars - like Greysteel -
              The Rising Sun was a replica
              of what happened way back in 1972.
              People started
              to barricade themselves in
              and everybody was checked.

              Since the cease-fire
              that has relaxed.

              This part of the world
              is ninety nine point nine percent nationalist.
              There's no problem talking
              about Protestant and Catholic here.
              You are talking to your own side
              - the converted.
              You can say what you want
              as long as you don't say nothing
              against the status quo.

              Our problem
              was the SDLP-Sinn Fein split
              until a year and a half ago.
              You'd wake up on Easter Sunday morning
              and the place would be covered with
              green, white and yellow markings
              all over the place.
              As Easter started to go, the paint got very drab.
              At the finish up it
              was more a mock to the colours.
              The SDLP crowd would say,
              "All that painting - that's terrible!"

              It was just the older generation
              they were apprehensive.
              "If them boys weren't throwing stones
              the army wouldn't be coming in."

              The republican vote
              would be higher in Gobnascale -
              but the SDLP councillor
              was always able to get in.

              The Family Centre
              started off with a nun from
              Good Shepherd Laundry.
              She started filling in forms.
              She couldn't cope with so many people
              she went to the Housing Executive
              and rented a flat in Virginia Court.
              The Family Centre took off from there.
              The nuns have left -
              it is civilian-run now.
              At this moment
              it is the hub of Gobnascale.

              Back in the eighties,
              the Family Centre
              contacted the Housing Executive
              and the DOE
              to try and get some input
              into the estate.
              Re-development in the middle of the city
              was going on
              millions of pounds were getting pumped in.
              We weren't looking for anything gigantic.
              Rose Court was the first thing
              we tried
              to pin the Housing Executive down on.
              It took us many years
              to get the Housing Executive
              to move on small things -
              the grass cutting.

              The powers-that-be were very reluctant
              to pump money in.
              All of a sudden things
              started to move.
              We were getting promises
              of starting dates
              for this and that.
              Then all of a sudden they said,
              "We have sold this to a private developer."
              That knocked us back
              because private developers is a different game.

              The result is Rose Court
              is one of the best corners of the estate.
              For a long time, Rose Court
              was an eyesore.
              The reason why Rose Court was
              left the way it was
              (is because) any rioting
              occurred there.
              The army came up in patrols
              from Chapel Road towards the estate,
              the young boys met them -


              The young fellas would retreat
              into the back of the houses
              and throw petrol bombs
              over the top.

              It was harassing for the people
              living in these flats.
              One by one they drifted out.
              That was the first part of the estate
              to collapse.
              Young people discovered that the army
              was using it as a look out post.
              The young people tore all out
              and left four walls.

              With the troubles
              Gobnascale never got off the ground.
              That can be said
              for every nationalist estate in Derry
              caught up in the troubles.
              The forces of law and order-
              namely the army -
              made it rough for us at times.
              The government (see the area)
              as a Sinn Fein republican area
              which helps keep them down.

              At times we were saturated
              by the British Army -
              houses getting raided.

              We were the enemy.

              No respect was held by the police.
              They came in,
              roughed us up
              and wrecked houses.

              You and I would have known
              by the looks of it
              that the fireplaces was
              never interfered with
              but they pulled them away
              to see if any ammunition was behind it.

              It was badness.
              It was just to show who was boss.

              Intimidation went on in Gobnascale
              fellas were shot dead
              on what they thought
              was their duty.

              But families stood their ground.
              Families, not republican minded,
              were (also) harassed by the army
              put up against the wall.
              But nobody ever said,
              "I must leave because of the army".

              Where are you going to go?

              The army is harassing your son
              but he could be shot dead
              in Shantallow or Creggan.

              People originally from
              the Derry side wanted out.
              They moved out
              to Shantallow or Creggan.
              Gobnascale was only a stopping point
              until better things came along.
              They needed a house
              until they could move or swap.
              Their heart and soul wasn't in Gobnascale.

              Growing up in the Bogside,
              I knew there were Protestants.
              But talking to people
              who lived in the Waterside
              there was this atmosphere
              between the Catholic people
              and the Protestant population
              that stayed for two or three days
              before and after the twelfth.

              Then it disappeared
              until next time around.

              The nearest I got to a Protestant
              was standing at Rossville Street-Lecky Road
              looking up at Derry Walls,
              at the crowds of people looking over the walls -
              as if there was a feeding day at the zoo.

              I never had this Protestant-Catholic feeling.

              I just had to deal with one side of the house.
              until I started to go outside
              the world of work.

              The only thing I discovered
              when you were talking to Protestants -
              they were a bit reserved.
              They would never come right out and say
              [that]something we did was absolutely wrong,
              we would have said something like
              "That's an eejit that you's have talking for you!"
              They would never talkabout the troubles
              as freely as we would, like.

              I think we, as Catholics
              have a lot to learn from Protestants
              and vice versa.
              At eleven or twelve years
              if you have a teacher that tells you
              that it is a sin
              to go into a Protestant church -
              that makes a big impression.
              I would go now,
              knowing it is not a sin
              but no priest has ever come back and said,
              "Forget what we said in those days -
              it was wrong!"
              I still have this mentality
              that to go to a Protestant wedding
              you had to get special permission.

              People say about "the Protestant Waterside" -
              that might have been alright a few years back.
              To my mind, that has all changed.
              The Catholic population of the Waterside
              has grown fantastically since I was a kid.
              Moore Street, Robert Street, Strabane Old Road
              these were all Protestant.
              Now you would be pushed
              to find a Protestant in this part.
              I do not feel a minority in the Waterside -
              I feel more in the majority.

              In Derry it will take years
              before we are in a minority again.
              I would feel in the minority
              in the whole of Northern Ireland.

              We should have a great say in Northern Ireland

              Living in Derry is (part of) my identity.
              I belong to Derry
              to Northern Ireland, to Ireland.
              I feel sorry for people of the other minority
              that can't recognise their identity.

              When I listen to Protestants
              talking about their identity -
              they seem lost.
              They keep bouncing off this British thing.
              I can say to a certain extent
              I'm British because of where I am born
              Protestants have wanted to be
              more English
              or British
              than Irish.

              I don't know Protestants from the Waterside.
              I am sort of segregated, sort of alien.
              I know of Protestants who left Gobnascale
              for the same reasons that Catholics left Irish Street.
              The troubles
              were the instigator of the fear
              Protestants were feeling.
              Bloody Sunday, Annie's Bar and other things
              were happening.
              Protestants felt intimidated -
              felt somebody is going to take it out on them -
              they were going to get hit for it.
              I would probably have done the same.

              The Protestants seems to be going
              more and more out towards Eglinton
              out of the city boundaries.
              If we are segregating people -
              it's a sad thing -
              we are pushing them to the brink.

              We had good teachers.
              The Corporation for years segregated us.
              They taught us, you know.
              When Protestants come back
              over the bridge again with confidence,
              it would give the bigots a kick.

              Gobnascale is my stopping point.
              I'd like to see it getting off the ground -
              coming up to Creggan standards.

              The young people
              don't have an established place -
              a drop-in centre.
              Parents are reluctant
              to let kids trip out to the
              Chapel Road youth club -
              a trouble spot.

              We may be a small community
              but we are growing.

              We have to look to the future.

              interviewed 1995

              Second Gobnascale Woman

              Derry would be more Catholic
              than Protestant.
              I would be concerned
              about my own area-
              my own family -
              rather than the issues.
              I don't think deep about it.

              You hear cityside Protestants
              are moving to the Waterside,
              now its spreading to outlaying areas -

              Whose fault is it?

              Who decides?

              I was born in Irish Street -
              a really Protestant area -
              just opposite Gobnascale.

              I came to live here
              at the start of the troubles
              when neighbours were getting geared up
              in their B special uniforms.
              There are a few Protestants here -
              they are very much a minority.

              From the middle of Fountain Hill,
              everything to the right
              is Catholic.

              My husband, who was reared
              in a totally Catholic area
              would see Gobnascale as an enclave.
              The more politically minded
              would see it like that...

              Maybe its fear.

              I remember someone saying,
              "If anything happens
              we've had it in Gobnascale
              because we are surrounded."

              Born in a predominantly Protestant area
              I wouldn't be as afraid.
              I would be inclined to say
              that Irish Street have the same fears.


              The only reason I moved
              when the troubles were bad,
              is fear
              not for myself
              but for my children.

              If we were somewhere else
              they wouldn't be seeing the masked man -
              the patrols getting stoned.

              When they ask questions,
              what do you say?

              Because the children are boys
              made it worse.
              You've a fear of them
              joining an organisation.
              Since the peace
              you have a fear of drugs.

              I couldn't have afforded
              to move to the places
              my husband would have liked.
              He didn't like the places we could afford.

              We wouldn't have moved to another estate -
              out of the frying pan into the fire.

              My sister lives in Lisamore.
              She says you hardly see a being.
              At least up here
              no-one's out on a limb,
              no-one thinks they are better
              than anyone else.
              You have the friendliness
              closeness and support.
              My mother, father,
              my husband's family
              and extended family
              all live in this area.
              I hadn't any problem with baby-sitters
              and my children have their cousins.

              No-one really moves.
              They move from a flat to a house.
              Nineteen years ago
              a lot of families moved to bigger houses.
              They don't move out of the area.

              A lot of people look down on Gobnascale.
              But where would you get a view like this?
              It's convenient
              to the schools and chapels.
              People from the Derry side
              don't think it's convenient.

              The downside is
              we don't have any youth facilities.
              There is a youth club in the school
              but who wants
              to go back into a school environment
              after school?

              In some people's eyes
              Gobnascale has a bad reputation.
              People ask, 'Where do you come from?"
              People say "Top of the Hill" not "Gobnascale."
              People from Hollymount say
              "We're from Hollymount, not Gobnascale."
              There was trouble in the council estate.
              There is a stigma,
              but umpteen people who have been involved
              haven't come from Gobnascale -
              and come from good families!
              It's not as bad as they think.

              Government agencies
              think we don't need anything.
              Because they pay benefit
              they think they are doing enough.

              interviewed 1995

              Cyril Henderson

              I would have no hesitation
              telling people to come here.

              The majority are good people.

              You are not stuck in the town -
              five minutes walk and
              you are in the country.
              It's reasonably quiet.
              There's not a lot of
              police and army now.

              The area is improving -
              they are doing up the old houses
              that were lying derelict.
              There's still some vandalism -
              coming down from chapel,
              the other night, two boys
              standing up on top of a car
              jumping up and down
              kicking in the windows.

              You could say we are an enclave
              because the Waterside is
              mostly Protestant.
              Irish Street, across the way,
              is mainly a Protestant estate
              and the hinterland - Tullyally
              and around Newbuildings
              is sort of all Protestant.

              If I walk around from say, Irish street
              when I hit Irish street proper
              to come in here
              I don't say
              "Thank God I'm here,
              I'm safe now!"

              You would have been sort of frightened
              about the boys
              getting caught up in something -
              not so much the girls.

              The whole basic thing
              boils down to
              The Man Above.
              I always say
              He was the first real communist.
              There is no sense in saying "I'm a Catholic!"
              then going out to shoot a policeman.

              Only one daughter moved
              out of the area.
              She lived in Derryview.
              It happened to lots of people -
              when they came to the door
              with hoods on,
              the gun,
              wanting the car.
              I won't accept that
              that anybody would tell me what
              I had to do.

              The population
              doesn't really matter to me.
              I can make it my business
              to get along with anybody.

              People should mix together.

              There's youngsters growing up
              that think Protestants
              or Catholics have two heads
              because they are stuck
              in an area where they don't meet
              the other tradition.

              In our day,
              unless you were of strong nationalist tradition,
              which we aren't,
              we had friends of all traditions
              and we moved around the city.

              Now, in the middle of town,
              youngsters get beat up
              because they are a certain religion,
              as they stand waiting at the bus stop.
              Which is wrong.


              I was reared in Spencer Road,
              brought up with Protestant neighbours.
              They were the best.
              No hassle.
              The man across the street
              used to go out
              on the 12th of July and 12th of August.
              He'd come over to my mother's
              to see if his sash was on straight.
              It didn't cause any problems.

              It's not that you feel part of a minority -
              we are part of a minority
              in Northern Ireland as a whole.
              It was worse in my younger days
              than what it is now.
              Catholics weren't getting jobs
              weren't being housed properly.
              Thank God that is all changing now.

              In fact, the Protestant people
              will tell you we are getting too much.

              In the times of Civil Rights,
              the Protestant majority were conned
              by their higher echelons
              into thinking
              they were the bees knees.

              The working class Protestant
              was no better off.

              To me, nationalism
              is the scourge of the world.
              I think of myself as Irish.
              The Protestant people might think of themselves
              as British, as English.
              It's good to be proud to be Irish
              or proud to be English
              but not to force that on anybody else
              or to say I'm better than these guys.
              This leads to war eventually.

              This man, on this morning,
              talking about the Gaelic GAA thing
              the ban, the law 21
              gave a different view.
              He's an Irish speaker
              and says that no way
              should anybody be discriminated against
              whether they be a policeman or a soldier.
              The only thing
              that should ban a man
              is if he is a dirty player.

              I would be afraid
              of some of the Catholic population saying,
              "We have the ball at our toe
              and we'll rub it into these guys now!"
              It's like when the peace broke out.
              There shouldn't be any triumphalism.
              They should accept
              that they have to live with one another.

              The Protestant population in the town
              is going down.
              It's sad. It's sad to think
              that to some extent
              it was our side that caused that,
              in the form of the IRA
              or Sinn Fein
              or whatever.

              On the other hand
              you have areas were Catholics
              have had to move out
              and Protestants have moved in.
              Which is wrong too.

              Once the cease-fires came
              there shouldn't have been any dilly-dallying
              about any conditions.
              Eventually, everybody has to sit down -
              the IRA, the INLA, the UVF, UDA -
              they all have to be involved
              because they are part of the problem.
              Are they going to agree
              with Sinn Fein or UDP?
              They should be there too
              to solve the problem.

              It has happened in Cyprus in South Africa...
              the way they are going about it
              it is going to take longer than it should.
              Hopefully, they will get some settlement
              even some Sinn Fein men are saying
              that it can't be a united Ireland -
              but some sort of an agreement.

              What I would like to see
              is that they will be happy
              to accept Protestant people here -
              or Catholic people in Irish Street.

              interviewed 1995

              Third Gobnascale woman

              I grew up in the Top of the Hill.
              I moved here from a farmhouse.
              We had to walk three miles to school.
              I'm here
              as long as nobody pushes their point of view.
              The troubles have touched everybody
              but you can't let other people's view
              dictate your way of life.

              It was a different place.
              We moved here. It was more rural.
              We lived in Strabane Old Road
              but we had children
              and the road was dangerous
              and the house was cold.

              It was restless in 1983
              but the restlessness didn't affect
              my decision to move.

              My husband
              came from the Derry side
              plays for Derry teams.

              Maybe my mother and father
              wouldn't have been in the Top of the Hill
              if there had been a boy in the family.
              There's no way a Protestant fella
              could walk up through the estate.
              It was hard enough for us girls.
              But we were independent souls.

              We didn't come across through Anderson Crescent
              because they called us names

              and we called names back.

              They could tell by our school uniforms.
              They called us Jaffas.

              The old area wasn't like that -
              the men played rings round the back.
              It was strangers that caused hassle.
              Imports gave us a hard time.
              Boys would have had gotten
              into physical fights.

              I don't know of any Protestant families
              who have sons.
              As soon as sons get any age
              they move.
              My father
              having only five daughters
              kept us here.
              He had his own tradition.
              Everyone knew what he was.
              They respected him.

              There isn't many Protestants in the area.
              They did try to make Gobnascale
              a mixed area.

              There was families that came in,
              but they left.

              The Waterside was always
              deemed to be a Protestant area.

              I understand why Gobnascale is
              the way it is.
              Gobnascale had such a bad press.
              You have to be in here
              to understand that it has changed.
              It used to be a no-hoper place.

              It has pulled its socks up.

              We want to be proud of our own area.

              Everybody will say
              Gobnascale is a Catholic area
              it was neglected by all bodies.
              The women want what's best
              for their children.


              We have no economic development.
              This supermarket is the first.
              People want an education
              a job.
              My preference will be for family life -
              my children.
              If there is a cause I'll fight for it
              but it will be something personal to me.

              I can walk everywhere.
              The bus service isn't brilliant -
              it doesn't come by Hollymount.
              You try carrying
              six bags of messages
              up that hill.
              You haven't the money for taxis.
              I would walk down Irish street.
              It was a short cut - handy.
              I never felt any sense of danger.

              Maybe Belfast is different.

              Staunch Catholic areas
              they don't know the other side.
              Throwing bottles and stones at your house -

              we went out in the morning
              as if it hadn't happened.

              It wasn't people from Top of the Hill.

              There is Catholics living in Protestant areas
              and their houses were stoned -
              that doesn't give them the right
              to stone our house
              because we are Protestants
              living in a Catholic area.

              A time ago,
              people had to take a side.
              I don't see why.
              I'm glad I live the way I do.
              It doesn't matter
              if you are born into a different religion.
              I am a strong woman.
              This is home.

              Me daddy had a real sense
              of belonging to Top of the Hill.
              It passed on to me.
              It was wild
              shifting from Strabane Old Road.
              Hollymount is far quieter.
              I couldn't settle to begin with.
              It's sad people can't relate to me
              because I was born a Protestant.

              There is no real winner
              in the whole troubles.
              People are rotting in jail.
              I'm sure boys who get sentences
              come out shaking their fists.

              There has to be more to life.

              interviewed 1995

              Third Gobnascale man

              Other people call it Gobnascale
              or the Gob. But anybody asks me
              I say Top of the Hill.

              When I first came over here
              most of the people
              were old time residents.
              Outside people thought of this
              as being a particularly rough area in Derry.
              Run down.
              The people were sort of rough
              capable of holding their own.
              Very clannish.
              Even if
              they didn't like the person getting turfed over
              by some crowd
              they wouldn't let that happen.

              I'm not from the Waterside.
              I just happened to arrive here.
              I moved to Spencer Road in 1967.
              I moved up here in September '71 -
              from Creggan originally.
              People used to think Creggan was bad.
              But Creggan people say,
              "How do you stick it over there?"
              "Do you not find the Waterside strange?"

              The Top of the Hill was quiet -
              the usual new estates -
              a lock of builders rubble.
              It was threw up quick.
              The actual houses weren't that good.
              It was all back to front.
              The front door goes into the garden.
              The back door is actually the front door.

              But I'll be wearing a wooden coat
              that's the only way I'll be going.

              I'm longer now in the Top of the Hill
              than I lived in Creggan.
              There were a few Protestant families in Creggan.
              I never seen any real sectarianism
              until I came to the Waterside.
              I seen boys chasing
              whether it be a Protestant or a Catholic..
              They were fighting amongst themselves
              because they were two different religions.

              My wee flat was attacked a few times.
              That was from 1969 to about 1970 or '71.
              We got out of the place then.
              It was at the bottom of Moore Street
              Moore Street was
              at that time
              a predominantly Protestant Street.
              I got married in March and the street
              was all decorated with Union Jacks and bunting.


              I drunk with a few people that lived in Moore Street.
              I had never any bother that way, you know.
              It was mostly lodges coming from the Memorial Hall
              across the bridge.
              They started after '69
              throwing stones at the place
              roaring and gowling and kicking the doors.
              That was my first trip down the sectarian road.
              I just went to the end of Bond Street
              and beat the crap out of the boys that was doing it.
              I had no bother after that.

              The shooting in Annie's Bar
              I was up in the Telstar the night it happened.
              The only thing that stuck me as funny is
              you could walk into Gobnascale after the shooting
              but you couldn't get out of it.
              The police, the cops wouldn't let you.
              But I wasn't actually in it,
              I just knew a couple of people to see.
              People were very afraid.
              Some people up stakes and moved out.
              They couldn't hack it.

              About three years ago
              the police arrived.
              I was at work as usual.
              The cops says to my wife
              to warn me that my name was on the hit list
              for the Loyalist death squads.
              So I had to upgrade my security.
              I could have went to the Housing Executive
              and moved to whatever area I wanted.
              There were a few people up here that did.
              But I wouldn't move.
              My attitude was if they are going to get me
              they were going to get me.
              They gave you a hundred and fifty pounds
              she got a phone in
              and that was it.

              I have been trying for years to get things going.
              If everybody just moved -
              went back into a wee corner
              then things would get worse
              instead of better.
              You make a stand.
              You walk away from it
              and you can't influence people.
              I had a bit of hassle from the police
              I think they just gave out the details to the Loyalists
              and that was it.
              I firmly believe that, you know.

              No matter what,
              if you were trying to make change,
              if you didn't tow a conventional line
              in the SDLP or in the church
              then you were suspect of being in the IRA.

              "Are you working for the IRA or Sinn Fein?"
              "Are you controlling the area?"
              "Syphoning money?"

              I never asked anybody their beliefs -
              all I wanted to know [was]
              if they were to help the community.

              The wife started up a park in 1981
              with a wee ACE scheme.
              That collapsed.
              It was harassment from the word go
              from the police.
              Harassment -
              it happened to plenty of people up here.
              The harassment I got -
              the army would be more joking
              but the cops were inclined to get nasty.

              They knew rightly who I was,
              they used to come up and say
              "You'll have to give us your name and address, Eddie!"
              Many times, walking down the streets
              I wouldn't move out of the way,
              and he wouldn't move
              the two of us ended up
              having a whole shuffling match.
              There was passive hostilities
              from both sides -
              sometimes open hostility.
              They started on my sons as well.

              My mother said
              "You will have to get moved out!"
              My father was the same -
              never liked the Waterside.
              "You will be safer over here."
              I pointed out
              if I move
              what is going to happen to the people left behind?
              The next time
              it is going to be your neighbours
              getting the threat.
              Then all of a sudden, there's nobody left.

              The last two years
              before the cease-fire
              you would lie in bed at night
              and wonder
              you would listen.
              "Are the young fellas getting a taxi home?"

              I always told them
              never to walk home
              straight up the Strabane Old Road.
              Always walk the side streets.

              Years ago
              there was a drive-by shooting
              a house in Strabane Old Road -
              the house above mine.
              Boys got out of the car
              smashed the windows
              and jumped in the car again.
              I gave the police
              a description of the car.
              They stopped the car in Irish street
              but nothing was done.

              People seem to be pushing cross community contacts
              like going to Corrymeela.
              They have to start somewhere
              but it seems very structured -
              like getting led down the garden path.
              You have all these people
              being very nice and watching.
              You really need to meet people
              warts and all.

              If you are not working,
              you don't have a life.
              if you are young now
              you have all those micky mouse jobs.
              It's dead-end stuff.
              Ace and a tenner on your dole -
              just a whole scam.
              The young fellas are cannon fodder.

              There was a few problems with drugs -
              only about two years ago.
              It wasn't cocaine or heroin -
              it was with speed and LSD.
              There was quite a few
              and it was a big shock.
              I didn't think it would happen here
              but it did.

              When it happened
              you'd be sort of dumbfounded -
              how do you handle it?
              Life is a balls-up now
              buggered before it really got started.

              I never thought I was in a minority.
              I thought I was treated badly
              in my own country.
              I was treated badly education-wise.
              The Catholic church had a lot to answer for.
              the only things I have learnt
              I have learnt myself.

              When we grew up
              the Unionist Corporation ran Derry.

              I was born in 1945.
              Even now I can see
              the wee man coming down
              the street in Creggan.
              He wouldn't survive 10 minutes now -
              but he was in the 'B' Specials.
              He used to walk down with his rifle.
              Nobody would have said boo.
              You always got the message
              that they were the people
              and you weren't.
              Your view didn't count.

              Then, you were having
              manys an argument with priests.
              I was told I was nothing but a communist.
              I wasn't allowed to think like this
              "Who give you the right to talk like this?"
              I always had the attitude
              that things weren't right
              on both sides.
              I always had resentment
              against my school and church over it.

              Just after the Hunger Strike
              I thought the whole place
              was going to end up
              the way Bard's Hill did.

              I don't think the Catholic church
              has really helped us.
              They stood back, were afraid to.
              They didn't get in with the people
              and try to help.

              It was easy enough to sit in a chapel
              saying you broke this commandment
              or you shouldn't be doing this.
              They have ignored the area.
              A guy reckoned, the new chapel
              built down on the Trench Road
              was to keep Gobnascale people up there
              so all the middle class Catholics
              could go down to the old church.
              I don't think any of the priests
              were up to the job
              to lead the people.
              They talked down to them.
              They gave them nothing.

              The colonial era is coming to an end.
              It is more complex than this
              but you can understand.
              Like if you were in control of a country
              for many years
              and you think it is slipping away
              well, there is a lot of psychological barriers
              and you are going to say
              "I am going to have to move."

              I think the ordinary Protestant thinks
              he is going to be treated
              as bad as what we were.
              If we got control that we are going to screw you.
              There's no way.
              I'd have to chop my own leg off.

              I have no time for the theory
              about Catholics and Protestants.
              When they came from England or Scotland,
              the English government said
              they aren't Black -
              the only difference is they are Catholics
              so we will play on that.

              If the Protestant population left
              it would be like losing your brother.
              You might have fell out with him
              but you don't want to see him going.

              Equal terms
              cut out the terms Protestant, Catholic.
              You invest in the future.
              You say what you want.
              I don't want to see
              by a quirk of fate
              us ending up like the Fountain.
              I wouldn't like to see people saying
              "We have to keep the Fountain Protestant!"
              or, "We have to keep Gobnascale Catholic!"
              I can understand it
              and I'd say
              certainly, if you want it
              but you are going to pay for it.

              interviewed 1995

              Fourth Gobnascale woman

              At long last
              the majority in the city
              has been recognised for what it is -
              a Catholic majority.
              Gerrymandering has come to an end.
              Protestants have moved to outlying areas.
              I think they are moving because
              they don't want to live in a Catholic city.

              This "predominantly Protestant Waterside" gets me -
              Where do they get their numbers from?
              All my life, I have been part of a minority,
              as a Roman Catholic in a predominantly Catholic town,
              with less rights.

              Now you say a majority
              has a responsibility to a minority?

              Twenty years from now, will a Catholic majority
              be as hard as a Protestant minority?
              We never want to go back to the 60's.
              I think to myself
              if we had more female politicians from 1969
              willing to put themselves up front,
              maybe we wouldn't have been in the situation we were in
              for twenty five years.

              This [area] right round to Irish Street
              where I was born and reared
              is Top of the Hill.
              From I've been no size,
              I said, "I am going across to Derry,"
              thinking in my head
              that Derry was two cities.

              One time we considered
              buying a house in Abercorn Road.
              I was broken hearted at the thought
              of having to leave the Waterside.
              I'll tell you why we were buying [that] house.
              We had bought one in Violet Street.
              It was a great big house -
              I fell in love with it.
              We were to move on the Tuesday.
              On the Sunday we got word
              we weren't getting the house.
              All was signed and delivered
              but they backed out in the end.
              They didn't make any bones about it.
              We were Catholic and we didn't get it.

              Doing the deal
              we were dealing with the mother
              but the son
              who was unionist minded
              had objections.
              He blatantly said
              he didn't want a Catholic in his house.
              I was hurt and vented my anger.
              He wasn't man enough to face me.
              I went to see her and explained,
              they had shattered my illusions
              and being raised in a Protestant estate,
              I couldn't understand their objections.
              She said she'd taken advice from her son.
              I think it was her feelings as well
              if she was that easily swayed.

              The day we went to view Abercorn Road
              we got word we had been offered a house
              in Bard's Hill.
              I took it.
              The worst mistake we ever made.
              Electric bills were astronomical.
              No hot water bar the immersion heater.
              With four young children
              I was using the immersion
              for every drop of hot water I had.
              My first quarter electric bill was
              two hundred and eighty two pounds.
              That was 1978.

              [My husband] had a pretty good job
              but I have a son with asthma -
              the dry heat was killing him.
              There were no parking facilities
              near the house.
              Access to the house -
              you had to go up or down stairs every time.
              The Housing Executive
              neglected to do any landscaping at all.
              We deserved more
              for the money we were paying.

              If I could buy a house in Irish Street-
              if I could be sure I could live safely
              in a ninety nine percent Protestant area
              and feel as if I was part of the community
              not as a token Catholic
              I would buy it.

              It's probably just nostalgia.

              We left Irish street
              under strange circumstances.
              We had to get out overnight.

              When none of your neighbours
              comes out to defend you
              or to ask you to stay
              you know where you stand.

              It was the early months of 1970 -
              the height of the Troubles in Derry.
              My youngest sister
              had been stoned on the way to school.
              It got to the stage where she was afraid to go.

              We woke up one morning
              to huge red, white and blue letters on the path
              "Get out Fenian bastards".
              That [was] the last straw.

              We swapped with a Catholic family
              from Gobnascale,
              that left to move to Nelson Drive.
              Nelson Drive at that time was fifty fifty.

              A Protestant family, naturally enough
              from Nelson Drive,
              moved into Irish Street.

              Granny couldn't risk anything happening to us.
              It broke her heart leaving Irish Street.
              It was her first house.
              She had had nothing
              and Monseigneur O'Doherty demanded
              she be re-housed
              from a Duke Street tenement.

              Her heart and soul was in Irish street.
              We had Protestant and Catholic
              coming in and out of Irish Street.
              People had known Granny for years.
              In Gobnascale,
              you hadn't the same community feel.
              It was simply a house.
              She had no feeling for it.

              In a way I was glad to go.
              I remember the night
              Stevenson's Bakery burnt,
              standing in Bann Drive
              you could see the smoke
              coming up from the Bog.
              There was about 12 people standing.

              It was Stevenson's Bakery but
              this particular woman
              thought it was houses.
              She said,
              "Good enough for them,
              they are burning the houses
              we gave them!"
              We were Catholic bogwogs,
              burning houses they gave us!
              Such a stupid, ridiculous remark -
              and she believed that.

              I didn't want to live with the tension.
              My granny thought she could have moved on her terms
              not having to go and get emergency housing.
              I feel a bit cowed down for moving.
              Maybe if we had dug our heels in...

              Bar putting a huge barricade round the house
              having a security escort
              I don't think there would
              have been anything anyone
              could have done.

              Protestant families were glad to see us go.
              They could say what they wanted,
              do what they wanted
              when we weren't there -
              a thorn in their side.

              I think we would have moved in the end.

              The Protestant families in our street
              would have given us lip service
              trying to find out what Granny thought.
              The Catholic population in Irish Street
              was so small
              a token Catholic in every street.
              Rowe Gardens had more.

              Within three weeks of us moving
              every other Catholic family
              in the street had to move.
              The situation was so bad,
              it would have taken the whole estate to get together
              to ask us to stay.

              We moved to Gobnascale.

              The devil you know is better
              than the devil you don't.

              My husband was in a precarious situation.
              He worked as an Ordinance Surveyor
              for the government.
              He was a Catholic
              drawing maps for the army.

              Somebody's prayers were with us.
              The day he was to start in Belfast
              he got word to start in Dupont.

              How could we have lived in Belfast?
              A Catholic working for the army?
              What area would we have lived in?
              We would have been neither fish nor foul.

              I still felt afraid in Gobnascale.
              I knew nobody.
              A lot of people had moved over
              from the Derryside.
              I was a fish out of water.
              One particular situation -
              there were rumours that spread
              and got out of hand
              that gangs were coming in
              from Newbuildings and Tullyally
              to attack Gobnascale.

              The people in Gobnascale were terrified.

              A friend of mine
              a Protestant fella
              joined a vigilante group.
              There were no weapons involved
              simply street patrols.

              The people organising it
              were the forerunners of Sinn Fein.

              My husband refused to take part in it.

              It got to the stage
              where a few snide remarks were made to him
              about not pulling his weight
              turning his back on his own.

              The people in Gobnascale
              did live under fear.
              The attack on Annie's
              there was a threat
              to the Top of the Hill.

              This particular night
              a friend of mine
              came running into the house
              and said,
              "There's been a shooting in Annie's.
              They are carrying out bodies,
              nobody know's who's who
              or what's going on!"

              I'll never forget it.

              [My husband] and three friends
              did their training every Wednesday night
              and then went to Annie's bar for a pint.

              I ran down in bare feet.

              It was total mayhem.

              I saw Barney Kelly
              coming out of the bar.
              He shouted across the street,
              "Tell me mammy I'm all right,
              I've just got a graze."

              He died on the way to hospital.

              [My husband] came around the corner.
              He said he had gone down to Annie's
              but something prevented him

              and he went on down
              to Iona House.

              After that
              people were living
              on their nerves.
              It was so unexpected -
              so unbelievable.

              It was Annie's Bar because it was handy.
              It could happen again.

              It shook the whole community
              to the core
              especially with Charlie Moore
              a Protestant fella
              being killed.

              Nobody has ever been brought to task for it.
              People reckon
              they hadn't tried hard enough.

              Being reared in Irish street,
              I never had any fear of the police.
              Several of our neighbours were policemen
              most were 'B' men.

              In Gobnascale
              I see it from both sides -
              policemen being taunted
              and policemen taunting young fellas and girls.

              Who do you turn to?

              Do I turn to the men coming round the doors
              saying we are organising groups
              to do this and that
              when you don't trust them?

              Or do you trust the people
              you ring nine nine nine for?

              You are stuck.

              All you can do is watch yourself
              and tell your family to be wise and vigilant
              but let them know their own minds.

              I found it difficult to rear boys
              on the straight and narrow
              without smothering them.
              They are making heroes
              and [my sons] listen to their peers,
              to the TV.

              One of my sons said about Bobby Sands, -
              "the bravest man in Ireland."

              I think if I had reared them in Gobnascale -
              an area
              where there is stylized pictures of the Hunger strikers

              whether you like it or not

              in a street
              with slogans painted on your walls

              whether you like it or not

              they would have had a one-track view of the troubles.
              The boys would have come home
              and said
              "Up the Ra!" and asked,
              "Why's my daddy not in the Provos?"
              "Why does my daddy work for the government?"

              We have never had any serious run-ins
              with the police.
              But the army
              used to give my son a rough time.
              The patrols used to be think and fast.
              On the bridge and every morning
              on his way to college
              he was told to take off
              his trainers and socks.

              They searched his bag
              He said,
              "They will get fed up before I get fed up!"
              They did stop doing it.
              It's difficult being an adolescent boy in a housing estate.
              They are expected
              to be tough
              to drink
              try drugs
              leave girls pregnant (like me)
              and face the police and army.

              After Annie's
              the unarmed forces
              turned into armed forces.
              Who were they helping?
              People were used as shields.
              I had a gunman in my house,
              shooting down at an armed patrol.

              We were laid flat on the bedroom floor.
              They didn't care when the army patrol shot back.

              I wanted out then.
              I could afford to get out.

              If my husband had been unemployed
              I would have made the best of it.

              But I wanted to take my sons
              from Gobnascale and trouble.
              They wanted to stay and resented moving.

              interviewed 1995


Return to list of contents

CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
CAIN is based within Ulster University.

go to the top of this page go to the top of this page
Last modified :