My first time in Northern Ireland

We have left Belfast. On our way north we visited Ballymoney. In 1974 I supervised holiday camps there with international volunteers for children (8-10 years) with different religious backgrounds from Belfast. The volunteers came from different countries. I remember that the volunteers of the ‘mainland’ were sometimes viewed with suspicion.

In the information center of the town we were greeted very friendly. The village is located on a railway line in a rural area. According to the woman in the information center, “decent” people live in Ballymoney. It is located in an area that was relatively ‘quiet’ even during the Troubles. The school appears to still exist. The current principal was a pupil at that school in 1974.

It was my first visit to NI and also spent a lot of time in the local pub. It could very well be this one. The pub has been renovated and made more spacious four years ago. One of the customers was already sitting at the bar there 46 years ago. Who knows, maybe I even talked to him then.

From Ballymoney we went out with the children. To the beach at Portrush and Ballycastle. And we visited the Giant’s Causeway. That’s what we’re going to do now.

Those holiday camps in 1974 were the lead-up to the 1975 teenage camp in the Netherlands that I co-organised, with teenagers from Derry and the Netherlands. And that’s why we’re here now, to meet those “teenagers” again.

Portrush 1974 with the Giant’s Causeway on the background