Irish Terror Tour
In February 1988 I went to Ireland to read poetry at the University of Cork, but after Cork I drove around Ireland for three weeks. Belfast was for me the real attraction. The British had imposed various anti-terrorist measures. My hotel, for one thing, was famous as the most bombed building in Europe, and consequently the Brits had built a secondary building outside the hotel and everybody and everything was stopped there and searched for guns, bombs, malice. Downtown sidewalks were one-way; gates effectively forced pedestrians in the correct direction. Many stores with plywood windows advertised “Bomb Sales.” I asked the pretty desk clerk where the Catholics lived. She was sure she didn’t know, she said. Then, reconsidering her partisan snappishness, she opined that the bell captain might know. How could I have forgotten? The I.R.A., of course, controlled Falls Road.