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Scary IRA moment in Dublin


I went back to Trinity College, Dublin for a reunion a few years ago. I had been an oarsman when I was an undergraduate. Old club members had been invited back to celebrate some anniversary or other with a black tie dinner in the college dining hall. It was to be followed next morning by a trip to the boat house to see what changes had been made and then reminisce about how much better things had been in our day.

The boat house lies two miles upriver from the college. I made my way there at the appointed hour next morning and linked up with old friends as the current captain of boats pointed to all the improvements and told us how the club (winners of the Ladies’ Plate at Henley a few years previously) was doing.

When it was over, I bummed a lift back into Dublin with one of my undergraduate contemporaries. I hadn’t seen him for a long time and hadn’t been following his career.

I knew that something was wrong as soon as we set off. My companion chatted gaily, but he kept glancing in his mirror, carefully checking the car behind as we drove along the quays back into central Dublin.

It became worrying after a while. I asked him what he was up to. I won’t reveal his identity, but he was an important figure in Northern Ireland and had become a target for the IRA. The men in the car behind were Irish special branch, closely shadowing us to make sure we weren’t killed on our way back into town.

Yikes. I had returned to Dublin to meet old friends, not to be murdered by homicidal psychopaths. For the restĀ of the journey I took a keen interest in every side road that we passed, wondering if some hijacked car would emerge to block our path while Provos in black masks opened up with Armalites.

All quite normal for my friend, who is tough, brave and determined. Not for me, though. Me, I don’t enjoy that sort of thing at all.

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