Growing up in Belfast: ‘I saw British soldiers holding guns every day, so I must have copied them’

By Hannah Booth

Danny Devine plays outside his home in Northern Ireland in 1981

Growing up, I had a lot of toy guns. This one is a Ruger, but my M16 rifle was my favourite: I am only three years old in this picture, but I knew all their names. I saw British soldiers holding guns every day, so I must have copied them. They would shelter in our “hallway”, what we called a porch – we would have to push past them, saying, “Excuse me” when we went out to the shops. Like hearing gunshots and bombs explode, it was normal. We were aware of the war going on around us from a very young age.

I lived on Beechmount Avenue, off the Falls Road; it was known locally as RPG Ave after the rocket-propelled grenade launcher often fired from there. I'm standing outside our terraced house. My mum had me so spick and span – you can see my shirt, my hair, and the creases in my trousers.

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Source: Growing up in Belfast: ‘I saw British soldiers holding guns every day, so I must have copied them’