A lasting memory I have of the darkest days of the war in the north of Ireland, when basic food supplies were in short supply, was the comforting smell of freshly-baked bread wafting through the tight back streets. A welcomed change indeed to the smell of the acrid CS gas and burning tyres. The bread had been baked by the local women and young girls on crudely-built fires and ovens on street corners – breezeblocks and wire mesh loaded with black-sooted iron pots – with the other boys and girls playfully mixing and rolling dough with milk bottles on flattened cardboard boxes covering the pavements. This bread was distributed by the men and eaten by the many hungry mouths as quick as it came off the fire. It also served to build and feed a good community spirit during a time of brutal conflict, an inclusive, educational and skills-sharing opportunity for young and old. No money was exchanged but much storytelling and goodwill: everyone contributed something to the rich mix. I’ve yet to taste more wholesome bread that I did that flaming hot August in Belfast. Ah, the joys of war!
Patrick Kearney- Creative Writer