My Troubled Past

Belfast Lad Tours offer a unique tour experience that tells the history, background and consequences of the ‘Troubles’ in Ulster from 1966 – 2013.  Francis Higgins takes you on a personal journey of his story as he survived a bomb attack and two incidents where those beside him were murdered in cold blood. He tells his story of watching as his great uncle drew the line of the current Peacewalls on his mother’s coffee table in 1969 and his loss of two family members to the conflict. His first reaction was revenge but that was tempered by his mother and he then joined the British Army and served in Ulster on the streets of Belfast.  He tells of his bitterness that turned to anger that was shaped by the British Army into becoming part of Ulster’s counter terrorism strategy.  His story however is one of understanding and hope not hate as he later qualified with a Master’s Degree in History and taught Irish History as part of the European Union’s Peace initiative. Francis ended up teaching Irish history the very areas he once patrolled and now works with those he once considered as his enemies and who are now his friends.  Francis completes his journey of political and academic transition with the story of his grandson Francis Fionn Higgins a baby born to a new generation of Irish Citizen’s in an Ireland still with unresolved issues but with its people committed to resolving those issues in the political area and no longer at the point of a gun.

My Troubled Past

This tour lasts up to two hours and covers the background to the Northern Ireland Conflict before covering the events that led up to the beginning of the ‘Troubles.’ The tour then covers the story of the conflict from someone who experienced gun attacks, bombs and the sectarian riots that marked the period.  This is a unique tour that involves details of some the attacks and murders the author experienced that led to his volunteering for the British Army in Ulster.  The tour takes you to the locations of these terrible events and puts participants on the spot of some of the most horrific murders carried out at the time where the killings are demostrated in graphic detail (please note this tour may not be suitable for under 14 Year Olds.)  The tour then covers the story of the British Army’s involvement in Belfast from 1969 until the army was withdrawn back into barracks as a result of the Good Friday Agreement.  The tour ends with the authors involvment at a political level post ceasefires and his work on cross community history and storytelling in the past 20 years.  The tour is carried out in a luxury Mercedes V Class vehicle fitted with audio enhancement.  Each tour includes:

– The author’s family involvment in the creation of the first Peacewalls

– An PIRA gun attack on the Shankill Road in 1971

– The creation of Loyalist Paramilitary Organisations

– The PIRA Bomb Attack on the Shankill Road in 1971

– Loyalist Paramilitary attacks on the Lower Falls area in the 1970s

– The PIRA attack at Brown’s Square 1976

– British Army Intellegence War in Ulster

– British Army Tactic’s in Ulster

– The Peace Process and Good Friday Agreement

– Reconcilliation


Thomas from California's Review

“If I could could give this man more than 5 Stars I would, his passion and knowledge are second to none. This was the best trip my wife and I have ever been on.”

Donna from Washington's Review

“This day we spent in Belfast with Frank (Francis H.) was one of the highlights of my entire trip. I could not have asked for a better day. So fortunate to be able to experience Belfast this way. I feel like I made a friend for life.”

Rachael from New York's Review

“Frances was an outstanding guide. We saw the beautiful coastline and ancient castles too. We would highly recommend him as this was the perfect day.”

Seb from Honolulu's Review

“The best thing is having a private guide, he asked what was important for us to see. I didn’t care too much about touring Bushmills, we drove by, but skipped it and spent more time at Giants Causeway and the Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge. For the price we paid for 6 of us – there was just nothing on the ship as far as excursions that would’ve compared. Everyone must do this tour while in Belfast!”