Two Minutes That Changed History

A bomb planted by the Irish Republican Army exploded at 2:54 a.m. on October 12, 1984. It was the last day of the Conservative Party Conference at the Grand Hotel in the coastal town of Brighton, England. Rooms were obliterated, dozens of people wounded, five killed. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was in her suite when the explosion occurred; had she been just a few feet in another direction, flying tiles and masonry would have sliced her to ribbons. As it was, she survived—and history changed. 

There Will Be Fire is the gripping story of how the IRA came astonishingly close to killing Thatcher, in the most spectacular attack ever linked to the Northern Ireland Troubles. Journalist Rory Carroll reveals the long road to Brighton, the hide-and-seek between the IRA and British security services, the planting of the bomb itself, and the painstaking search for clues and suspects afterward.

In There Will Be Fire, Carroll draws on his own interviews and original reporting, reveals new information, and weaves together previously unconnected threads. There Will Be Fire is journalistic nonfiction that reads like a thriller, propelled by a countdown to detonation.

Rory Carroll is a veteran journalist who started his career in Northern Ireland. As a foreign correspondent for the Guardian, he reported from the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, Africa, Latin American, and the United States. His first book, Comandante: Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela, was named an Economist Book of the Year and BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week. He is now based in his native Dublin as the Guardian’s Ireland correspondent.

Extraordinary music has been created in response to what became known as The Troubles in Northern Ireland. We have selected two favorites that stand out for their commentaries for the time Rory Carroll explains in graphic detail in There Will Be Fire. First, The Cranberries with a sublime acoustic version of Zombie, the original release was the lead single from their second studio album, No Need To Argue in 1994. The late Dolores O’Riordan said this about the song, “There were a lot of bombs going off in London and I remember this one time a child was killed when a bomb was put in a rubbish bin – that’s why there’s that line in the song, ‘A child is slowly taken’. We were on a tour bus and I was near the location where it happened, so it really struck me hard – I was quite young, but I remember being devastated about the innocent children being pulled into that kind of thing. So I suppose that’s why I was saying, ‘It’s not me’ – that even though I’m Irish it wasn’t me, I didn’t do it. Because being Irish, it was quite hard, especially in the UK when there was so much tension”. The second song is by Scottish band, Simple Minds with the poignant, Belfast Child…set to the melody of the traditional Irish folk song She Moved Through the Fair. However, its lyrics are about the Remembrance Day Enniskillen bombing by the Provisional Irish Republican Army in 1987, which killed 11 people and injured more than 60. 

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