Northern Ireland news

Trevor McDonald says 'place I learnt the most about myself' was during time in NI

Sir Trevor McDonald

VETERAN television presenter Trevor McDonald has described how he believes the "place I learnt the most about myself" was during his time in Northern Ireland reporting on the Troubles.

The former ITN host also reveals that five decades on, he still feels the impact of covering the conflict.

"It's part of your life," he said.

"It's part of my life now and I never forget it."

The 81-year-old told the Travel Diaries podcast of how he was sent to the north in 1973 and, despite his fear, told his ITN bosses that he wanted "to do everything that everybody else does".

"The big story at the time was Northern Ireland - every night it was Belfast and more bombs and bullets and violence," he recalled.

"And I say I learnt more about myself because I was terrified when I went to Northern Ireland. I'm not a brave person. I describe myself as a coward.

"I suddenly found myself in the middle of a place where there were bombs and bullets and people were killing each other.

"And every night there was a disturbance and, you know, you grew accustomed to the sound of bombs going off. The first line of your commentary was always, 'The bomb went off...'

"There was just mayhem and murder and killing and dreadful, dreadful scenes.

"And it was all happening within close distance of where you were.

"The hotel in which we stayed, the Europa Hotel, was bombed about six times while I was there, and we were always given enough time to get out.

"But I was absolutely terrified - I'd never heard a bomb go off in my life, I'd never heard about a Kalashnikov rifle, I didn't know what that was.

"I'd never seen so much killing. I went to a house one evening where a little child was telling us about how the gunman came in and killed two people in the household. I mean, it was absolutely frightening.

"And I learnt about myself because I learnt a little bit to conquer fear and to survive and to work in such an environment."

Sir Trevor, who was born in Trinidad, also said that "I still reflect" on the violence he witnessed in Northern Ireland.

"I can't entirely get it out of my mind, it's always part of me now," he said.

"It never leaves you.

"It's like a stain on your shirt or your jacket and the slightest thing triggers very, very strong memories of those times."

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