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The Broncle

Photographs of characters and places featured in the story


If you haven't read The Broncle these pictures will mean nothing to you - and you're really just being nosey, aren't you?


If you have read the book, I hope this few pictures help bring my story to life.








We three: Paul, Hilary and Brian (the author).
As you can tell, the twin thing never worked, no matter how hard Mum tried, (I'm the Tweedledee on the right).

Yet another attempt at the twin thing: nope, it didn't even work in black & white.

Our mouths are open because Mum used to throw food at us from the other side of the kitchen, a neat trick she learnt from the penguin enclosure at Belfast Zoo.


This is Castle Ward House, near Strangford village, County Down. Lord Bangor's old place.

You can see Castle Ward Bay in the middle distance, and the Ards Peninsula across the narrows.

Taken from our little canoe whilst gliding across Castle Ward Bay. Claire lies with her nose in a book on the wooded headland to the right.
The little town of Portaferry is seen in the distance.
That lion's Mane Jellyfish, thankfully too big for Bowen's fishing net. I don't fancy sharing a canoe with a monster like this - very nasty stinger.

Bowen at the front of the canoe, net ready for the next jellyfish.

Moments later I made that phone call to my other brother.

Taken from Windmill Hill, Portaferry, this is the view across the 9-knot tidal rapids towards Strangford village, and the Mourne Mountains in the distance.
Aerial view of Strangford Lough, and the gentle Mourne Mountains in the distance.
The townland of Ballylough, adjacent to the hamlet of Annsborough, near Castlewellan, County Down.
The fishing lake at Ballylough
Until 1922 the B-Specials didn't have an official uniform, and were only identifiable by an armband.
The IRA from the same period are almost indistingushable. (At least they had the courtsey to wear different hats.)

The Ulster Special Constabulary, about 1922.

Having spotted a Roman Catholic following them on a bicycle, they quickly leap into action.....

Craigmore Viaduct, straddling the Calmough River just outside Newry, County Down.

Goraghwood Train Station, Jerrettspass, County Armagh.

This is was the official Customs and Excise check-point on the Dublin to Belfast mainline for trains returning north from the Republic of Ireland.

And it's the station where Billy's life-long friend happened to be Station Master during WWII (while Billy was bringing in bulk consignments of contraband); convenient, or what?

This is Newcastle, County Down, where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea.
This photograph taken from the course of Royal County Down Golf Club.

And this is the town of Newcastle, County Down photographed from most of the way up Sleive Donard.
Henry Stanley finally encountering David Livingstone after his six-month search through darkest Africa.

Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland.
A rare view of the place without tourists all over the place.

Pick a throne from the jigsaw of hexagnoal columns, and make a wish.

The Giant's Causway, spilling into the sea towards Scotland.

Douglas seafront, Isle of Man, from a postcard of the 1960s
Billy bought the Conister Hotel which was slap-bang in the middle of that row of buildings.

Douglas seafront today.
(It looks better from this angle.)

And the gobsmacker: the photograph that says it all.

Billy is about the same age as I am in my photograph.
But the gap between the photographs is about 63 years.




Prepare Yourself for China

A True Story of smuggling, heartbreak, betrayal, adultery, and a lifetime of deception and secrecy.

The problem with discovering your roots: the more digging you do, the dirtier you can get.


The Broncle is a candid account of adoption, and the reunion with an estranged birth-family, describing the confusion of coming to terms with peculiar origins, curious parentage, and a whole new extended family.

Adopted into middle-class urban respectability, but with origins deep in the heart of a dramatic rural landscape, The Broncle is a personal journey of discovery intrinsically linked to the bloody past of Ireland.

Buyer reviews:

Couldn't put it down. Just checked out the first page but ended up reading until 3am, I just had to finish it.

Family histories, even of strangers, can can give of voyeuristic pleasure. This one is great because it is also an interesting story - betrayal, war, crime, sacrifice, generosity. And all set to the glorious rugged backdrop of Northern Ireland and Isle of Man, images of which jump off the page.

The definition of having skeletons in the closet is to have a dark or embarrassing secrets about their past that they'd prefer to remain undisclosed. When you read this book you will understand the very meaning of this phrase. Riveting

I just couldn't put it down. I read it through till 5am !


Available here:


Paperback version from
Paperback version from

Kindle version from
Kindle version from

iPad version from Apple (US)
iPad version from Apple (UK)

Nook version from Barnes & Noble






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about Brian Bailie
Children's Furniture by Brian Bailie
China Outsource Manufacturing

Books by Brian Bailie:
The Broncle
Alzheimer's Timeline
Prepare Yourself for China

Raising a Smile