I enjoyed your articles on Northern Ireland. It is indeed a beautiful and welcoming area. However, I do take one exception and that is to the idea that all checkpoints along the road between Northern and Southern Ireland are manned by friendly, smiling troopers.
When my friend and I drove from Belfast to Dublin in 1989, we were stopped six times, three times on either side of the border between Northern and Southern Ireland. Five out of those six times, we were stopped at fixed checkpoints and the trooper checked my California driver's license and passport and waved us on.
Northern Ireland also has roving checkpoints. The one we were stopped at was located almost on top of the border. The checkpoint was manned by an armored vehicle and at least four soldiers. One soldier was methodically searching the vehicle ahead of us. Two soldiers were lying in the grass on either side of the road with machine guns pointed at my and my friend's heads. The fourth soldier checked my driver's license and passport, then asked questions regarding my home and business addresses, my telephone numbers, the reason we were visiting Northern Ireland, where we stayed in Northern Ireland, how long we stayed at each location and on and on. We were questioned for at least 20 minutes.
My friend and I had nothing to hide. But certainly, if we had wanted to ignore the Northern Ireland "troubles," we couldn't do it after that episode.