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Local nurse recalls life of ‘troubles’ Curtis grew up among Irish conflict

By By DAN PARSONS, Special to the Daily News
For most of her life, Marti Curtis knew little of peace.
Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, just years before tensions between Catholics and Protestants erupted, she wouldn’t find peace until she came to eastern North Carolina more than 35 years later.
Recently graduated from Beaufort County Community College’s nursing school, she looks forward to a new career at Pitt County Memorial Hospital, but remembers the struggle she left behind.
As a Catholic, Curtis saw firsthand what the Irish call “the troubles” from the side of the minority. At 11, she lost most of the hearing in her left ear to a Protestant bomb.
Growing up in a small Catholic enclave surrounded on three sides by the Protestant majority, Curtis said British soldiers were a constant presence in her early life. Searching for bombs and suspected IRA members, the soldiers would wake Curtis’ family in the middle of the night to ransack their house.
In 1990, Curtis married a police officer, which brought her little feeling of safety.
When Curtis’ first marriage broke under the constant tension of threats, she decided it “was no way to bring up children.”
In 2001, she moved to Washington where she knew David Curtis, then a sergeant with the city’s police department. The two had met on the Internet, while she was still in Ireland, and eventually married.
Having practiced home health in Ireland, Curtis enrolled in the college’s nursing program to become a registered nurse — something she had never dreamed possible, she said.