Sting has been stung by Ireland, but in a very good way. 

The superstar rocker spoke to The Irish Times last week about his love of Ireland and Belfast in particular, where he lived for a few years in the 80s while married to his first wife, Belfast native Frances Tomelty.

Political turmoil was intense in the North at that time, and being an Englishman in Belfast wasn’t very easy, Sting acknowledges.

“I married a Belfast girl and we’d be down by the (Catholic) Falls Road. This would have been in the very middle of The Troubles. I could never speak because I had an English accent and short hair –I looked like a squaddie – and the cabs around that area were run by Provos,” Sting recalled.

“Belfast was always interesting for me as an English Catholic – I could see both sides of the coin. The best people in the world, Belfast people.”

Sting has spent substantial time not only in Belfast but all over Ireland, he says.

“I’ve always had strong Irish connections. My grandmother’s family was Irish and when I was a teenager I used to hitch around the country every summer,” he said.

“And then I lived in Roundwood for three or four years in the 1980s – it was at the time of the hunger strikes, black flags everywhere. A very emotional time. I always felt at home in Ireland – and still do when I go back.”

Thank goodness he and Tomelty met up, as one of Sting’s most famous songs while he was with the iconic band The Police, “Every Breath You Take,” was written about her as their marriage was coming to an end.

Sting is plugging his newest solo release – don’t expect any more Police reunions, he added, even though the threesome earned more than $200 million in concert receipts during their 2007-’08 world tour – which he says was inspired by a visit to his old home in Newcastle, England.

"If On A Winter’s Night” was prompted by a “ghostly return” to Newcastle, and a desire by his record company for him to do a Christmas album, which he nixed. But a winter theme was another story.

“This is the season of spirits and haunting and imagination,” he says. “Some people run away to the sun to avoid it, but I think it’s a time of reflection, and always has been for mankind.”