Today we started our day with a black cab tour of Belfast! I had no prior knowledge of Irish politics or history (besides a rusty recollection of a potato famine), so it was awesome to be able to hear about the ongoing issues with the Protestants and Catholics from locals. I was shocked to hear about the conflict and how tense everything has been for years. The Peace Wall was my favorite part. It seems like most of the writing and graffiti on the wall was looking to end the conflict (hence the ‘peace’ part, I suppose) but it was interesting to see it surrounded by the obvious aspects of separation between the two communities.
The use of the wall as a way to communicate with the other side was very clear. Obviously there is a lack of interaction between the Protestant and Catholic sides, but the wall sends a message to each side, as well as to outsiders. By setting the gigantic bonfires each year, throwing rocks and golf balls at houses (yes, people actually hit golf balls over the wall in an attempt to hit the Protestant houses; Rory McIlroy would be ashamed), and filling their neighborhoods with statement murals, both sides are communicating without ever having to say a word.
The murals are visual media that both the Protestants and Catholics use to convey their message. During our tour of Belfast City Hall today, we visited a Reflection Space with quotes from the victims of violence in Northern Ireland. I saw this quote and was able to better understand its meaning after the tour this morning. It was great to be able to relate a few pieces of information I had learned today while in city hall!
Stay tuned tomorrow as we begin our adventures throughout the Republic of Ireland. Look out for bad Irish puns and new Belfast idioms.