By: Emily Lovasz
We are back in the city! Yesterday we finished up our Shamrocker bus tour, which dropped us off in Belfast. On the way we got to visit the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, which once again, had stunning views of Ireland’s cliffs and coastline. The bridge connected the mainland and a small island topped with grass that you could stand and look out at the sea.
To start our first full day in Belfast, we went on a Black Cab tour around the city. During the tour, they took us around to different neighborhoods in the city and to the Peace Wall. Belfast has an interesting history, which was explained during the tour as well. From the late 1960’s until the 1990’s, the “Troubles” took place between the Catholics and the Protestants in the city.
We started the tour on the Protestant side of the wall. On this side, you would see Union Jack flags and other flags flying, but none of Ireland. This is because Protestants of Northern Ireland wanted to be a part of the United Kingdom.
After, we visited the Peace Wall. This wall was constructed to separate the Protestants and Catholics in the city. There was talk about the wall being taken down by 2013, but it never happened. They also don’t foresee it coming down. Over seven gates open and close along the wall, however one gate hasn’t been opened in over 40 years. The gates open during the day and close at different times at night.
On the other side of the wall was where the Catholics lived in the city. On this side, the Irish flag can be seen flying outside of homes. Catholics wanted to be a part of the Republic of Ireland and wanted all of Ireland to unite into one again.
There was a lot of violence involved during these years and both sides took part in it. houses on each side of the wall had barriers behind them to protect from people throwing things over the wall. Both Protestants and Catholics were killed in the fighting, however there are two sides to each story. One one side of the wall people are martyrs and on the other they are enemies and vice-versa. Heroes were painted in murals on walls of buildings on each side and memorial gardens stood in each neighborhood to symbolize and remember those killed in the violence.
Today, the violence has subsided, but there is still a separation. Children attend different schools and people live in different areas. The workplace is the only place where there is no discrimination. The divide still remains and the wall still stands.