Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Ireland, days 1 and 2

Alright, so we've already experienced a lot. I will try to condense it as much as possible (I have already taken close to 200 pictures...) and my mind is absolutely swimming with not just the culture I am being immersed into but the discussions we've been having in the academic setting, as well. I'll start with a few pics from our first day, which included a tour of the area of Belfast we are staying in (south side, on Queens University campus).

Queens University-it is Graduation week (that's right, week, one to two ceremonies a day). So things are a little crazy around here but it means the food in the dining hall is extra good I suppose!

We visited Clonard Monastery (Catholic) which is working very strongly on reconciliation issues between Protestants and Catholics. The monastery is located right in the middle between a large Catholic community and a large Protestant community. The wall that you see above (complete with barbed wire) is part of a 27-mile system of "peace line" dividing the two communities.

This is a memorial on Bombay Street which was the site of a major riot. This is in a Catholic neighborhood (they are fighting for independence from Britain). Notice the wall in the background-another section of "peace line".

This is the site of a terrorist bombing in 1993. The man who set off the bomb spent 7-9 years in jail (can't remember exactly) but was released as part of an amnesty agreement and now once again walks the streets of this neighborhood.

This is one of many huge bonfires that will be lit the night before the 12th of July, a major celebration around here for Protestants (specifically commemorative for the Orange Order). Youth spend all year collecting pallets (and many include tires) and the government gives out prizes for fires that are well kept. This battle commemorates the decisive battle in 1690 between William Orange and King James-which determined that the monarchy ultimately remained Protestant, and that the Queen now represented the Church of England in this. Hopefully I'll be able to post some pics of these bonfires after the 11th!

This is an example of the types of murals that are all over the city. Both the Protestants and Catholics have murals which commemorate fallen comrades, depict certain battles or struggles, or show support for important individuals in the history of their cause. It's really a very honest and blatant expression throughout the city of the history of these strugggles. This one, in the Falls Rd (Catholic) area, depicts a history of events. To understand how polarized this struggle is, the bottom right panel reads "Eire, War; United Kingdom, Peace" (Eire-Ireland).

My first Guinness-Enough said! Except that, I am proud to say that my first Guinness was "from the source".

I will try to post as often as possible-perhaps I will try to do some actual "blogging" with thoughts and things on my mind from our discussions with people here (tomorrow we meet with an ex-paramilitary) but I wanted a way to share some of our journey so far! Jon and I are having a great time!

1 comment:

  1. The Orangemen really like to crow about the Twelfth of July.

    The Twelfth, however, remains in places a deeply divisive issue, not least because of the triumphalism, anti-Catholicism and anti-nationalism of the Orange Order. [from Wikipedia]

    I advise caution. Observe, but do not stand out as a participant.

    And yes, I do have a bias in this matter.