Friday, July 17, 2009

Last week: FAIL!

So, I pretty much haven't posted anything during our final week here, and here it is, my last night in Belfast. BUT, it's not entirely my fault-I didn't have internet access for the first three days and this entire week we've been running everywhere (sometimes literally, running). I've got a few pictures but we fried our camera battery on Wednesday (yay international outlets) so no pictures of Dublin or Newcastle save what's on my iPhone and I haven't figured out how to get them from point a to point b here's some other ones.

On Sunday morning we went to worship at St. Anne's, the mainstay Anglican congregation in Belfast. It has been a long time since I've enjoyed a service this "high-church" but I really did enjoy it. A great Dean gave a wonderful message and we met lots of friendly people who shared the history of their church. It also spoke very highly of the attitude towards church in this community-a beautifully ornate church which could easily seat 4-500 only had about 45 attenders.

This is a shot from behind the altar looking down through the sanctuary. The reflection in the cross is the stained glass window that was original to the original parish.

A shot of the outside of St. Anne's.

After church we had an amazing lunch and then went to Crumlin Road Gaol (Jail). While this was a major place during the 30 years of troubles, almost nothing was mentioned about this-they are working on restoring it to its "victorian" days when the Prison began. I didn't get any shots that were all that interesting so I won't post any, but it was an interesting experience knowing what we did about the place and basically having this important part of history be intentionally left out. We were told that persons who spent time in prison during the troubles (both from the IRA and the UDA) will come back and do tours with their families bragging about the "glory days".

That evening we went to one of the many bonfires around the city. I need to make very clear that my posting of these pictures is not a political statement either way. I'm fairly confident that the majority of persons attending these celebrations aren't die-hard Unionists or anything-a lot of people use it as an excuse to get drunk and light things on fire-but there was still a very strong anti-nationalist (Catholic side of things) air about the whole thing-flags, graffiti, and these crazy unionist songs. In any case, this is the one time of year that security is beefed up across the board and in my opinion, if something's going to be insighted, it will be around the 12th of July... anyhow, here's a smattering of pictures.
It was dark and so this isn't a great picture, but hopefully this'll give you an idea of scale. The structure itself was easily 50 feet tall and was covered with anti-IRA signs, Sinn Fein poliltical posters, and tri-colors which would all be burned. Many of the structures (though not this one) also include tires but some areas (like Derry) don't allow tires to be burned.

A picture of the tower on fire. It was insanely hot. We were standing probably 50 yards away from the tower and had to move because of the heat. Once again, not making any type of political statement through the posting of these pictures, simply trying to document the experience...

It was a really interesting night, to say the least. The next morning we got up early to head towards our professor's neck of the woods-Enniskillen. We had breakfast at an Orange Order lodge (something we were told most Protestants wouldn't choose to do-and yes this group is protestant) and saw a July 12th parade in the town of Lisbellaw. This parade was a flagrant example of civil religion-the Orange Order, a "protestant" group, marches every year in rememberance of the Battle of Boyne. So each lodge marches with their particular band-either a flute band, percussion, silver (brass), or pipes (bagpipes). They each carry a banner with their lodge's information on it and most have a picture of either William of Orange or the Bible with the queen's crown on top of it. We did hear some great music, though!

The one-room school house where our professor (Dr. William Abraham) got his beginnings! Starting at the age of 3, if I remember?

One of the Orange Lodges marching.
I've got one more round of pictures to post...but honestly not sure if I'll get to it tonight, seeing as I have to pack :) We shall see, though! Thanks for following along on our trip! It has been great and hopefully some more reflection will follow-I certainly have a lot of processing (and required journaling!) to do!

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