Belfast, North Ireland

As soon as I began to see the outskirts of Belfast, North Ireland I had a feeling that this city would be different than others and it was. I was dropped off at the Europa hotel, which just so happens to be the most allegedly bombed hotel in all of Europe at one time. They were crowds of people starring up at it. I did not understand all of the commotion until I noticed men sliding down the buildings. It was cool to watch, apparently it is for charity.
I could not help but notice all of the young people, everywhere! They are also very easy to pick out in a crowd because of what they wear. The all seemed to be emo or “emotional”. Many looked like they were trapped in the 80s rock decade.
The City Hall is so beautiful and many other buildings as well. There is a large Ferris wheel next to the City Hall and Albert’s clock, both which reminded me of London. The city has many different style of architecture. I stayed just beside the Titanic shipyard with a guy from Portugal and an Irish lad. I picked up the flu from Bruno, the Portuguese. The poor guy had to say in bed almost the entire time. At least at this point I would not let feeling a bit sick get in the way of my touristing.
The most interesting place I went in the city was Shanhill Road. This is the area that was so segregated for 30 years by the Protestants and Catholics. This war was not about religion but instead it was political. The Catholics or Nationals of North Ireland wanted to be one with Ireland while the Protestants vowed to remain loyal to the Queen of Britain. It was humbling to see this place. I am always thankful that our war in not primarily on our own soil, but I became even more so grateful for it.
Shankill is still lined with peace lines, everywhere. These walls stand about 30 feet in some places, still lined with barbed wire. It’s so hard to believe the fighting and bombs only stopped about 10 years ago. This area is run down, but many buildings in the city are new because of the destruction.
On every street seems to be a mural in remembrance of the fighting. I came across a few about the USA. One in particular got my attention. It was an imagine of Baby Bush with a whip in his mouth and message that read “America’s greatest failure” adjoining on the right side was our flag all torn with words of the Star-spangled banner. I was not offended by this because I do not agree with many things that have happened under the Bush administration but I started thinking about all of the lives that George W. Bush has affected by the decisions that he makes. This war does not only affect the brave soldiers and the families, nor the refuges and the people in Iraq as well as it’s neighboring states. It affects the entire world, but I can only pray that somewhere people are benefiting for all of the right reasons.
I went to a Belfast Cathedral on Sunday to listen to the Choir sing. These little boys have some of the most amazing voices, I suppose now until they hit puberty at least. I am not sure which denomination the church was or perhaps it did not have one. The service seemed a lot like that of Lutheran, but when I took communion instead of grape juice that I am used to in service is was indeed wine. I have never been to mass but I know Catholics do drink wine, perhaps not always. Either way I really have no idea, but it was nice though.
Because it was Sunday I was able to get a train ticket around North Ireland for 5 £, so I did. I went to County Antrim which I had only heard good things about. It was so beautiful there. I saw the remains of Dunluce Castle as well as giant causeways and I got to walk over a rope bridge which I always wanted to do.
On Monday morning I was walking outside of the High courts and noticed a man leaving with a barrister wig on. I find it so fascinating and hilarious that they still wear them. How did I not know this? Just as I was waiting to cross the street I heard a terrible rumbling coming from a construction site of a office block. Quickly my inside laughter of the wig was replaced with fear as I saw this building began to collapse. I could not believe what I was seeing. People in the streets where yelling and running. From the top I saw a hard hat fall and then see a man falling just behind it. The air filled with dust and debris. I stood watching and tearing up in disbelieve for a bit. Thankfully, the police and rescue got there quickly. Watching the news that night it seems 6 men had gotten trapped under the rubble. As far as my knowledge there were no deaths and a couple of men have been discharged from the hospital by now. The others are stable.

3 Responses to “Belfast, North Ireland”

  1. Ireland Study Abroad Says:

    I really enjoyed your post. I will have to come back again to read some more of them.

  2. Aisling Says:

    Hopefully you will return for a new visit and maybe stay with us in the Gaelatcht(Irish speaking) Quarter.

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