Excursion to Northern Ireland and the Conflict of Religion

18 Nov

I was pleasantly surprised to see how Belfast was put together. While it was a lot more modern and it was refreshing to see buildings that rose above 15 stories tall, it also maintained a suburban-like district, which more closely resembled Dublin. I was unsure whether or not the state of Belfast was due to the situation of the British Pound or another cause but either way, it was pretty clear that Belfast and Dublin were very opposite. While Dublin reminds me of an older-European city due to the size of it horizontally and not vertically, Belfast resembled more of a Berlin-style city.

However, most interesting on my excursion to Northern Ireland was what I learned in Derry or London-Derry. Before learning remotely anything about the city, I had already assumed that the majority of the conflict that took place in the 20th century took place in larger cities such as Belfast and Dublin. To my surprise, Derry saw a large majority of conflict in the city’s history. I think a prime example of this is the wall that separates Derry from the rest of the city. The wall demonstrates the divide that got even clearer to me as the tour went on. Moreover, the wall further showed me that amongst the Irish there is a huge debate between whether to live together as one or remain divided by a physical object. ImageThe fact that in both Belfast and Derry there are tall standing walls that divide catholic and protestant areas, demonstrates the severe level of disagreement between the two religions. It further shows how the inability to resolve such an issue a hundred years ago has continued to plague Ireland as a constant subject of argument.

I thought this was obviously relevant when our group took a tour to the Free Derry Museum and listened to the opinion of the man who owned the place. His clear distraught and loathing of the conflict is a perfect example of why Ireland still remains divided religiously, politically, and socially. Most importantly, I believe my experience in Northern Ireland enlightened me on the topic of the role of religion. So often I am told about how religion is insignificant and is becoming irrelevant especially in the 21st century. However, I think this experience is important in demonstrating that religion was and continuous to be a tense debate. Out of this experience, I’m not saying that religion is the obstacle in the way of society living peacefully but it is definitely a major obstacle that has and will continue to divide other races around the world. 

– Philip Sypolt

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