Northern Ireland

19 Nov

My favorite trip I have taken within Ireland so far has been to Northern Ireland. When driving from Dublin to Belfast we got to experience more of Ireland’s natural beauty. Unlike the west coast, the east does not have as much of a rugged, hilly landscape. I also noticed that there were small pockets of forested areas along the east coast as well. When we arrived in Belfast, I felt that it was a smaller, less congested version of New York City. Since there was so much political violence in the North, many buildings have been destroyed and therefor Belfast boasts a lot of new architecture—especially in the ship building area of the city. Additionally, many of the older buildings that have survived are made of brick and not stone. This is because many areas in Ulster lack the natural resources of stone that can be found in the Connacht.

Another interesting aspect of the North were the political murals. It was surprising to me to see large paintings with guns and paramilitary groups on public streets because I have never seen anything like this in the United States. I am concerned for the children of these areas in the North because they are growing up with these images of violence which may make them think that violent acts are normal and ok. It is unfortunate how the violence is still represented in public culture even though it evened years ago.

Despite my opposition to the public display of violence, these murals act as a way for people to remember the atrocity of the past in order and in turn motivate them to keep the peace in the future. For example, when we went to Derry there was a mural on the side of a building that read, “You Are Now Entering Free Derry”. This is highly significant because it exemplifies that the people are proud to be free. Additionally, this mural also indicates that we were in a Catholic area. This is because the city is referred to as “Derry” and not “Londonderry”. This use of two names for the city has been controversial for years and has still not been resolved.

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