Northern Ireland

24 Nov

A few weekends ago, I had the opportunity to visit Northern Ireland. At first, I was a little hesitant about going after learning about the controversy between the Unionists and Nationalists. But to my surprise, I found Belfast and Derry to be quite pleasant cities.

The first day in Northern Ireland, we stayed in Belfast. Compared to Ireland, the city was very different. Belfast felt a lot bigger than Dublin and reminded me a little of London. One of the minor details that stuck out to me while in Belfast was its pink transit buses which I found to be a very peculiar color to choose for public transportation. In addition, it was not a strange sight to see British flags hanging from various stores either. Besides touring the city, we visited the Parliament of Northern Ireland as well, which reminded me of a smaller scale version of the Palace of Westminster (again very London-esque) where we learned about the efforts made to maintain peace between Unionists and Nationalists.

The next day, we left Belfast to visit Derry. This city was very different from Belfast in that it was much smaller and not as metropolitan. In Derry, we learned about Bloody Sunday. I was not too familiar with this event prior to going to Northern Ireland, but in Derry, I learned that Bloody Sunday is a very sensitive subject for the people. The man who was running the Bloody Sunday museum had a brother who was killed during the protest. He told us that many of the civil rights activists were just teenagers and unarmed as well. A court case will ensue in a few years to prosecute the British soldiers who committed these heinous crimes.

Overall, my trip to Northern Ireland was an eye-opening experience. I never really understood the full impact the controversy between the Unionists and Nationalists had on Northern Ireland. In addition, regarding the murals, before going to Belfast and Derry, I was aware of the presence of them but did not know that they are such a major part of the culture. On our last day in Northern Ireland, we topped off the end of our trip at Giants Causeway. It was a great last impression of Northern Ireland as the scenery was  amazing.

giants_causeway

-Claire Jiang

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