Northern Ireland

28 Nov

 

A few weeks ago the NUin group went to Northern Ireland where we spent time in Belfast and Derry/Londonderry. This experience was surreal. The first day we were in Belfast I was overwhelmed by the number of murals dedicated to the Troubles, even though I had seen pictures of most of them in class. There were stark differences between the Nationalist and Unionist sides of town. British flags hung proudly in Unionist areas, and Irish flags hung proudly in Nationalist areas. The walls the kept the two sides from each other was massive and something I had never seen before. I knew going there these were things I would see, but I did not realize the effect they would have on me. It was quite scary knowing how much hatred and hurt there was in Belfast. It was deeply saddening knowing that this beautiful city was ripped apart by events that happened long ago and that are still happening.

Our time in Derry/Londonderry was even more shocking. We walked the walls and were able to see the direct line between the two sides, and the fact that both Derry and Londonderry names should be used when talking about them shows the split. The day we spent walking around Derry/Londonderry was the most depressing day of my time here in Ireland. Our tour guide was amazing and everyone loved him, which made it so much harder seeing him tear up at a mural of a young girl murdered during the Troubles. It became quite clear to all of us how much the Troubles still affect Northern Ireland. We went to the local museum dedicated to Bloody Sunday, where one of the victim’s brothers ushered us around. It was impossible for me to imagine working at a place where I constantly heard the gunshot that killed my brother on loop, see photos of his lifeless face, and know that pieces of clothing soaked in his blood were just a few feet away from me. It was a surreal experience and made me want to cry. The trip was incredibly informative and interesting, and I can only hope that there will be more peace between the Unionists and Nationalists for their own sake and sanity.

 

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