23 Oct

I knew that Northern Ireland had 6 counties and the Republic of Ireland had 26 counties. I knew that Northern Ireland was part of the United Kingdom. But, I did not know why. Arriving at the northern irish city of Derry was an eye-opening experience at minimum description. Derry was suffering under a unionist government in Northern Ireland, both politically and economically. In the late 1960s the city became the flashpoint of disputes about institutional discrimination and gerry-mandering. Despite having a nationalist majority, the city was permanently controlled by unionists due to the partisan drawing of electoral boundaries. In addition, Derry had very high unemployment levels, very poor housing, and low lifestyle requirements in general. The tour guide we had at Derry gave me goosebumps with his incomparable passion in sharing the stories of war and the tragedy of the Troubles. His passion for the peace that has now overcome Northern Ireland was emotionally moving and such a relief to know the tragic occurrences are over. Seeing the murals at the Bogside, I realized that these were the constant reminders of what had happened to those 14 people on Bloody Sunday. Lives of innocent people were taken and their family and friends had to cope with that tragic experience ever since. To think that 40 years later, the same amount of emotions run through these people daily even though the violence and danger is long gone. I could not even fathom the amount of pain that went through peoples lives, but they came out strong. The future of Derry and all of Northern Ireland looks bright and slowly but steadily it is being rebuilt by peace. I am thankful to have visited the two cities of Belfast and Derry and I hope the progression of Northern Ireland continues.

-Hiloni Desai


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