Peace Lines

23 Oct

Northern Ireland makes up 30% of Irelands population with a total of approximately 1.8 million people. This region of the United Kingdom is filled with rich social and historical significance, which is seen in the art, architecture, and overall environment. This past weekend NUin took a trip to Derry and Belfast in order to learn about the North through experience rather than sitting in a classroom. While in Belfast we visited the peace lines – monstrous barriers of walls that separate Irish nationalist and unionist neighborhoods. The first peace lines were erected in 1969 in response to what is known as “The Troubles”. The lines were originally meant to only last for a few months but because of their effectives they became more permanent, longer and taller. Visiting the physical wall put everything into perspective. Seeing how the city is physically divided really emphasized how extreme, hazardous and dampening the troubles were. Prior to visiting the wall, I viewed it as a symbol of division of hatred, but seeing the various murals on the wall changed my perspective. Seeing the murals with inspiring quotes and symbols honoring the people killed during the conflict between the Catholics and Protestants highlighted the progress Belfast has made since ‘The Troubles”. The wall also reminded me of the Berlin Wall in the sense that a wall was constructed that physically divided a city. However, in the social context of Belfast, the wall was built because both sides wanted it whereas in Berlin, the wall was built to act as a barrier to lock people in. Moreover, the Berlin wall is no longer a barrier whereas the peace lines are. I can image that Belfast wishes to see a future where the peace lines are taken down but as of right now they seem to be more protective than invasive.

-Dayna Fields

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