Northern Ireland: An Outsider’s Perspective

20 Mar

I chose to study abroad in Ireland for many reasons.  For a long time, I have been fascinated by the Irish culture, music, people, language, and history.  Oddly enough, I first learned about the Troubles in Northern Ireland from an American sports magazine that wrote about the Belfast Giants ice hockey team.  At first, I simply thought the feuding was between Catholics and Protestants and was based mostly on religion.  As time went on, I learned about all of the other factors that played into the Troubles.

Now that I have been living in the Republic of Ireland for over two months, I have been able to make some observations about the conflict from a first hand perspective.  In the Republic of Ireland, it does not seem that Northern Ireland is talked about too often.  Of course it is something that everyone knows about, but from my observations, the issues facing Northern Ireland and their relationship with Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland do not affect most people’s every day lives.  This is not to say that citizens of the Republic of Ireland do not have an opinion or do not care about the Troubles, it is just an observation of the differences between the two countries.

When DBS took us to Northern Ireland, we saw changes almost as soon as we crossed the border.  We saw British flags flying over homes and Belfast showed us how the Troubles are still affecting the area.  Traveling to Derry, we saw the same type of division.  My takeaway from Northern Ireland was that even though both sides are still extremely passionate about their beliefs, there is no one that wants to go back to the times of the Troubles.  The situation may not be perfect, but the fact that both sides are working towards lasting peace is incredible.


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