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2 posts from December 2012


Northern Ireland (Day 2)

by Kayleigh Roach

On the second day, we headed to Derry/Londonderry (depending on which side you are on, you call it a different name). We were given a walking tour of this city as well, and I really liked it! The peace lines weren’t as aesthetically imposing here–it was basically just a giant stone wall.

Derry bogside from Walls

This is a view of one half of the city from up on the wall. As you can see, there is a cannon sticking out of the wall, although it hasn’t been used in hundreds of years.

After walking up and down the wall, we headed to the Museum of Free Derry which contained historical artifacts from the troubles in Derry. One of the bigger happenings in Derry was Bloody Sunday, which we had the privilege of learning about first hand because the owner of the museum had lost his brother that day and therefore was very knowledgeable on the subject. He also brought in a community member who was shot, but made it out alive which showed us just how real the tragedy was. A quick synopsis: On Bloody Sunday, there was a Nationalist protest and the British military was standing by in case violence broke out. Then, completely unprovoked, the military started firing into the crowd of unarmed civilians killing 14 people and injuring 14 others. The victims were just recently cleared of any charges of wrongdoing in 2010, and an investigation has just begun surrounding the military officers who did the shooting.

Free Derry Wall

This is probably the most famous mural in Derry (and as you can see by the Irish flag, it is most definitely on the Nationalist side of the wall). Also if you look very closely, you can see the dividing wall on the hill in the background.

After a day of history lessons and sad stories, we went to have lunch and do a little shopping. We then began the 2 hour journey back to Belfast. We were given a few hours of free time in Belfast before dinner, so a few friends and I decided to use this time to explore the city!

Belfast City HallThe enormous city hall (it was a whole block long and wide) all lit up at night!

The downtown shopping area was massive and pretty lively. My favorite part was the semi-outdoor mall in Victoria Square which had…





Shopping center CTree

A GIANT CHRISTMAS TREE!!!! (and it was only November 8th!)

After our adventure, it was time for another 3 course meal! And we were all so tired from two days of lecturing and walking that we weren’t able to stay awake for long after dinner. The next day, we got up early to make one last stop before heading home to Dublin. We went to Carrickfergus castle where we got a guided tour and learned all about castle life over the years that it was in use.


Carrickfergus Castle

This is the middle courtyard of the castle from up on one of the walls.


And we had to get a group shot with the cannons.

Groupshot cannon

Despite the cold/rainy weather (I forgot we were traveling North) and the heavy subject matter, I had a great trip! It was awesome to see first hand everything we had been discussing in class. The vocab lesson that I received during this trip, is that everyone is a “lad”–much like how in the US people say “guys” to mean anyone regardless of gender. I was always under the impression that it was lads and lasses, but after being called a lad and being mistakenly offended, I learned my lesson!


Legen...wait for it...Derry

by Kayleigh Roach

During reading week our program directors took this opportunity to take us on a field trip to Northern Ireland to learn more about the conflict there. We headed up to Belfast on Wednesday morning where we were given a walking tour by the director of the Belfast study abroad program. We learned all about the peace lines and murals and segregation. The peace lines are giant walls that were built in an effort to keep the conflict between the two populations living in Belfast to a minimum. They start out as sheet metal and as they go up, mesh and wire are added so that missiles aren’t able to be thrown over. But I guess I should give you all a little background before I get into too much detail. Northern Ireland 023

Northern Ireland has always been a part of the United Kingdom, and in 1932 when the Republic of Ireland became independent, the province of Ulster in the North remained in the Union. This created Northern Ireland as we know it today. Because Ireland had been colonized by the British, and the plantations in Ulster were the most successful, the descendants of the settlers were highly concentrated in this area. This left Northern Ireland with a divided population of Catholic Nationalists (who would like to unite with Ireland) and Protestant Unionists (who strongly support the union with Britain). This created a culture of violence between the two groups which was prevalent until the Good Friday agreement was signed in 1998 which greatly reduced the amount of violence in the area.

As a part of displaying the pride they feel for their identity, and to express the suffering of their communities, murals are painted on the sides of buildings everywhere. This combined with flags (Ireland flags vs. Union jacks) and painted curbs and lampposts makes it easy to identify which part of the community you are in.

Here are some photos from our walking tour:

NI garden

This is one of many memorials for the Catholics who have been lost during the troubles.

Ni International Wall

A wall of murals, and as you can see by the second one, parallels are often made between the N. Ireland conflict and other conflicts around the world.

Red hand murals

Shankill road is an interface area (where the two communities meet) where there has been a large amount of conflict. This mural contains pictures of Protestant life as well, such as soccer, boxing, participating in flute bands the red hand of Ulster, and a mural of William of Orange.

Road interface belfast

This is the gate at the entrance of Shankhill Road that closes at night and during times of distress, cutting each side of West Belfast off from the other. There are many like this throughout the city.

Belfast Harbour

On a lighter note, the next stop on our tour were the docks. Belfast is where the Titanic was built!

Not really an exciting picture, but the Titanic was in these waters as it made its way to the ocean to set sail!! Another fun fact about this area: right behind where I was standing was the studio where Game of Thrones season 3 is/was being filmed!!

That night, we met up with the students studying in Belfast to share our experiences, got another fabulous 3 course dinner (just like our last trip), and had them show us where the students in Belfast hang out! Day two in Derry/Londonderry so more this week.