The political murals of West Belfast

Belfast Travel Blog

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Our navigation from the Giant's Causeway to Belfast was somewhat complicated by the large number of towns beginning with Bally- in this small region (the Bally- prefix means "town" in Irish) - Ballymena, Ballyclare, Ballycastle, Ballymoney, Ballyrashane, Ballyvelton, Ballybogy, Ballylintagh, Ballyleckan, Ballyvoy, Ballyknock, Ballynafie, Ballygelly, Ballyeaston, Ballynure, Ballypalady and Ballygallagh. Despite this, Luke drove through without a problem while Shyla and I dozed.

Belfast looks like a city still under reconstruction. The old churches and sites still looked shattered, groaning under the weight of neglect. Compared to Dublin, the city has the feel of a hard edge that is slightly unnerving. Walking through West Belfast in particular makes you feel uneasy.
The heavy tatooos on everyone are not the body art of Seattle, but rather the political tats from the Troubles. The three decades of guerrilla war, IRA bombings and unionist suppression of Catholics have obviously taken a hard toll on the city. Whatever mistakes they made, the hard work of Bill Clinton and Tony Blair in forging the Good Friday peace agreement in Northern Ireland was a lasting good.

We saw the Peace Line wall, made to fence in the Catholics, and the Wall of Solidarity, where the Republicans show their support for other populations politically repressed by a stronger force, with murals painted by the Palestinians, the Kurds and the Basque separatists. And we saw the headquarters of Sinn Féin decorated with the quote from the famous hunger striker Bobby Sands "Our revenge will be the laughter of our children". A reminder that now the Troubles are over.

Following our visit to Belfast we drove to Drogheda, a surprisingly charming city with beautiful churches, old fortifications in the middle of the town and a lovely atmosphere to wander through. We had a nice dinner at a pizza joint and then stayed our final night just outside Brú na Bóinne. All up we drove nearly 700km across Ireland, had a brief, yet enlightening, taste of the Emerald Isle, and I got to catch up with dear friends.
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photo by: vulindlela