Today was a long bus day. We left Ireland and crossed the boarder into Northern Ireland which means we were back in the UK again. Our destination city was Belfast. When we got there we had a coach tour of the city. It was definitely one of the sketchiest cities I have ever been to. There were flags everywhere and huge murals portraying the violence that had occurred here not to long ago.
Forgive me if my history is wrong but this is what I got from listening to a few tour guides and locals telling about “The Troubles”. Ireland had only separated from the UK in the early 1920’s.
Northern Ireland was torn between the Catholics who wanted to separate with Ireland and the Protestants who wanted to stay loyal to Brittan. Almost every house we drove by had either an Irish flag or a British flag. Most of the controversy and the violence happened in the 70’s and 80’s There were paintings on the sides of people’s homes and buildings that had very powerful images. They showed hooded gunmen and protests. Our tour guide drove us by lots of places that had been bombed and robbed. He showed us peace walls and the very segregated neighborhoods. Even today the two groups do not share neighborhoods or schools. It reminds me of our American civil rights movement.
When we got back to our very nice hotel, none of the kids wanted to leave. Even though the tour guide told us that Belfast is safe today they were all pretty scared. I walked a few kids to the phone and the ATM but no one had any interest in walking around the city.