Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Troubles

As I stated in my prior post (click here) no visit to Belfast, Ireland would be complete without learning about the past and present ethnic, religious and political conflict in this city that has been referred to as "The Troubles."   You can click on this link to read the Wikipedia description of the Troubles and also this interesting Timeline Link to learn more about them right up to the present.  Over three thousand people were killed from 1969 to 1995, the main years of activity for the Troubles.  The CAIN (Conflict Archive on the Internet) site, as part of the University of Ulster,  also contains information and source material on the Troubles and politics in Northern Ireland from 1968 to the present.  (All images will enlarge if double clicked on)


I was on a "hop on hop off" bus tour of Belfast that drove through the neighborhoods of Belfast where most of the past problems took place. You can see the view I had from the top of the bus of many of the dividing walls called "Peace Lines" or "Peace Walls" that were erected over the years to separate Catholics from Protestants.  The first barriers were built in 1969, following the outbreak of the Northern Ireland riots and the Troubles. They were built as temporary structures, because they were meant to last only six months, but due to their effective nature they have become more permanent, wider and longer. Originally few in number, they have multiplied over the years, from 18 in the early 1990s to 40 today, and stretch over 13 miles.


This is Bombay Street where you can see memorial to those killed in a conflict here.


A close up of the memorial on the wall of Catholics killed in the conflicts and the high separating wall.


Another view of one of the separating walls on the right on this street.  The tour guide on the bus told us that sadly these peace lines are still being erected and the communities do not wish any of them removed.


A memorial to Protestants killed in the conflicts.


The Catholic side Memorial Garden on Falls Road.


The Protestant side Memorial Park on Shankill Road.


A Protestant Loyalist Mural in Sandy Row


The mural on the Sinn Fein Headquarters, Falls Road, Belfast.


 
Murals are spread throughout the outer working class areas of Belfast, and their composition varies from paramilitary to community focused.  I am showing a few of the murals I saw on the bus tour in these photo collages, but a website on this link has a more comprehensive record and photos of those that can be found in North, South, East and West Belfast.


We were told that some of the more radical murals have been painted over with more global issues and causes and with more of a message of peace.
 
 
The past decade of peacemaking has brought political elites of both sides together in a Catholic-Protestant government in hopes that their example would trickle down. Their experiment in cooperation, highlighted by the power-sharing government has encouraged thriving employment and tourism in Belfast.  Most of the people I spoke to in Belfast have great hope that the Troubles will permanently end one day. 
Our own United States has a long history of conflicts over race, politics, and religion, so we can't judge why these prejudices exist as we also have a lot work to do to make our country a less divided and more accepting place for all. Perhaps it is a task that will never be fully accomplished but it is always something we should strive for with each new generation.
 

A beautiful stained glass window in Belfast City Hall with this hopeful message on it:

"Not as Catholics or Protestants,
Not as Nationalists or Unionists,
But as Belfast Workers Standing Together"

 
 
"It is in the shelter of each other that people live."
 - Irish Proverb
 
 
I am adding this post to the "Mosaic Monday" event on Mary's blog Little Red House.


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40 comments:

podso said...

I am really enjoying/appreciating your Ireland tour. The photos are wonderful and speak for themselves as well as the interesting commentary you write.

black eyed susans kitchen said...

Great pictures Pat. You really make history come to life in this post and it is such recent history.
♥, Susan

Kathleen said...

It would take years to read and learn the root of the problem. And as you said, we have our own problems here. I grew up hearing the stories behind 4 Green Fields. I wonder if in our lifetime we will see the end to killing in the name of God. We can pray!
Have a good week, Pat!

Claudia said...

Fascinating as I have been reading about "the troubles" all year - incoporating them into my play. (Although the majority of the sadness began a month after my play.) I am reminded of a book I hear about by the Lebanese doctor who lost three daughters and a niece in the 2006 war with Israel and has written a book "I Will Not Hate." Which is a huge testament to his humanity - it must be so hard after losses.

Shelia said...

Hi Pat! Oh, this is amazing and it's great to see the pictures and then the stories to explain them!
Be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)

Old Kitty said...

Oh those "peace lines" are depressing. How sad! :-( It's a terrible history and a legacy that I can only hope will be consigned to history soon. I also hope forgiveness and hope will prevail. I love that stained glass window with these wise words. Thanks for sharing, Pat. Your fantastic pics from the tour bus has really brought this awful conflict home. Take care
x

Ginny said...

What a sad sight, memorials and walls. I love that modernistic stained glass. I wonder if it will ever come to an end.

GrandmaK said...

A profoundly touching post! Thank you! Cathy

merrilymarylee said...

I am so glad you included this.

Still erecting walls....I didn't realize.

myletterstoemily said...

it's wonderful to hear about a troubled past
that has resolved into peace. if only the
rest of the world could follow their example.

gorgeous photos!

Lucy (aka rharper) said...

Completely interesting!!

Vee said...

A mural of murals. I remember a lot of The Troubles through the years, but did not realize that they continue still as evidenced by those high fences. It is too bad. I like your mosaic of murals.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

Your post really brings this country to life for all of us! I'm glad you had a chance to visit and to share your experience! Thanks, Pat! ♥

Farmchick said...

I like these real images of your trip. Such complex conflicts among religion and people, and nice to see that you didn't gloss it over.

Ebie said...

A great post Pat. Inspite of the conflicts and troubles, the art in the city is always a welcome site.

Happy Globetrotting! Enjoyed your posts on Sydney, too.

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

Hopefully, one day, peaceful understanding will become a reality. Gorgeous photos, Pat. I've really enjoyed your tour.

Snap said...

Traveling with Pat .. always a pleasure. Thank you for the tour of Ireland. Such informative posts. Happy Monday!

pam said...

Wow...peace walls still being built. I guess we are so controlled by the media...we don't hear about something anymore we think it's all over. So sad... You got great pictures of all those murals. As always I have been enlightened. Hope you have a grand week Pat!

Jojo said...

Great post sharing the efforts towards peace that continues.

Oliag said...

Such a meaningful post Pat...the mural photos are so colorful and powerful...and that stained glass window! Wonderful!

Ocean Breezes and Country Sneezes said...

Coming from a very American Irish catholic family, this is something I could never wrap my head around. I guess it's because I've always believed that all persons are created equal.

Thank you for this post, I was wondering if you would broach this particular topic, I'm so glad you did. I have to tell you, you did it with such eloquence.

Mary

Lorrie said...

How sad that humans live in constant conflict. But there is hope, as evidenced by the work towards peace. A great post, reminding us all to love others.

Regina said...

Wonderful post!
Thank you for sharing Pat.
Happy new week.

RNSANE said...

I am half Irish and I am so sad that, in all my travels, I did not make it to Ireland! I have enjoyed your pictures and narratives of your travels there.

It is so sad to see these memorials and evidence of conflicts between religions and to hear about the incredible numbers who lost their lives. Hopefully, the new efforts being undertaken by all sides and the government will make these conflicts ancient history for the youth in the future of Belfast.

Jenny said...

You frightened me until I realized your title was about your trip!

Okay, now I can exhale.

These pictures really make my heart hurt. We are all people. Isn't there a better way to solve differences?

This was a compelling post. It surprised me to see "The Troubles" painted about with such happy, glowing colors.

Gracie said...

How colorful! I like mural paintings.....

Riet said...

What a wonderful post about the troubles in Ireland Pat. Isn't it sad that there must be walls in a country to divide the protestants from the catholics. WE all have one God so why do this. GReat pictures to show this to us all. Thank you very much Pat.
Have a great week oh and congratulations to your country on the catching of Bin Laden. FInally , but what is going to happen now.

Donnie said...

There is so much conflict but glimmers of hope for a better future for all of them. Great post Pat.

Tracy said...

Such colorful ways to remember and think... Sobering to consider the past of Belfast. Thank you for this very moving post, Pat... I'm almost speechless... ((HUGS))

diane b said...

Thank you for the trip through Belfast as I haven't been there. I'm amazed at the walls and murals. I find it difficult to comprehend these troubles over religion and both sides Christian. I realise British rule caused a lot of the troubles too. Your post is informative and thought provoking and your comments about unity in our own countries and indeed the world are very true.

Carol said...

This is a great post, you have such a great way of presenting the history and making us feel like we are there with you!

Judy ~ My Front Porch said...

It is hard to fathom that so much conflict centers around religious issues. So sad! A most interesting and informative post, Pat!

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

One poor young Belfast Catholics lad was sent to Houston TX with Protestant boys a couple decades ago as a means to build bridges between the faiths. Dom went on to get a doctorate in Political Science and has been sent to several international "hot spots" to aid in conflict resolution. He married a Louisiana Cajun lass, my fellow librarian. I jokingly called her the Cajun in Clover.

They are a wonderful couple!

Lovella ♥ said...

Pat, What an amazing tour of sides of separation. Peace seems so elusive doesn't it? One fight is sorted out and another one begins.
I did enjoy seeing the murals and loved to see the buildings and streets.

Kathy said...

This is amazing - quite a stirring post so filled with important information - peace is a quest many are seeking, but because of so many differences, may never find. Thanks for sharing these things - hope you are blessed,
Kathy

H said...

I grew up with The Troubles as a backdrop to life in the UK.

In 1996, myself, my husband and our two young boys (2 and 4) were only 2 streets away from the bomb which exploded in the centre of Manchester. The street where we were was covered in glass. The plate glass window we had been looking into only 30 seconds before, was shattered all over the pavement. By the grace of God we were totally unscathed. The same cannot be said for many others during those years :(

Theanne and Baron said...

Pat...thanks for sharing!

Lisa@GrandmasBriefs said...

We are so incredibly fortunate and take it for granted far too often. Lovely photos and appreciated information on something I knew very little about (shamefully little considering I'm from Irish lines).

Sea Witch said...

I will never understand this type of conflict. So sad. Brother killing brother, sister killing sister. Sea Witch

Houseelf said...

What a wonderful display of passionate art with a cause. I like the last one best of all. Peace brings prosperous times for all. No mother wants her son killed or maimed no matter the reason. I heard how a lot of mothers started marchign for peace together. So moving.