My husband and I had a trip booked to Ireland in June 2020. Due to Covid, the trip never happened. For a myriad of reasons, it’s a trip that likely won’t happen any time soon, so I want to virtually go on the trip that we were supposed to go on two years ago.
DAY 3: BELFAST
GOAL: Today’s goal was to learn about “The Troubles” and see some spectacular murals.
1- TROUBLES TOUR
ABOUT: Walking tour provided by Dead Centre Tours.
I’ve heard about “the Troubles,” but mostly via U2 songs, such as this:
So, I Googled “the Troubles,” and will relate what I have learned:
-It was an ethno-nationalist conflict in Northern Ireland that lasted about 30 years from the late 1960s to 1998. It is sometimes described as an “irregular war” or “low-level war”. The conflict was primarily political and nationalistic, fueled by historical events.
-It also had an ethnic or sectarian dimension but despite the use of the terms ‘Protestant’ and ‘Catholic’ to refer to the two sides, it was not a primarily religious conflict. A key issue was the status of Northern Ireland. Unionists and loyalists, who for historical reasons were mostly Ulster Protestants, wanted Northern Ireland to remain within the United Kingdom. Irish nationalists and republicans, who were mostly Irish Catholics, wanted Northern Ireland to leave the United Kingdom and join a united Ireland.
-The conflict began during a campaign by the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association to end discrimination against the Catholic/nationalist minority by the Protestant/unionist government and local authorities.
-More than 3,500 people were killed in the conflict, of whom 52 per cent were civilian, 32 per cent were members of the British security forces and 16 per cent were members of paramilitary groups.
Okay, okay, pretty straight forward-ish so far. But, the more I kept reading, the more I was getting confused. After a while, it all sounded a lot like this: Okay, so you have the IRA, the NICRA, the RUC, the UVF, the DUP, and Sinn Féin all at each other’s throats, kapeesh? So, none of them get along, or maybe some of them get along, I lost track, but they keep bombing each other and shit goes back and forth for like, forever, and lots of people die. Lots of people get arrested too, but lots of people get away and form little underground groups, I think. Well, I’m assuming that they do because things get all sneaky and shit, and bad stuff keeps happening. There’s something about the “Stormont collapsing” which I had to Google to find out what that was (“Stormont” is the commonly used name to refer to the Northern Ireland Assembly, which is based in the Stormont Estate, in east Belfast.) Then the whole Bloody Sunday Massacre happens and that event comes to be regarded as one of the most significant events of the Troubles because so many civilians were killed by forces of the state, in plain view of the public and the press. Yet, it apparently wasn’t bad enough to stop the Troubles from happening because things dragged on for another 26 years until the Good Friday Agreement was signed. In short, I really wish that I went on that tour because I need someone other than wikipedia to explain this to me.
So, here’s a fun game. Google: “What did the troubles achieve?” and see what you come up with. It literally gave me no answers. I’m not kidding. It seriously came back with nothing. I honestly get more answers about the Troubles from watching the Derry Girls because they are depicted as living through it:
Man, that’s such a good show.
2- MURALS TOUR
So, after the Troubles Tour, we were scheduled to take a Murals Tour. Belfast has put Northern Ireland on the map as far as murals are concerned, for it arguably contains some of the most famous political murals in all of Europe. The two tours were supposed to go hand in hand, and the goal was to leave Belfast wiser than we came. Here are some images of the murals that we missed:
It would have been nice to know what many of those murals meant. Art speaks volumes, and I have immense respect for all the brave artists that scream their thoughts loudly upon walls.
3- BUS BACK TO DUBLIN
We planned to take the 1700 (5pm) bus back to Dublin where we were booked to stay in an Airbnb. I just now tried pulling up our old reservation, and learned that the Airbnb we were booked at doesn’t exist anymore. I do remember that it was located near the Jameson Distillery (I remember it being located on top of it?) I do remember thinking that the place seemed wickedly expensive, which made sense considering that Dublin ranks the 6th most expensive place to live in Europe (behind Zurich, Bern, Geneva, London and Copenhagen).
For dinner, we were planning to go to The Church, and maybe pop our heads in for drinks at Sweeney’s. Chances are I would have finished my night with a Guinness, “an Irish dry stout that originated in the brewery of Arthur Guinness at St. James’s Gate, Dublin, Ireland, in 1759.” I just now enjoyed reading the wikipedia page describing Guinness:
Guinness’s flavour derives from malted barley and roasted unmalted barley, a relatively modern development, not becoming part of the grist until the mid-20th century. For many years, a portion of aged brew was blended with freshly brewed beer to give a sharp lactic acid flavour. Although Guinness’s palate still features a characteristic “tang”, the company has refused to confirm whether this type of blending still occurs. The draught beer’s thick, creamy head comes from mixing the beer with nitrogen and carbon dioxide.
Man, now I’m really hankering for one!
all screenshots are copyright of the respective websites.
Next up: Full DUBLIN day.