Our trip to the North lasted for three days, and it was packed with information, stories, and lessons of peace and reconciliation. We left overwhelmed. What I learned about the Troubles of Northern Ireland has challenged my thinking and helped me to understand the people who have lived through it. The North has only recently begun the move from hatred and violence towards compromise and peace. Protestants and Catholics are still living in separate neighborhoods, and the peace wall that divides Belfast stands tall.
Murals like these are scattered on buildings all over Belfast. We were fortunate enough to have a tour by Noel, a former para-military member for the loyalist/Protestant side of the Troubles. He told us his story, and the meaning behind many of the murals.
Our visit to the Catholic/Republican area, Falls road, included a stop at one of the memorials. Brian, our bus driver, is a Republican Catholic, who shared with us the history of the Troubles starting back in the 60's. He told us about the fight for a United Ireland that so many Republicans gave their life for.
We also had time for some sight seeing and fun during our three day stay.
This is the beautiful Giant's Causeway
A hike with a view
playing on hay
crossing the scary bridge
Visiting the Parliament building, Stormont
Sitting at the C.S. Lewis monument
Shopping in Belfast City Center
And hanging out at our Hostel
This trip has been the most meaningful by far, and it will be what sticks with me the most.