It is now study week here. A week to finish a few papers in between studying for my two exams. Not too bad, compared to what I’ve had the past few years.
To pick up where the last blog post left off. On Saturday, the 17th of November, I got up at 7am and went down to the dining room to make sure I got a good breakfast in before we would be going on a black cab tour of Belfast. For breakfast I had a fried egg, a croissant, a few pieces of bacon, and a pot of tea. The breakfast tasted wonderful.
After the breakfast, we went outside the hotel to meet the cabs that we’d take for the Black taxi tour around Belfast. We got in the taxi’s and went to our first stop the Shankill Neighborhood in west Belfast. The Shankill Neighborhood, was a center of paramilitaries during the troubles in Northern Ireland, during the 60s, 70s 80s and 90s. Along the walls of the houses there have been murals painted, each one displaying support for the protestant unionist group in Northern Ireland. The photo of the mural with the sniper was unnerving to walk past, because no matter where you walked in front of it, the gun barrel seemed to follow you.
After our stop in Shankill, we took the taxis a few miles to the Peace Wall, it is a wall that is 3 miles long and is taller than the Berlin Wall was. The wall was built to separate a protestant neighborhood on one side, and a catholic neighborhood on the other side. The wall was covered in graffiti and people have signed the wall and left messages. I was able to write my name on the wall. I felt odd, standing at the base of this wall, our guide said that the wall would only be brought down if the people living on either side of the wall felt safe enough to have it removed.
After, we went to the other side of the wall to a memorial to the members from the catholic neighborhood, who had lost their lives during the troubles, one section of the memorial was reserved for IRA members, while the other section was kept for civilians. We were also showed the rubber and plastic bullets that the police used during the troubles to control the violence.
We stopped at another wall that was topped with barbed wire, but which had murals presenting causes of injustice which should be ended.
The Black Cab tour was insightful and just a little bit unsettling, I would defiantly recommend the tour to anyone if you ever get a chance to visit Belfast.
After the tour a small group of us, went on a bus tour around Belfast, and we stopped at Stormont, the parliamentary building in Belfast. Thankfully the rain held off.
Later that evening we went out to the Belfast Christmas Market, there were vendors from all around Europe and it was a very festive atmosphere.
After a late night out, we had an early morning to get on the bus for the 4.5 hour ride back to Galway.
I had a blast getting to visit Belfast and Northern Ireland.